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The Jewish Community of Rouhling

Rouhling

In German: Ruhlingen

A commune in the Moselle department in the historical region of Lorraine, France.

Jews settled in Rouhling in early 18th century. They were allowed to live in the village and open a prayer house in early 18th century in exchange to taxes paid to the barons of Kerpen, the landlords of Rouhling, and the commandery of the Teutonic Knights of Saarbrücken. A Jewish cemetery was opened in the village.

In 1808 there were 14 Jewish families with a total of 47 people living in the village. Most made a living as hawkers and ragpickers.

During the 19th century the Jews of Rouhling left the village for better opportunities in other places with the great majority settling in Sarreguemines and Grossbliederstroff. There were no Jewish inhabitants in Rouhling during the 20th century.

The Jewish cemetery of Rouhling still exists. After moving to Grosbliederstroff, the Jews from Rouhling continued to bury their dead in the cemetery of Rouhling. The last burials were those of Louise Mendel, who died at the age of 38 on July 11, 1878, and of G. Bloch on December 9, 1883. There are a total of 66 matzevot that have been arranged in two equal rows, after the surface of the cemetery was reduced with the lower section donated to the local municipality who turned it into a public garden.

Place Type:
Village
ID Number:
21660591
Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People
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Related items:

France

République française

A country in Western Europe, member of the European Union (EU).

21st Century

Estimated Jewish population in 2018: 450,000 out of 65,000,000 (0.6%). France is the home of the third largest Jewish population in the world and the largest Jewish community in Europe. 

Conseil Représentatif des Institutions Juives de France - Representative Council of Jews of France
Phone: 33 1 42 17 11 11
Fax: 33 1 42 17 11 13
Email: infocrif@crif.org
Website: www.crif.org

Consistoire Central de France – Union des Communautés Juives de France
19, rue St Georges
75009 Paris
France
Phone: 01 49 70 88 00
Fax: 01 42 81 03 66
Website: https://france.consistoire.org/consistoire-central/
e-mail : administration@consistoirecentral.fr

 

HISTORY

The Jews of France

1040 | In Rashi Veritas

Brain drain is not a new phenomenon. Between the eighth and tenth centuries a mass movement began of Jewish merchants from Babylon – then the largest Jewish population center in the world – migrating to Western Europe, where international trade centers began to emerge. These Jews joined a larger and older group of fellow Jews, who had migrated back in 2nd Temple times, through the Mediterranean to Gaul, the land that we know as France.
As befits a goose laying golden eggs, the Jews received special rights and sheltered under the protection of French nobles, who shielded them from the maws of the Catholic Church. The economic prosperity allowed them to establish yeshivas and Torah centers which produced many scholars. One of these, a genius who made his living as a vintner, was born in 1040 in the province of Champagne in France, and bequeathed to posterity a comprehensive commentary on the Torah. Legend has it that the incomparable Rashi script was invented by his daughters, who were scholars themselves, but the truth is that it's the font of a Sephardi cursive script that was used in the Jewish printing presses in 16th century Italy to distinguish it from the biblical text itself. His name was Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki (Rashi), and his monumental work is still the authoritative commentary on Holy Scripture in the rabbinical world.

1240 | Where They Burn Books...

The crusades, which spread from Europe beginning in 1096, ended the idyll of Jewish existence in the lands of Ashkenaz in the early second millennium. Blood libels, persecutions and expulsions were the lot of the Jews for hundreds of years afterward.
One of the low points was reached in the year 1240 and is known as “The Trial of Paris”. At this trial, initiated by King Louis IX and Pope Gregory IX, the defendant was not a person, but a work of literature - The Talmud, to be precise, which according to the Catholic Church holds messages of hatred towards all gentiles and disparagement of Jesus.
One fine day an incited mob gathered in front of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, to watch the condemned criminal – 12,000 hand-written copies of the Talmud – burned at the stake. 600 years later Jewish-German poet Heinrich Heine would comment on this event: “Where they burn books, they will eventually burn people.”

