Search
Print
Share
Your Selected Item:
Personality
Would you like to help us improving the content? Send us your suggestions

Ehrenberg, Victor Leopold

Ehrenberg, Victor Leopold (1891-1976), historian born in Altona, Germany. He was professor of ancient history at the German University in Prague, Czech Republic, between 1929 and 1939, when he fled to England. In the UK he became visiting lecturer in several universities.

From 1949 to 1957 he was reader and lecturer in ancient history at the University of London. His main interest was in Greek history and he wrote a number of books on the subject. He helped to found the London Classical Society an was a founder and editor of the journal "Historia". His works included "Neugrunder des Staates" (1925), "Alexander und Aegypten" (1926), "Alexander and the Greeks" (1938), "The People of Aristophanes" (1943), "Sophocles and Pericles" (1954). Some of his published articles were collected and republished in "Aspects of the Ancient World" (1946) and "Polis and Imperium" (1965).
Date of birth:
1891
Date of death:
1976
Place of birth:
Altona
Personality type:
Historians
ID Number:
225627
Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People
Nearby places:
Related items:
EHRENBERG

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name is a toponymic (derived from a geographic name of a town, city, region or country). Surnames that are based on place names do not always testify to direct origin from that place, but may indicate an indirect relation between the name-bearer or his ancestors and the place, such as birth place, temporary residence, trade, or family-relatives.

Literally "honor mountain" in German, Ehrenberg is a variant of Arensberg. There are several German towns with which the family name Ehrenberg could be associated, among them Ehrenberg near Leipzig in Germany, Boehlitz-Ehrenberg in Saxony and Ahrensburg in Schleswig Holstein. This family name is also a patronymic, derived from a male ancestor's personal name, in this case of biblical origin. As a Jewish name, Ehren is one of the German equivalents of the Hebrew Aharon/Aaron. Aaron/Aharon, son of Amram and Jochebed, of the tribe of Levi, was the elder brother of Moses. He was the first high priest of the Jews, and the ancestor of the Cohanim. Numerous personal and family names are linked to this brother, spokesman and aide of Moses, among them Aron, Aren, Oren, Horn, Goren, Oron and Baron.

Berg, the second part of the name, literally "mountain" in German/Yiddish, is a common artificial name in Jewish surnames, that can be found as a prefix (Bergstein) or a suffix (Goldberg). The term Berg is found in many German and other place names. Jews lived since the 13th century in the former Duchy and Grand Duchy of Berg in Westphalia, from which they might have derived Berg as a family name. In some cases, Berg is also a Hebrew acronym (a name created from the initial letters of a Hebrew phrase, and which refers to a relative, lineage or occupation) of Ben Rabi Gershon ("son of Rabbi Gershon").

Distinguished German bearers of the Jewish family name Ehrenberg include the educator Samuel Meyer Ehrenberg (1773-1853); the political economist Richard Ehrenberg (1857-1921); and the historian Victor Leopold Ehrenberg (1891-1976).

London

The capital and most populous city of England and the United Kingdom. 

21ST CENTURY

Behind Israel, the United States, France, and Canada, the United Kingdom boasts the fifth-largest Jewish population worldwide and the second-largest in Europe. Nearly two-thirds of Britain’s Jews live in Greater London, which is three out of every five Jews living in the United Kingdom. The Jewish population is principally concentrated in the northern boroughs of Barnet and Hackney. According to the 2011 UK census, approximately 172,000 Jews live in London, with more than 54,000 living in Barnet alone.

By the end of the 20th century, sizeable Jewish communities had developed in the areas of Golders Green and Stamford Hill. Located in the London Borough of Barnet, Golders Green is an area noted especially for its large Jewish community and for having the largest kosher hub in the entire United Kingdom. The Jews of Barnet account for one in five of all the Jews in England and Wales.

The district of Stamford Hill in Hackney is best known for its population of Hasidic Jews. At approximately 30,000 people, it is the largest concentration of Hasidic Jews in Europe. A once-small religious community that had lived in the area at the end of the 19th century was largely augmented by the influx of pre-war refugees and Holocaust survivors. Since then, the Haredi community has experienced continued growth with arrivals from Israel and North America. Due to the ultra-Orthodox nature of the area, Stamford Hill is often referred to as the “square mile of piety.” In this small geographical area are over 70 synagogues, many of which are associated with congregations which originated in Eastern Europe, including the Satmar and Belz dynasties, two of the largest Jewish sects represented in the community.

Stamford Hill is also home to a sizeable community of Yemenite Jews, specifically Adeni Jews from the former British protectorate of Aden. Between 1947 and 1967, nearly the entire population emigrated from Aden, settling primarily in Israel and the United Kingdom.

The London Jewish community is served by a wide range of social welfare organizations, including several local councils and international charities. Among them are the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Community Security Trust, the Jewish Learning Exchange, the Jewish Leadership Council, Jewish Women’s Aid, the Jewish Historical Society of England, the London Jewish Forum, the Center for Jewish Life, and the Anglo Jewish Association.

The primary focus of many of these organizations is to organize and fund cultural events and educational programs for families and young adults. Others, like the London Jewish Forum, promote active engagement of the Jewish community with civic life. Since the 1970s, there have been more than sixty Zionist organizations which supported various institutions in Israel.

Philanthropic organizations include the World Jewish Relief, the JNF Charitable Trust and Norwood. World Jewish Relief was established in 1933 as a fund for German Jews which rescued over 100,000 Jews prior to World War II; Norwood is one of the oldest charities in the United Kingdom and is well known for its support of children and people with disabilities. The organization has many celebrity patrons and supporters, including Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, Sir Elton John, and Simon Cowell.

In terms of health and social services, Jewish Care is the largest provider of healthcare for the communities of London and the South East. This organization operates more than seventy centers throughout the United Kingdom.

There are more than 150 active synagogues located throughout Greater London. Several Jewish movements are represented, including Orthodox, Chabad, Masorti, Reform, Liberal, and independent. The number of strictly Orthodox or Haredi synagogues has more than doubled since the 1990s, chiefly due to the growth of Hasidic groups in the district of Stamford Hill. By 2014, the ultra-Orthodox community of London accounted for 18% of the Jewish population. The Belvis Marks Synagogue, built in 1701 by Sephardic Jews from Spain and Portugal, is the oldest synagogue still in use in the United Kingdom.

London is home to about 37 Jewish primary schools, 54 nursery schools, and as many as 14 secondary schools. The majority of Jewish children in the United Kingdom live in Greater London; those from non-Haredi families make up 50% of the children enrolled in Jewish primary schools. According to a 2015 government report, London’s Jewish schools are among the best in England. Many of London’s synagogues provide Jewish education. Outside of the Haredi community, the majority of London’s Jewish students attend schools which are separate from congregations but may be associated with the major streams of Judaism.

One of the most famous Jewish schools in Britain is located in London, the Jews’ Free School (JFS); it was established in 1732 and was at one time the largest Jewish school in Europe. Another well-known Jewish school is the Jewish Community Secondary School; established in 2010 in New Barnet, London; it is state-funded and cross-denominational. A notable institution which provides Jewish educational programs for adults is the London School of Jewish Studies. The roots of the college go back to 1855 when Chief Rabbi Nathan Marcus Adler opened the Jews’ College in Finsbury Square. After a rebrand in 1999, the London School of Jewish Studies (LSJS) shifted its focus and become a hub of academic study.

In Greater London are several social associations and community programs dedicated to promoting a Jewish life and advancing Jewish causes. One in particular is Spiro Ark, a charitable organization that organizes Jewish cultural events and educational programs. Another is the Center for Jewish Life, which provides a wide array of social programs, educational events, and activities for Jews to connect with each other. Located at the University College London Union is the JSC, one of the largest Jewish societies for Jewish students in the United Kingdom. There are also fifteen Chabad centers found in central London.

As the nucleus of Jewish cohesion and culture in Britain, the city of London hosts a number of museums and memorials. One of its most famous is the Hyde Park Holocaust Memorial; unveiled in 1983, it was the first Holocaust memorial in Great Britain.

Ben Uri –The London Jewish Museum of Art is a public art gallery that was founded in 1915 and remains Europe’s only Jewish art museum. The Jewish Military Museum commemorates the Jewish contribution to British forces going back three hundred years. Providing an insight into British Jewish history is the Jewish Museum of London. Among its permanent exhibitions is the Holocaust Gallery, Judaism: A Living Faith, The Mikveh, and History: A British Story.

The first Jewish Community Center in London is the London Cultural Center (JW3), which has become the leading center for adult education and for the arts.

The Weiner Library is home to one of the world’s most extensive Holocaust archives. Established in 1933, it includes over one million items, including eyewitness testimony, photos, and published and unpublished works.

Other Jewish landmarks in London include the Rothschild Archive in St. Swithin’s lane, the Freud Museum, the Bevis Marks Synagogue, the statue of Benjamin Disraeli at Parliament Square, and the Jewish East End, site of the historical Jewish Socialist Club. There are also more than twenty kosher restaurants, four kosher hotels, and many Judaica shops found throughout the north of the city.

