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The Seesen Special Stock

Israel Jacobson (1768 -1828)

The founder of the school was born in Halberstadt in 1768. His father - a respected merchant - raised him to be strictly orthodox. Growing up, he took an early interest in modern German literature, in particular Lessing and Mendelssohn, who were to have a lasting influence on him. At the age of 19, he moved to Brunswick, where he met Herz Samson, the valet de chambre of Duke Karl Wilhelm. J. founded a successful trading company, first in Halberstadt and then in Brunswick, and married Herz Samson's daughter. After his death, in addition to the office of chamber agent - with responsibility for the ducal financial operations - he was also given the title "State Rabbi for the Weser District". This activity took him to small Jewish communities; their conditions, the state and the prospects of Jewish youth in particular provoked in him the desire to improve them through a Jewish educational institution based on Enlightenment principles. in 1804, J. and his family were granted full citizenship. Shocked that his son was denied admission to the Brunswick merchant class, J. asked to be dismissed from ducal service in 1806. The duke then asked him to set conditions under which he would remain.

J. listed six points relating to the position of his sons, the chamber agency, the treatment of his brothers-in-law, the company of Nathan Jacobs - a competitor - the legal situation of his fellow believers in general and the school in Seesen. The Duke promptly decides in favor of this and J. remains.

Arranging loans for other states earned J. high titles from the respective governments - such as the Margrave of Baden, the Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt and the Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. He also used these positions for fellow believers, and his efforts led to the abolition of the "Jewish body tax" in Brunswick on April 23, 1803 and in Baden on January 20, 1804. In 1807, he was made an honorary doctor of the University of Helmstedt for his efforts to "enlighten his nation".

J. followed the events surrounding Napoleon and the convening of the Notables' Assembly of the Israelites on July 25, 1806 with great interest and was probably hopeful when King Jérôme, a brother of Napoleon, arrived in his residential city of Kassel in December 1807. in 1808, Jérôme granted the Jews complete equality with their Christian fellow citizens in the Kingdom of Westphalia. J. moved to Kassel, where he served King Jérôme as a financier. He exerted his influence on behalf of his co-religionists and, as president of the consistory, implemented a number of reforms: Confirmation for boys and girls, new regulations for marriage ceremonies, German preaching, etc. A certain amount of resistance formed against the reform efforts in orthodox-minded circles, but this died down again due to the imminent end of the Westphalian kingdom. After the end of the Kingdom of Westphalia, J. moved his residence to Berlin, where he continued the practice of his modernized church services, which later had to be moved to the larger house of the banker Jacob Herz Beer due to the growing number of participants. However, these services were banned in 1823 at the instigation of the Orthodox bloc. Israel Jacobson died in Berlin in 1828.

Jacobson School

Jacobson's educational institution is one of a number of schools founded by the Maskilim, the Jewish followers of Enlightenment the first Jewish free school in Berlin from 1778, it was aimed - according to thephilanthropic ideal - it was aimed specifically at poor children who were to be given the opportunity to work. The schools in in Berlin, Breslau, Dessau, Wolfenbüttel, Kassel, Prague, Vienna and Trieste all followed the same Enlightenment direction.However, they also differed considerably due to the leadership of their various founders and directors.founded in 1801 as a "religious and industrial school" by Israel Jacobson in Seesen, the institution was able to survive into the 20th century in a similar way to the Philanthropin in Frankfurt. It had the support of the government and became an officially recognized simultaneous middle school (interdenominational).jacobson's founding project was to provide Jewish children not only with a general education and an education in morality and order according to the bourgeois moral code, but also with vocational training - especially agricultural training. They were to become "more useful" to the state and not be restricted to the typical Jewish merchant addition, great importance was to be attached to the study of Judaism. Due to external and internal influences, however, the original program was modified several times: The decisive factor in the choice of Seesen as the location was probably the local court councillor and court debtor Karl Friedrich Wilhelm Zincken, who supported Jacobson's plan to establish a school. They had initially kept their plan secret, and rightly so, because when it became known in the town that they had succeeded in acquiring a house for the school building, protests arose from the population. This culminated in a petition to the Duke on June 2, 1801, describing the alleged suffering that would be caused to the inhabitants by the construction of this facility. J. then sent a letter to the Duke requesting his approval. The Duke did not ask for a report from the town magistrate, but from Hofrat Zincken, and sided with the school company. The city magistrate submitted another petition, which was also not granted. However, he found an opportunity to take revenge when J. - for the purpose of agricultural education - began negotiations on land purchases. The citizens of Seesen turned to the duke on the grounds of impending impoverishment - reinforced by a further petition from the magistrate, who argued that the sale was illegal, as the landowner did not have the right to sell land belonging to the nobility. The duke gave in to this. However, the duke continued to follow the venture sympathetically and asked for reports. Jacobson was able to overcome the dislike of the citizens by proving himself to be a benefactor for the common good on several occasions, for example by arranging the wedding of his sister-in-law in Seesen, setting up a foundation for the poor and in 1825 Jacobson came to the aid of the town after a fire.