1481 | The Provenance of Provence

When speaking of the Jews of France, one cannot help but pay special attention to a singular group of Jews who lived in what is now the south of France and was called “The Sages of Provence”.
These sages were the advanced placement class of the Jewish world. They created a unique brand of thought and Bible exegesis and also engaged in philosophy and Kabbalah. The teachings of these sages was spread throughout Europe, Spain and North Africa, and their genius was a byword among Jewish intellectuals of Western Europe.
Among the main writers of this group are Hameiri, Rabbi David Kimchi (aka Rada”k), Rabbi Zarhia HaLevi (aka Raza”h), Abraham Ben David (aka Raba”d) and his son, Rabbi Isaac the Blind, and of course the great translator Judah ibn Tibbon, the man who disseminated the thought of Maimonides after translating it from Arabic into Hebrew.
The Jews of Provence as a cultural phenomenon came to an end in the year 1481, when King Louis XI of France annexed Provence to his realm.

1498 | The Odyssey of Expulsions

To the Jews of France, the late Middle Ages were an agonizing ping-pong affair of expulsions and recalls. In 1306 King Phillip IV issued an edict banning the Jews from residence in French territory. 11 years later his son, Louis X, recalled the Jews – provided they wear an identifying patch on their clothes. A mere seven years went by and the Jews were expelled again. This time it was King Charles IV, who claimed that the Jews, in their temerity, failed to pay their full amount of taxes to him.
In 1357, under Jean II and later under Charles V, the Jews returned to France, but once again suffered persecution, restriction of their freedom of occupation to the sole field of money-lending, and finally – abduction of their children.
The odyssey of expulsions ended on September 17th, 1394, when Charles VI succumbed to the pressure of the masses and issues an edict of expulsion for all Jews in his domains. To his credit, it must be noted that he gave the expelled Jews ample time to sell their property and decreed that any Christian who borrowed money from them must repay it. By 1498 there was not a Jew left anywhere in France, save for a smattering of small communities that lived in Avignon and its environs in the south of France, which was then under Papal control.

1791 | No Bread? Eat Challa

The French Revolution, which broke out in 1789, costing many their lives through the services of “Madame Guillotine”, heralded the idea of the liberal democratic state as we know it today. From a tyrannical class-based society France transformed (albeit through much bloodshed), to a democratic regime in which each person can be master of their own fate.
The first to enjoy the fruits of emancipation were the Jews of Alsace-Lorraine, an area conquered by France back in 1630. The Jews of France, then numbering some 40,000 people, were as mentioned above the first in Europe to enjoy the fruits of the revolution, but their release from the burden of being the “other” and “alien” was not easy. At first the leaders of the revolution claimed that the Jews were “a nation within a nation” and as such not eligible for treatment as equal citizens. But in 1791 the General Law Relating to the Jews was issued, granting the Jews full equality, and there was much rejoicing in the Jewish quarter of Paris.

1806 | The Twelve Question Program

It would not be off the mark to characterize the history of Europe's Jews in general and those of France in particular as a series of “almosts”. Almost equality. Almost Emancipation. Almost liberty.
As though the Law Relating to the Jews had not been passed 15 years prior, in 1806 the question of Jewish status was raised once again, this time under Napoleon, the legendary general known for his unlimited ambition.
Napoleon took a creative approach. In 1806 he gathered an assembly of leading Jews and presented them with the “12 Question Test”, designed to assess their loyalty to France. Among other things the Jews were asked how Jewish halacha views mixed marriages, whether a Jew may charge interest from a gentile, how the Jews view France and more.
The answers the Jews gave, declaring France their motherland and non-Jewish Frenchmen their brothers, did not satisfy Napoleon, and a year later he issued the “Shameful Edict”, limiting the Jews' freedoms of occupation and movement, yet forced them to enlist in the army. Shameful indeed.

