Letter to the Board of the German-Israelite Congregation in Hamburg Regarding the Adoption of Fixed Family Names, Hamburg, May 4, 1848

Source Description

When Hamburg's council granted the city's Jews permission to acquire the right of citizenship The right of self-government; the precondition for acquiring civic rights was inherited real property, the swearing of a citizen's oath, and the one-time payment of "BĂŒrgergeld" [citizenship fee]; members of the nobility were excluded from this; until 1814 citizenship was granted exclusively to members of the Lutheran church [see: Helmut Stubbe-da Luz, BĂŒrgerrecht, in: Franklin Kopitzsch / Daniel Tilger (eds.), Hamburg Lexikon, Hamburg 1998, pp. 92f.] in 1849, this step was tied to the obligation to take permanent first and family names or have existing names recorded. Formulating this decree at a rather late date, Hamburg brought up the rear in a development that had been completed in most parts of Europe decades earlier. Moreover, it meant that the very development two committed, reform-minded Jews had sought to prevent a year earlier had come to pass, namely that such a decree was initiated by the non-Jewish authorities rather than by the Jews themselves in their fight for gaining civil rights. In May of the revolutionary year 1848, which welcomed many reforms, congregation secretary Moses Martin Haarbleicher and registrar Zebi Hirsch May (1801–1878) had presented their suggestions for reform to the board of the German-Israelite Congregation. They complained that a minority among Hamburg's Jews still did not use a permanent family name, which caused a lot of "disorder" (p. 1). Haarbleicher and May's three-page letter provides insight into the very complicated and lengthy process of the adoption of permanent family names among Hamburg’s Jews.
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Recommended Citation

Letter to the Board of the German-Israelite Congregation in Hamburg Regarding the Adoption of Fixed Family Names, Hamburg, May 4, 1848 (translated by Insa Kummer), edited in: Key Documents of German-Jewish History, <https://dx.doi.org/10.23691/jgo:source-148.en.v1> [November 21, 2017].