LIVESTOCK, TRADE IN

The laws of ritual slaughter (sḥehitah ) made it necessary for Jews to buy cattle for their own consumption. In Muslim countries the gentile population bought meat from Jewish butchers. In Christian countries many charters granted to the Jews contained articles regulating the slaughter of livestock by Jews as well as the right to sell meat to non-Jews. This was necessary because the surplus, ritually unclean, parts of animals had to be sold to the Christian populace, to the great resentment of the guild of Christian butchers. Churchmen also were indignant that Jews sold to Christians meat that they considered unfit to eat according to the law. Protests by butchers against the irregular sale of meat by Jews were common occurrences in most medieval cities, often resulting in limitations in Jewish trade which had been beneficial both to Jews and to most Christians. Trade in livestock became much more intensive following the expulsions of the 15th and 16th centuries, which had resulted in a considerable section of Central European Jewry adopting a rural mode of life. Henceforth their main occupations were as peddlers, traders, brokers in agricultural products, and livestock traders. Many villages were composed largely of traders in cattle, goats, and horses. For example, in Eichstetten, Baden, four-fifths of the 68 Jewish families were livestock traders in the 19th century. In poland -lithuania Jews traded in cattle on a larger scale. Herds of cattle, often numbering thousands of heads, were driven for sale to the west. In the arenda system the Jewish lessee would obtain both ritually clean and unclean animals. The problems arising from the maintenance and sale of the latter are dealt with in much of the halakhic literature of the 17th and 18th centuries. Jewish participation in the livestock trade was a mainstay of the activity of military contractors . Supplies from Poland-Lithuania helped boost this trade among German and Austrian Jews. Herds of draft oxen, cattle for meat, and horses for the cavalry were supplied by samuel oppenheimer and samson wertheimer of Vienna and many other court jews . In Poland the nachmanovich family specialized in supplying large quantities of horses to the armies. The thousands of beasts necessary were amassed through a system of contractors and subcontractors, reaching down to the petty rural livestock trader. Isaac, son of daniel itzig , became bankrupt in 1795 when he did not receive payment from cerfberr for delivering 8,835 out of 10,000 horses contracted for. The livestock trade was a predominantly Jewish occupation in Bohemia-Moravia, Hungary, and Eastern Europe. The familiar presence of the Jewish livestock trader made him a common figure in local folksong; a Westphalian example goes: Jew Itzig bought a cow and a calf as well; Itzig Jew didn't notice, the calf was mo'beres. The use of a Hebrew word (mo'beres-me'ubberet, "pregnant") is typical, for the professional livestock traders' language in most of Europe was full of Hebrew and Yiddish expressions. The vocabulary of non-Jewish livestock traders in Holland after World War II consisted of about 90% corrupted Hebrew and Yiddish words. Jewish horse traders developed a secret trade dialect which non-Jewish horse traders first tried to understand and then eventually adopted for their own mercantile purposes. Cattle was not only bought and sold but was also raised for meat and dairy products by Jews living in villages. The problem of the firstborn animal was solved in hesse and neighboring regions in a unique manner: ritually pure calves and kids were sent to graze in the frankfurt on the Main cemetery and on their eventual death, of old age, were buried wrapped in a white sheet. These animals were butchered by vincent fettmilch 's mob and saved during the 1711 fire. This custom, mentioned by ludwig boerne , was also followed in various communities in Eastern Europe. In Switzerland, from which the Jews had been expelled in the 15th and 16th centuries and finally in 1622, Jewish livestock traders were nevertheless present throughout the country. Pacific Switzerland attracted the Jewish horse traders supplying the armies of neighboring states. The various cantons were forced to accept and encourage their presence, or to suffer stagnation in the livestock trade. Attempts were made to differentiate between the needed livestock buyers and unwanted   traders and peddlers. The few Jewish communities that existed in Switzerland in the 18th and early 19th centuries subsisted primarily from livestock trading. In Endingen, of 144 heads of families, 48 were engaged in livestock trading and 5 were butchers. In relatively isolated Endigen and Lengnau a special horse traders' language persisted into the 20th century without passing through a process of de-Hebraization and Germanization. When in 1689 the nuremberg council wanted to prohibit all trade between Jews and Christians, the Christian butchers protested and the council was forced to make an exception for the livestock trade. As against 1,590 transactions in cattle conducted by Jews between 1784 and 1800 in Winterborn (in the palatinate ), only 82 were conducted by Christians. This predominance in rural markets had its anti-Jewish ramifications. Jewish livestock traders were frequently accused of trickery, primarily of usury and exploitation, for the animals were generally bought and sold on credit. Accusations against Jewish livestock traders were particularly common in Alsace-Lorraine, Bavaria, Hesse, and Eastern Europe. Through channeling the resentment of the farmers in backward rural Hesse against Jewish livestock traders, Otto Boeckel was elected to the Reichstag. This type of antisemitic agitation was later adopted by the Nazis, particularly by the party's agricultural experts. Immediately after the Nazi seizure of power concerted steps were taken to break the Jews' dominant position in livestock markets, both on the local, regional, and national levels. Traditional markets were boycotted and special judenfreie ones were established, where farmers were urged to bring their livestock. Eventually, heavy pressure, both public and legal, had to be exerted in order to induce the farmers to sever their ties with Jewish traders. The campaign was intensified in the middle and late 1930s. On Jan. 26, 1937, only pure-blooded Germans were permitted to deal in livestock, and on Nov. 12, 1938, after the kristallnacht , Jews were totally forbidden to attend markets and fairs. Goats and cattle were raised on a small scale by many Jewish households; in the shtetl the owner of a few cows or goats supplied kosher milk and dairy products. Tales of such men were common in folklore and literature, the most famous being Tevyeh the milkman by shalom aleichem . -BIBLIOGRAPHY: A. Kapp, Die Dorfjuden in der Nordpfalz (1968), 257ff.; U. Jeggle, Judendoerfer in Wuerttemberg (1969), index, S.V. Viehhandel; J. Picard, The Marked One (1956); F. Guggenheim-Grunberg, in: The Field of Yiddish, 1 (1954), 48–62; P.J. Diamant, in: Zeitschrift fuer die Geschichte der Juden, 1 (1964), 79–83; M. Shaḥaf, in: Yeda Am, 2 (1954), 42–46; B. Brilling, ibid., 3 (1955), 15ff.; H. Bloom, The Economic Activity of the Jews of Amsterdam (1935), index, S.V. Livestock; H. Genschel, Die Verdraengung der Juden aus der Wirtschaft im dritten Reich (1966), index, S.V. Viehhandel; B. Rosenthal, in: MGWJ, 79 (1935), 443–50; M. Grunwald, Samuel Oppenheimer und sein Kreis (1913); Z. Szajikowski, Franco-Judaica (1962), index, S.V. Horses, Cattle; L. Davidsohn, Beitraege … Berliner Juden… (1920), 52–56; G.L. Weisel, Aus dem Neumarker Landestor (1926), 105f; O. Donath, Boehmische Dorfjuden (1926); A. Weldler-Steinberg, Geschichte der Juden in der Schweiz (1966); A. Hertzberg, The French Enlightenment and the Jews (1968), index, S.V. Horses, Cattle, Alsace; S. Ettinger, in: Zion, 21 (1956), 107, 42; H.H. Ben-Sasson, ibid., 183–206. (Henry Wasserman)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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