1860 | All Israel Are Friends

The story of the first global Jewish organization, Alliance Israelite Universelle, established in Paris in 1860, begins with a Jewish 3 year-old from Bologna named Edgardo Levi Mortara, who one day was kidnapped from his parents and taken to the Vatican, where he was “reeducated” in Catholic institutions.
The Mortara affair created great furor throughout liberal circles in Europe and was the main impetus for the founding of “Alliance”, a Jewish cultural organization meant to protect Jewish rights, which was active mainly in education.
During this period, 12 years after the “Spring of Nations” revolution, a wave of nationalism broke out and swept over France. As though through Pavlovian conditioning, the Jews were once again blamed for all the ills that had befallen the land of good taste. 12 years later, one of the main accusations hurled at the Jews was that they had gotten rich lending money to the French government for the disastrous war against the hated enemy of Prussia.

1894 | A Legendary Story

It was a winter he would never forget, and it seems that neither shall we. He was the Paris correspondent for the Austrian newspaper Neue Freie Presse, a handsome man with a thick black beard and burning eyes. He would not forget the toxic hatred, the obvious lie; he would not forget the shouts of “Death to the Jews” and the pleas of the accused, a Jewish-French military officer named Alfred Dreyfus, reprimanding those who were his subordinates but a moment ago, in a cracked voice: “I forbid you to curse me”, to no avail of course. To this day, the ripped-off ranks of Dreyfus appear in the all-Jewish nightmares.
Many historians believe that it was the Dreyfus trial that pushed the “Visionary of the Jewish State,” Binyamin Zeev (Theodore) Herzl, to dedicate his life to establishing a state for the Jews. For if in France, the country that had committed itself more than any to the ideals of equality, liberty, and fraternity, such anti-Semitism raged – what would become of the Jews huddled in the Pale of Settlement in Eastern Europe?
"If you will it", the young journalist thought to himself, "it is no legend".

1914 | Bloom of Life

On July 31st, 1914, Jean Jaures, leader of the Social-Democrat camp in French politics, sat and ate dinner at the famous Cafe du Croissant in the ninth arrondissement of Paris. All around the tempest was raging. The winds of WW1 began to blow, and Jaures, who had done everything in his power to stop the war, but in vain, was bitterly disappointed. This did not last long. During the meal an assassin appeared behind him and put two bullets in his head.
The murder of Jaures made a deep impact on his pupil and friend, Leon Blum, a socialist Jewish intellectual who would make history 22 years later by becoming the first Jewish Prime Minister of France. Blum, an attorney with a well-developed social conscience, who was defined by his biographer as a “man of words”, embodied the spirit of French Jews between the world wars. He was a man of French culture through and through, and at the same time deeply aware of his Jewish identity, an avowed Zionist, and was admired by the leaders of the Hebrew population in mandatory Palestine, who often sought his advice.

1942 | Vichy-ing The Jews Away

During WW2 France showed its ugly side. The Vichy government, a puppet regime under German protection, took part – and according to German testimony, with great zeal – in the deportation of the Jews of France (mostly Jews without French citizenship, including many who had fled from Nazi-controlled areas) to the extermination camps in the east.
One of the events that will live in infamy in French history was the deportation of 12,500 of the Jews of Paris, who were led in the dark of night, in the middle of July 1942, to the Velodrome d'hiver, where many of them died due to the harsh sanitary conditions and a severe shortage of food and water.
True, proud Francophiles will say – and rightly so – that there was a French resistance movement that abhorred the treatment of the Jews. To strengthen their argument for the republic, perhaps they will also offer the story of the nun Mother Maria Skobtsova, a Righteous Among the Nations, who managed to sneak into the velodrome along with her son disguised as waste removal workers, and hid several dozen Jewish children in the trash cans she took out. But these were the exceptions that did not indicate the rule. The numbers show that some 76,000 of the Jews of France (about a quarter of the Jews in the country) were sent to the death camps, of whom only 2,500 or so survived.