The largest amount of publications on Jewish topics emanate from London. These include newspapers, magazines, books and other media. Circulating throughout Greater London is The Jewish Chronicle; founded in 1841, it is the oldest continuously published Jewish newspaper in the world. In 1896, it published Theodor Herzl’s historic article “Solution of the Jewish Question”.

Another weekly published newspaper is The Jewish News. Named Free Newspaper of the Year in 2003 by Press Gazette, it provides local, national and international news and entertainment for the Jewish communities of Greater London, Middlesex, Hertfordshire and Essex.

The Jewish Tribune is a privately owned Haredi weekly newspaper based in Stamford Hill. It is the fourth largest Jewish publication in England.

Broadcasted by the Spectrum Radio Network is Sunday Jewish Radio, a weekly program on Jewish themes.

 

HISTORY

After the Norman conquest of 1066, a few Jews arrived in London from the nearby areas of Europe (chiefly the Duchy of Normandy, including Rouen), attracted mainly by the economic opportunities that the city offered. The earliest recorded mention of the London community dates from the reign of William Rufus (1087-1100), who appears to have favored the Jews to a certain extent.

In 1130, in what was possibly a blood libel, the Jews of London were accused of killing a sick man and were forced to pay an enormous fine. Other outbreaks of antisemitism took place during the coronation of Richard I (September 3,1189) and during the reign of John (1199-1216); John’s reign, and that of his son Henry III (1216-1272) saw the opposition of the barons to the Jews, and there was a baronial attack on London Jewry in 1215. Nonetheless, Jewish intellectual during this period flourished; among other accomplishments, it attracted the Biblical commentator Abraham ibn Ezra, who wrote his Iggeret Ha-Shabbat and his Yesod Mora in London in 1158.

During the reign of Henry III the Jews of London, along with those of the rest of the country, were oppressed. The climax came in 1224 when it was alleged that some gashes found on the body of a dead child were Hebrew letters and the Jews were accused of ritual murder. This resulted in a punitive fine on the Jewish community. In 1232 Henry III confiscated the main London synagogue on the pretext that the chanting could be heard in a neighboring church. In 1278 a number of London Jews were among the 680 who were imprisoned in the tower of London on forgery charges. Nearly 300 are said to have been hanged. Shortly thereafter, in 1283 the Bishop of London ordered that all synagogues in the diocese to be closed (one was later reopened).
In 1290, the Jews were expelled from England and the Jewish community of London ceased to exist.
In 1509, after the expulsions from Spain and Portugal, a few crypto-Jewish refugees settled in London; by the end of Henry VIII’s reign in 1547, there were approximately 37 crypto-Jewish families living in London. However, in 1609 the Portuguese merchants living in London, who were suspected of Judaizing, were expelled. Nevertheless, when the crypto-Jewish community of Ruen was (temporarily) dissolved in 1632, a number of fugitives, including Antonio Fernandez Carvajal, found a home in London. Thus, when Manasseh ben Israel went to England in 1655, there was already an established secret Jewish community in London that became increasingly visible. In March of 1657 a petition was presented to Cromwell asking for protection, and the following December a house was rented and used as a synagogue. A few months later the community purchased land for a cemetery.

After Cromwell's death in 1658 numerous attempts were made to persecute and stem the grown of the community. Charles II, however, intervened in its favor, and bestowed de facto recognition on the community. A synagogue on Cree Church Lane was enlarged and remodeled in 1674, and in 1701 a new place of worship was built in Bevis Marks. As the community was reestablishing itself, considerable numbers of Spanish and Portuguese Jews began arriving from Holland. Ashkenazim soon followed, most of whom arrived via Amsterdam or Hamburg. They organized their own congregation around 1690, and eventually became the more influential and populous Jewish community in London.
The Sephardic and Ashkenazi communities proved able to work together in establishing and running a number of community institutions. The board for kosher slaughter, in which Sephardim and Ashkenazim cooperated, was organized through the advocacy of Baron Lyon de Symons between 1792 and 1804. As early as 1760 the Sephardi community admitted Ashkenazi representatives to their governing committee, which was appointed to deal with the government on behalf of the Jewish community. This ultimately developed into the Board of Deputies of British Jews, which represented the Jewish communities of London until 1838, after which it began to represent Jewish communities outside of London, in addition to the ones within the city.

The Ashkenazi community’s Talmud Torah, which was established in 1732, was reorganized in 1817 as the Jews' Free School. This school eventually developed into one of the largest schools in Europe.

 

19TH CENTURY

The struggle for Jewish emancipation in England centered in London, and was a process that developed in stages throughout the years. Beginning in 1830 the city of London had shown its support of parliamentary emancipation, most notably by electing Baron Lionel de Rothschild, in spite of the fact that he could not take his seat because of the statutory oath. Nonetheless, this became very influential when it came to the ultimate admission of Jews to the Parliament in 1858. In 1831 Jews were granted the privilege of being able to engage in retail trade, from which they had hitherto been barred. In 1835, David Salomons was elected a sheriff of the city, the first Jewish person to serve in that office. In 1847 Salomons became the first Jewish alderman, and in 1855 the first Jewish Lord Mayor of London.
The growing Anglicization of London Jewry led to a number of community developments. A Reform congregation was established in 1840. Sephardi and Ashkenazi congregations established branch synagogues in the West End. A modern theological seminary, Jews' College, was founded in 1855, and a charitable organization, the Board of Guardians for the Relief of the Jewish Poor, was established in 1859. The United Synagogue, an umbrella organization for the major Ashkenazi congregations in London, was established in 1870. In 1887 Sir Samuel Montagu (later Lord Swaythling) created the Federation of Synagogues in order to coordinate the various religious activities that took place in the different synagogues.
The mass emigration from Russia that began in 1881 led to a mass influx of Eastern European Jews to London. As a result, the next 25 years saw London’s Jewish population rise from about 47,000 to approximately 150,000. Most of the new immigrants worked as tailors, shoemakers, and cabinetmakers. A Yiddish press and an active trade union movement were established to meet the needs of this growing immigrant population.

 

20TH CENTURY

The Aliens Act of 1905 limited immigration, though smaller numbers of Jewish immigrants continued to arrive until the outbreak of World War I in 1914. Later, a considerable number of refugees arrived from Germany after the Nazi rise to power in 1933.

As Jews became more established in London, they tended to move. East End Jews who managed to work their way up the socioeconomic ladder tended to move to the newer suburbs, particularly those in the northeast of the city, to Stamford Hill, and the northwest, to Golders Green). The interwar period saw significant numbers of London’s Jews moving from the East End to the northern suburbs, as many within the community became well-established and successful. This movement led to the establishment of a number of Jewish institutions in the suburbs. A Jewish museum and a community center for the major Jewish institutions of London were established at Woburn House in the Bloomsbury area.
The total Jewish population of greater London in 1970 was estimated at 280,000. In 1997 it was estimated at 300,000.

 

Prague

Capital of the Czech Republic. Formerly the capital of Czechoslovakia.

It has the oldest Jewish community in Bohemia and one of the oldest communities in Europe, for some time the largest and most revered. Jews may have arrived in Prague in late roman times, but the first document mentioning them is a report by Ibrahim Ibn Ya'qub from about 970. The first definite evidence for the existence of a Jewish community in Prague dates to 1091. Jews arrived in Prague from both the east and west around the same time. It is probably for this reason that two Jewish districts came into being there right at the beginning.

The relatively favorable conditions in which the Jews at first lived in Prague were disrupted at the time of the first crusade in 1096. The crusaders murdered many of the Jews in Prague, looted Jewish property, and forced many to accept baptism. During the siege of Prague castle in 1142, the oldest synagogue in Prague and the Jewish quarter below the castle were burned down and the Jews moved to the right bank of the river Moldau (vltava), which was to become the future Jewish quarter, and founded the "Altschul" ("old synagogue") there.

The importance of Jewish culture in Prague is evidenced by the works of the halakhists there in the 11th to 13th centuries. The most celebrated was Isaac B. Moses of Vienna (d. C. 1250) author of "Or Zaru'a". Since the Czech language was spoken by the Jews of Prague in the early middle ages, the halakhic writings of that period also contain annotations in Czech. From the 13th to 16th centuries the Jews of Prague increasingly spoke German. At the time of persecutions which began at the end of the 11th century, the Jews of Prague, together with all the other Jews of Europe, lost their status as free people. From the 13th century on, the Jews of Bohemia were considered servants of the royal chamber (servi camerae regis). Their residence in Prague was subject to the most humiliating conditions (the wearing of special dress, segregation in the ghetto, etc.). The only occupation that Jews were allowed to adopt was moneylending, since this was forbidden to Christians and considered dishonest. Socially the Jews were in an inferior position.

The community suffered from persecutions accompanied by bloodshed in the 13th and 14th centuries, particularly in 1298 and 1338. Charles IV (1346- 1378) protected the Jews, but after his death the worst attack occurred in 1389, when nearly all the Jews of Prague fell victims. The rabbi of Prague and noted kabbalist Avigdor Kara, who witnessed and survived the outbreak, described it in a selichah. Under Wenceslaus IV the Jews of Prague suffered heavy material losses following an order by the king in 1411 canceling all debts owed to Jews.

