The contribution of Jews toward earning Hamburg the title of “Capital of Foundations” in Germany was disproportionately higher than that of the general population. The extraordinary development of Jewish Charity in Hamburg depended on the intersection of two essential conditions. Charity in Judaism had been an act of religious duty and human obligation since ancient times. A tradition of independent self-governance in Hamburg brought forth ethics of personal civic responsibility for the well-being of the community and corresponded well with the preventive sense of Jewish welfare. Foundations were set up for traditional purposes but Jewish benefactors proved, for example, especially sensitive to social problems arising during the urbanisation process of the 19th century. A negative symptom of urbanisation in Hamburg was a lack of housing and exorbitant rents affecting not only the poorer but now also the middle classes. The Jewish share of housing trusts, that form of charity typical of Hamburg, was outstanding, as was their commitment to providing rental assistance.
Author(s): Angela Schwarz,