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A schulklopfer is the person who calls a Jewish community to prayer in the local synagogue.[1][2] The Yiddish term "schulklopfer" literally means "synagogue knocker".[3] 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[4] (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)[5]

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 terms were the Christian equivalents.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Singer, Isidore & Adler,Cyrus (Eds.) (1906). The Jewish Encyclopedia, vol. 11. New York: Funk and Wagnalls. p. 114. Archived from the original on 2015. 
  2. ^ Rose, Emily C. (2001). Portraits of Our Past: Jews of the German Countryside. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society. p. 57. ISBN 978-0-8276-0706-4. 
  3. ^ Wexler, Paul (2006). Jewish and Non-Jewish Creators of "Jewish" Languages: With Special Attention to Judaized Arabic, Chinese, German, Greek, Persian, Portuguese, Slavic (modern Hebrew/Yiddish), Spanish, and Karaite, and Semitic Hebrew/Ladino ; a Collection of Reprinted Articles from Across Four Decades with a Reassessment. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. ISBN 3447054042.  (page 587, footnote 8).
  4. ^ Exodus 20:24
  5. ^ Singer, Isidore & Adler,Cyrus (Eds.) (1906). The Jewish Encyclopedia, vol. 8. New York: Funk and Wagnalls. pp. 340ff. Archived from the original on 2015.