At the beginning of the 15th century the Jews of Prague found themselves at the center of the Hussite wars (1419- 1436). The Jews of Prague also suffered from mob violence (1422) in this period. The unstable conditions in Prague compelled many Jews to emigrate.

Following the legalization, at the end of the 15th century, of moneylending by non-Jews in Prague, the Jews of Prague lost the economic significance which they had held in the medieval city, and had to look for other occupations in commerce and crafts. The position of the Jews began to improve at the beginning of the 16th century, mainly owing to the assistance of the king and the nobility. The Jews found greater opportunities in trading commodities and monetary transactions with the nobility. As a consequence, their economic position improved. In 1522 there were about 600 Jews in Prague, but by 1541 they numbered about 1,200. At the same time the Jewish quarters were extended. At the end of the 15th century the Jews of Prague founded new communities.

Under pressure of the citizens, king Ferdinand I was compelled in 1541 to approve the expulsion of the Jews. The Jews had to leave Prague by 1543, but were allowed to return in 1545. In 1557 Ferdinand I once again, this time upon his own initiative, ordered the expulsion of the Jews from Prague. They had to leave the city by 1559. Only after the retirement of Ferdinand I from the government of Bohemia were the Jews allowed to return to Prague in 1562.

The favorable position of the Jewish community of Prague during the reign of Rudolf II is reflected also in the flourishing Jewish culture. Among illustrious rabbis who taught in Prague at that time were Judah Loew B. Bezalel (the "maharal"); Ephraim Solomon B. Aaron of Luntschitz; Isaiah B. Abraham ha-levi Horowitz, who taught in Prague from 1614 to 1621; and Yom Tov Lipmann Heller, who became chief rabbi in 1627 but was forced to leave in 1631. The chronicler and astronomer David Gans also lived there in this period. At the beginning of the 17th century about 6,000 Jews were living in Prague.

In 1648 the Jews of Prague distinguished themselves in the defense of the city against the invading swedes. In recognition of their acts of heroism the Emperor presented them with a special flag which is still preserved in the Altneuschul. Its design with a Swedish cap in the center of the Shield of David became the official emblem of the Prague Jewish community.

After the thirty years' war, government policy was influenced by the church counter-reformation, and measures were taken to limit the Jews' means of earning a livelihood. A number of anti-Semitic resolutions and decrees were promulgated. Only the eldest son of every family was allowed to marry and found a family, the others having to remain single or leave Bohemia.

In 1680, more than 3,000 Jews in Prague died of the plague. Shortly afterward, in 1689, the Jewish quarter burned down, and over 300 Jewish houses and 11 synagogues were destroyed. The authorities initiated and partially implemented a project to transfer all the surviving Jews to the village of Lieben (Liben) north of Prague. Great excitement was aroused in 1694 by the murder trial of the father of Simon Abeles, a 12-year-old boy, who, it was alleged, had desired to be baptized and had been killed by his father. Simon was buried in the Tyn (Thein) church, the greatest and most celebrated cathedral of the old town of Prague. Concurrently with the religious incitement against the Jews an economic struggle was waged against them.

The anti-Jewish official policy reached its climax after the accession to the throne of Maria Theresa (1740-1780), who in 1744 issued an order expelling the Jews from Bohemia and Moravia. Jews were banished but were subsequently allowed to return after they promised to pay high taxes. In the baroque period noted rabbis were Simon Spira; Elias Spira; David Oppenheim; and Ezekiel Landau, chief rabbi and rosh yeshivah (1755-93(.

The position of the Jews greatly improved under Joseph II (1780-1790), who issued the Toleranzpatent of 1782. The new policy in regard to the Jews aimed at gradual abolition of the limitations imposed upon them, so that they could become more useful to the state in a modernized economic system. At the same time, the new regulations were part of the systematic policy of germanization pursued by Joseph II. Jews were compelled to adopt family names and to establish schools for secular studies; they became subject to military service, and were required to cease using Hebrew and Yiddish in business transactions. Wealthy and enterprising Jews made good use of the advantages of Joseph's reforms. Jews who founded manufacturing enterprises were allowed to settle outside the Jewish quarter of Prague.

Subsequently the limitations imposed upon Jews were gradually removed. In 1841 the prohibition on Jews owning land was rescinded. In 1846 the Jewish tax was abolished. In 1848 Jews were granted equal rights, and by 1867 the process of legal emancipation had been completed. In 1852 the ghetto of Prague was abolished. Because of the unhygienic conditions in the former Jewish quarter the Prague municipality decided in 1896 to pull down the old quarter, with the exception of important historical sites. Thus the Altneuschul, the Pinkas and Klaus, Meisel and Hoch synagogues, and some other places of historical and artistic interest remained intact.

In 1848 the community of Prague, numbering over 10,000, was still one of the largest Jewish communities in Europe (Vienna then numbered only 4,000 Jews). In the following period of the emancipation and the post- emancipation era the Prague community increased considerably in numbers, but did not keep pace with the rapidly expanding new Jewish metropolitan centers in western, central, and Eastern Europe.

After emancipation had been achieved in 1867, emigration from Prague abroad ceased as a mass phenomenon; movement to Vienna, Germany, and Western Europe continued. Jews were now represented in industry, especially the textile, clothing, leather, shoe, and food industries, in wholesale and retail trade, and in increasing numbers in the professions and as white-collar employees. Some Jewish bankers, industrialists and merchants achieved considerable wealth. The majority of Jews in Prague belonged to the middle class, but there also remained a substantial number of poor Jews.

Emancipation brought in its wake a quiet process of secularization and assimilation. In the first decades of the 19th century Prague Jewry, which then still led its traditionalist orthodox way of life, had been disturbed by the activities of the followers of Jacob Frank. The situation changed in the second half of the century. The chief rabbinate was still occupied by outstanding scholars, like Solomon Judah Rapoport, the leader of the Haskalah movement; Markus Hirsch (1880-1889) helped to weaken the religious influence in the community. Many synagogues introduced modernized services, a shortened liturgy, the organ and mixed choir, but did not necessarily embrace the principles of the reform movement.

Jews availed themselves eagerly of the opportunities to give their children a higher secular education. Jews formed a considerable part of the German minority in Prague, and the majority adhered to liberal movements. David Kuh founded the "German liberal party of Bohemia and represented it in the Bohemian diet (1862-1873). Despite strong Germanizing factors, many Jews adhered to the Czech language, and in the last two decades of the 19th century a Czech assimilationist movement developed which gained support from the continuing influx of Jews from the rural areas. Through the influence of German nationalists from the Sudeten districts anti-Semitism developed within the German population and opposed Jewish assimilation. At the end of the 19th century Zionism struck roots among the Jews of Bohemia, especially in Prague.

Growing secularization and assimilation led to an increase of mixed marriages and abandonment of Judaism. At the time of the Czechoslovak republic, established in 1918, many more people registered their dissociation of affiliation to the Jewish faith without adopting another. The proportion of mixed marriages in Bohemia was one of the highest in Europe. The seven communities of Prague were federated in the union of Jewish religious communities of greater Prague and cooperated on many issues. They established joint institutions; among these the most important was the institute for social welfare, established in 1935. The "Afike Jehuda society for the Advancement of Jewish Studies" was founded in 1869. There were also the Jewish museum and "The Jewish historical society of Czechoslovakia". A five-grade elementary school was established with Czech as the language of instruction. The many philanthropic institutions and associations included the Jewish care for the sick, the center for social welfare, the aid committee for refugees, the aid committee for Jews from Carpatho- Russia, orphanages, hostels for apprentices, old-age homes, a home for abandoned children, free-meal associations, associations for children's vacation centers, and funds to aid students. Zionist organizations were also well represented. There were three B'nai B'rith lodges, women's organizations, youth movements, student clubs, sports organizations, and a community center. Four Jewish weeklies were published in Prague (three Zionist; one Czech- assimilationist), and several monthlies and quarterlies. Most Jewish organizations in Czechoslovakia had their headquarters in Prague.

Jews first became politically active, and some of them prominent, within the German orbit. David Kuh and the president of the Jewish community, Arnold Rosenbacher, were among the leaders of the German Liberal party in the 19th century. Bruno Kafka and Ludwig Spiegel represented its successor in the Czechoslovak republic, the German Democratic Party, in the chamber of deputies and the senate respectively. Emil Strauss represented that party in the 1930s on the Prague Municipal Council and in the Bohemian diet. From the end of the 19th century an increasing number of Jews joined Czech parties, especially T. G. Masaryk's realists and the social democratic party. Among the latter Alfred Meissner, Lev Winter, and Robert Klein rose to prominence, the first two as ministers of justice and social welfare respectively.

Zionists, though a minority, soon became the most active element among the Jews of Prague. "Barissia" - Jewish Academic Corporation, was founded in Prague in 1903, it was one of the leading academic organizations for the advancement of Zionism in Bohemia. Before World War I the students' organization "Bar Kochba", under the leadership of Samuel Hugo Bergman, became one of the centers of cultural Zionism. The Prague Zionist Arthur Mahler was elected to the Austrian parliament in 1907, though as representative of an electoral district in Galicia. Under the leadership of Ludvik Singer the "Jewish National Council" was formed in 1918. Singer was elected in 1929 to the Czechoslovak parliament, and was succeeded after his death in 1931 by Angelo Goldstein. Singer, Goldstein, Frantisek Friedmann, and Jacob Reiss represented the Zionists on the Prague municipal council also. Some important Zionist conferences took place in Prague, among them the founding conference of hitachadut in 1920, and the
18th Zionist congress in 1933.

