STRASBOURG (Ger. Strassburg), capital of the department of Bas-Rhin, Alsace, E. France. The earliest conclusive evidence on the presence of Jews in Strasbourg dates from 1188. During the anti-Jewish persecutions connected with the Third Crusade, the Jews fled from the town and a number of other towns, but they appear to have returned after a short while. The statutes of the town (from about 1200) mention the Jews, who were by then living in a special quarter. At the beginning of the 13th century at the latest, they already owned a cemetery; the oldest remaining epitaph belongs to the year 1213. The synagogue is not mentioned until 1292. The size of the Jewish community, as well as its economic power, is reflected in the fact that in 1242 it paid the highest tax of all the Jewish communities of the empire. Until about 1260, the Jews of Strasbourg were subjected to the authority of the bishop. From the first half of the 13th century, some Christians bore the surname of "Jew" (Jude), which probably attests to their Jewish origin. In spite of demographic losses due to conversions, the number of Jews in Strasbourg was constantly on the rise   as a result of immigration from other Alsatian localities, as well as other Germanic localities, so that in 1306, with additional arrivals from France, the Jewish population numbered about 300. moneylending appears to have been their sole economic activity, their customers including Christian religious institutions and noblemen. Loans ran as high as 6,000 livres. In his account of the massacre of the Jews of Strasbourg after they had been accused of propagating the black death , a local chronicler points out that the real poison by which the Jews of Strasbourg had perished was usury. In addition, the Jews also suffered as a result of the battle for municipal power between the patricians and the master craftsmen. The patrician municipality sought to protect the Jews, and at the end of 1348, when rumors spread that the Jews were poisoning the wells in order to spread the plague, it preferred to refrain from any action until an inquiry had been conducted in the localities where similar accusations had been voiced (including lausanne , chillon , berne , colmar , cologne , and freiburg in Breisgau). Although the guilt of the Jews was taken for granted almost universally, the council of Strasbourg remained convinced of their innocence and even took up their defense. On Feb. 9, 1349, however, Mayor Peter Swarber and two counselors were compelled by the craftsmen to resign. On February 13, the new council decided to burn the Jews. According to tradition, the decision was enforced on Saturday, February 14, when 2,000 Jews perished. The only ones spared were those who accepted baptism; however, a number of those converts were the victims of a new persecution in the summer of 1349, when the plague actually reached the town and took a heavy toll of lives. On Sept. 12, 1349, Emperor Charles IV officially pardoned the town for the massacre of the Jews and the plunder of their possessions. Until the French Revolution, two calls upon a horn, played nightly, perpetuated the memory of the supposed treason of the Jews. In spite of the town's decision to prohibit the settlement of Jews for a period of 100 years, a number of Jews were authorized to reside there from 1369 onward, though against the payment of extremely high fees. They numbered at least 25 families when they were again expelled from Strasbourg at the end of 1388, on this occasion "forever." Those banished established themselves in surrounding villages, from where they continued to maintain commercial relations with the inhabitants of Strasbourg. Magistrates frequently intervened (e.g., in 1570) to prohibit these relations completely or reduce them to a minimum. From at least 1512, and probably much earlier, the Jews who wished to enter the town were required to pay an expensive toll. In time, this admission fee was increased by an additional payment to the municipal servant who accompanied each Jew in all his movements and supervised the lawfulness of his activities. When the exceptional Jew was authorized to spend the night in Strasbourg – normally at the Corbeau Inn or at the Ours-Noir Hotel – he had to pay a double toll, that is, the fee which he would have paid had he returned the next day. On certain occasions, such as in 1639, this supervision was accompanied by an interrogation and a search at the gates of the town to determine the goods which the Jews brought and the persons with whom they intended to establish contact. The Jews endeavored to circumvent