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 Infobank Judengassse Frankfurt am Main
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Master builders / Community leaders

The Jewish community administration was headed by the master builders , or community leaders. There were always twelve of these, and two of them chaired the administration jointly every two months, so that every community leader was a joint chairman once during the year. The community leaders represented the Jewish community in its external dealings, specifically with the Frankfurt city council and the emperor. Within the community, they were the principal authority with very comprehensive powers, including judicial power, extensive power of taxation etc. Above all they had great influence on appointments of community officials, and particularly rabbis, who were under their authority.
In contrast to the community officials and servants, who were paid a salary by the community, the community leaders were honorary appointees. Again, unlike the Frankfurt administration (including the city council) where a retiring member appointed his own successor, the Jewish community leaders were elected by the Jewish community. The election was, however, a very roundabout process, and in particular the vote was restricted to the heads of families who had assets in excess of 1,000 guilders (a very substantial sum in those days). As a result, only a small group of rich men accounting for barely 10 per cent of the Jewish inhabitants of Frankfurt were eligible to vote for the "master builders".

© Jüd. Museum Frankfurt 1992-2002 /  Sources