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Purim Vinz: Another Purim, less than a week later?

Dr. P. Preschel Herzog

In 1614, 1,380 Jews – the entire Jewish community of Frankfurt, including its rav, Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz, author of the Shlah (Shnei Luchos HaBris) – were expelled from the city after being pillaged by a mob. A year and a half later, Frankfurt’s Jews were back, and celebrated 20 Adar as “Purim Vincenz” or “Purim Fettmilch” for several centuries thereafter.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Emperor Matthias, son of Maximillian II and grandson of Emperor Charles V through his mother Maria, was crowned Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire in Frankfurt in 1612. At the time of his coronation, Vincent Fettmilch, a Calvinist and rabid anti-Semite, became a ringleader and head of Frankfurt’s bakers’ guild. (A guild was a medieval association composed of merchants or artisans, with the goals of maintaining strict standards for its members and of protecting their interests. It constituted a local governing body.) In the early seventeenth century, tensions rose between the members of the guilds and the Lutherans who dominated Frankfurt’s city council, leading to substantial unrest.

The guilds demanded more control regarding fiscal policies and requested that the Jewish community’s rights be restricted. They also requested a reduction in grain prices, and that the high rates charged by the Jewish money lenders be slashed by 50 percent.

In late 1613, the city council, working towards a compromise, reached an agreement with Vincent Fettmilch and his supporters, granting the guilds increased power and rights. It was soon revealed, however, that the city was in terrible debt and the city council had misappropriated taxes that had been collected from the Jews. Fettmilch declared the city council deposed and seized the city gates, and the Fettmilch Rebellion, named for its leader, ensued.

Part of the populace, mainly craftsmen, revolted against the city council. Merchants and lawyers also supported Fettmilch, who hoped that the expulsion of the Jews would free of them of their debts to Jewish moneylenders. The Emperor, who had originally remained neutral in this dispute, demanded a reinstatement of the city council. He threatened anyone who opposed him with an imperial interdiction, which would strip the offender of all rights.

Once the rebellious craftsmen learned of the imperial interdiction, they took to the streets in protest. The mob directed its anger against the weakest party in the dispute, the Jews. On August 22, 1614, after several hours of fighting at the barricades, the mob stormed the gates of the Judengasse, which were defended by local Jews.

In anticipation of the angry mob, the Jews hid the women, aged, and children in the Jewish cemetery, situated at the farthest end of the street. The male Jews then took up arms and fought bravely. Several persons were wounded, and two Jews and one Christian were killed. The Jews were overpowered, and they ran to the cemetery to protect their families. Fettmilch and his men plundered Jewish dwellings and burned everything that they could not carry away. The damage caused by this riot was estimated at 176,919 florins. The synagogue, including the Torah scrolls, was destroyed, and the cemetery was desecrated.

The emperor had to ask the authorities in neighboring Mainz and Darmstadt to restore order.

Many Jews, grateful that their lives were saved, ultimately found refuge in the surrounding communities, particularly in Hanau, Höchst, and Offenbach.when words share similar letters, it denotes some sort of relationship between those words.

What is the relationship between the words tubu (sunk), teva (nature), and taba’as (a ring), and how do they relate to Purim story?


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