The group of Prague German-Jewish authors which emerged in the 1880s, known as the "Prague Circle" ('der Prager Kreis'), achieved international recognition and included Franz Kafka, Max Brod, Franz Werfel, Oskar Baum, Ludwig Winder, Leo Perutz, Egon Erwin Kisch, Otto Klepetar, and Willy Haas.

During the Holocaust period, the measures e.g., deprivation of property rights, prohibition against religious, cultural, or any other form of public activity, expulsion from the professions and from schools, a ban on the use of public transportation and the telephone, affected Prague Jews much more than those still living in the provinces. Jewish organizations provided social welfare and clandestinely continued the education of the youth and the training in languages and new vocations in preparation for emigration. The Palestine office in Prague, directed by Jacob Edelstein, enabled about 19,000 Jews to emigrate legally or otherwise until the end of 1939.

In March 1940, the Prague zentralstelle extended the area of its jurisdiction to include all of Bohemia and Moravia. In an attempt to obviate the deportation of the Jews to "the east", Jewish leaders, headed by Jacob Edelstein, proposed to the zentralstelle the establishment of a self- administered concentrated Jewish communal body; the Nazis eventually exploited this proposal in the establishment of a ghetto at Theresienstadt (Terezin). The Prague Jewish community was forced to provide the Nazis with lists of candidates for deportation and to ensure that they showed up at the assembly point and boarded deportation trains. In the period from October 6, 1941, to March 16, 1945, 46,067 Jews were deported from Prague to "the east" or to Theresienstadt. Two leading officials of the Jewish community, H. Bonn and Emil Kafka were dispatched to Mauthausen concentration camp and put to death after trying to slow down the pace of the deportations. The Nazis set up a treuhandstelle ("trustee Office") over evacuated Jewish apartments, furnishings, and possessions. This office sold these goods and forwarded the proceeds to the German winterhilfe ("winter aid"). The treuhandstelle ran as many as 54 warehouses, including 11 synagogues (as a result, none of the synagogues was destroyed). The zentralstelle brought Jewish religious articles from 153 Jewish communities to Prague on a proposal by Jewish scholars. This collection, including 5,400 religious objects, 24,500 prayer books, and 6,070 items of historical value the Nazis intended to utilize for a "central museum of the defunct Jewish race". Jewish historians engaged in the creation of the museum were deported to extermination camps just before the end of the war. Thus the Jewish museum had acquired at the end of the war one of the richest collections of Judaica in the world.


Prague had a Jewish population of 10,338 in 1946, of whom 1,396 Jews had not been deported (mostly of mixed Jewish and Christian parentage); 227 Jews had gone underground; 4,986 returned from prisons, concentration camps, or Theresienstadt; 883 returned from Czechoslovak army units abroad; 613 were Czechoslovak Jewish emigres who returned; and 2,233 were Jews from Ruthenia (Carpatho-Ukraine), which had been ceded to the U.S.S.R. who decided to move to Czechoslovakia. The communist takeover of 1948 put an end to any attempt to revive the Jewish community and marked the beginning of a period of stagnation. By 1950 about half of the Jewish population had gone to Israel or immigrated to other countries. The Slansky trials and the officially promoted anti-Semitism had a destructive effect upon Jewish life. Nazi racism of the previous era was replaced by political and social discrimination. Most of the Jews of Prague were branded as "class enemies of the working people". During this
Period (1951-1964) there was no possibility of Jewish emigration from the country. The assets belonging to the Jewish community had to be relinquished to the state. The charitable organizations were disbanded, and the budget of the community, provided by the state, was drastically reduced. The general anti-religious policy of the regime resulted in the cessation, for all practical purposes, of such Jewish religious activities as bar-mitzvah religious instruction and wedding ceremonies. In 1964 only two cantors and two ritual slaughterers were left. The liberalization of the regime during 1965-1968 held out new hope for a renewal of Jewish life in Prague.

At the end of March 1967 the president of "The World Jewish Congress", Nahum Goldmann, was able to visit Prague and give a lecture in the Jewish town hall. Among the Jewish youth many tended to identify with Judaism. Following the soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 there was an attempt to put an end to this trend, however the Jewish youth, organized since 1965, carried on with their Jewish cultural activities until 1972. In the late 6os the Jewish population of Prague numbered about 2,000.

On the walls of the Pinkas synagogue, which is part of the central Jewish museum in Prague, are engraved the names of 77,297 Jews from Bohemia and Moravia who were murdered by the Nazis in 1939-1945.

In 1997 some 6,000 Jews were living in the Czech Republic, most of them in Prague. The majority of the Jews of Prague were indeed elderly, but the Jewish community's strengthened in 1990's by many Jews, mainly American, who had come to work in the republic, settled in Prague, and joined the community.

In April 2000 the central square of Prague was named Franz Kafka square. This was done thanks to the unflinching efforts and after years of straggle with the authorities, of Professor Eduard Goldstucker, a Jew born in Prague, the initiator of the idea.

Altona

A borough in Hamburg, Germany

Altona is located on the right bank of the Elbe River. Between 1640 and 1864 it was part of Denmark. Altona was an independent city until 1937.

A large Jewish cemetery is located in Altona, which has the distinction of being the oldest Jewish cemetery in Hemburg and the oldest Sephardi cemetery in northern Europe. More than 6,000 German and 1,600 Portuguese gravestones have remained standing. The cemetery has been designated as a protected monument, and is maintained by the Office for Monument Protection. The Eduard Duckesz House has been located in the cemetery since November 2007 and serves as an information center for visitors. The center also offers lectures, exhibitions, and a library.

HISTORY

Ashkenazi Jews began arriving in Altona during the late 16th and early 17th centuries, and in 1641 they received a charter from the Danish king to establish a community and build a synagogue. The first Sephardic Jews in Altona were not alive; Portuguese Jews living in Hamburg were prohibited from burying their dead in the city, and so in 1611 they purchased land in Altona for a cemetery in Altona. Eventually, in 1703 thirteen Portuguese families from Hamburg settled in Altona, adding significantly to the small Jewish-Portuguese presence. They organized a community known as Bet Yaakov HaKatan (later renamed Neveh Shalom). A synagogue was built in 1770. Nonetheless, Altona’s Sephardi community, was not independent, and remained a branch of the Hamburg’s Jewish community. Jewish refugees from Poland and Lithuania who had been expelled from Hamburg after the Russian-Polish War (1654-1667) began to settle in Altona during the mid to late 17th century.

The Jews in Altona worked in commerce, shipbuilding, and in whaling, particularly during the 18th century, whaling. Their work and efforts were often helped by the Jews of Hamburg. Additionally, special economic privileges were granted to the Jews of Altona by the Danish kings.

The Altona community eventually merged with the communities of Hamburg and Wandsbek to form a single community known by the initials AHW, led by Chief Rabbi Hillel ben Naphtali Zevi. The chief rabbi’s headquarters were located in Atona, testifying to the town’s importance. Indeed, throughout the 18th century the scholarship and affluence of Altona’s Jewish community overshadowed even that of Hamburg.

Altona also became an important center for Hebrew printing. In 1727 Samuel S. Popert of Koblenz established a printing press in Altona, having learned the craft in Hamburg. He did the printing himself, assisted by the wandering typesetter Moses Maarsen of Amsterdam. Popert published various works in Hebrew and Yiddish until 1739. Additionally, in 1732 Ephraim Heckscher set up a printing house which, a year later, was run by Heckscher’s assistant, Aaron Setzer. He continued printing until 1743, when he became the manager of the press launched by Jacob Emden. Many of Emden's writings accusing Jonathan Eybeschuetz of apostasy were printed there, and the politics of the Emden-Eybeschuetz controversy eventually affected working conditions at the press; in 1752 Setzer and Emden dissolved their working relationship, after Setzer sided with Eybeschuetz. Another assistant in Emden's printing works, Moses Bonn, established his own printing press in 1765, which his descendants would continue to operate under the name Brothers Bonn.

The three communities that made up AHW remained united until 1811, when Hamburg was occupied by the French. In 1815, after the emancipation that had been granted to the Jews by the French was annulled, a number of Jews moved from Hamburg to Altona.

After the area was annexed to Prussia in 1866 the Jewish community of Hamburg grew rapidly and eclipsed that of Altona.

Rabbis of the independent community of Altona included Akiva Wertheimer (1816-1835); the halakhist Jacob Ettlinger (1835-1871); Eliezer Loeb (1873-1892); Meyer Lerner (1894-1926); and Joseph Carlebach (1927-1937).

In 1938 Altona was officially incorporated into Hamburg.