both the payment of toll rates and humiliating treatment by concluding their transactions outside the town. The municipality, in order to protect its handsome income, would then intervene against such practices. In 1648, for example, it prohibited the sale of horses at any site other than the horse market of the town. Relations between the Jews and the Council of Strasbourg were not always hostile. Joseph Joselmann b. Gershom of Rosheim, in particular, succeeded through his diplomatic talents in obtaining the council's support. In 1537 he obtained a letter of recommendation to the prince-elector of Saxony, and in 1541 called the attention of the council to the anti-Jewish pamphlet of the Strasbourg preacher M. Bucer , and in 1543 to the writings of M. Luther , "Concerning the Jews and Their Lies" and "Concerning the Shem ha-Meforash" (Tetragrammaton). He thereby succeeded in obtaining an order against new publications of these writings. Once the town came under French sovereignty (1681), the severity of the anti-Jewish measures was eased or they were even temporarily suspended, such as in time of war to enable the Jews of the surrounding area to take refuge in the town. The minister R.L. de Voyer Marquis d'Argenson, however, was compelled to intercede in favor of Moses Blim, a purveyor of the army, and his Jewish partners to enable them to reside in Strasbourg until 1748. Again, the intervention of the royal authorities was required in 1767 to permit cerfbeer , also an army purveyor, to reside in Strasbourg during the winter and, from 1771, during the entire year. The numerous members of Cerfbeer's family and the persons engaged in his service also benefited from this personal authorization, so that in 1785 he occupied three or four houses with 60–70 people. In the letters patent of 1785, which abolished the "corporal toll," a special mention was made of Strasbourg, where "the Jews are subjected to a corporal tax which reduces them to the level of animals… a levy which appears to debase humanity." In spite of the king's commitment to indemnify the town for the loss of income, Strasbourg was reluctant to apply this edict. A few years later there was almost unanimous opposition to granting the rights of citizenship to the Jews. Immediately after the National Assembly had done so, however, many Jews established themselves in Strasbourg. In the revolutionary year II, it was especially the Jews who became the target of the antireligious campaign. A contradictory situation resulted: it was the Republic which revived medieval practices by seizing, together with religious objects, all the Jewish books, particularly those of the Talmud, to be burned in an immense auto-da-fé. In 1806 seven delegates represented the 1,500 Jews of Strasbourg at the assembly of notables . Immediately after the constitution of the Consistories, joseph david sinzheim , until then chief rabbi of Strasbourg, became chief rabbi of the Central Consistory. The community, which was constantly   growing, soon developed exemplary institutions. In addition to the synagogues, it supported a vocational school from 1825, an old age home called "Elisa" from 1853, and a rabbinical seminary for a short while from 1885. The German annexation of 1871 was responsible for the departure of a number of Jews for France. There was a particularly rapid numerical growth between the two world wars. Immigration from abroad was much lower than in other towns. In 1931, of almost 8,500 Jews living in Strasbourg, over 60% were born in France. (Bernhard Blumenkranz) -Hebrew printing In 1504 Johann Grueninger published in Strasbourg G. Reysch's Margarita Philosophica, which included a Hebrew grammar by Pelican, a Hebrew alphabet, and other Hebrew texts, all printed by woodblocks. In 1541 paul fagius was appointed professor of Hebrew at Strasbourg University, and this led to the production of Hebrew textbooks for his students by the press of Johann Knobloch (or his successors). Fagius' own edition of parts of Targum Onkelos appeared in these texts in 1546, probably together with reprints of other texts, which he and Elijah Levita had published at Isny and Konstanz in the preceding years. In 1589 Elias Schadaeus set up a Hebrew press for which he himself prepared the Hebrew type, and in 1591 printed an edition of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs. It was only toward the end of the 18th century that Hebrew printing resumed in Strasbourg, with the publication of Bezalel Ashkenazi's Shitah Mekubeẓẓet on Ketubbot and Solomon Algazi's Leḥem Setarim, by Jonah Lorenz in 1777. This printing