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HANAU , city near Frankfurt, Germany. The earliest documentary evidence for the presence of Jews in Hanau dates from 1313. During the *Black Death persecutions in 1349 the Jewish community of Hanau was destroyed and its synagogue confiscated. There were no more Jews in the city until 1429 when there were again two Jewish families living there. In 1603 Count Philip Ludwig ii granted 10 Jewish families a privilege (Judenstaettigkeit) allowing them to settle in Hanau, build a special quarter (Judengasse), and erect a synagogue, which was dedicated in 1608. Previously, Jewish families had brought their dead to Frankfurt and then Windecken for burial, but a cemetery was consecrated in Hanau itself in 1603. By 1607 the community had grown to 159; 100 years later there were 111 families, or 600 to 700 individuals, resident in the city. In 1659 a conference of notables representing five Jewish communities took place in Hanau. Among the many talmudic scholars active in Hanau in the 17th and 18th centuries, best known was R. Tuviah Sontheim (1755–1830), Landrabbiner from 1798, and chief rabbi for the whole province of Hanau from 1824 to 1830. He was followed in office by Samson Felsenstein (1835–82).

In the 17th and 18th centuries Hanau developed into an important center of Hebrew printing. From Hans Jacob Hena's press, which was established in 1610, issued such important works as responsa by Jacob *Weil, Solomon b. Abraham *Adret, and Judah *Minz as well as Jacob b. Asher's Arba'ah Turim. Employing both Jews and gentiles, this press produced a great number of rabbinic, kabbalistic, and liturgical items within about 20 years. A hundred years later Hebrew printing was resumed in the city by H.J. Bashuysen, who published Isaac Abrabanel's Pentateuch commentary (1709). In 1714 Bashuysen's press was taken over by J.J. Beausang and was active until 1797.

During the last quarter of the 18th century several Court Jews lived in Hanau, mainly occupied as suppliers of the army. From 1806 the Jews were allowed to live in any part of the town, but full emancipation was not granted until 1866. The community numbered 540 persons in 1805, 80 families in 1830, 447 persons in 1871, and 657 at the turn of the century. In 1925 there were 568 Jews in Hanau and 447 in 1933. At that time there existed a synagogue, a cemetery, three charitable societies, and a religious school attended by 75 children.

Jews were active in many aspects of the commercial and industrial life of the town. However, Nazi economic boycotts had a telling effect so that the number of Jews had dwindled by May 1939 to 107. On Nov. 9/10, 1938, the synagogue was burned to the ground; the site was later cleared and title to it transferred to the city. The teachers' quarters owned by the community were demolished and many gravestones at the Jewish cemetery were overturned. The last 26 Jews of Hanau were deported in 1942 to Auschwitz and Theresienstadt. Another five Jews, partners of mixed marriages, remained in the town. In 1968, a few Jews resided in Hanau. In 2005 a Jewish community with about 130 members was refounded. The majority of the members were immigrants from the former Soviet Union.


L. Loewenstein, Das Rabbinat in Hanau nebst Beitraegen zur Geschichte der dortigen Juden (1921: = jjlg, 14 (1921), 1–84); Germ Jud, 2 (1968), 336–7; H. Schnee, Die Hoffinanz und der moderne Staat, 2 (1954), 352–60: E.J. Zimmermann, Hanau Stadt und Land… (1903), 476–521; L. Rosenthal, Zur Geschichte der Juden im Gebiet der ehemaligen Grafschaft Hanau… (1963); fjw, 187–8; L. Una, in: Juedisches Litteratur-Blatt, 20 (1891), 10–11, 14–15, 19, 23, 80–81; E.J. Zimmermann, in: Hanauisches Magazin (Hanauer Anzeiger, June 1, 1924). add. bibliography: R. Schaffer-Hartmann, 700 Jahre Stadtrechte, 400 Jahre Judenstaettigkeit (2003; Stadtzeit, volume 6); Fuer einen Gulden Bede … Von Hanaus juedischem Totenhof (1999); M.I. Pfeiffer, M. Kingreen, Hanauer Juden 19331945. Entrechtung, Verfolgung, Deportation (1998).

[Chasia Turtel]

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