In 1867 Altona’s Jewish population was 2,350 in (out of a total population of 50,000). In 1900 there were approximately 2,000 Jews living in Altona, and approximately 5,000 in 1925 (out of 186,000).
our Open Databases
Jewish Genealogy
Family Names
Jewish Communities
Visual Documentation
Jewish Music Center
Personality
אA
אA
אA
Would you like to help us improving the content? Send us your suggestions
Ehrenberg, Victor Leopold
Ehrenberg, Victor Leopold (1891-1976), historian born in Altona, Germany. He was professor of ancient history at the German University in Prague, Czech Republic, between 1929 and 1939, when he fled to England. In the UK he became visiting lecturer in several universities.

From 1949 to 1957 he was reader and lecturer in ancient history at the University of London. His main interest was in Greek history and he wrote a number of books on the subject. He helped to found the London Classical Society an was a founder and editor of the journal "Historia". His works included "Neugrunder des Staates" (1925), "Alexander und Aegypten" (1926), "Alexander and the Greeks" (1938), "The People of Aristophanes" (1943), "Sophocles and Pericles" (1954). Some of his published articles were collected and republished in "Aspects of the Ancient World" (1946) and "Polis and Imperium" (1965).
Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People

Altona
Prague
London, UK
Altona

A borough in Hamburg, Germany

Altona is located on the right bank of the Elbe River. Between 1640 and 1864 it was part of Denmark. Altona was an independent city until 1937.

A large Jewish cemetery is located in Altona, which has the distinction of being the oldest Jewish cemetery in Hemburg and the oldest Sephardi cemetery in northern Europe. More than 6,000 German and 1,600 Portuguese gravestones have remained standing. The cemetery has been designated as a protected monument, and is maintained by the Office for Monument Protection. The Eduard Duckesz House has been located in the cemetery since November 2007 and serves as an information center for visitors. The center also offers lectures, exhibitions, and a library.

HISTORY

Ashkenazi Jews began arriving in Altona during the late 16th and early 17th centuries, and in 1641 they received a charter from the Danish king to establish a community and build a synagogue. The first Sephardic Jews in Altona were not alive; Portuguese Jews living in Hamburg were prohibited from burying their dead in the city, and so in 1611 they purchased land in Altona for a cemetery in Altona. Eventually, in 1703 thirteen Portuguese families from Hamburg settled in Altona, adding significantly to the small Jewish-Portuguese presence. They organized a community known as Bet Yaakov HaKatan (later renamed Neveh Shalom). A synagogue was built in 1770. Nonetheless, Altona’s Sephardi community, was not independent, and remained a branch of the Hamburg’s Jewish community. Jewish refugees from Poland and Lithuania who had been expelled from Hamburg after the Russian-Polish War (1654-1667) began to settle in Altona during the mid to late 17th century.

The Jews in Altona worked in commerce, shipbuilding, and in whaling, particularly during the 18th century, whaling. Their work and efforts were often helped by the Jews of Hamburg. Additionally, special economic privileges were granted to the Jews of Altona by the Danish kings.

The Altona community eventually merged with the communities of Hamburg and Wandsbek to form a single community known by the initials AHW, led by Chief Rabbi Hillel ben Naphtali Zevi. The chief rabbi’s headquarters were located in Atona, testifying to the town’s importance. Indeed, throughout the 18th century the scholarship and affluence of Altona’s Jewish community overshadowed even that of Hamburg.

Altona also became an important center for Hebrew printing. In 1727 Samuel S. Popert of Koblenz established a printing press in Altona, having learned the craft in Hamburg. He did the printing himself, assisted by the wandering typesetter Moses Maarsen of Amsterdam. Popert published various works in Hebrew and Yiddish until 1739. Additionally, in 1732 Ephraim Heckscher set up a printing house which, a year later, was run by Heckscher’s assistant, Aaron Setzer. He continued printing until 1743, when he became the manager of the press launched by Jacob Emden. Many of Emden's writings accusing Jonathan Eybeschuetz of apostasy were printed there, and the politics of the Emden-Eybeschuetz controversy eventually affected working conditions at the press; in 1752 Setzer and Emden dissolved their working relationship, after Setzer sided with Eybeschuetz. Another assistant in Emden's printing works, Moses Bonn, established his own printing press in 1765, which his descendants would continue to operate under the name Brothers Bonn.

The three communities that made up AHW remained united until 1811, when Hamburg was occupied by the French. In 1815, after the emancipation that had been granted to the Jews by the French was annulled, a number of Jews moved from Hamburg to Altona.

After the area was annexed to Prussia in 1866 the Jewish community of Hamburg grew rapidly and eclipsed that of Altona.

Rabbis of the independent community of Altona included Akiva Wertheimer (1816-1835); the halakhist Jacob Ettlinger (1835-1871); Eliezer Loeb (1873-1892); Meyer Lerner (1894-1926); and Joseph Carlebach (1927-1937).

In 1938 Altona was officially incorporated into Hamburg.

In 1867 Altona’s Jewish population was 2,350 in (out of a total population of 50,000). In 1900 there were approximately 2,000 Jews living in Altona, and approximately 5,000 in 1925 (out of 186,000).
Prague

Capital of the Czech Republic. Formerly the capital of Czechoslovakia.

It has the oldest Jewish community in Bohemia and one of the oldest communities in Europe, for some time the largest and most revered. Jews may have arrived in Prague in late roman times, but the first document mentioning them is a report by Ibrahim Ibn Ya'qub from about 970. The first definite evidence for the existence of a Jewish community in Prague dates to 1091. Jews arrived in Prague from both the east and west around the same time. It is probably for this reason that two Jewish districts came into being there right at the beginning.

The relatively favorable conditions in which the Jews at first lived in Prague were disrupted at the time of the first crusade in 1096. The crusaders murdered many of the Jews in Prague, looted Jewish property, and forced many to accept baptism. During the siege of Prague castle in 1142, the oldest synagogue in Prague and the Jewish quarter below the castle were burned down and the Jews moved to the right bank of the river Moldau (vltava), which was to become the future Jewish quarter, and founded the "Altschul" ("old synagogue") there.

The importance of Jewish culture in Prague is evidenced by the works of the halakhists there in the 11th to 13th centuries. The most celebrated was Isaac B. Moses of Vienna (d. C. 1250) author of "Or Zaru'a". Since the Czech language was spoken by the Jews of Prague in the early middle ages, the halakhic writings of that period also contain annotations in Czech. From the 13th to 16th centuries the Jews of Prague increasingly spoke German. At the time of persecutions which began at the end of the 11th century, the Jews of Prague, together with all the other Jews of Europe, lost their status as free people. From the 13th century on, the Jews of Bohemia were considered servants of the royal chamber (servi camerae regis). Their residence in Prague was subject to the most humiliating conditions (the wearing of special dress, segregation in the ghetto, etc.). The only occupation that Jews were allowed to adopt was moneylending, since this was forbidden to Christians and considered dishonest. Socially the Jews were in an inferior position.

The community suffered from persecutions accompanied by bloodshed in the 13th and 14th centuries, particularly in 1298 and 1338. Charles IV (1346- 1378) protected the Jews, but after his death the worst attack occurred in 1389, when nearly all the Jews of Prague fell victims. The rabbi of Prague and noted kabbalist Avigdor Kara, who witnessed and survived the outbreak, described it in a selichah. Under Wenceslaus IV the Jews of Prague suffered heavy material losses following an order by the king in 1411 canceling all debts owed to Jews.

At the beginning of the 15th century the Jews of Prague found themselves at the center of the Hussite wars (1419- 1436). The Jews of Prague also suffered from mob violence (1422) in this period. The unstable conditions in Prague compelled many Jews to emigrate.

Following the legalization, at the end of the 15th century, of moneylending by non-Jews in Prague, the Jews of Prague lost the economic significance which they had held in the medieval city, and had to look for other occupations in commerce and crafts. The position of the Jews began to improve at the beginning of the 16th century, mainly owing to the assistance of the king and the nobility. The Jews found greater opportunities in trading commodities and monetary transactions with the nobility. As a consequence, their economic position improved. In 1522 there were about 600 Jews in Prague, but by 1541 they numbered about 1,200. At the same time the Jewish quarters were extended. At the end of the 15th century the Jews of Prague founded new communities.

Under pressure of the citizens, king Ferdinand I was compelled in 1541 to approve the expulsion of the Jews. The Jews had to leave Prague by 1543, but were allowed to return in 1545. In 1557 Ferdinand I once again, this time upon his own initiative, ordered the expulsion of the Jews from Prague. They had to leave the city by 1559. Only after the retirement of Ferdinand I from the government of Bohemia were the Jews allowed to return to Prague in 1562.

The favorable position of the Jewish community of Prague during the reign of Rudolf II is reflected also in the flourishing Jewish culture. Among illustrious rabbis who taught in Prague at that time were Judah Loew B. Bezalel (the "maharal"); Ephraim Solomon B. Aaron of Luntschitz; Isaiah B. Abraham ha-levi Horowitz, who taught in Prague from 1614 to 1621; and Yom Tov Lipmann Heller, who became chief rabbi in 1627 but was forced to leave in 1631. The chronicler and astronomer David Gans also lived there in this period. At the beginning of the 17th century about 6,000 Jews were living in Prague.

