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The Jewish encyclopedia : a descriptive record of the history, religion, literature, and customs of the Jewish people from the earliest times to the present day (Volume 11) online

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lies for a term of five years. On Nov.
Privileges 25, 1347, Charles IV., for 60 marks in
Granted, silver, granted the Jews letters of pro-
tection, and confirmed their former
rights and privileges. He gave them the formal as-
surance that they should not be subjected to the ju-
risdiction of any Jewish authorities outside the city,
and ordered the judges and bailiffs concerned to
render the Jews assistance in the recovery of their

Persecution reconunenced, however, and with in-
creased severity, in 1349. During the period of the
Black Death, Strasburg lost 16,000 of itsinhabitants.
Thereupon the rumor quickly spread that the Jews
had poisoned the wells, and that, by the advice
of their physicians, they had removed the buck-
ets from their own cisterns and wells and re-
frained from drinking water. At Bern and Zofin-
gen confessions were wrung from a few Jews by
the usual method of torture, whereupon tiie cities of
Basel, Freiburg, and Strasburg were invited to fol-
low this example. The bishop convened an assem-
bly at Benfeld, in Alsace, of the feudal seigniors
and certain delegates from the above-mentioned
cities, at which the final destruction of the Jews
was determined upon, in spite of the protests of the
Strasburg envo.ys, who declared that there was




nothing whatever to be said against the Jewish
population of their city; that the Jews liad re-
ceived their privileges from the emperor himself,
and from the bishop and magistrates, and had paid
well for them ; that, furthermore, the city owed tlie
Jews large sums, payment of which had been guar-

cording to their duty in making a vigorous oppo-
sition to any species of persecution.

But the populace, enraged by the excessive fluc-
tuations in the prices of grain, and urged on by
those who Icnew their own power, would not be
guided by the calmer reasoning of their rulers.

Plan of STRASBtiRG. Star Shows the Gate Leading to the Jkwrv.

(Krom an early seventeenlh-century print.

anteed on a fixed date ; that the city government had
also granted the Jews sealed letters of protection and
had published an edict against all who should ven-
ture to commit excesses against them, imposing
heavier penalties than were usual in the case of
Christians; and that the magistrates, therefore, were
only acting within their rightful autiiority and ac-
XI.— 36

For a brief space, it is true, their anger was ap-
peased by the representations of the authorities,
but it broke forth anew at the instigation of the
butchers' gild. The " Ammeister " Peter Schwarber,
and the two " Stcttmeister " GofTe Sturm and Conrad
Kunlz, were accused of having been bribed to op-
pose the Jews' extermination, and were removed




from office. Schwarber was banished from the city,
and his property, except the share that reverted to
his children, was divided, according to the custom
of tlie time, among his fellow magistrates, who en-
tered his dwelling and seized the great seal and
standard of the city. To fill the places of the de-
posed officials, Nicolas Beulach was appointed
"Ammeister," and Gozzo Engelbrecht and the
butcher Jean Betchold were made " Stettmeister."
On Saturday, Feb. 14. 1349. tlic Feast of St. Val-

cil returned the crown to the sons of the dead mar-
grave, who gave a receipt for it.

After the massacre of 1349 the council of Stras-
burg issued a decree prohibiting the admission of
the Jews into the city, which decree remained in
force for two centuries. From this epoch dates the
" Grusselhorn." Among the various objects found
during the plunder of the synagogue was the ram's
horn used at the autumn festivals. The pillagers
were ignorant of the uses of this horn, and one of

Exterior of the Synagogue at Strasburg.

(From a photograph.)

entine, the mob barricaded tlie Judgcngasse (now
the Domstrasse), and drove the Jews back into the
cemetery, where a huge pyre had been made ; there
more than 2,000 Jews, men, women, and children,
suffered death in the flames; some saved their lives
by renouncing tiie faith of their ancestors. The
Jews Jekelin and Mannekint (sons of the widow
Salomon), to whom Margrave Hudolf of Baden had
pledged his crown, perished i)robabiy on tins occa-
sion. These two bankers had been taxed an amount
five times in excess of that paid by any of their co-
religionists. In the same year the municipal coun-

" Grussel-

their number expressed the opinion that the Jews
had intended to betray the city by giving a signal
at an opportune moment to their al-
lies outside. This opinion was soon
universally accepted, and the town
council resolved to perpetuate the
memory of their deliverance. Two
large trumpets, copies of the original, were cast in
bronze. One was blown daily at eight in the eve-
ning by the vergers of the cathedral, at which signal,
known as the " Judenblos," all Jews who happened
to be within the cit}' limits were obliged to depart.





