The Frankfurt Judengasse
Edited by: Backhaus, Fritz; Engel, Gisela; Liberles, Robert; Schlüter, Margarete
Frankfurt was one of the most important centers of Jewish life in central Europe. In 1462, the Frankfurt City Council ordered the resettlement of the Jews in an especially constructed street, surrounded by walls and located at the very edge of the city. The three gates were closed at night, on Sundays, and during Christian holidays. The Frankfurt Judengasse was the first legally constructed space of a ghetto in the Holy Roman Empire, and one of the first in Europe. The economic, demographic, cultural, and religious significance of this community in the Early Modern era has been a neglected area of study. The significance of the Frankfurt community; the great number of sources for the Early Modern era which are still available despite all the losses; and the increasing interest in the history of the Jews in Germany since the 1990s - evident in an array of dissertation projects - almost inevitably led to the idea of organising a conference to once again direct attention on the Frankfurt Judengasse. The conference was organized by Johann Wolfgang Goethe University Frankfurt am Main, represented by the Centre for Research in Early Modern History, Culture and Science and the Department of Jewish Studies, as well as the Frankfurt Jewish Museum, the Judengasse Museum and the Leo Baeck Institute in Jerusalem. Most of the essays in this collection were first presented at the May 2004 conference in Frankfurt. The authors cover a wide spectrum of themes on a great variety of aspects of Jewish life in the Frankfurt Judengasse, spanning a broad chronological arc from the Middle Ages to the dissolution of the Frankfurt Judengasse in the early years of the 19th century. The essays illustrate, after decades of disinterest on the part of German scholarship, a revival of Jewish history in the Early Modern Era, and thus of the Judengasse.