In 1648 the Jews of Prague distinguished themselves in the defense of the city against the invading swedes. In recognition of their acts of heroism the Emperor presented them with a special flag which is still preserved in the Altneuschul. Its design with a Swedish cap in the center of the Shield of David became the official emblem of the Prague Jewish community.

After the thirty years' war, government policy was influenced by the church counter-reformation, and measures were taken to limit the Jews' means of earning a livelihood. A number of anti-Semitic resolutions and decrees were promulgated. Only the eldest son of every family was allowed to marry and found a family, the others having to remain single or leave Bohemia.

In 1680, more than 3,000 Jews in Prague died of the plague. Shortly afterward, in 1689, the Jewish quarter burned down, and over 300 Jewish houses and 11 synagogues were destroyed. The authorities initiated and partially implemented a project to transfer all the surviving Jews to the village of Lieben (Liben) north of Prague. Great excitement was aroused in 1694 by the murder trial of the father of Simon Abeles, a 12-year-old boy, who, it was alleged, had desired to be baptized and had been killed by his father. Simon was buried in the Tyn (Thein) church, the greatest and most celebrated cathedral of the old town of Prague. Concurrently with the religious incitement against the Jews an economic struggle was waged against them.

The anti-Jewish official policy reached its climax after the accession to the throne of Maria Theresa (1740-1780), who in 1744 issued an order expelling the Jews from Bohemia and Moravia. Jews were banished but were subsequently allowed to return after they promised to pay high taxes. In the baroque period noted rabbis were Simon Spira; Elias Spira; David Oppenheim; and Ezekiel Landau, chief rabbi and rosh yeshivah (1755-93(.

The position of the Jews greatly improved under Joseph II (1780-1790), who issued the Toleranzpatent of 1782. The new policy in regard to the Jews aimed at gradual abolition of the limitations imposed upon them, so that they could become more useful to the state in a modernized economic system. At the same time, the new regulations were part of the systematic policy of germanization pursued by Joseph II. Jews were compelled to adopt family names and to establish schools for secular studies; they became subject to military service, and were required to cease using Hebrew and Yiddish in business transactions. Wealthy and enterprising Jews made good use of the advantages of Joseph's reforms. Jews who founded manufacturing enterprises were allowed to settle outside the Jewish quarter of Prague.

Subsequently the limitations imposed upon Jews were gradually removed. In 1841 the prohibition on Jews owning land was rescinded. In 1846 the Jewish tax was abolished. In 1848 Jews were granted equal rights, and by 1867 the process of legal emancipation had been completed. In 1852 the ghetto of Prague was abolished. Because of the unhygienic conditions in the former Jewish quarter the Prague municipality decided in 1896 to pull down the old quarter, with the exception of important historical sites. Thus the Altneuschul, the Pinkas and Klaus, Meisel and Hoch synagogues, and some other places of historical and artistic interest remained intact.

In 1848 the community of Prague, numbering over 10,000, was still one of the largest Jewish communities in Europe (Vienna then numbered only 4,000 Jews). In the following period of the emancipation and the post- emancipation era the Prague community increased considerably in numbers, but did not keep pace with the rapidly expanding new Jewish metropolitan centers in western, central, and Eastern Europe.

After emancipation had been achieved in 1867, emigration from Prague abroad ceased as a mass phenomenon; movement to Vienna, Germany, and Western Europe continued. Jews were now represented in industry, especially the textile, clothing, leather, shoe, and food industries, in wholesale and retail trade, and in increasing numbers in the professions and as white-collar employees. Some Jewish bankers, industrialists and merchants achieved considerable wealth. The majority of Jews in Prague belonged to the middle class, but there also remained a substantial number of poor Jews.

Emancipation brought in its wake a quiet process of secularization and assimilation. In the first decades of the 19th century Prague Jewry, which then still led its traditionalist orthodox way of life, had been disturbed by the activities of the followers of Jacob Frank. The situation changed in the second half of the century. The chief rabbinate was still occupied by outstanding scholars, like Solomon Judah Rapoport, the leader of the Haskalah movement; Markus Hirsch (1880-1889) helped to weaken the religious influence in the community. Many synagogues introduced modernized services, a shortened liturgy, the organ and mixed choir, but did not necessarily embrace the principles of the reform movement.

Jews availed themselves eagerly of the opportunities to give their children a higher secular education. Jews formed a considerable part of the German minority in Prague, and the majority adhered to liberal movements. David Kuh founded the "German liberal party of Bohemia and represented it in the Bohemian diet (1862-1873). Despite strong Germanizing factors, many Jews adhered to the Czech language, and in the last two decades of the 19th century a Czech assimilationist movement developed which gained support from the continuing influx of Jews from the rural areas. Through the influence of German nationalists from the Sudeten districts anti-Semitism developed within the German population and opposed Jewish assimilation. At the end of the 19th century Zionism struck roots among the Jews of Bohemia, especially in Prague.

Growing secularization and assimilation led to an increase of mixed marriages and abandonment of Judaism. At the time of the Czechoslovak republic, established in 1918, many more people registered their dissociation of affiliation to the Jewish faith without adopting another. The proportion of mixed marriages in Bohemia was one of the highest in Europe. The seven communities of Prague were federated in the union of Jewish religious communities of greater Prague and cooperated on many issues. They established joint institutions; among these the most important was the institute for social welfare, established in 1935. The "Afike Jehuda society for the Advancement of Jewish Studies" was founded in 1869. There were also the Jewish museum and "The Jewish historical society of Czechoslovakia". A five-grade elementary school was established with Czech as the language of instruction. The many philanthropic institutions and associations included the Jewish care for the sick, the center for social welfare, the aid committee for refugees, the aid committee for Jews from Carpatho- Russia, orphanages, hostels for apprentices, old-age homes, a home for abandoned children, free-meal associations, associations for children's vacation centers, and funds to aid students. Zionist organizations were also well represented. There were three B'nai B'rith lodges, women's organizations, youth movements, student clubs, sports organizations, and a community center. Four Jewish weeklies were published in Prague (three Zionist; one Czech- assimilationist), and several monthlies and quarterlies. Most Jewish organizations in Czechoslovakia had their headquarters in Prague.

Jews first became politically active, and some of them prominent, within the German orbit. David Kuh and the president of the Jewish community, Arnold Rosenbacher, were among the leaders of the German Liberal party in the 19th century. Bruno Kafka and Ludwig Spiegel represented its successor in the Czechoslovak republic, the German Democratic Party, in the chamber of deputies and the senate respectively. Emil Strauss represented that party in the 1930s on the Prague Municipal Council and in the Bohemian diet. From the end of the 19th century an increasing number of Jews joined Czech parties, especially T. G. Masaryk's realists and the social democratic party. Among the latter Alfred Meissner, Lev Winter, and Robert Klein rose to prominence, the first two as ministers of justice and social welfare respectively.

Zionists, though a minority, soon became the most active element among the Jews of Prague. "Barissia" - Jewish Academic Corporation, was founded in Prague in 1903, it was one of the leading academic organizations for the advancement of Zionism in Bohemia. Before World War I the students' organization "Bar Kochba", under the leadership of Samuel Hugo Bergman, became one of the centers of cultural Zionism. The Prague Zionist Arthur Mahler was elected to the Austrian parliament in 1907, though as representative of an electoral district in Galicia. Under the leadership of Ludvik Singer the "Jewish National Council" was formed in 1918. Singer was elected in 1929 to the Czechoslovak parliament, and was succeeded after his death in 1931 by Angelo Goldstein. Singer, Goldstein, Frantisek Friedmann, and Jacob Reiss represented the Zionists on the Prague municipal council also. Some important Zionist conferences took place in Prague, among them the founding conference of hitachadut in 1920, and the
18th Zionist congress in 1933.

The group of Prague German-Jewish authors which emerged in the 1880s, known as the "Prague Circle" ('der Prager Kreis'), achieved international recognition and included Franz Kafka, Max Brod, Franz Werfel, Oskar Baum, Ludwig Winder, Leo Perutz, Egon Erwin Kisch, Otto Klepetar, and Willy Haas.

During the Holocaust period, the measures e.g., deprivation of property rights, prohibition against religious, cultural, or any other form of public activity, expulsion from the professions and from schools, a ban on the use of public transportation and the telephone, affected Prague Jews much more than those still living in the provinces. Jewish organizations provided social welfare and clandestinely continued the education of the youth and the training in languages and new vocations in preparation for emigration. The Palestine office in Prague, directed by Jacob Edelstein, enabled about 19,000 Jews to emigrate legally or otherwise until the end of 1939.