S -

o f
O o

CO 3






The second was blown at midnight to recall to the
inhabitants the alleged traitorous plot of 1349.

The rigid enforcement of the decree forbidding
any Jew to reside in Strasburg was soon relaxed,
and in 1368 six families were permitted to return
for a term of five j'ears, under certain conditions.
This term was later exi ended to 1375. Nine other
families obtained a similar license in 1369, on con-
dition of an annual payment to the town council
and the bishop. On Dee. 7, 1384, a Jewish physi-
cian, Dr. Gutleben, obtained leave from the council
to reside in the city for six years without the pay-
ment of any protection money, in order that he
might bestow the benefit of his medical knowledge
upon the populace. lie was even to receive a fixed
stipend of 300 florins per annum for his services
during this period, and was authorized to lend at in-
terest money belonging to himself, although he did
not en JO}' this liberty with funds belonging to others.

Somewhat later, in 1388, the Jews of Strasburg
ceased to pay their taxes regularly; and, having
adopted a somewhat critical and censorious atti-
tude in regard to a dispute between the city and
the Duke of Burgundy, they were sentenced to per-
petual banishment and to the payment of a tine of
20,000 florins. Tliis second decree of banishment
was so strictly enforced, and the time allowed for
preparation so inadequate, that the Jews had to
abandon their books as well as the scrolls of the
Law and other articles used in religious services.
Tiie copies of the Talmud and the scrolls of the
Law were preserved in the library of the city, and
■were destroyed, with many otlier literary treasures,
in the bombardment of 1870.

Little mention of the Jews occurs in the monastic
chronicles throughout the entire fifteenth century.
In 1520 they were allowed to enter the city only
during the usual hours for strangers, on condition
of wearing a yellow badge or shield in some con-
spicuous place on their garments. In 1534 Rabbi
Joselmann of Rosheim wrote a letter of thanks to
the council for certain privileges granted to his fel-
low worshipers. A decree, issued in 1539 and re-
newed in 1570, 1628, and 1661, forbade Christians to
enter into any contracts with Jews, save such as re-
lated to the purchase of horses or of food-supplies.

In 1657 Louis XIV. took the Jews of Alsace under
his royal protection, greatly to the dissatisfaction of
the smaller communes, which, faithful to old tradi-
tions, considered them as interlopers
In the Sev- and dangerous parasites. But after

enteenth the capitulation of 1681 the city of
Century. Strasburg succeeded in maintaining in
force the old statutes against the Jews.
Nevertheless, qualified permits of entry and resi-
dence within the city continued to be issued to the

In 1743 the council relaxed its extreme severity
and granted a number of privileges to various Jews,
especially to a certain Moses Bliem. Count d'Ar-
gcnson of Versailles wrote personally to the munici-
pal authorities, stating that the Moses Bliem in
question, together with his coreligionists and busi-
ness associates Jacob Baruch Weill, Aaron Meyer
Lehmann, and Lieb Netter, had for two years past
been furnishing supplies to the royal armies of

Germany, and that they required permission to open
an office in Strasburg for their correspondence. The
permission was granted, but not for any definite
length of time; it was understood that it was to last
only as long as the army remained in Germany. A
single Jew, of all the dwellers on the Upper and
Lower Rhine, won the unanimous respect of the
authorities on both sides, owing to his great wealth
and still more to his charities during the scarcity of
food-supplies in 1770 and 1771 ; this was Herz Cerf-
beer, of Bisclioisheim, near Strasburg.

On Aug. 5, 1767, Cerfbeer, whose real name was
Herz Medelsheim, proposed to the Jewish commu-
nities of Alsace to contract for the

In the furnishing of supplies to the armies of
Eighteenth Louis XIV., and for this purpose re-
Century, quested permission from the Strasburg
authorities to spend the winter in that
city in order to escape the robberies so frequent on
tlie outskirts. At first his petition was rejected;
but Cerfbeer applied to the Duke of Choiseul at
Paris, and an order dated Versailles, Jan. 22, 1768,
was sent to the council and magistracy of Strasburg,
directing them to accede to this request. Thus
Cerfbeer was the first Jew who had a definite resi-
dence in the city after this long period. He was
at first obliged to submit to certain restrictions, such
as those against opening a synagogue or receiving
any foreign Jew into his house. He soon obtained
permission to live in the city during the summer as
well ; and in a document dated Nov. 5, 1771, the Mar-
quis of Monteynard declared to the royal procura-
tor that the presence of Cerfbeer was necessary for
the welfare of the city, and that it was the king's will
that Cerfbeer should reside in the town through-
out the year.

