The “Memorbuch” is one of the characteristic historical creations of German Jewry, documenting the deaths of important members of the community. The notations are generally in the form of the yizkor prayer “May God remember the soul of …” followed by biographical data, much of which is a description of the piety and good qualities of the deceased.
The Frankfurt Memorbuch is an impressive example of this genre. It lists deceased of the Frankfurt am Main Jewish community between the years 1628-1907. The manuscript, on vellum comprises 537 leaves (1073 pages) 36.4 x 26 cm. In size.
The Memorbuch opens with a poem written in 1712 telling of a 1711 fire in the Frankfurt sysnagogue which destroyed the old Memorbuch. The poem goes on to relate how, at the initiative of Eliezer Leizer Oppenheim a new Memorbuch was prepared, and that the entries for 1628 to 1711 were copies into it from the communal burial records (leaves 5a-57a). The new entries begin on leaf 57a with the death of Frumet, the wife of Eliezer Leizer Oppenheim.
The entries brought over from the burial records are very brief. Those written for the Memorbuch record primarily important members of the community (entry in the Memorbuch required payment). Deaths of infants, strangers and the poor were generally not recorded.
The latest entry is from 1907, however the final page commemorates the death of Baron Wilhelm von Rothschild in 1901.
The Frankfurt Memorbuch is a monumental work documenting persons and events connected with the Frankfurt Jewish community, one of the most important communities of Germany Jewry.