Former principality and county of Germany, covering about 100 square kilometers. It belonged to the two houses of Öttingen-Spielberg and Öttingen-Wallerstein, and included, aside from the capital of Öttingen, the communities of Hainsfurth, Mönchsroth, Harburg, Deggingen, Ederheim, Schopfloch, Erdlingen, Pflaumloch, Baldern, Oberdorf, and Aufhausen. The earliest date mentioned in connection with the Jews of Öttingen is 1298, the time of the Rindfleisch persecutions; this occurs in the "Martyrologium," where the capital is referred to in connection with the same date. On May 30,1331, Emperor Ludwig granted to Count Ludwig the Elder of Öttingen the right "to use and enjoy his Jews, together with all rights, honors, and good habits." On Nov. 21, 1342, an imperial edict was issued ordering every Jew twelve years of age and over to pay the "Opferpfennig" and one gulden (in gold) every Christmas into the imperial exchequer. On June 16, 1439, Count Ludwig sent at the emperor's command the physician Enoch b. Abraham to a conference with the royal councilors at Nuremberg. In 1552 Count Ludwig XVI., of the house of Spielberg, expelled all the Jews from the territory; they went to Esslingen, and refused to return even when the governor Conrad Zwickh sent them "resolutions" as an inducement to do so. In 1587 only seven Jews and one Jewess are mentioned as at Öttingen. From 1608 to 1614 the two branches of the house conferred with a view to expelling all Jews, but the plan was not carried out. In 1658-1659 the Jews were expelled from Öttingen-Baldern by the countess Isabella Eleonore, and admitted to Erlingen at the intercession of the head of the Order of St. John, Heinrich von Lützow. In 1714 the regulations restricting the Jews of Öttingen to the towns of Spielberg and Wallerstein were abolished.

Earliest Documents.

The earliest documents referring to the Jews there belong to the fifteenth century and are letters of protection granted by the counts to individual Jews. The earliest of these letters, of the year 1434, was granted to the brothers Hirsch and Süssmann. Jews were permitted to lend money on pledges at a weekly interest of one pfennig in the gulden. If involved in lawsuits, the testimony of at least two Christian citizens was required against them. This contract was indefinite as to time and could be canceled at the pleasure of the count. Similar letters of protection were granted in 1444 by Count Wilhelm to the Jew Jacob of Wemding, and in 1559 by a later Count Wilhelm to some Jews of Neresheim. These Jews were each required to keep in their houses a Christian as a substitute in case of war, and a spear, and to pay the yearly state tax in addition to ten gulden as protection money. Letters of protection for the Jews were granted at Öttingen only after the Thirty Years' war. In the introductions to these letters it was invariably observed that the Jews ought to be "expelled and abolished," and that the count granted them his protection only by special request, and his favor only for the specified time. A request for the renewal of a letter had to be made half a year before the expiration of the old one. On being taken under protection the Jews were required to take an oath of fealty, for which joining of hands was substituted in 1806.

The Jews of Öttingen were subjected to the following taxes in addition to those mentioned already: (1) the "Kleppergeld" (in the form of one or two good saddle-horses, sent to the castle for the use of the count every two or three years; frequently a sum up to ten gulden per family was required instead); (2) the "Ordinari" tax (introduced in 1649, for real estate; which was entered every year at the "Rentkammer"); (3) the goose-tax (introduced in 1719; it consisted in the delivery to the count of "fattened, unplucked, and live" geese every year, on St. Martin's day; this tax also was often commuted to a money-payment at the rate of one gulden per goose); (4) the Michaelmas tax; (5) the "Herbstzins" or synagogal tax; (6) the New-Year's and "Sacrist" money (from 75 to 100 gulden, collected by the parnasim of the various communities and handed to those of Öttingen, who solemnly transferred it to the prince's exchequer).

Jewish Business.

In addition to these taxes the Jews were obliged to send a valuable present to the count on his wedding. If a Jew married one of his sons or daughters, he could keep the young couple only one year (the "Kostjahr") thereafter in his house, after which they had to leave the county. Beginning with 1806 a Jew was permitted to marry only when another family had disappeared in some way, or on receiving special permission. Jews were not permitted to take more than 7 per cent interest for their money. Any Jew convicted of usury, or of taking any object in addition to his legitimate interest, forfeited the loan and was compelled to pay a fine amounting to double the sum loaned. The Jews of Öttingen were not allowed to deal in spices in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In 1785 those of Öttingen-Spielberg were permitted to establish chintz-, cotton-, and silk-mills. One Moses the Elder was considered to be the richest Jew of Öttingen, the value of his property being estimated at 12,000 gulden in 1684.


