Rechnungsbuch der Israelitischen Gemeinde Frankfurt aus den Jahren 1785-1804

Accounts Book of the Israelite Community in Frankfurt 1810–1831

Journal on revenue and expenditure

The Accounts book of the Israelite Community in Frankfurt, kept consistently between 1810 and 1831, provides insight into the make up of the Frankfurt Jewish community and its internal organisation.

Accounts Book of the Israelite Community Frankfurt
Page from the accounts book of the Israelite community Frankfurt.

Frankfurt was home to a large and important Jewish community, whose verifiable beginnings date back to the 12th century. The history of the so-called Judengasse in Frankfurt, a forced residential area or ghetto, testifies to an active Jewish community over a period of more than 350 years after its establishment in 1462. That community took part in events in the city and exerted a decisive  influence on Frankfurt, in particular after the opening of the ghetto and civil equality in 1864. Those Jewish contributions are often religiously determined – given that many Rabbi-personalities lived and taught in Frankfurt – or else emerged from famous families who were able to extend their sphere of influence to the city, its development and its well-being.

Title of the little accounts book

"Journals on the financial revenue and expenditure by the Tax Section of the Jewish Community Council"

Digitization at the Frankfurt University Library

In collaboration with Frankfurt’s University Library, this little book, among others, was digitized so as to make Hebrew and German manuscripts from its collection of manuscripts accessible online to a larger public.

Thousands of entries relating to the community’s revenue and expenditure

The accounts book reveals some person-related background information, also on prominent members of Frankfurt’s Jewish community in the modern era. The bookkeeper of the time, Aaron Herz Reinganum, and his successor made a note of payments from and to Rabbis such as Zwi Hirsch Halevi Horowitz and Salomon Abraham Trier. Moreover, members of well-known families are mentioned, such as for example, Rothschild, Geiger, Posen, Speyer, Zunz and Oppenheim.

Numbers also tell us about people

Rechnungsbuch der Jüdischen Gemeinde Frankfurt aus den Jahren 1785-1804
[Translate to English:] Auch bekannte Namen wie Oppenheim und Schames tauchen in dem Rechnungsbuch auf. Aus beiden Familien gingen später bekannte Maler hervor.

When the name Rothschild repeatedly crops up in the account book on the revenue side then this also testifies to the generosity of the family and its close links with the Jewish community. The donor names Schames and Oppenheim are also to be found frequently. This clearly illustrates the long-term rootedness of the family members in the area. Some members of those families later became famous as artists.

Also listed are numerous dayanim (judges at the Rabbinical Court), cantors, choir masters, community clerks and other synagogue officials. Also on the community’s pay roll were clerks at the ritual bath, shochets (kosher butchers), midwifes, hospital attendants, bakers at the community bakeries and grave diggers. Payments by the commuity were also made to non-Jews, such as policemen, chimney sweeps, flushers and many others. Thanks to the accounts book, the whole range of employees of the community can be ascertained, thus providing insight into the organisational structure of same.

Destruction of the Community Archive by the National Socialists

The archive of the Jewish community was more or less totally lost as a result of the community hall being plundered during the pogrom in November 1938 and the destruction of the city archive in March 1944. For the study of the community’s organisation in the early 19th century therefore this manuscript is an important witness