Formerly, relatives and friends probably dug the graves for their dead.
The first reference to a gravedigger in the records occurs in 1508, mentioning Gumpel, who died in 1516.
The next reference was to Zeligmann the "gravedigger and luteplayer".Both lived at the edge of the cemetery in the "gravedigger's house" owned by the community and carried on this occupation as a sideline.
In 1575 Gumpel zum Krug, the last of the Frankfurt Jewish gravediggers, died.
After this the task of burial, one of the most important and most sacred in Judaism, was taken over by a Burial Fraternity, known as the Kabranim, as part of their charitable work.In the case of felons, the Kabranim fraternity would not be involved: the community leaders would instruct unregistered inmates of the foreigner's hostel to do the work.
As the number of burials rose with the growth of the population gravedigging became a fulltime job again. From the early 19th.. century onwards, menial servants of the Jewish community were appointed to the task.
The Burial Regulation dated 1.5.1842 lists professional gravediggers under paragraph 16.