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A schulklopfer is the person who calls a Jewish community to prayer in the local synagogue.[1] In modern times, the custom has more or less died out[citation needed], but it was historically common.

The schulklopfer was usually a beadle, who would perform the task by wandering around the community, knocking on each household's door.[1] In Neustadt, he would knock four times, in the pattern KNOCK - pause - KNOCK KNOCK - pause - KNOCK; Israel Isserlein (a famous rabbi from Neustadt) argued that this pattern was a reference to the Biblical phrase I shall come to thee and bless thee[2] (in gematria, the letters of the first word of this phrase have the values 1, 2, and 1, respectively).[1] In the Rhine, the custom was to strike merely thrice, in the pattern KNOCK - pause - KNOCK KNOCK.[1]

In mediaeval Eastern Europe, the schulklopfer also had the role of individually inviting people to marriage ceremonies (nissuin); the invitations were made to the entire community by the schulklopfer on the morning of the marriage ceremony itself (such ceremonies were usually an evening affair)[3]

The name stems from the Holy Roman Empire (Germany) in the middle ages.[1] Christians in nearby communities sometimes referred to schulklopfers as campanatores (a Latin term meaning bell-strikers) or as Glöckner (German for bell-striker); these were the terms which the Christian equivalents were given.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain"schulklopfer". Jewish Encyclopedia. 1901–1906. 
  2. ^ Exodus 20:24
  3. ^  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain"marriage ceremonies". Jewish Encyclopedia. 1901–1906.