Jewish History in Hamburg (part 2)

A number of illustrious people and families lived in Hamburg over the centuries and are buried in the Jewish cemetery.

When I visited, Inga, a young German student who works as a guide at the cemetery, mentioned one in particular. Thus the famous Glückel of Hameln (1646-1724) was born, grew up and lived in Hamburg until 1700 when she remarried and moved to France. She is called of Hameln (and not of Hamburg) as it is where her husband came from. Although Glückel herself is buried in Metz, a number of her relatives’ tombs can still be seen today.


Mordechai’s tombstone in the middle

Mordechai, her maternal uncle, who died of the plague is interred there and his tomb is easily identifiable as it faces the other way so that people could see what he died of.


Mata, Glückel’s grandmother

Glückel’s grandmother’s tomb – this lady was called Mata – stands near Mordechai while her own daughter’s tomb is just in its front.


Little Mata’s tombstone, with Glückel’s grandmother’s behind on the left

Here is what Glückel wrote in her memoirs about her daughter’s death:

My daughter Mattie, peace unto her, was in her third year, and a more beautiful and clever child was nowhere to be seen. Not only did we love her, but everyone who saw her and heard her speak was delighted with her. But the dear Lord loved her more. When she entered her third year, her hands and feet suddenly swelled. Although we had many doctors and much medecine, it suited Him to take her to Himself after four weeks of great suffering, and left as our portion heartache and suffering. My husband and I mourned indescribably and I feared greatly that I had sinned against the Almighty by mourning too much, not heeding the story of Reb Jochanan, as will follow. I forgot that there were greater punishments, as I was to find out later. We were both so grieved that we were ill for some time.


Glückel’s husband tombstone

Her husband – Chaym – died in 1689, and Glückel, who had already been involved in his business, took over and managed it by herself.

More about Glückel and her family here.

Jewish History in Hamburg (part I)


Pottery that belonged to Sephardic Jews

Like in Amsterdam, the first Jews to settle in Hamburg were Portuguese and Spanish conversos in the 1580s. They were merchants and at first were welcome because of their commercial connections in the Spanish and Portuguese colonies, where other conversos had settled.

When it became clear that they were Jews who practised their religion, some of the citizens demanded their expulsion, but the city council, pointing to the economic benefits increasing from their presence, opposed the measure. Some of these settlers took part in the founding of the Bank of Hamburg in 1619.


Sephardic tombstones

In 1611, the Jews of Hamburg acquired a plot of land in Altona (jst outside the city bounds then) to be used as burial grounds. This cemetery was closed in 1869 along with all the cemeteries in the inner city of Hamburg. Because of its hstorical significance this burial place was officially classified in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1960 and is open to visitors three afternoons a week.


Ashkenazic tombstones

Sephardic Jews as well as Ashkenazim are buried there. The Sephardic tombs are easily identified as the tombstones are lying flat and the epitaphs are in Hebrew and Portuguese or Hebrew and Spanish. Ashkenazic tombstones on the other hand stand erect and the epitaphs are in Hebrew only.

Kosher Dining-Room


This is not exactly a photo but rather the photo of a sepia poster that I saw in the Ballinstadt Museum in Hamburg.

At the turn of the 20th century, transporting immigrants to the New World had become a very lucrative business and competition was fierce between the different European ports. Therefore each company advertized its service to lure potential customers. This poster is part of a campaign by the Hamburg America Line to attract Jewish travelers.

In fact this company was the only one to offer kosher meals to the Jewish passengers both before they set off (as pictured here) and on board. It probably helped that the general director of the company, Albert Ballin, was Jewish.The food was supervized by a local rabbi and 3,000 meals could be served within one hour. However the plates and dishes were not put on a tablecloth but directly on the table. The tablecloth here seems to have been used solely for the purpose of the advert.

For sepia shots from all over the world, visit Sepia Scenes.


Red Shared Bike


Like numerous European cities, Hamburg has a bicycle sharing system. It seems this lonely red bike was left in front of our hotel istead of being returned to its station.

On Tuesdays, just post any photo you like (it must be one of your own) that contains the color RED and then link to this blog.


This lovely badge was created by Leora from Here in HP.