The Holy Roman Empire is neither holy, nor Roman, nor an Empire.?Voltaire Yet the ?Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation? was German, and defined what ?German? meant. It was also home to an ancient Jewish culture and hundreds of Jewish communities. Until 1871 Germany?s Jews were subjects of many different states with different laws and attitudes. Napoleon emancipated most of Germany?s Jews, and Prussia followed his lead. After his fall, most German states?some newly created?returned their Jews to one or another special legal status. All this makes the researcher?s job more complicated, because the same type of information?birth, change of residence, etc. was kept by various authorities of different states, in different ways. I review the larger Jewish congregations and rural communities and how they were governed by different states over time; and show examples of family histories recorded across longer periods.