Capital of the province of East Prussia. It was founded by the knights of the Teutonic Order, the laws of which excluded the Jews from its territory. After the secularization of the order Duke Albert granted to two Jewish physicians the privilege of practising medicine at Königsberg (1538 and 1541). But the city objected for a long time to the admission of Jews. Not until 1654 was the Jew Lazarus, who was warmly recommended to the "Great Elector" by the King of Poland, granted the privilege of unrestricted commerce at Königsberg, in spite of the objections of the municipal authorities. A similar privilege was granted at the same time to the electoral factor Israel Aron. For some decades afterward Jews could stop in the city only for a few days at a time, on payment of a high toll. In 1680 they were permitted to set up a chapel in the "Burgfreiheit" (that part of the city which was not under municipal administration). An official register of the year 1706 enumerates ten heads of families. A few years later a number of families, fleeing from the disturbances in Poland, settled there, and were joined in 1734 by the Jews expelled from Danzig when that city was besieged. There were 307 Jews at Königsberg in 1756; 1,027 in 1817; 3,024 in 1864; and more than 5,000 about 1880. This number was considerably decreased by the expulsion of Russian subjects; in 1900 there were 3,975 Jews in a total population of 189,483.Formation of Congregation.
The larger number of the Jews worshiping in the chapel erected in 1680 were foreigners, residing temporarily at Königsberg. The congregation of Königsberg was founded in 1704, when the cemetery was acquired. Before that time the Jews were obliged to bury their dead beyond the frontier, in Poland. On Nov. 23, 1704, a "ḥebra ḳaddisha" was founded. The community received a constitution by the law of April 7, 1722; the synagogue was dedicated Dec. 23, 1756; destroyed by the great fire in the suburb in 1811; and rebuilt on the same site in 1815. It served for general worship down to Aug., 1896, when it wastransferred to a society of Russian Jews living at Königsberg. The earliest extant constitution of the community, aside from the law of 1722, is dated 1811; this has been revised several times, the latest draft being dated 1903.
The Jewish community of Königsberg is distinguished as one of the pioneers of modern culture. Its first rabbi, Solomon Fürst, was a matriculate of the university in the first quarter of the eighteenth century, and was assistant in the royal library. In the second half of that century the Friedländer family especially, and men like Isaac Euchel, Marcus Herz, and Aaron Joel, pupils of Kant, introduced the ideas of Mendelssohn into Königsberg. In that city Euchel issued his appeal for the founding of a Hebrew literary society and the periodical "Ha-Meassef," the first volumes of which appeared there; and there he published, in 1782, a circular letter ("Sefat Emet") in which he advocated institutions for the education of the young modeled after the "Freischule" at Berlin. But his efforts in this direction did not succeed, owing to the opposition of the Orthodox. In 1812, and again in 1820 (when Isaac Asher Francolm was called as preacher and teacher of religion), the school question occasioned further dissension; Francolm finally was obliged to resign (1826), and his position remained vacant until 1835. During the incumbency of his successor, Joseph Levin Saalschütz (1835-63), the first Jewish professor at Königsberg, services were held for a short time (in 1847) on Sunday morning. After his death and that of Rabbi Mecklenburg, who had held the rabbinate during Saalschütz's term of office, the functions of rabbi and preacher were combined. When the organ was installed in the communal synagogue, in 1870, a number of Orthodox members formed a separate congregation, which subsequently took the name of "Adass Jisroel." Besides these, there are three private synagogues. The new synagogue of the community was dedicated Aug., 1896.Rabbis.
Four physicians of Königsberg have taken a prominent part in the struggle for the emancipation of the Jews: Dr. Johann Jacoby; Dr. Ferdinand Falkson (who defended, against the government, the validity of his marriage with a Christian); Dr. Raphael Kosch (chiefly instrumental in securing the abolition of the Jews' oath in Prussia, in 1869); Dr. Simon Samuel (who secured for Jews the right of admission to the faculty of Königsberg University). The following rabbis have officiated at Königsberg: Solomon Fürst (called in 1707; his term of office and the year of his death are not known; he was still officiating in 1722; he is the author of a cabalistic work and of a prayer printed in Hebrew and German); Aryeh (Löb) Epstein b. Mordecai (1745-1775): Samuel Wigdor (called in 1777; evidently died before 1784); Samson b. Mordecai (died in 1794); Joshua Bär Herzfeld (1800-1814; grandson of R. Jacob Joshua of Frankfort; subsequently rabbi at Rawitsch); Levin Joseph Saalschütz (1814-23; father of the preacher; vice-rabbi ad interim); Wolff Laseron (1824-1828); Jacob Hirsch Mecklenburg (1831-1865; author of "Ha-Ketab we-ha-Ḳabbalah"); Isaac Bamberger; Hermann Vogelstein (called 1897). The rabbi of the Adass Jisroel congregation is (1904) A. Liebermann.
Among the cantors at Königsberg were Hirsch Weintraub (1838-79; d. 1881; previously cantor at Dubno) and Eduard Birnbaum (from 1879; b. 1854 at Cracow; previously cantor at Magdeburg and at Beuthen in Silesia). Besides various charitable and educational societies, Königsberg has two orphan asylums and a home for the aged.
- Borowski, Beitrag zur Neueren Gesch. der Juden in Preussen, Besonders in Beziehung auf lhreFreieren Gottesdienstlichen Uebungen, in Preussisches Archiv, ii., Königsberg, 1790;
- idem, Moses Mendelssohns und David Kypkers Aufsätze über Jüdische Gebete und Festfeiern, ib. 1791;
- Jolowicz, Gesch. der Juden in Königsberg in Preussen, Posen, 1867;
- Saalschütz, Zur Gesch. der Synagogengemeinde in Königsberg, in Monatsschrift, vi.-ix.;
- Vogelstein, Beiträge zur Gesch. des Unterrichtswesens in der Jüdischen Gemeinde zu Königsberg in Preussen, Königsberg, 1903.