¶ 1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 As confusing as this story appears, it teaches us a lot. It illustrates the sentimental importance of a specific synagogue seat from various points of view. At the most concrete level, it is an investment threatened by a misunderstanding at best and a potential scam at worst. Second, it deals with the social status associated with specific synagogue seats, not unlike designated family pews in historic churches. Marum the Fat was a “nouveau riche” intruder in Stühlingen, having been evicted from Donaueschingen together with his extended family the year before. Owning a seat appropriate to his self-perceived, elevated social position was essential.
¶ 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 And finally, the anecdote points out a pitfall of this type of research: the elaborate prose, apparently accepted by the various witnesses, describes Daniel and Naphtali (Hirtzel) as brothers, sons of Isaac, and grandsons of Schmuly. The latter once occupied the disputed seat. But this view is contradicted by the results of the more mechanical record analysis described in chapter 2. A plain protocol entry, reporting that “Daniel Bikert, son of Lehman [Bikert] is fined 1 fl. 20 kr.” for an unspecified offence [R172], assigns Daniel to a completely different branch of the Bickert family. The file ‘Beilagen zur Stühlinger Geldrechnung 1721/22’ in itself is somewhat suspect. Rather than just listing receipts for the indicated period of 1721/22, it contains a medley of twenty-four random revenues for the period 1704–22, suggesting that they resulted from a general office sweep. The discrepancy can be explained in two ways: (i) the clerk simply assumed that Daniel was the son of Lehmann Bickert rather than Isaac; or (ii) the five individual occurrences of the name Daniel Bickert during the period of interest are insufficient to resolve the presence of two separate Daniel Bickerts, one the son of Lehmann, the other of Isaac. In any case, Daniel’s position in the Bickert family tree needs to be adjusted accordingly.
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