Betteljuden (German: Jewish beggars) – a term commonly used in the 17th-century German literature and referring to the fact that the Jewish poor would often resort to wandering in order to find livelihood. It is estimated that approximately 20% of the Jewish population at that time were beggars. This has been the result of both the substantial increase in Jewish population and the unstable economic situation in Europe caused by religious strife in the west and the Cossack uprisings and territorial struggle in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. At that time, Jewish communities imposed significant restrictions on the number of permits for permanent stay (the hazakah). The situation began to change in the 18th century, although the phenomenon has only disappeared with the implementation of emancipation reforms and the abolition of the restrictions on Jewish settlement.

Andrzej Żbikowski

Quoted after: Tomaszewski J., Żbikowski A., Żydzi w Polsce. Dzieje i kultura. Leksykon. [Jews in Poland – Their History and Culture. A Lexicon.], , Warsaw 2001. 


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