In March, 1775, by letters patent given at Ver-
sailles, the king granted naturalization to Cerfbeer
and his children in return for the many important
services rendered by him to the army and as a testi-
mony to his zeal for the good of the state. Cerfbeer
thus was the first Jewish citizen of Strasburg: the
household he brought with him comprised sixty
persons. A royal decree dated Jan., 1784, abolished
the poll-tax levied first upon Moses Bliem and later
upon Cerfbeer. In 1781 a deputation from Alsace-
Lorraine was sent to present the Jewish grievances
at the bar of the National Assembly at Paris, and
the subject was debated at several sittings. Rew-
bel, Maury, and the Due de Broglie, deputies from
Alsace, contended that tiie Jews were all addicted to
usury and had turned Alsace into a Jewish colony.
To this Mirabeau, the Abbe Gregoire, and even
Robespierre replied that the vices of the Jews were
the result of tlie degradation into which they had
been thrust; and that Ihey would behave well as
soon as they found any advantage in doing so.

On April 8, 1790, the city of Strasburg submitted
to the National Assembly an address requesting that
the ancient laws against the Jews should be strictly
enforced. But on Sept. 27, 1791, the National As-
sembly proclaimed the complete social and polit-
ical emancipation of all Jews residing in France.
This decree was followed in 1806 and' 1807 by the
general reorganization of Jewisii religious adminis-
tration, and the cessation of one of the minor an-




noyances to wliich the Jews had been subjected — the
blowing of the "Grusselhorn." In 1809 the com-
munity of Strasburg opened its first synagogue in
the ancient Poele des Drapiers. In 1836 the erec-
tion of a new synagogue was begun on the Rue Ste.
Hel^ne; it was in existence until 1898, when it was
replaced by a larger one on the Quai KIcber, in the
heart of the city. The new synagogue was opened
Sept. 8, 1898. There is also a congregation, 'Ez
Hayyim, composed of about forty families, which
separated from the main body owing to a difference
regarding the question of an organ in the synagogue,
but which maintains friendly relations with the
larger community.

The first chief rabbi of Strasburg was David Sinz-
! heim, president of the Sanhedrin of 1807 (d. Paris,
Feb. 12, 1812, while chief rabbi of France). He was
succeeded by Arnold Aron, wlio filled the office for
more than half a century, and died April 4, 1889.
Isaac Weill, chief rabbi of Metz, succeeded him, and
died in June, 1899, at the age of fifty-eight. Chief
Rabbi Adolphe Ury of Metz was appointed in his
stead by an imperial decree dated Jan. 23, 1900, and
was formally installed in office Feb. 18, 1900. He is
the present head of the Strasburg community, as well
as of all communities of Lower Alsace. In addition
to numerous societies for the aid of the sick and the
poor, a large hospital was erected in 1887, on the
Hagenau Platz, near the Steinthor. There is also
an orphanage for j'oung girls, which entered its
own quarters jVIarch 26, 1903. In 1853 Louis Ratis-
bonne, president of the consistory, founded at his
own expense an almshouse, the Eliza Hospiz, in
memory of one of his cousins. The foundation in
1825 of a Jewish school of arts and trades, the Ecole
de Travail, was also due to Ratisbonne.

Tiie total population of Strasburg is 150,258, in-
cluding about 1,000 Jewish families.

8. A. U.

STRASHUN, MATHIAS : Russian Talmud-
ist and writer; born in Wilna Oct. 1, 1817; died
Dec. 13, 1885. He studied under Manasseh of llye
and Isaac of Volozhin, who were highly impressed

with his ability. Besides
Talmud and Hebrew,
Strashun acquired a
knowledge of Russian,
German, French, and
Latin, and of mathe-
matics, philosophy, and
other sciences. He like-
wise engaged in busi-
ness; and although liis
first venture was a com-
plete failure and he lost
everything he possessed,
his enterprises were aft-
erward very successful.
Strashun spent a great
part of his considerable
fortune in collecting a magnificent library ; and his
house soon became a rendezvous for scholars and
students from all parts of Europe. He corresponded
■with eminent Jews like Zunz and Rapoport; and
even Gentile scholars, such as Professor Wunsche

Mathias Strashun.

and others, sought his advice with regard to com-
plicated problems.

His studies and books, however, were not the only
matters to claim Strashun 's attention. He took an
active interest in public affairs also, and was for
many years president of the Hebrew charities in
Wilna. The government appointed him adviser to
the state bank, and bestowed many honors \ipon
him for his faithful services.

