Joseph (Josel, Joselmann) ben-Gershom of Rosheim

(c. 1478–1554)
   German Jewish leader (shtadlan). Joseph first came to the fore in 1510 when he was elected ‘warden and leader’ of the Jewish communities of Alsace. In 1514 he was imprisoned with fellow-Jews on the familiar charge of stealing and torturing the Host (consecrated wafer), but he was released after a few months. He became recognized as the shtadlan (spokesman) for German Jewry, who could intercede with the emperors and their representatives in all matters involving the secular authorities. In 1520 he received from Charles v a letter of protection covering all Jews within his domain; this was renewed ten years later. The protection of the emperor was of particular importance to European Jewry as a defence against the hostility of the Church.
   As a leader of the German Jews, Joseph was involved in a public disputation with Antonius Margarita, a converted Jew who published a vicious anti-Semitic pamphlet. So decisively did Joseph disprove his allegations that Margarita was banished. Joseph defended the German Jews at the court of Charles v in Flanders in 1531 and in 1535 interceded on behalf of a group of Jews from Jaegendorf who had been wrongly imprisoned. When Elector John Frederick of Saxony resolved to expel the Jews from his realm, Joseph appealed to Martin LUTHER, who until then had appeared sympathetic, but Luther refused to receive him. Joseph later replied to the anti-Jewish attacks in ‘the crude, inhuman book of Dr Martin Luther’ published in 1541. Joseph defended the Jews of Wuerzberg in 1543 when they were accused of ritual murder. This too was a common charge; whenever a Christian child was missing, it was liable to be alleged that the Jews had stolen him to use his blood in their rituals or in making matzot for Passover. Joseph continued to represent his people at imperial Diets until his death.

Who’s Who in Jewish History after the period of the Old Testament. . 2012.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • CHARLES V° — (1500–1558), Holy Roman Emperor (1519–58) and king of Spain (as Charles I; 1516–56). Although maintaining the exclusion of the Jews from Spain, and upholding the Inquisition there, he continued to afford the Jews protection in the domains of the… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

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