2000 | From Rothschild to Levinas

After the fall of the Iron Curtain and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Jews of France became the largest Jewish community in Europe: Some 600,000 Jews, most of whom migrated to France in the 1950s and 1960s from North Africa, as the French colonies there came to an end. The Six Day War represented a sort of messianic moment for the Jews of France as well. Their identification with Israel following the war was expressed in rallies and marches in the streets of Paris, financial support for Israel and the establishment of the “National Coordination Committee”, which united the vast majority of Jewish organizations in France.
In the 1980s the Jewish community in France was a hotbed of intellectual ferment, that included youngsters considered assimilated as well. Jewish radio stations were launched, departments of Jewish studies at universities received funding and resources, and research and publications on Jewish topics flourished. Among the celebrated Jews of France one may find intellectual Bernard Henri Levi, filmmaker Claude Lelouche, philosopher Emmanuel Levinas, thinker Jacques Derida, the famous Rothschild family and more.
But even in the 21st century France is not yet completely rid of anti-Jewish expressions and actions, this time led mostly by Muslim immigrants. These outbreaks, which included rock throwing, vandalism at synagogues and even murderous terror attacks, have led to another wave of aliyah to Israel.

Lorraine

A historical region in northeast France bordering Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany.

Sarreguemines

A town in the Moselle department, France.

21st Century

Communaute Israelite
Rue George 5
57200 Sarreguemines
Phone: 08 92 97 64 50

Synagogue

Rue Georges 5
57200 Sarreguemines
France

 

HISTORY

Jews have lived in Sarreguemines from the 13th century.

Expelled in 1477, they reappeared at the latest in 1690 under the French occupation taking advantage of the expansion of the town. One family was authorized to settle in the town in 1721, others in 1753, and still others in 1787. The synagogue, erected about 1769, was rebuilt in 1862.  The rabbinate originally established in 1791 continues to exist.

After the French revolution the Jewish community slowly increased to 395 persons in 1939.  In the first half of the 19th century, Sarreguemines was the largest community in the department after that of Metz, the only one to have a "deputy-rabbi" in 1831. Before World War II, the synagogue was located on rue de la Chapelle. It was a beautiful building in Vosges sandstone, dating from 1862 and built in "Roman-Byzantine" style on the plans of the architect Desgranges.  It was destroyed on September 17-19, 1940. Between 1939 and 1945, 89 of Sarreguemines Jews died in the Holocaust, having been deported to the Nazi death and concentration camps.

A new synagogue was inaugurated in 1959.

In 1971 the Jewish community numbered 250. Sixty five of the four hundred graves in the Jewish cemetery of Sarreguemines were desecrated in May, 2005.

Forbach

A city in the Moselle department in the historical region of Lorraine, France. Between 1871 and 1918 it was annexed by Germany.

In early 21st century there is a Jewish community in Forbach.  

First Jewish presence in the city is documented in 1687, when the brothers Cahen arrived from Wesel in Germany. The beginnings of the Jewish community of Forbach date to the 18th century. In 1723 the four Jewish families of Feist Schop, Seligman Kahn, Isaac Elias and de Oster Kahn were tolerated as Schutzjuden (“protected Jews”). The number of Jewish families increased to eight during the second half of the 18th century and by the end of the century there were 21 Jewish families with about 100 people living in a separate district of Forbach. The Jewish population continued to increase during the 19th century, when Forbach became home to the second largest Jewish community in the Moselle department. In 1834 there were 314 Jews living in the city, about 10% of the entire population. Their number was about 800 in 1885, and then about 600 in 1925 and about 550 in the 1930s.

During the 18th and 19th century most of the local Jews made a living as peddlers, cattle dealers and butchers.

The Jews of Forbach first prayed in a private room built at the end of the courtyard of a house located near Porte Inférieure. The synagogue, located on Avenue Saint-Remy, was inaugurated in 1836. The building was renovated in 1862-1863, and again 1929. The community also had a school, a mikveh and a cemetery; the latter is located on the northwest edge of Forbach.

After WW I and the return of Alsace-Lorraine to France, the community lost some members of German origin. In the period between the two world wars, the community was joined by Jews living in the neighboring towns of Freyming and Merlebach who did not have a synagogue. 

Marx Haas served as the first Jewish Mayor of Forbach from 1902 to 1906. He was followed by Félix Barth, a cattle dealer of German origin, who served in that position from 1925 to 1934.

