For the Jews of Frankfurt, a Second Purim Once Celebrated a 17th-Century Anti-Semitic Riot

Feb. 26 2019

Few Jewish communities managed to preserve and document their local customs as thoroughly as did the community of Frankfurt-am-Main, one of the oldest in northern Europe. Among these customs is the celebration of a second Purim, just six days after the regular holiday. Josh Weiner writes:

In 1614, a local baker and troublemaker named Vincent Fettmilch, who, [in the Jews’ telling] considered himself to be the “New Haman,” led the city guilds in an uprising against the Holy Roman emperor Matthias. Included in their demands for lower taxes were also demands for fewer Jews in town and lower interest rates on Jewish loans.

When the emperor ignored or rejected the demands of the city guilds, Fettmilch led a mob to ransack the Jewish quarter of Frankfurt, burning, fighting, and pillaging until the entire Jewish population was forced to flee. Two years later, in February 1616, Emperor Matthias had Vincent Fettmilch and five of the other rebels hanged, and the Jews were allowed to return to the city in safety. The proximity of the hanging to Purim that year, as well as the resonances of the Purim story [which ends with the hanging of the wicked Haman after his plan to slaughter Persian Jewry], encouraged the community to celebrate the return as a mini-redemption, with special songs and a long poetic retelling of the story in Judeo-German called Megilas Vints [the “Scroll of Vincent,” after the Hebrew term for the book of Esther, read on Purim].

Frankfurt is not alone. In many Jewish communities throughout history, local episodes of near-destruction and sudden salvation have been marked along the lines of Purim. Reading through the history books one discovers hints of Purim Narbonne, Cairo Purim, Purim Hebron, Purim of Saragossa, and the four Purims of Ancona, Italy, to mention just a few.

Welcome to Mosaic

Register now to get two more stories free

Register Now

Already a subscriber? Sign in now

Read more at The Librarians

More about: Anti-Semitism, German Jewry, Purim, Religion & Holidays


The Palestinian Authority Deliberately Provoked Sunday’s Jerusalem Riots

Aug. 16 2019

On Sunday, Tisha b’Av—the traditional day of mourning for the destruction of the two Jerusalem Temples—coincided with the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha. While the Israeli government had initially banned Jews from the Temple Mount on that day, it later reversed its decision and allowed a few dozen to visit. Muslim worshippers greeted them by throwing chairs and stones, and police had to quell the riot by force. Just yesterday, an Israeli policeman was stabbed nearby. Maurice Hirsch and Itamar Marcus place the blame for Sunday’s violence squarely on the shoulders of the Palestinian Authority:

Sign up to read more

You've read all your free articles for this month


Sign up now for unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Already have an account? Log in now

Read more at Palestinian Media Watch

More about: Palestinian Authority, Temple Mount, Tisha b'Av