In March 1940, the Prague zentralstelle extended the area of its jurisdiction to include all of Bohemia and Moravia. In an attempt to obviate the deportation of the Jews to "the east", Jewish leaders, headed by Jacob Edelstein, proposed to the zentralstelle the establishment of a self- administered concentrated Jewish communal body; the Nazis eventually exploited this proposal in the establishment of a ghetto at Theresienstadt (Terezin). The Prague Jewish community was forced to provide the Nazis with lists of candidates for deportation and to ensure that they showed up at the assembly point and boarded deportation trains. In the period from October 6, 1941, to March 16, 1945, 46,067 Jews were deported from Prague to "the east" or to Theresienstadt. Two leading officials of the Jewish community, H. Bonn and Emil Kafka were dispatched to Mauthausen concentration camp and put to death after trying to slow down the pace of the deportations. The Nazis set up a treuhandstelle ("trustee Office") over evacuated Jewish apartments, furnishings, and possessions. This office sold these goods and forwarded the proceeds to the German winterhilfe ("winter aid"). The treuhandstelle ran as many as 54 warehouses, including 11 synagogues (as a result, none of the synagogues was destroyed). The zentralstelle brought Jewish religious articles from 153 Jewish communities to Prague on a proposal by Jewish scholars. This collection, including 5,400 religious objects, 24,500 prayer books, and 6,070 items of historical value the Nazis intended to utilize for a "central museum of the defunct Jewish race". Jewish historians engaged in the creation of the museum were deported to extermination camps just before the end of the war. Thus the Jewish museum had acquired at the end of the war one of the richest collections of Judaica in the world.


Prague had a Jewish population of 10,338 in 1946, of whom 1,396 Jews had not been deported (mostly of mixed Jewish and Christian parentage); 227 Jews had gone underground; 4,986 returned from prisons, concentration camps, or Theresienstadt; 883 returned from Czechoslovak army units abroad; 613 were Czechoslovak Jewish emigres who returned; and 2,233 were Jews from Ruthenia (Carpatho-Ukraine), which had been ceded to the U.S.S.R. who decided to move to Czechoslovakia. The communist takeover of 1948 put an end to any attempt to revive the Jewish community and marked the beginning of a period of stagnation. By 1950 about half of the Jewish population had gone to Israel or immigrated to other countries. The Slansky trials and the officially promoted anti-Semitism had a destructive effect upon Jewish life. Nazi racism of the previous era was replaced by political and social discrimination. Most of the Jews of Prague were branded as "class enemies of the working people". During this
Period (1951-1964) there was no possibility of Jewish emigration from the country. The assets belonging to the Jewish community had to be relinquished to the state. The charitable organizations were disbanded, and the budget of the community, provided by the state, was drastically reduced. The general anti-religious policy of the regime resulted in the cessation, for all practical purposes, of such Jewish religious activities as bar-mitzvah religious instruction and wedding ceremonies. In 1964 only two cantors and two ritual slaughterers were left. The liberalization of the regime during 1965-1968 held out new hope for a renewal of Jewish life in Prague.

At the end of March 1967 the president of "The World Jewish Congress", Nahum Goldmann, was able to visit Prague and give a lecture in the Jewish town hall. Among the Jewish youth many tended to identify with Judaism. Following the soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 there was an attempt to put an end to this trend, however the Jewish youth, organized since 1965, carried on with their Jewish cultural activities until 1972. In the late 6os the Jewish population of Prague numbered about 2,000.

On the walls of the Pinkas synagogue, which is part of the central Jewish museum in Prague, are engraved the names of 77,297 Jews from Bohemia and Moravia who were murdered by the Nazis in 1939-1945.

In 1997 some 6,000 Jews were living in the Czech Republic, most of them in Prague. The majority of the Jews of Prague were indeed elderly, but the Jewish community's strengthened in 1990's by many Jews, mainly American, who had come to work in the republic, settled in Prague, and joined the community.

In April 2000 the central square of Prague was named Franz Kafka square. This was done thanks to the unflinching efforts and after years of straggle with the authorities, of Professor Eduard Goldstucker, a Jew born in Prague, the initiator of the idea.

London

The capital and most populous city of England and the United Kingdom. 

21ST CENTURY

Behind Israel, the United States, France, and Canada, the United Kingdom boasts the fifth-largest Jewish population worldwide and the second-largest in Europe. Nearly two-thirds of Britain’s Jews live in Greater London, which is three out of every five Jews living in the United Kingdom. The Jewish population is principally concentrated in the northern boroughs of Barnet and Hackney. According to the 2011 UK census, approximately 172,000 Jews live in London, with more than 54,000 living in Barnet alone.

By the end of the 20th century, sizeable Jewish communities had developed in the areas of Golders Green and Stamford Hill. Located in the London Borough of Barnet, Golders Green is an area noted especially for its large Jewish community and for having the largest kosher hub in the entire United Kingdom. The Jews of Barnet account for one in five of all the Jews in England and Wales.

The district of Stamford Hill in Hackney is best known for its population of Hasidic Jews. At approximately 30,000 people, it is the largest concentration of Hasidic Jews in Europe. A once-small religious community that had lived in the area at the end of the 19th century was largely augmented by the influx of pre-war refugees and Holocaust survivors. Since then, the Haredi community has experienced continued growth with arrivals from Israel and North America. Due to the ultra-Orthodox nature of the area, Stamford Hill is often referred to as the “square mile of piety.” In this small geographical area are over 70 synagogues, many of which are associated with congregations which originated in Eastern Europe, including the Satmar and Belz dynasties, two of the largest Jewish sects represented in the community.

Stamford Hill is also home to a sizeable community of Yemenite Jews, specifically Adeni Jews from the former British protectorate of Aden. Between 1947 and 1967, nearly the entire population emigrated from Aden, settling primarily in Israel and the United Kingdom.

The London Jewish community is served by a wide range of social welfare organizations, including several local councils and international charities. Among them are the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Community Security Trust, the Jewish Learning Exchange, the Jewish Leadership Council, Jewish Women’s Aid, the Jewish Historical Society of England, the London Jewish Forum, the Center for Jewish Life, and the Anglo Jewish Association.

The primary focus of many of these organizations is to organize and fund cultural events and educational programs for families and young adults. Others, like the London Jewish Forum, promote active engagement of the Jewish community with civic life. Since the 1970s, there have been more than sixty Zionist organizations which supported various institutions in Israel.

Philanthropic organizations include the World Jewish Relief, the JNF Charitable Trust and Norwood. World Jewish Relief was established in 1933 as a fund for German Jews which rescued over 100,000 Jews prior to World War II; Norwood is one of the oldest charities in the United Kingdom and is well known for its support of children and people with disabilities. The organization has many celebrity patrons and supporters, including Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, Sir Elton John, and Simon Cowell.

In terms of health and social services, Jewish Care is the largest provider of healthcare for the communities of London and the South East. This organization operates more than seventy centers throughout the United Kingdom.

There are more than 150 active synagogues located throughout Greater London. Several Jewish movements are represented, including Orthodox, Chabad, Masorti, Reform, Liberal, and independent. The number of strictly Orthodox or Haredi synagogues has more than doubled since the 1990s, chiefly due to the growth of Hasidic groups in the district of Stamford Hill. By 2014, the ultra-Orthodox community of London accounted for 18% of the Jewish population. The Belvis Marks Synagogue, built in 1701 by Sephardic Jews from Spain and Portugal, is the oldest synagogue still in use in the United Kingdom.

London is home to about 37 Jewish primary schools, 54 nursery schools, and as many as 14 secondary schools. The majority of Jewish children in the United Kingdom live in Greater London; those from non-Haredi families make up 50% of the children enrolled in Jewish primary schools. According to a 2015 government report, London’s Jewish schools are among the best in England. Many of London’s synagogues provide Jewish education. Outside of the Haredi community, the majority of London’s Jewish students attend schools which are separate from congregations but may be associated with the major streams of Judaism.

One of the most famous Jewish schools in Britain is located in London, the Jews’ Free School (JFS); it was established in 1732 and was at one time the largest Jewish school in Europe. Another well-known Jewish school is the Jewish Community Secondary School; established in 2010 in New Barnet, London; it is state-funded and cross-denominational. A notable institution which provides Jewish educational programs for adults is the London School of Jewish Studies. The roots of the college go back to 1855 when Chief Rabbi Nathan Marcus Adler opened the Jews’ College in Finsbury Square. After a rebrand in 1999, the London School of Jewish Studies (LSJS) shifted its focus and become a hub of academic study.

In Greater London are several social associations and community programs dedicated to promoting a Jewish life and advancing Jewish causes. One in particular is Spiro Ark, a charitable organization that organizes Jewish cultural events and educational programs. Another is the Center for Jewish Life, which provides a wide array of social programs, educational events, and activities for Jews to connect with each other. Located at the University College London Union is the JSC, one of the largest Jewish societies for Jewish students in the United Kingdom. There are also fifteen Chabad centers found in central London.

As the nucleus of Jewish cohesion and culture in Britain, the city of London hosts a number of museums and memorials. One of its most famous is the Hyde Park Holocaust Memorial; unveiled in 1983, it was the first Holocaust memorial in Great Britain.

Ben Uri –The London Jewish Museum of Art is a public art gallery that was founded in 1915 and remains Europe’s only Jewish art museum. The Jewish Military Museum commemorates the Jewish contribution to British forces going back three hundred years. Providing an insight into British Jewish history is the Jewish Museum of London. Among its permanent exhibitions is the Holocaust Gallery, Judaism: A Living Faith, The Mikveh, and History: A British Story.

The first Jewish Community Center in London is the London Cultural Center (JW3), which has become the leading center for adult education and for the arts.

The Weiner Library is home to one of the world’s most extensive Holocaust archives. Established in 1933, it includes over one million items, including eyewitness testimony, photos, and published and unpublished works.