venture was inspired and financed by Cerfbeer and his brother-in-law, David Sinzheim. The auxiliary personnel were experienced typesetters, correctors, etc. from other printing centers, such as Hanau. -Holocaust Period With the outbreak of World War II in September 1939, the entire population of Strasbourg was evacuated to the southwest of France. After the French capitulation (June 1940), the Jewish community succeeded in making basic provisional arrangements in southwestern France – setting up a synagogue and a welfare bureau in Périgueux and a synagogue in Limoges. As a result, a large number of Jews from Strasbourg were able to survive the war. Chief Rabbi René Hirschler , mobilized in 1939, continued in his post as an itinerant rabbi after the defeat and Nazi occupation, and visited the Strasbourg Jewish community dispersed in more than 50 localities south of the Loire. In Strasbourg proper, the Nazis set fire to the Quai Kléber synagogue erected in 1898 and systematically destroyed all traces of the structure. Strasbourg Jews played a major role in educational work, welfare, sanitation, and in armed resistance. They set up agricultural schools and helped to direct them in the framework of the Jewish French scouting movement (Eclaireurs Israélites de France). Under the auspices of ose , they helped open clinics and children's homes. They also organized flight to Switzerland or to Palestine (via Spain) for infants and older children and joined in the armed resistance. As a result of their participation in these activities, Rabbis Hirschler, Robert Brunschwig and Elie Cyper, along with youth leader Léo Cohn, were arrested and deported to death camps. Rabbis Samy Klein and Aron Wolf were also killed in the course of their resistance work. -Contemporary Period About 10,000 Jews lived in Strasbourg on the eve of World War II. Eight thousand came back after the liberation, 1,000 died in concentration camps, and another 1,000 decided to settle elsewhere. In 1965 there were 12,000 Jews in Strasbourg (4.5% of the total population). This increase was the result of natural growth (300), immigration from smaller Alsatian centers (1,200), immigration from Central Europe (500), and settling of refugees from North Africa (2,000). The Jewish population had been diminishing since 1955; however, in the late 1960s the birthrate was 7.5% and the mortality rate 12%; the number of mixed marriages increased by 40% between 1960 and 1965. Nevertheless, the community was strengthened by the absorption of an independent Polish-rite group in 1948 and North African Jews, for whom oratories were built or arranged in several neighborhoods. By the turn of the century the Jewish population had increased to around 15,000. Strasbourg Jewry was one of the most active communities on the continent of Europe after World War II. Institutions created since 1945 stress Jewish education, contrary to the trend prevalent before. They included a kindergarten, a full-time school, two boarding houses for high school and university students, two yeshivot, a monthly bulletin, and a weekly radio program. The University of Strasbourg had a chair of Jewish studies held by André Neher . The Synagogue of Peace was inaugurated in 1958. It includes a large community center, which has often been the site of national and international Jewish congresses. The latent antisemitism of the Alsatian population was expressed by the establishment of organizations to prevent the return of Jewish property (confiscated in 1940) to the owners, and later to prevent the erection of a synagogue on city land. (Lucien Lazare) -BIBLIOGRAPHY: Germ Jud, 1 (19632), 367–72, 552; 2 (1968), 798–805; A. Glaser, Geschichte der Juden in Strassburg (1924 Strasbourg2); I. Loeb, in: Annuaire de la Société des études juives, 2 (1883), 137–98; H. Bresslau, in: ZGJD, 5 (1892), 115–25, 307–34; La Révolution Française, 52 (1907), 553–4; E. Schnurmann, La statistique de la population juive de Strasbourg (1935); P. Hildenfinger, in: REJ, 58 (1909), 112–28; M. Ginsburger, ibid., 79 (1924), 61–78, 170–86; 80 (1925), 88–94; A. Hermann and L. Weil, Les oeuvres sociales israélites privées à Strasbourg (1922); La synagogue de la Paix (1958); A nos martyrs (1951). Printing: A. Marx, Studies in Jewish History and Booklore (1944), 318ff.; L. Rostenberg, in: Journal of Jewish Bibliography, 2 (1940), 47ff.; B. Friedenberg, Toledot ha-Defus ha-Ivri… Eiropah … (1937), 93–94; A. Hertzberg, French Enlightenment and the Jews (1968), 171 n.82.

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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