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Jewish Heritage Frankfurt
Jewish Heritage & General Frankfurt
The ShUM cities – Mainz, Worms and Speyer
Located at the only good place to ford the Main River, Frankfurt developed into a European crossroads of trade and an outstanding commercial and financial center. Jewish traders and bankers played a major role in the development of the city. The settlement of Jews dates back to the 12th century. Judengasse, the heart of the medieval ghetto, is gone, but an excellent museum is found directly atop the archaeological excavations. What made Frankfurt’s “Jews’ Lane” most famous is the miracle of the Rothschilds, a Jewish family who rose from the darkest streets to the greatest heights of European royalty, finance and culture.
Like them, many Jewish families played a major role in the development of the city. They contributed to the establishment of important institutions like the Old Opera House, the Frankfurt University and various city hospitals. In 1804, the famous humanist school of the enlightenment – the Philantropin – was founded by Mayer Amschel Rothschild himself, patriarch of the dynasty. Along with his grave, one can find in Frankfurt’s Jewish cemeteries the graves of important Talmudic scholars and great rabbis, such as Samson Raphael Hirsch, Salomon Breuer and the StolinerRebbe.
Today the Rothschild Palace houses the Jewish Museum depicting Jewish life from the 12th to 20th century. There are many memorials to remember the Shoah in Frankfurt and the loss of what was once Europe’s most powerful Jewish community.
Today’s Jewish community offers a broad spectrum of Jewish life ranging from liberal to orthodox. One may visit the Jewish Community Center with Sohar’s kosher restaurant, the magnificent Westend Synagogue built in 1910, the Anne Frank Meeting Center (Anne Frank was born in Frankfurt) and the Philantropin, where the Jewish school moved in 2006. Second in size only to Berlin, today’s Jewish community in ‘Mainhattan’ numbers approximately 8,000 people.
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