Other Jewish landmarks in London include the Rothschild Archive in St. Swithin’s lane, the Freud Museum, the Bevis Marks Synagogue, the statue of Benjamin Disraeli at Parliament Square, and the Jewish East End, site of the historical Jewish Socialist Club. There are also more than twenty kosher restaurants, four kosher hotels, and many Judaica shops found throughout the north of the city.

The largest amount of publications on Jewish topics emanate from London. These include newspapers, magazines, books and other media. Circulating throughout Greater London is The Jewish Chronicle; founded in 1841, it is the oldest continuously published Jewish newspaper in the world. In 1896, it published Theodor Herzl’s historic article “Solution of the Jewish Question”.

Another weekly published newspaper is The Jewish News. Named Free Newspaper of the Year in 2003 by Press Gazette, it provides local, national and international news and entertainment for the Jewish communities of Greater London, Middlesex, Hertfordshire and Essex.

The Jewish Tribune is a privately owned Haredi weekly newspaper based in Stamford Hill. It is the fourth largest Jewish publication in England.

Broadcasted by the Spectrum Radio Network is Sunday Jewish Radio, a weekly program on Jewish themes.

 

HISTORY

After the Norman conquest of 1066, a few Jews arrived in London from the nearby areas of Europe (chiefly the Duchy of Normandy, including Rouen), attracted mainly by the economic opportunities that the city offered. The earliest recorded mention of the London community dates from the reign of William Rufus (1087-1100), who appears to have favored the Jews to a certain extent.

In 1130, in what was possibly a blood libel, the Jews of London were accused of killing a sick man and were forced to pay an enormous fine. Other outbreaks of antisemitism took place during the coronation of Richard I (September 3,1189) and during the reign of John (1199-1216); John’s reign, and that of his son Henry III (1216-1272) saw the opposition of the barons to the Jews, and there was a baronial attack on London Jewry in 1215. Nonetheless, Jewish intellectual during this period flourished; among other accomplishments, it attracted the Biblical commentator Abraham ibn Ezra, who wrote his Iggeret Ha-Shabbat and his Yesod Mora in London in 1158.

During the reign of Henry III the Jews of London, along with those of the rest of the country, were oppressed. The climax came in 1224 when it was alleged that some gashes found on the body of a dead child were Hebrew letters and the Jews were accused of ritual murder. This resulted in a punitive fine on the Jewish community. In 1232 Henry III confiscated the main London synagogue on the pretext that the chanting could be heard in a neighboring church. In 1278 a number of London Jews were among the 680 who were imprisoned in the tower of London on forgery charges. Nearly 300 are said to have been hanged. Shortly thereafter, in 1283 the Bishop of London ordered that all synagogues in the diocese to be closed (one was later reopened).
In 1290, the Jews were expelled from England and the Jewish community of London ceased to exist.
In 1509, after the expulsions from Spain and Portugal, a few crypto-Jewish refugees settled in London; by the end of Henry VIII’s reign in 1547, there were approximately 37 crypto-Jewish families living in London. However, in 1609 the Portuguese merchants living in London, who were suspected of Judaizing, were expelled. Nevertheless, when the crypto-Jewish community of Ruen was (temporarily) dissolved in 1632, a number of fugitives, including Antonio Fernandez Carvajal, found a home in London. Thus, when Manasseh ben Israel went to England in 1655, there was already an established secret Jewish community in London that became increasingly visible. In March of 1657 a petition was presented to Cromwell asking for protection, and the following December a house was rented and used as a synagogue. A few months later the community purchased land for a cemetery.

After Cromwell's death in 1658 numerous attempts were made to persecute and stem the grown of the community. Charles II, however, intervened in its favor, and bestowed de facto recognition on the community. A synagogue on Cree Church Lane was enlarged and remodeled in 1674, and in 1701 a new place of worship was built in Bevis Marks. As the community was reestablishing itself, considerable numbers of Spanish and Portuguese Jews began arriving from Holland. Ashkenazim soon followed, most of whom arrived via Amsterdam or Hamburg. They organized their own congregation around 1690, and eventually became the more influential and populous Jewish community in London.
The Sephardic and Ashkenazi communities proved able to work together in establishing and running a number of community institutions. The board for kosher slaughter, in which Sephardim and Ashkenazim cooperated, was organized through the advocacy of Baron Lyon de Symons between 1792 and 1804. As early as 1760 the Sephardi community admitted Ashkenazi representatives to their governing committee, which was appointed to deal with the government on behalf of the Jewish community. This ultimately developed into the Board of Deputies of British Jews, which represented the Jewish communities of London until 1838, after which it began to represent Jewish communities outside of London, in addition to the ones within the city.

The Ashkenazi community’s Talmud Torah, which was established in 1732, was reorganized in 1817 as the Jews' Free School. This school eventually developed into one of the largest schools in Europe.

 

19TH CENTURY

The struggle for Jewish emancipation in England centered in London, and was a process that developed in stages throughout the years. Beginning in 1830 the city of London had shown its support of parliamentary emancipation, most notably by electing Baron Lionel de Rothschild, in spite of the fact that he could not take his seat because of the statutory oath. Nonetheless, this became very influential when it came to the ultimate admission of Jews to the Parliament in 1858. In 1831 Jews were granted the privilege of being able to engage in retail trade, from which they had hitherto been barred. In 1835, David Salomons was elected a sheriff of the city, the first Jewish person to serve in that office. In 1847 Salomons became the first Jewish alderman, and in 1855 the first Jewish Lord Mayor of London.
The growing Anglicization of London Jewry led to a number of community developments. A Reform congregation was established in 1840. Sephardi and Ashkenazi congregations established branch synagogues in the West End. A modern theological seminary, Jews' College, was founded in 1855, and a charitable organization, the Board of Guardians for the Relief of the Jewish Poor, was established in 1859. The United Synagogue, an umbrella organization for the major Ashkenazi congregations in London, was established in 1870. In 1887 Sir Samuel Montagu (later Lord Swaythling) created the Federation of Synagogues in order to coordinate the various religious activities that took place in the different synagogues.
The mass emigration from Russia that began in 1881 led to a mass influx of Eastern European Jews to London. As a result, the next 25 years saw London’s Jewish population rise from about 47,000 to approximately 150,000. Most of the new immigrants worked as tailors, shoemakers, and cabinetmakers. A Yiddish press and an active trade union movement were established to meet the needs of this growing immigrant population.

 

20TH CENTURY

The Aliens Act of 1905 limited immigration, though smaller numbers of Jewish immigrants continued to arrive until the outbreak of World War I in 1914. Later, a considerable number of refugees arrived from Germany after the Nazi rise to power in 1933.

As Jews became more established in London, they tended to move. East End Jews who managed to work their way up the socioeconomic ladder tended to move to the newer suburbs, particularly those in the northeast of the city, to Stamford Hill, and the northwest, to Golders Green). The interwar period saw significant numbers of London’s Jews moving from the East End to the northern suburbs, as many within the community became well-established and successful. This movement led to the establishment of a number of Jewish institutions in the suburbs. A Jewish museum and a community center for the major Jewish institutions of London were established at Woburn House in the Bloomsbury area.
The total Jewish population of greater London in 1970 was estimated at 280,000. In 1997 it was estimated at 300,000.

 

EHRENBERG
EHRENBERG

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name is a toponymic (derived from a geographic name of a town, city, region or country). Surnames that are based on place names do not always testify to direct origin from that place, but may indicate an indirect relation between the name-bearer or his ancestors and the place, such as birth place, temporary residence, trade, or family-relatives.

Literally "honor mountain" in German, Ehrenberg is a variant of Arensberg. There are several German towns with which the family name Ehrenberg could be associated, among them Ehrenberg near Leipzig in Germany, Boehlitz-Ehrenberg in Saxony and Ahrensburg in Schleswig Holstein. This family name is also a patronymic, derived from a male ancestor's personal name, in this case of biblical origin. As a Jewish name, Ehren is one of the German equivalents of the Hebrew Aharon/Aaron. Aaron/Aharon, son of Amram and Jochebed, of the tribe of Levi, was the elder brother of Moses. He was the first high priest of the Jews, and the ancestor of the Cohanim. Numerous personal and family names are linked to this brother, spokesman and aide of Moses, among them Aron, Aren, Oren, Horn, Goren, Oron and Baron.

Berg, the second part of the name, literally "mountain" in German/Yiddish, is a common artificial name in Jewish surnames, that can be found as a prefix (Bergstein) or a suffix (Goldberg). The term Berg is found in many German and other place names. Jews lived since the 13th century in the former Duchy and Grand Duchy of Berg in Westphalia, from which they might have derived Berg as a family name. In some cases, Berg is also a Hebrew acronym (a name created from the initial letters of a Hebrew phrase, and which refers to a relative, lineage or occupation) of Ben Rabi Gershon ("son of Rabbi Gershon").

Distinguished German bearers of the Jewish family name Ehrenberg include the educator Samuel Meyer Ehrenberg (1773-1853); the political economist Richard Ehrenberg (1857-1921); and the historian Victor Leopold Ehrenberg (1891-1976).