The
Diaries
of
Bernhard Cahn
A man of his times
Life in Nineteenth Century Germany


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Unique - based on the diaries of Bernhard Cahn, of Kastel, Hesse
From 1817 through 1871 Bernhard Cahn kept a diary recording daily life and thoughts of a German Jewish citizen. No record has been found of any diary that continued describing daily life for over fifty years.

Written in Judeo-German
Judeo-German is a form of writing using the Hebrew letters to express German words and sounds. In the same way that the Hebrew language is written from the right to the left, so is this form of writing. It was a common form of communication within the Jewish community during the 1700s and 1800s. Its use virtually disappeared by the early 1900s.

Shows positive Jewish/Christian community relations
Bernhard Cahn had many positive interactions with the various officials of the town of Kastel. Along with the Christian community the Jewish community contributed food during times of famine, and all people celebrated when the first fire engine was bought. Whenever any court actions were required, it was quite clear that the courts were not biased. Christian officials attended major Jewish community functions, such as the dedication of a new synagogue. Occasional court rulings that were very fair are described.


Reflects the social life and world through the eyes of a German citizen in the 19th century.
The arrival of the steam engine and steam boats, the visit of dignitaries to the area, travel to visit family members, festivals such as the Shiller Festival in Frankfurt, as well as how to prevent cholera, and small pox, are all described. War played a large part in his life. The effects of wars on the local community including the cannons falling in the local gardens during a war and amounts of food that had to be supplied to the soldiers that were billeted in homes, and charges if one could not house soldiers are discussed.

Shows personal family interactions and interests
Cahn described the presents that were given to family members on their birthdays and every present received by his daughter when she married 1861. His ancestor's papers were used for a major serialized story in der Israelit a local Jewish newspaper, in 1867. His veteran comrades and local elected officials visited him and congratulated him when his had served the community for 50 years.
Given for 50 years of service

Reflects Interest in World Events
He wrote much about America and the civil war, about Lincolnís assassination, as well as Presidents Jefferson and Grant. Anti-Semitic events in Europe, the building of the Suez canal, and the migration of Germans to America are all described.

Includes 40 figures
Illustrations include a picture of him and of his family as well as many documents concerning his life. Pictures of the Medal of St. Helene awarded to him as well as the accompanying documentation is included. The book also has numerous pictures and maps that reflect Mainz and the local area at various times in the nineteenth century. Several tables of data are included.

Explains all religious events and the emergence of Reform Judaism
All relgious activities and observances which might not be easily understood by non-Jews are explained. Bernhard Cahn was a traditionalist and concerned with strict adherence to the observance of Jewish laws and traditions. He did not approve of the changes to the religion that were taking place in nearby Mainz.

Appendixes
Index of all people and places mentioned
Bibliography
Glossary of all foreign words

The University of Mainz is currently working on a German edition.

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