Strashun's first literary productions appeared in

the "PirheZafon," "Kerem Hemed," "Ha-Maggid."

and "Ha-Karmel." In book form he published:

"Rehobot Kiryah," an introduction and annotations

to the "Kiryah Ne'emanah," by Fuenn ; and " Lik-

kute Shoshanim " (Berlin, 1889), a catalogue of the

Strashun library.

Bibliography: Suvalski, Kenexet ha-Gedolah, 1890; llo
Anif, 1685, vol. ii. ; Z«illin. Bibl. Pt)st-MendeUi. p. 3««: Ha-
Meliz, 1885, p. 93.

E. c. J. Go.

sian Talmiidist; born in Zaskevich, government of
Wilna, 1794; died in Wilna March 21, 1872. He
was educated by his father, and became known
as a proficient Talmudist. He married at an early
age, and settled with his wife's parents in the vil-
lage of Streszyn, commonly called Strashun (near
Wilna), and assumed the latter name. The distillery
owned b" iiis father-in-law was wrecked by the in-
vading French army in 1812, and the family re-
moved to Wilna, where Samuel established another
distillery and became one of the most prominent mem-
bers of the community. His wife conducted the
business, as was usual in Wilna, and he devoted the
greater part of his time to studying the Talmud and
to teaching, gratuitously, the disciples who gath-
ered about him. The Talmud lectures wiiich for
many years he delivered daily at the synagogue
on Poplaves street were well attended, and from
the discussions held there resulted his annotations,
which are now incorporated in every recent edition
of the Babylonian Talmud. His fame as a rabbin-
ical scholar spread throughout Russia, and he con-
ducted a correspondence with several well-known

Strashun was offered the rabbinate of Suwalki, but
he refused it, preferring to retain his independence.
His piety did not prevent him from sympathizing
with the progressive element in Russian Jewry, and
he was one of the few Orthodox leaders who ac-
cepted in good faith the decree of the government
that only graduates of the rabbinical schools of
Wilna and Jitomir should be elected as rabbis. He
wrote good modern Hebrew, spoke the Polish lan-
guage fluent!}', was conspicuously kind and benev-
olent, and was highly esteemed even among the
Christian iniiabitants of Wilna. Besides the above-
mentioned annotations, he wrote others to the Mid-
rash Rabbot, which first appeared in the Wilna edi-
tions of 1843-45 and 1855. Some of his novella?,
emendations, etc., were incorporated in the works of
other authorities.<;raphy: S. Antokolskv, Mfkore ha-Rambain, yfilna,

1871 ; H. Katzenellenbopen, Netibot 'Oiam, pp. 197-206, 227-

228, Wilna, 1858; Suvalski, Kenenct ha-Oedolah, pp. 22-24,

Warsaw, 1890; Zedner, Cat. Hebr. Books lirit. Mus. pp.

540, 737.
E. C. P. Wl.




STRAUS : American family, originally from
Otterberg, iu the Hlu-iiish Palatinate. The earliest
member known was one Lazarus, born in Ihe lirst
lialf of the eighteenth century, whose son Jacob
Lazarus was known also as Jacques Lazare. Laz-
arus was elected in the department of ]\Iont Tonncrre
for the Assembly of Jewish Notables convened by
Napoleon in Paris July 26, 1806, preliminary to the
establishment of the French Sanhedrin. His son
Isaac took the name of Straus in the year 1808,
when Napoleon passed the decree ordering all Alsa-
tian Jews to adopt family names. Isaac's son Laz-
arus was possessed of considerable means, made in
botli agricultural and commercial pursuits. Being of
lil)eral tendencies, he was involved in the revolution-
ary movement of 1848; he emigrated to the United
States iu 1^.1 and settled in Talbotton, Ga. In
1865 he established in New York a successful pot-
ter}' and glassware business, in conducting which
lie was joined in 1873 by Ids sons. It was due to his
instigation that Kayserling undertook the researches
in Spain resulting iu his work on Christopher Co-
lumbus. He died in New York iu April, 1898.

Isidor Straus : Merchant ; eldest son of Lazarus
Straus; born at Otterberg Feb. 6, 1845. He accom-
panied his parents to the United States in 1854, and
was educated at (Jollinsworth Institute. He was
elected lieutenant of a Georgia company at the open-
ing of the Civil war, but was not allowed to serve
on account of his youth. In 1863 he w ent to Eng-
land to secure ships for blockade-running. In 1865
he went with his father to New York, where the}'
organized the lirm of L. Straus & Son ; in 1888 he
entered the firm of R. II. Maey ik Company, and in
1893 that of Abraham A: Straus, Brooklyn. He
was elected a member of the Fifty-third Congress
in 1892, and was instrumental in inducing President
Cleveland to call the extra session of Congress which
repealed the Sherman Act. Straus has been identi-
fied with the various movements in belialf of fiscal
and tarilY reform, and was a delegate to the Sound
Money Convention held at Indianapolis. He was
one of the founders of the Educational Alliance
(of wliich he is now [1!)()5J president), is a director
of several banks and financial institutions, and is
a prominent member of the Board of Trade and
vice-president of the Cluunber of Commerce. The
Washington and Lee University conferred upon
him the degree of LL.D. in 1905.

