The “Memorbuch” is a historical document characteristic of German Jewry. It documents the deaths of important community members, with entries generally taking the form of the memorial prayer, “May God remember the soul of …”, followed by biographical data and descriptions of the piety of the deceased.
The Frankfurt Memorbuch is an impressive example of this genre. It lists deceased members of the Frankfurt am Main Jewish community between the years 1628-1907. The manuscript comprises 537 parchment folios (1073 pages) and measures 36.4 x 26 cm. The binding is black leather with a metal clasp.
The Memorbuch opens with a poem written in 1712, according to which a fire in the Frankfurt synagogue destroyed the old Memorbuch in 1711. A new Memorbuch was prepared at the initiative of Eliezer Leizer Oppenheim, with the entries for 1628 to 1711 copied into it from the communal burial records (fols. 5r-57r). The new entries begin on leaf 57r with the death of Oppenheim’s wife Frumet.
Entries copied from the burial records are very brief. Moreover, since entry in the Memorbuch required payment, the records are primarily of important members of the community. Deaths of infants, strangers and the poor were generally not recorded.
The latest entry is from 1907 however the final page commemorates the death of Baron Wilhelm von Rothschild in 1901.
The Frankfurt Memorbuch is a monumental work documenting persons and events connected with the Frankfurt Jewish community, one of the most important German Jewish communities.