Fraenkel, Elkan

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FRAENKEL, ELKAN

FRAENKEL, ELKAN (c. 1655–1720), *Court Jew in Ansbach. His father became rabbi in Fuerth and Bamberg after the expulsion of the Jews from Vienna in 1670. However Elkan antagonized the Fuerth community by advocating the interests of the margrave of Ansbach against the prelate of Bamberg, the traditional guardian of Fuerth Jewry. In 1703, Fraenkel became Court Jew of the margrave displacing the *Model family in this post, who thus became his bitter enemies. In 1704, he became an elder (parnas) of Fuerth and Ansbach Jewry. Although he could exercise magnanimity, reducing a fine of 30,000 florins imposed on the community for usurious practices to 20,000 florins, he was in general despotic and aroused much opposition. In 1712 he was denounced by Essaja (Jesse) Fraenkel, the spendthrift son of a Fuerth printer and a convert to Christianity, and falsely accused of 16 charges including witchcraft, lèse-majesté, debauchery, possession of blasphemous books, and hindering the confiscation of Hebrew books in Fuerth in 1702. He was sentenced to a public whipping and life imprisonment. His possessions were confiscated and his wife and daughter expelled. His brother Ẓevi hirsch (d. 1723), appointed Landesrabbiner in 1709, was accused of witchcraft and use of kabbalistic devices to further Elkan's career. He received the same sentence and died in prison.

bibliography:

S. Stern, The Court Jew (1950), 193–4, 237–8, 244, 256–7; H. Schnee, Die Hoffinanz und der Moderne Staat, 4 (1963), 26–28; Ziemlich, in: mgwj, 46 (1902), 88–93; idem, in: Gedenkbuch D. Kaufmann (1901), 457–86; Weinberg, in: mgwj, 50 (1906), 94–99; S. Haenle, Geschichte der Juden im ehemaligen Fuerstenthum Ansbach (1867), 72–86; D.Y. Cohen, Irgunei "Benei ha-Medinah" be-Ashkenaz…, 1 (1968), 141ff.; 2 (1968), 135–7 (mimeographed dissertation; English summary).