After the German occupation of France in WW II, the Jews of Forbach were deported to the Gurs camp in southern France in 1940. Of them 114 perished in the Holocaust, among them the cantor Henri Kaufmann, a former soldier of the French army decorated with Croix de Guerre 1914-18. A street of Forbach was named after him. 

At the end of WW II, the survivors returned to Forbach. The synagogue, devastated by the Nazis and later partially damaged during the war, was restored and rededicated in 1950. A memorial plaque bearing the names of the 114 Holocaust victims of the community was fixed in the entrance hall of the synagogue.

In the 1960s the Jewish population numbered almost 300 people. In 1980 there were still about a hundred families, but later towards the end of the 20th century their number decreased as a result of many Jews moving to Strasbourg and other larger cities or immigrating to Israel.

Since the small Jewish community could no longer support the maintenance of the synagogue building, the synagogue was consequently decommissioned by the Consistoire israélite de Moselle and taken over by the city in 2015   and turned in a venue for cultural activities.  

The Jewish cemetery is located on Rue Henri Kaufmann and contains numerous gravestones.

Saarbruecken
Saarbrücken
 
Capital and largest city of the state of Saarland, Germany.

Jews were probably present in the city in 1321 when Duke John I granted the city its charter and reserved jurisdiction over the Jews. It is certain, however, that there were Jews in the adjacent villages of St. Wendel, Sarrebourg, and Sarreguemines at the time. There are no further sources mentioning the presence of Jews until 1732 when a Judenordnung ("Jewry regulation") was issued for the Saarbrucken community by the count of Usingen-Nassau.
During the French occupation (1792--1813) equality was granted and a Saarbrucken arrondissement was established with a Jewish population of 71. The Saarbrucken community grew from 10 families in 1837 to 376 persons in 1885 and 1,103 in 1910. Between 1920 and 1935 the Saar region was administered by the League of Nations. The Saarbrucken community grew to 2,650, with another 1,700 Jews were dispersed in 23 rural communities. At the time of the 1935 plebiscite on the future of the region the Jews were accused of disloyalty and subjected to intensive harassment. Large numbers of Jews chose French and Belgian citizenship and many emigrated with special "Nansen" passports. The Saarbrucken synagogue was burned down on the Pogrom Night (Nov. 9, 1938) and by the summer of 1939 only 177 Jews were left. The Jews of the Saar were deported, together with the Jews of Baden, to Gurs concentration camp in 1940.
After WW2 a new community was founded which grew from 60 in 1945-19466 to 224 in 1948 and 350 in January 1970. A new synagogue was built in 1951.

Insming

In German: Insmingen

A commune in the Moselle department in the historical region of Lorraine, France.

Jews are documented in the region from 1720. It seems that they began settling in Insming in 1725, before that date they resided in the neighboring villages of Hilsprich, Altroff and Rohrbach. The community of Insming did not have its own Jewish cemetery and they used the Jewish cemetery in Hellimer. 

In 1833 there were 18 Jewish families in Insming with a total of 88 people. The synagogue is documented since 1838, but it was built earlier, probably around 1820, in the style of the Empire period, decorated with a triangular pediment and gable, the second flanked by two small pyramids. The building of the synagogue was renovated and enlarged 1870. In the 19th century, the community employed a teacher for the education of their children.

During WW II, after the German occupation of France, the local Jews were deported to the Nazi death camps. Ten Jews of Insming perished in the Holocaust and another one was killed in action as a soldier of the French army in 1940.

The synagogue was sacked in 1941 and renovated in 1946. At the time there were 30 Jews living in Insming, most of them elderly. Due to the small number of local Jews, the synagogue was closed in 1977 and demolished in 1990.

Frauenberg

A commune in the Moselle department in the historical region of Lorraine, France. Between 1871 and 1918 it was annexed by Germany.

First Jewish presence in Frauenberg is documented in 1689 with Abraham Levy, a Jew of Marmoutier in Alsace, who was permitted to live in the village in exchange of an annual tax. Abraham Levy left Frauenberg in 1709, after he was arrested, along with all Jews from the surrounding area, and charged of collusion with a band of Jewish robbers from Swabia who was active in the area. 