In the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries the houses of the Jews were officially inspected every second year; beginning with 1806, every third year. Every Friday each Jew was compelled to clean the street in front of his house, under penalty of a fine of two thaler. Although a decree of 1530 ordered the Jews to wear yellow rings on their caps, this was never enforced in Öttingen, and Charles V. annulled it entirely in 1541, since Jews wearing this badge beyond the county would be in peril of life and limb. The Jews were furthermore permitted to ride through the streets of the town with baldric and side-arms, except on Easter, Whitsuntide, and the Christmas holidays. On June 8, 1623, the Jews of Öttingen were forbidden to make their purchases in the weekly market before the "Jew's flag" was hoisted. The tongue of every ox killed for Jewish consumption was sent to the court. Intercourse with foreign Jews was strictly forbidden; a foreign Jew coming into the county paid a poll-tax of eighteen kreuzer per day and reported daily to the authorities. As Jewish beggars were especially troublesome in the territory of Öttingen, the state established inns for them at Harburg and Wallerstein. A detailed description of the Jewish tramps, who, with others, often made the roads unsafe, was given by the Jew Joseph Isaac, bookseller at Goschheim, in the "Journal von und für Franken," 1790; for the betterment of their condition he published in 1791, in Hebrew and German, a work entitled "Gedanken über Betteljuden und Ihre Bessere Versorgung."

Legal Status.

Difficulties between Jews and Christians werebrought into the Christian courts, before which Jews and Christians were equal; and the former had their own ceremony in taking the oath. The Jew about to take an oath first covered his head; then he washed his hands, said the prayer "Asher Yaẓar," drew the ṭallit over his head, put on the tefillin, turned with his face toward the east, took the roll of the Law into his right hand, covered it partly with the left hand, and recited the formula of the oath. In especially difficult cases he held a butcher's knife in his hand, or took the oath in the synagogue, sitting, arrayed in a shroud, on a coffin before the open ark. In 1783 the "Ordnung des Jüdischen Eides vor Christlichen Gerichten" appeared.

In 1583 the Jew Abraham Haas was hanged by the feet on a gallows, beside a hungry dog, and expired after thirty hours. In 1555-56 the Jews Hirsch Rubin and Schmerein were accused of having killed a Christian child for ritual purposes. Anna Grävin, the complainant, however, was convicted of calumny and sentenced to death by drowning. The Jews were liberated June 30, 1556, on taking a solemn oath to renounce their feuds. On Jan. 12, 1611, "Jacob the Tall," after committing a burglary, made an attempt to blow up the "Deutsche Ordenshaus" with gunpowder; he was captured, tortured several times in spite of having confessed, and hanged by his feet on the gallows, between two dogs. A great fire was built near him, at which he was slowly roasted for half an hour, until he expired. In May, 1690, the Jews were suspected of having murdered a Christian child, but they succeeded in proving that the Christian Hans Hopfenstetter committed the deed. The Jews thereupon held services of thanksgiving and appointed the 18th of Iyyar as a day of fasting in commemoration of their deliverance, which day is still observed.

Rabbis and Teachers.

The Jews had local and two district rabbis, the former being elected by the communities and the latter by the parnasim, who convened for this purpose from the various communities. The rabbis, cantors, schoolmasters, slaughterers, and "schulklopfers" were exempt from all taxes, administered justice with the consent of the county, imposed fines, and pronounced the sentence of the lesser or the greater excommunication upon individual members. The district rabbis received from 45 to 90 gulden; after the Jewish courts were abolished in 1811 they received 400 gulden.

The communities were divided into two groups, each constituting a district rabbinate: the Öttingen-Spielberg group, including the eight larger communities, and the Öttingen-Wallerstein group, including six communities. The following rabbis were associated with the former group: 1661-96—Enoch b. Abraham, Simon Hirsch, Simon b. Yishai, Moses Meïr Tarnopol (author of the Pentateuch commentary "Me'or Ḳaṭon"); 1696-1705—Naphtali Enoch b. Mordecai, Rabbi Isaac (or Seligman); 1719-53—Abraham David Mahler of Prague, "Hochfürstlicher und Hochgräflicher Landesrabbiner"; 1753-64—Abraham Benjamin (Wolf), Levi b. Samuel Levi; 1764-95—Jacob Phinehas Katzenellenbogen; 1795-1844—Phinehas Jacob Katzenellenbogen. The rabbis connected with the Öttingen-Wallerstein group were: Phinehas Katzenellenbogen (1630-50); Hirsch Jacob (from 1655); Isaac Israel of Prossnitz (1730-50); Hirsch Kohn of Fürth (1751-63); Isaac Hirsch Kohn (1763-72; called to Bonn); Benjamin Hirsch Kohn (1772-89; called to Bonn); Asher Löw (1789-1809; descendant of Saul Wahl).

