Laws regarding Jews, Transylvania 1780s

One of the last folders I looked through in the Sibiu archives contained decrees issued by the Habsburg authorities regulating various aspects of Jewish life. Included here was the famous decree of 1787 from Josef II mandating, amongst other things, that Jews assume German first names and permanent family names and keep their record books in German (images 1 and 2). This law was to be applied throughout the empire.

The other decrees were specific to Transylvania or in any case, released by the Transylvanian authorities. Some regard rules pertaining to Jewish beggars, others stipulate the conditions under which Jews may work on Sundays.

The two posted above relate somewhat to my previous post regarding the 11-year old Jewish girl abducted by a Catholic priest and baptized against the will of the parents in 1792. The first one, from 1789, states that “in the future a Jewish child may not be baptized before the age of 18 unless it is on its death bed, requests to be baptized of its own will, and is in such a state as to be able to discern between good and evil - then the baptism is to be performed.” It was this law that the priest and the Catholic church broke and for which they were punished by the State - but not before having already baptized and married the girl off to a Christian.

The last documents regulate how children are to be raised if one of the parents converts to Catholicism. The law basically states that the children are to be raised according to the religion of the father, whether he converts to Catholicism or his wife does, until they reach the age of 18, the “age of discretion” when they are permitted to choose their religion themselves.