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Polish Schnorrer in Leipzig. From: The Gazebo (1875)

A Schnorrer (female form Schnorrerin ) is a person who makes himself unpopular by frequent, non-aggressive requests for favors and / or money. The name has its origins in the snar , a musical instrument that Jewish alms collectors used until the 19th century to draw attention to themselves.


The word comes from Yiddish : “Since begging musicians often wandered the country with noisy instruments like the snarling, the name of the instrument was transferred to the musicians.” Colloquially, the word “scrounging” is sometimes used for one-off actions, for example when making a comment "I'm going to blow a cigarette now ".

Social status

Schnorrer have a special meaning in Orthodox Judaism . They enable believing Jews to fulfill one of the more important religious duties - mercy towards the weaker and the donation of alms : the scrounger does not have a beggar status , but that of a benefactor who brings about the benefit. This is still common today in Hasidic communities. Such Jews will strictly avoid asking non-Jews for donations. Up until the Shoah, scrounging was also a frequent activity of the so-called air man , a completely destitute person. Many commercial operations can still offer product samples or other low-value items free of charge. Because scrounging was often associated with Jews even by non-Jews, the verb jew , or jewel , has spread regionally . The word “Schnorrer” also found its way into the English language via Yiddish: There it describes a supplicant who is characterized by particular chutzpah and a lack of any kind of subservience.

In today's colloquial usage, the term has lost its original, spiritual and religious meaning. In modern, non-Jewish cultures and societies, scroungers are more likely to be equated with beggars and vagabonds : the “typical scrounger” skillfully gets other people to support him without being asked to do something in return, or at least to provide one himself. In contrast to the normal requests by about little things for no consideration as a cigarette or small change , the begging is characterized by sustainable repeating the request made. For this reason Schnorrer are quickly noticed by attentive bystanders, are perceived as "annoying" and avoided as people.

Novel "King of the Schnorrer"

The function of the Jewish Schnorrer is vividly described in Israel Zangwill's novel The King of the Schnorrer ( London 1894). The novel shows how the scrounger differs by worlds from both the Christian and the Muslim beggar - both of which have a similar task in their respective religion as the scrover in Judaism. In contrast to these, however, the Schnorrer also has to be a Talmudic scholar , since he has to induce his “victims” to benefit through the common religious teaching. The novel was republished in 1989, when the story was portrayed through the eyes of a Jewish Schnorrer named Andrey Yumusak during the rise of National Socialism in the Weimar Republic from 1929.

See also


  • Israel Zangwill, Edna Nahshon: From the Ghetto to the Melting Pot: Israel Zangwill's Jewish Plays: Three Playscripts . Wayne State University Press, Detroit (Michigan) 2006, ISBN 0814329551 , pp. 389ff.
  • Desanka Schwara : Humor and Tolerance: Eastern Jewish anecdotes as a historical source (= life worlds of Eastern European Jews , 1st volume). Böhlau Verlag, Cologne / Weimar 2001, ISBN 3412145009 , pp. 84 & 85.

Web links

Wiktionary: Schnorrer  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Duden - Schnorrerin - spelling, meaning, definition, synonyms. In: Retrieved January 17, 2015 .
  2. List of German words from Hebrew