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06 October 2011

The Jacobi family and the Jews of Greenland

One of the newest additions to the Knowles Collection, is the family history of the Jacobi family. This record, which is also part of the collection compiled by Rabbi Malcolm Stern, documents a family from the province of Posen in the late 1700's.

The family begins with Jacob Jacobi who had three children. Grune Jacobi, the oldest, was born in 1790 in Neustadt, Posen and died in 1876 in Charleston, South Carolina. Most of her family like so many others settled in and around the Charleston area, one of the great Jewish communities in pre-civil war America. One of the intriguing things about this family however are the other locations where they settled.

Grune's brother, Neuman Hirsch Jacobi was also born in Neustadt, in 1794. He however moved to Copenhagen, Denmark where he died in 1881.While some of the descendants of Neuman also made their way to Charleston and others American cities, many also stayed in Europe, most in Denmark and some even lived in Greenland. These Jacobi's from Greenland now become the first Jews from that country to be included in the Knowles Collection.

Not many Jews have ever made Greenland their home. Those who visited were for the most part Danes or Germans who had trade with the inhabitants. Greenland, while self governing since 1979, has been a part of Denmark for over 300 years. While few in numbers it is nice to finally have representation from Greenland. Hopefully more will follow.


  1. In 1955, JTA reported the following:

    "[In 1954] The U.S. Armed Forces dedicated Jewish places of worship in two countries where synagogues had never before existed: Korea and Greenland."

    Any evidence that this was inaccurate?


  2. Its possible, the majority of Jews who visited Greenland in the last 60 or so years where American militery.

  3. Vilhjálmur Örn VilhjálmssonSeptember 5, 2018 at 6:38 AM

    There were other Jacobi-families in Denmark. They were Christians with no Jewish background. The Jacobi family of Greenland has no connection to Neumann Hirsch Jacobi. The only article written about Jews in Greenland was published by me in Danish journal Rambam (12) in 2003.

    There were also Jewish servicemen, British, Canadian and from the US, in Iceland and even permanent rabbis stationed there for a short while. (See here on one of my blogs

  4. Vilhjálmur Örn VilhjálmssonSeptember 5, 2018 at 9:13 AM

    I was a bit quick on the trigger this time. After I wrote my message, I investigated the Danish Jewish genealogical database (open to members of certain associations in Denmark), I can see that Neumann Hirsch Jacobi (Nachum Zvi Jacobi ben Schmunim) was in deed the great-grandfather of Hans Jacobi (1905-1995) who was the first Jacobi to live in Greenland. Hans Jacobi was however not Jewish. His Jewish-born grandparents married in a church and their son was baptised . Hans Jacobi was Christian.