The Development of the School

Zincken was initially in charge. In a report to the Duke dated July 5, 1802, he writes of 12 pupils and 6 pupils from the local Jewish community. Public prayers in German and Hebrew were held daily in the school's prayer room. Two Jewish and three Christian teachers taught at the school. The Jewish teachers taught Hebrew grammar and Hebrew writing, Torah, Torah translation into German, translation from Aramaic and the Jewish calendar. The Christian teachers taught natural history, geography, mathematics, reading and writing in German, German grammar and singing. Lessons were held in the mornings; in the afternoons the children were occupied with gardening and handicrafts. The Duke was satisfied with the report and promised his protection. in 1805, the school already had 46 pupils. The first of them finished school that year and asked for further training in the trades. J. promised to continue to finance their maintenance and accommodation at the school and entered into negotiations with the guilds, the government and the magistrate. The guilds were not fundamentally opposed to accepting Jewish apprentices, but they preferred the instruction to take place as private lessons without proper enrolment and advertisement. They also demanded an assurance from the government that Jewish craftsmen in Seesen would not be granted a license to practise their trade. This was granted. The negotiation with the government was the first of its kind in Germany; as a result, it was the first breakthrough regarding the ban on Jews in the trades.

The Conversion to a simultaneous School

Impressed by the educational success of the school, the Christian inhabitants of Seesen asked the school management to admit their children. J. had already considered the idea of a simultaneous school and therefore welcomed the initiative. At the beginning of 1805, it was stipulated in the statutes that the school and boarding school would also accept Christian pupils from then on. As a result, the school in Seesen became the first simultaneous school established by Jews in Germany. The pupils were to be socialized together, but the two religions were not to be mixed, but were to exist side by side; with regard to the commonality of Jews and Christians, J., that it only referred to "commonality of undertakings, composition of leadership, equality of human duties and commonality in the education of the future citizen". Christian religious instruction took place outside the school and the name of the school was changed to "Allgemeine Volks- und Bürgerschule". There were now ten teachers in three classes, six of whom were Jewish. Greek, Latin, French, English and business studies were also taught. In 1806, the teacher Benedikt Schott was appointed principal. He was the author of the school reading book "Zaphnath Paneach", which was also introduced in other educational institutions. According to a report by Schott from 1807, the number of pupils had grown to 70, 56 of whom lived in the boarding school and 14 were from the town. Five apprentices also lived at the boarding school. The enrolment age was eight years and the pupils stayed here for four to five years. The school day was extended to eight to nine hours, which was necessary due to the expansion of the timetable to 15 subjects. In the afternoons, the pupils continued to be occupied with crafts and agriculture, but general education was emphasized. Due to the inclusion of Christian pupils, Hebrew lessons were reduced. During the Westphalian government, further changes were made to the school, among which the inauguration of the Jacobson Temple stands out.

After Jacobson's death in 1828, the institution passed into the hands of a board of trustees consisting of three members. Initially formed by Jacobson's sons, later by his grandchildren. in 1838, former pupil Dr. Israel-Immanuel Wohlwill became director of the institution. At the same time as his appointment, the school was converted into a simultaneous secondary school. Over the course of time, the school developed into a higher middle school. The number of pupils grew steadily; in 1843 there were 122 pupils, 68 of whom lived in the boarding school. in 1846, 58 of the 142 pupils were Christian. in 1876, the number of Christian pupils increased from 75 to 145 pupils, who came from Brunswick, Prussia, various German states and from abroad (17). In 1870, the school was officially recognized as a secondary school. Christian pupils became the majority in 1884. the first girl was admitted in 1909. from 1901 to 1914, 300 pupils attended the school, half of whom lived in the boarding school. The number of Jewish pupils steadily declined. in 1921, the institute was closed as a Jewish school and taken over and renamed by the state

The Judaica collection of the Jabobson School

in 1996, the Jewish Community of Hanover gave its library to the University of Jewish Studies on permanent loan. With these books, the majority of the Jacobson School's former Judaica collection was also transferred to the university in Heidelberg.

