MEMEL (Lith. Klaipėda), a Baltic port in W. Lithuania. The town was founded in the 13th century; the earliest existing document in which Jews are mentioned is dated April 20, 1567, and refers to an edict expelling the Jews from the city. In 1664 the elector of Brandenburg permitted a Jewish merchant from the Netherlands, Moses Jacobson de Jong, to settle in Memel, and eventually Jews were allowed to visit the city for the annual trade fairs. Only after the emancipation of Jews in Prussia (1812) were they able to settle freely in Memel. In the 19th century the community consisted of Eastern European and Prussian Jews. The former had settled in the port in connection with their trans-Baltic business and formed the majority of the Jewish population (in 1880 they accounted for 80% of the total number of Jews). In later years there was an increased influx of Jews from Germany. The number of Jews grew from 887 in 1867, to 1,214 in 1900, and to over 2,000 in 1910. Each group had its own synagogue and communal institutions, but the official community administration was run by German Jews. israel lipkin (Salanter), founder of the Musar movement, lived and taught in Memel 1860–80, founding a bet midrash and societies for Torah study, and publishing here the short-lived periodical Ha-Tevunah (1861). isaac ruelf , one of the spiritual leaders of German Jewry, was rabbi of Memel from 1865 to 1898 and devoted much effort to alleviating the plight of Russian Jews. Ruelf was succeeded by Emanuel Carlebach (until 1904), M. Stein (until 1915), L. Lazarus (until 1932), and S. Schlesinger (until 1939). After World War I, the League of Nations adopted the Memel Convention (1924), whereby it became an autonomous region under Lithuanian rule. As the country's only port, it played an important role in the economic life of Lithuania, and there was a steady influx of Jews into the city in the interwar period. In March 1939 it had a Jewish population of approximately 9,000 (17% of the total). Most of the Jews were engaged in commerce but there were also a few industrialists. The Memel district also had a few Jewish-owned estates, some of which were made available for hakhsharah. On March 22, 1939, the Germans occupied Memel and incorporated it into the Reich. Most of the Jews managed to flee to lithuania , where they later shared the fate of their coreligionists. In 1970 the estimated Jewish population was less than 1,000. There was no synagogue, cemetery, or organized religious life. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: I. Ruelf, Zur Geschichte der Juden in Memel (1900); Gringauz, in: Lite, 1 (1951), 1427–38; Shulman, in: Yahadut Lita, 3 (1967), 281–3; A. Carlebach, Adass Jeshurun of Cologne (1964), 25–28; L. Scheinhaus, in: Memeler Dampfboot (Aug. 15, 1928). (Joseph Gar)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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  • Memel — is the name for both a town and a river (the same river in the neighboring country has the name Neman/Nemunas River and Njemen in Russia). Memel was derived from the Couronian Latvian language: memelis, mimelis, mēms and means mute, silent. It… …   Wikipedia

  • Memel [2] — Memel, Kreisstadt im preuß. Regbez. Königsberg, die nördlichste Stadt des Deutschen Reiches, an der Mündung der schiffbaren Dange in das Memeler Tief, welches das Kurische Haff mit der Ostsee verbindet, Knotenpunkt der Staatsbahnlinien Osterode M …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Memel — puede ser: El nombre en alemán de la ciudad de Klaipėda (Lituania); El nombre en alemán de un río de Lituania y Bielorrusia llamado Niemen; La batalla de Memel en la Segunda Guerra Mundial; El Territorio de Memel (Memelland o Región de Klaipėda) …   Wikipedia Español

  • Memel — Memel,   1) die, litauisch Nẹmunas, russisch Nẹman, Zufluss des Kurischen Haffs (Ostsee), 937 km lang, entspringt in Weißrussland südlich von Minsk in 236 m über dem Meeresspiegel am Weißrussischen Landrücken, fließt in nordwestlicher und… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Memel — Memel, 1) Kreis des Regierungsbezirks Königsberg in der preußischen Provinz Preußen, umfaßt 191/5 QM. mit 44,200 Ew., am Haff; wenig Ackerbau, mehr Schifffahrt, Handel u. Bernsteinfischerei; 2) Kreisstadt u. schwache Festung mit Citadelle in… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Memel [1] — Memel, der untere Lauf des Niemen (s. d.) …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Memel — Memel, der Unterlauf des Flusses Niemen (s.d.) …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Memel [2] — Memel, Kreisstadt im preuß. Reg. Bez. Königsberg, nördlichste Stadt Deutschlands, am Eingange des Kurischen Haffs und der Mündung der Dange in dasselbe, (1900) 20.166 (1905: 20.687) E., Garnison, Land und Amtsgericht, Hauptzollamt,… …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Memel — Memel, preuß. Hafen und Handelsstadt im Kreise gleiches Namens an der Ostsee, mit 9500 Ew. und 750 Gebäuden, worunter sich die Hauptkirche, das Oberpostamts und Zollgebäude etc. auszeichnen. Die Bevölkerung nährt sich von Handel und Schifffahrt;… …   Damen Conversations Lexikon

  • Memel [1] — Memel, preuß. Stadt im Reg. Bez. Königsberg, am Eingange des kurischen Haffs u. auf beiden Seiten der Dange, mit gutem Hafen, Schiffbau, ansehnlichem Seehandel (Ausfuhr der Produkte der Ostseeländer), 9200 E. M. wurde 1253 durch den Deutschorden… …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

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