The beginnings of the Jewish community of Frauenberg date from early 18th century. In 1720 there were three Jewish families allowed to live in Frauenberg. Their number increased to 9 in 1753, and then to 11 in 1756, 13 in 1768, and 23 in 1770. They were “protected” Jews and had to pay taxes. Occasionally they were threatened with expulsion, particularly in 1779, when it seemed that the Jewish families of Frauenberg exceeded the total number of Jewish families allowed to live in the Duchy of Lorraine as mentioned in an edict from 1753. The expulsion was cancelled by a royal decree, following the intervention of the village landlord who was afraid of loosing the money he received from the Jews in exchange to his protection.

During the first half of the 19th century the Jewish population continued to increase with 150 Jews recorded in 1808. This number grew to 181 in 1831, and then reached a peak of 201 in 1840. During the second half of the 19th century the number of Jewish inhabitants declined steadily with 137 Jews recorded in 1866, then 108 in 188, and 67 in 1890. In 1936 there were four Jewish families living in Frauenberg.

The first attempt to open a synagogue in 1763 was unsuccessful due to the opposition of the village landlord. The building was finished only after 1782, when a new agreement was reached between the local Jews and the village landlord. The modest building of the first synagogue was replaced by a larger prayer room opened in an adjacent house in 1869. The building also served as a Jewish school and probably housed a mikveh as well. A Jewish cemetery was opened some time between 1720 to 1740 and served additional Jewish communities in the region, including the Jews of nearby Sarreguemines, who only in 1899 opened their own cemetery.

The building of the synagogue was destroyed during WW II.

Address of the Jewish cemetery: rue de l'Église, Frauenberg

Grosbliederstroff

In German: Großblittersdorf

A commune in the Moselle department in the historical region of Lorraine, France. Between 1871 and 1918 it was annexed by Germany. Grosbliederstroff borders the city of Saarbrücken in Germany.

The first Jewish presence in Grosbliederstroff is documented in 1690, when the Levy family of the Palatinate in Germany is permitted to settle in the village. For most of the time during the 18th century there were not more than two Jewish families in the village. Only after the French Revolution and the granting of equal civil rights to Jews could additional Jewish families, many coming from Créhange, Loupershouse in Lorraine, and Langensulzbach in Germany, settle in Grosbliederstroff. Other families moved to Grosbliederstroff from the neighboring village of Rouhling.

The number of the Jewish inhabitants of Grosbliederstroff continued to grow during the first half of the 19th century. In 1835 there were about 225 Jews living in the village.

After 1808 the Jews of Grosbliederstroff belonged to the Consistoire Israélite of Metz. The first synagogue, located behind the house of the merchant Mendel Salomon, was opened in early 19th century. The building disappeared at an unknown date. In 1947, the former house of Mendel Salomon, located at 28, rue de la Liberté, was sold by the community to a private individual. 

A new synagogue was built in 1835. It was renovated during 1869-1870, and again in 1908 and in 1933. After the German occupation of France during WW II, the synagogue was turned into a military canteen. The building was damaged by artillery fire during the battles in the winter of 1944-1945.

In 1836 the Jewish community bought a piece of land next to the synagogue and built a school building with two apartments, one for the teacher and the other for the cantor. The mikveh was located between the old synagogue and the house of Mendel Solomon. The Jewish cemetery was opened in 1885.

The synagogue was restored after the war and inaugurated in June 1949. The interior space was reduced to a third of the previous area and the space gained was used to build an apartment.

Address of the synagogue: rue des Fermes, address of the Jewish cemetery: on Rue du Stade, Grosbliederstroff.

Merlebach

In German: Freimingen-Merlenbach 

A district of the commune of Freyming-Merlebach in the Moselle department in the historical region of Lorraine, France. Between 1871 and 1918 it was annexed by Germany.

Jews lived in Merlebach during the first half of the 20th century, but they did not set up an organized Jewish community. Instead, they preferred to be part of the small communities that existed in the region. Kosher meat was supplied by a Jewish butcher from Gross Bittersdorf and the nearest synagogue was in Forbach.

