Author's School

Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

Author's Department/Program



English (en)

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Chair and Committee

Hillel Kieval


This dissertation traces the history of the Jewish community in Königsberg, East Prussia, from its founding in 1700 to the aftermath of the Prussian Emancipation Edict of 1812, as well as the early stages of Jewish embourgeoisement and political integration. My project combines aspects of a traditional communal history with newer trends in Jewish history, including an integrated discussion of economic and cultural life. I argue that the commercial successes of the Jewish mercantile elite in Königsberg, in particular of the Friedländer family, set the stage for the publication of ha-Measef and the local flowering of the haskalah. Moreover, I explore the ways in which Jewish merchants in Königsberg not only exchanged goods and materials but ideas and culture as well. I describe the triangular relationship of the Jews, the Prussian crown, and local municipal leadership in the city during the slow growth of the absolutist state in the eighteenth century. In particular, the dissertation investigates the Aleinu Edict of 1703 and the creation of an organized system of synagogue surveillance in Königsberg that lasted until 1778 and the ways in which provincial and royal authority sustained the position of local synagogue inspector. I also trace the Prussian state's shifting definition of Jewish private synagogues: Winkelsynagogen) and how the Aleinu controversy shaped the crown's perception of Jewish worship. Lastly, I explore Königsberg's location on the borderlands of Central and Eastern Europe. On the one hand, the city was a thriving Baltic port and commercial center; yet it was also deeply provincial and considered by other Prussians as a remote outpost. This paradox influenced the history of the local Jewish community and of the city as a whole.


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