Town in the grand duchy of Baden, Germany. In 1900 it had a population of 141,131, including 5,478 Jews (1900). Jews are not known to have lived in Mannheim before the middle of the seventeenth century. On Sept. 1, 1660, thirteen families, eleven of German and two of Portuguese origin, obtained permission from the elector Karl Ludwig to reside there. A deed dated 1656 mentions the first burial-ground, which in 1661 was exchanged for another; the latter was used until 1839. The first rabbi was Naphtali Herz (1657-71). His successor was Isaac Brilin (1671-78), who was appointed rabbi at Mannheim after the expulsion of the Jews from Hammelburg. Upon his death his son-in-law, Eliezer b. Jekuthiel, became rabbi; but, like his successor, Moses Grotwohl (1679), he held the office only a short time. Even at that early date there were 78 Jews in Mannheim, a fact which induced the municipal administration to submit a request to the government of the Palatinate not to grant any more permits to Jews. Isaac Aaron Worms of Metz was rabbi from 1685 to 1693. The devastation of the Palatinate by the French compelled the Jews of Mannheim, who had assisted in the defense of the city, to go elsewhere; nearly 70 families lost their homes by fire. Heidelberg received 26 families until their houses at Mannheim were rebuilt (1691). Among the new houses was the large quadrangular building erected by the court factor Emanuel Oppenheimer of Vienna, son of the famous Samuel Oppenheimer, and which, until 1729, was the temporary residence of the elector Karl Philipp. A concession granted in 1698, whose object was to bring about the reconstruction of the city as soon as possible, increased the number of Jewish inhabitants to 150 families. In 1701 the Jews obtained permission to extend their burial-place and to build a synagogue.
The first rabbi after the reconstruction of the city was Joseph David Ulf (1706-29). It was at this period that a Klaus was founded at Mannheim through the generosity of Lemle Moses Reinganum, with a capital of 100,000 gulden. The building, including a synagogue and bet ha-midrash, was dedicated in 1708, and, with some alterations, exists to-day. Similar institutions, but smaller, were established by Michael May and Elias Haium. The rabbi at that time was Samuel Helmann (1726-51), an opponent of Jonathan Eybeschütz. On Helmann's appointment as rabbi at Metz, David (Tebele) Hess was elected chief rabbi in Mannheim. During his tenure of office occurred the notorious divorce dispute of Cleve, which involved a member of the Mannheim congregation and aroused a bitter controversy among the rabbis of Germany (1766; see "Or Yisrael," Cleve, 1770; Horovitz, "Frankfurter Rabbinen," iv. 27-31, Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1885; Lubetzki, "Bidḳe Battim," p. 44b, Paris, 1896). The elector Karl Theodor granted more Jews the right to live in Mannheim (1744), at the same time, however, ordering them to settle in the side streets, as they should not be allowed to own a house in the main street. For thirty-two years the chief rabbi at the klaus was Naphtali Hirsch Katzenellenbogen. The "Stadtrabbiner" was Hirschel Levin (1770-73), who left Mannheim for Berlin. In 1784 Michel Scheuer, from Mayence, was appointed "Stadtrabbiner"; he held the office for twenty-five years and died in 1809. His successors were: Gottschalk Abraham, who had been klaus rabbi and "Oberland" rabbi (d. 1824); Hirsch Traub (d. 1849); Moses Praeger (d. 1861), who introduced a Reform service (1856); B. Friedman (1863-79); and the present (1904) rabbi, M. Steckelmacher (since 1880). Mannheim contains many Jewish philanthropic institutions.
Bibliography: Löwenstein, Gesch. der Juden in der Kurpfalz, Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1895.