Nathan Straus: Merchant; second son of Laz-
arus Straus; bom at Otterberg Jan. 31, 1848. With
his family he went to the United States in 1854.
It settled at Talbotton, Ga., where he attended
school; afterward he was trained at Packard's Busi-
ness College, New York. He joined his father in
the firm of L. Straus & Son in 1872, and his brother
Isidor in the firm of K. II. Macy & Company.
Straus has shown considerable interest in municipal
affairs, becoming a meml)erof the New York Forest
Preserve Board and park commissioner of New
York in 1893. He was offered the nomination of
mayor of New York iu 1894, and was appointed
president of the Board of Health of New York in
1898. He originated in 1890, and has since main-
tained at his own expense, a system for the distribu-
tion of sterilized milk to the poor of New York city

which has been shown by the report of the Health
Department of New York to have saved many in-
fant lives. He contributed also to tiie establishment
of the same system in Chicago and Philadelphia.
He likewise originated and maintained during the
coal strike in the winter of 1903-4 a system of depots
for the distribution of coal to the poor of New York.
Straus has shown considerable interest in trotting.

Oscar Solomon Straus: ^Merchant and diplo-
mat; third son of Lazarus Straus; born at Otterberg
Dec. 23, 1850. He went with his family to Talbot-
ton, Ga., in 1854, and removed with it to Columbus,
Ga., in 1863, and to New York in 1865. He was
educated at Col umbia Grammar School and Columbia
College, graduating
in 1871. Afterward
he attended the Co-
lumbia Law School,
graduating from that
institution in 1873.
He began the practise
of law in the firm of
Hudson & Straus,
which afterward be-
came Sterne, Straus
& Thompson, the .se-
nior member being
Simon Sterne. The
strain of a large prac-
tise in commercial
and rail way cases told
upon Straus's health,
and in Jan., 1881, he
retired from law and
entered his father's firm. Straus was active in the
campaign which resulted in the election of President
Cleveland in 1884, and was appointed minister pleni-
potentiary to Turkey in 1887 at the suggestion of
Henry Ward Beecher. Straus did excellent work
while at Constantinople, especially in obtaining rec-
ognition of the American schools and colleges in the
Turkish dominion. He was again appointed minis-
ter plenipotentiary to Turkey (1897-1900) by Presi-
dent Mckinley, and was enabled by his influence
with the sultan to help reconcile the Mohammedan
inhabitants of the Sulu Archipelago iu the Philip-
pines to the recognition of the suzerainty of the
United States.

Straus has performed much valuable public service
as member of various commissions, as, for instance,
those appointed to investigate New York public
schools and to improve institutions for the insane.
He was president of the National Primary League
iu 1895, and of the American Social Science Associa-
tion from 1899 to 1903, as well as of the National Con-
ference of Capital and Labor held in 1901. He was
instrumental in foundingthe National Civic Federa-
tion, of wiiich he has been vice-president since 1891.
In 1902, on the death of e.x-President Harrison, Straus
was appointed by President Boosevelt to succeed
him as a mend)erof the Permanent Court of Arbitra-
tion at The Hague, this high honor being given him
in recognition of his diplomatic service and knowl-
edge of international relations. Straus has written
much for the magazines, has delivered lectures
at Yale and Harvard universities, and, since 1903,

Copyright bv l*ierre Mai; Donnlfi.

Oscar Solomon Straus.




has lectured annually upon international law before
the United States Naval War College at An-
napolis. He is the author of "The Origin of the
Republican Form of Government in the United
States " (New York, 1885), and " Roger Williams, the
Pioneer of Religious Liberty " {ib. 1894). He has
been very active in connection with the study of
American Jewish history, and he was one of the
founders, and the first president, of the American
Jewish Historical Society, from which position he
retired in 1898. Straus is at present (1905) a trustee
of the Baron de Hirsch Fund. The lionorary de-
grees of L.H.D. (Brown University) and LL.D.
(Columbia Universit}-) have been conferred upon

Online LibraryIsidore SingerThe Jewish encyclopedia : a descriptive record of the history, religion, literature, and customs of the Jewish people from the earliest times to the present day (Volume 11) → online text (page 135 of 160)