Communal Government.

In Öttingen the parnasim were the actual administrative officials, and three or four were elected for each community, serving for three years. Their political duties included guarding the interests of the exchequer of the count or prince; policing the community; making an inventory of the property of the Jews every three years; caring for the poor; and collecting the taxes. They were exempt from all services and taxes while holding office, and received a fee for each paper bearing their signature. They were also empowered to fine any member of the community to an amount not exceeding five gulden. Since the house of Öttingen had a Catholic and a Protestant branch, these terms were applied to their Jewish supporters. Thus there were "Catholic" and "Protestant" synagogues and "Catholic" and "Protestant" Jews. On a market-ship going to Mayence one Wagenseil is said to have created a disturbance by asking a Jew whether he was a "Catholic" or a "Protestant" Jew. These designations were applied to the Jews as early as the middle of the seventeenth century. When a quarrel broke out between the two branches of the house in 1674 the Jews of their respective territories were forbidden to traffic with each other.

Court Jews.

Noteworthy among the court Jews of Öttingen were Hirsch Neumark and David Oppenheim. Hirsch Neumark lived in the second half of the seventeenth century, first at Wallerstein and then at Öttingen. Through the great influence he exercised over Count Albert Ernst he succeeded, supported by the suspicious of the Jews of Fürth, in having the Swiss citizen Paccaton arrested at Nördlingen; consequently, when the suspicions proved to be unfounded, the Jews were expelled from the cantons of Bern, Freiburg, and Basel (1701). In 1672 David Oppenheim (Oppenheimer) was granted protection for fifteen years by Count Albert Ernst of Öttingen; he was made director of the mint of Öttingen with the title "Mint Jew of the Prince" (1674-95). He received also the privilege of furnishing the metal necessary for coinage; he used for this purpose foreign coin, which he purchased cheaply and recast. Bavaria, Swabia, and Franconia protested against this practise. In 1695 Oppenheim was arrested by order of the president of the council, Count Wolfgang, but died in prison before the end of the trial. The following court Jews are also mentioned: Öttingen: Koppel zu Lauchheim (Baldern; 1710); Abraham Elijah Model of Mannheim (Wallerstein; 1739); Löw Manasseh (1740); Joseph Löw Zachariah (1771); Zachariah Model (1772); Hänle Meïr, Simon Ḥayyim Springer, Itzig Wolf Springer, Wolf Ḥayyim Springer (1775); Wallerstein: Abraham Itzig, Ḥayyim Löw (1792). Jacob Hechinger (1803), at Harburg, was the last court factor in the territory of Wallerstein. Abraham Jonas (1811)was the last court factor of Öttingen, having been appointed by the princess Marya Aloysia.

The community of the town of Öttingen does not seem to have possessed its own cemetery. Between 1444 and 1461 it used the cemetery of Nördlingen. Then Wallerstein offered its cemetery. When a quarrel broke out between the two communities on this account in 1716 they compromised with the understanding that the community of Öttingen should pay eight gulden a year to the community of Wallerstein.

Present Conditions.

The present community of the town of Öttingen numbers (1904) 141 Jews, the total population being 2,975. It has a Hebrew young men's association and a phlianthropic society. Wallerstein has 32 Jews, and has a ḥebra ḳaddisha and a poor-fund. Hainsfurth has 135 Jews in a total population of 1,037. Mönchsroth has 90 Jews, and Pflaumloch 28. Dr. H. Kroner and Dr. A. Kohn respectively are the officiating rabbis at the last two places.

  • W. V. Löffelholz, Öttingana, 1883;
  • S. Haenle, Gesch. der Juden in Ehemaligen Fürstentum Ansbach, 1867, pp. 80 et seq.;
  • Löwenstein, Beiträge zur Gesch. der Juden in Deutschland, 1898;
  • L. Müller, in Zeit. des Hist. Ver. für Schwaben und Neuburg, 1899, 1900;
  • Salfeld, Nürnberger Martyrologium, pp. 79, 271, 275, Berlin, 1899;
  • Kohut, Gesch. der Deutschen Juden, pp. 241, 250, 315, Berlin (n.d.);
  • Wigand, Wetzlarsche Beiträge, i. 361-363;
  • Carmoly, R. Henoch ben Abraham, Rabbiner in Öttingen, in Israelit, 1864, No. 43.
S. S. O.