Salfeld, Siegmund, 1843-1926

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Salomon Benjamin Salfeld was born on March 24, 1843 in Stadthagen (Niedersachsen), the son of Benjamin and Adele Salfeld. At some point before he began his university studies, his first name was changed to Siegmund. After completing his general education, Salfeld became a teacher. At this time he met Zipporah Herzberg, his future wife, from Oschersleben-Bode (Anhalt). Her father was opposed to their marriage due to the young couple's financial situation, and Siegmund Salfeld went to Berlin, where he taught at the Auerbach Orphan Asylum while continuing his studies at the University of Berlin and the Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums . One of his teachers was the Jewish historian Moritz Steinschneider. In January 1870 Salfeld received his doctorate in philosophy and the liberal arts. Once he had completed his studies, Siegmund Salfeld married Zipporah Herzberg.

By August 1870, Siegmund Salfeld was working as a preacher ( Prediger ) for the Jewish community in Dessau. After further studying the Jewish scriptures, he became a rabbi in 1878. Siegmund and Zipporah Salfeld remained in Dessau for ten years, where they had four sons: Ludwig, Heinz, Erich, and Albert. To earn extra money they also started a boarding house for Jewish boys. Salfeld maintained close relations with both the Jews and Gentiles in his community, and in 1876 was elected a city councilman.

In 1880 Siegmund Salfeld became a rabbi of the Jewish community in Mainz, in the then Archduchy of Hessen. The Salfeld family lived across the street from the archduke's palace, in the same building as the community's Hebrew school. It was in Mainz that Siegmund Salfeld wrote his most recognized work, Das Martyrologium des Nürnberger Memorbuches, which was published in 1898. This was a scholarly work that focused not only on the book referenced in the title, but also on the Jews of Nuremberg and Germany during the Middle Ages. Salfeld also taught at both the Hebrew school and the city Gymnasium, and was a member of the local school board. He established a library for the community, comprised of scholarly works of biblical, Hebrew, and Jewish literature, and maintained the records of the Jewish community.

In addition to publishing some of his sermons, Salfeld also had many works of religious and local historical interest published; often these articles appeared in periodicals and Festschriften, although some sermons, especially those for nobility, were printed in newspapers. Some examples of his published writings included: Dr. Salomon Herxheimer (1885); Der alte israelitische Friedhof in und die hebräischen Inschriften des Mainzer Museums (1898); Die Judenpolitik Philipps des Großmütigen (1904); Vorboten der Judenemanzipation in Kurmainz (1912); Zur Geschichte des Judenschutzes in Kurmainz (1916); and Zur Kunde des Mainzer jüdischen Vereinsleben im achtzehnten Jahrhundert (1919). Salfeld also wrote articles that were included in the Germania Judaica, the Jewish Encyclopedia, and Mayer's Konversationslexicon .

While living in Mainz Salfeld received many honors. The first of these was a Knights' Cross first class and induction into the order of Philipp des Großmütigen in 1905, after he had been a rabbi in the city for twenty-five years. In 1912, when the new Mainz synagogue was dedicated, the Archduke Ernst Ludwig conferred upon Salfeld the title of professor. During World War I both Siegmund and Zipporah earned certificates of honor ( Ehrenzeichen ) for their assistance with the war effort, and Siegmund received another Knights' Cross first class.

Siegmund Salfeld died in May 1926 in Mainz, when he was 84 years old.

From the guide to the Siegmund Salfeld Collection, 1854-1990, bulk 1880-1920, (Leo Baeck Institute)

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creatorOf Siegmund Salfeld Collection, 1854-1990, bulk 1880-1920 Leo Baeck Institute.
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Relation Name
Place Name Admin Code Country
Mainz (Germany : Landkreis)
Dessau (Halle, Germany)
Jews, German


Birth 1843-03-24

Death 1926



Ark ID: w6kb8h51

SNAC ID: 69543000