The Jacobson School in Seesen owned a valuable library that had been established when the school was founded. in 1871 it already had a collection of 3400 volumes. Through purchases and donations - Dr. Hermann Jacobson alone bequeathed 637 books to the library - the library already had 4502 volumes in 1890. The mathematician Prof. Gustav Wertheim bequeathed 50 volumes on mathematics to his former school. When the Jacobson School became a state secondary school in 1922, the library had grown to 8,000 volumes, divided into: A. Theology, religion, Judaica; B. Pedagogy, philosophy; C. History, Geography; D. Natural Sciences; E. Mathematics;

F. Languages; G. Miscellaneous and H. Music

in 1931, 44 works on Jewish subjects, including an edition of the Talmud, were handed over to the library in Braun- schweig. In 1945, the school's rooms were confiscated for Polish and Russian civilian prisoners and the library was evacuated at short notice.

Through the mediation of Dr. Zwi Asarias (state rabbi of the Jewish communities in Lower Saxony from 1966 to 1970) with the relevant authorities, a compromise was negotiated whereby the Judaica - which had survived the war - was donated to the State Association of Jewish Communities in Lower Saxony, based in Hanover, and the remaining items were to go to Göttingen University.

Jews in Seesen

It is unclear when the first Jews came to Seesen. In 1691, Jews are mentioned in connection with a town map on which a Judengasse is marked. Jews are known by name from the middle of the 18th century. Around 1800, around 5 families lived in Seesen. The founding of the Jacobson School and later the "Temple" brought an upswing to the Jewish community in Seesen. In 1851 there were 75 members of the community. in 1933, the Seesen residents' registration office listed 30 people of Jewish faith. At that time, only one Jewish pupil was still living at the boarding school; the last Jewish teacher at Jacobson School was dismissed due to the "Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service" of April 7, 1933 and moved to Berlin. Gradually, individual families left the town and moved to larger cities; a few emigrated immediately. During the Reichspogromnacht, the synagogue was burnt down and the synagogue servant murdered.

The "Temple"

On July 17, 1810, the newly built school synagogue was consecrated, in which I. Jacobson introduced the first reformed service in Germany. The term "temple" describes the difference to the conventional houses of prayer. In addition to a bell to call the pupils to worship, there was also an organ and a choir that sang in German. The interior design also deviated from Jewish tradition, with the bima - instead of being in the center

- in front of the Torah shrine. The intention was to preach from here and at the same time express the fact that the Jewish service is formally no different from that of the Christians. Jewish and Christian guests of honor from the Kingdom of Westphalia were invited to the inauguration ceremony. Jacobson himself took on the role of rabbi and gave a solemn speech in a costume modeled on that of a Protestant clergyman. In the Kingdom of Westphalia, synagogue regulations were introduced at the instigation of the consistory in order to "bring about the order and devotion appropriate to the true purpose of public houses of prayer". The reforms were not accepted unchallenged, as statements made by the orthodox Rabbi Auerbach in Halberstadt to the Seesen institution, Director Schott and Jacobson show. However, following the Seesen example, school services were also introduced in Wolfenbüttel, Dessau and Frankfurt am Main, making the temple in Seesen and its rite the starting point for Reform Judaism.


The following works were used

Asaria, Zwi, The Jews in Lower Saxony, Leer, 1979

Ballin, Gerhard, History of the Jews in Seesen, Seesen, 1979

Zimmermann, Paul, "Israel Jacobson", in: Brunsvicensia Judaica, Braunschweig, 1966

m. Graetz writes about the importance of education for the Haskalah in "Jüdische Aufklärung und Erziehung" in: Deutsch-Jüdische Geschichte in der Neuzeit, 1st vol., Munich, 1996, (333 - 351)

The changes in teaching in the development of the Jacobson School are described by Ruth and Abraham Bodner, Die Jacobsonschule und die Samsonschule - ihre Grundlage, Gründer als Verwirklicher maskilischer Ideen, Jerusalem, s.a. (Hebr., work submitted to the HUJ)