After WW II, Jews returned to Merlebach and from the autumn of 1945 prayers were held in a room in Myrtil Kahn's house. Around 1950, Marcel Simon, the president of the Jewish community of Merlebach, succeeded in having a small synagogue built in the town. The building was inaugurated on March 19, 1961, and it was used through the 1980s. A separate Jewish section was opened in the local cemetery after WW II, the first burial took place in 1963.

During the 1960s, after the arrival of Jews from North Africa, there were about thirty Jewish families living in Merlebach. Due to the economic decay of the region, most Jews left the town by 2000. The Jewish community was dissolved and the building of the synagogue building was sold to the local municipality.

Address of the former synagogue: rue Saint-Nicolas; the Jewish cemetery is located on rue des Vosges, Merlebach.

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The Jewish Community of Rouhling

Rouhling

In German: Ruhlingen

A commune in the Moselle department in the historical region of Lorraine, France.

Jews settled in Rouhling in early 18th century. They were allowed to live in the village and open a prayer house in early 18th century in exchange to taxes paid to the barons of Kerpen, the landlords of Rouhling, and the commandery of the Teutonic Knights of Saarbrücken. A Jewish cemetery was opened in the village.

In 1808 there were 14 Jewish families with a total of 47 people living in the village. Most made a living as hawkers and ragpickers.

During the 19th century the Jews of Rouhling left the village for better opportunities in other places with the great majority settling in Sarreguemines and Grossbliederstroff. There were no Jewish inhabitants in Rouhling during the 20th century.

The Jewish cemetery of Rouhling still exists. After moving to Grosbliederstroff, the Jews from Rouhling continued to bury their dead in the cemetery of Rouhling. The last burials were those of Louise Mendel, who died at the age of 38 on July 11, 1878, and of G. Bloch on December 9, 1883. There are a total of 66 matzevot that have been arranged in two equal rows, after the surface of the cemetery was reduced with the lower section donated to the local municipality who turned it into a public garden.

Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People

France

France

République française

A country in Western Europe, member of the European Union (EU).

21st Century

Estimated Jewish population in 2018: 450,000 out of 65,000,000 (0.6%). France is the home of the third largest Jewish population in the world and the largest Jewish community in Europe. 

Conseil Représentatif des Institutions Juives de France - Representative Council of Jews of France
Phone: 33 1 42 17 11 11
Fax: 33 1 42 17 11 13
Email: infocrif@crif.org
Website: www.crif.org

Consistoire Central de France – Union des Communautés Juives de France
19, rue St Georges
75009 Paris
France
Phone: 01 49 70 88 00
Fax: 01 42 81 03 66
Website: https://france.consistoire.org/consistoire-central/
e-mail : administration@consistoirecentral.fr

 

HISTORY

The Jews of France

1040 | In Rashi Veritas

Brain drain is not a new phenomenon. Between the eighth and tenth centuries a mass movement began of Jewish merchants from Babylon – then the largest Jewish population center in the world – migrating to Western Europe, where international trade centers began to emerge. These Jews joined a larger and older group of fellow Jews, who had migrated back in 2nd Temple times, through the Mediterranean to Gaul, the land that we know as France.
As befits a goose laying golden eggs, the Jews received special rights and sheltered under the protection of French nobles, who shielded them from the maws of the Catholic Church. The economic prosperity allowed them to establish yeshivas and Torah centers which produced many scholars. One of these, a genius who made his living as a vintner, was born in 1040 in the province of Champagne in France, and bequeathed to posterity a comprehensive commentary on the Torah. Legend has it that the incomparable Rashi script was invented by his daughters, who were scholars themselves, but the truth is that it's the font of a Sephardi cursive script that was used in the Jewish printing presses in 16th century Italy to distinguish it from the biblical text itself. His name was Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki (Rashi), and his monumental work is still the authoritative commentary on Holy Scripture in the rabbinical world.

1240 | Where They Burn Books...

The crusades, which spread from Europe beginning in 1096, ended the idyll of Jewish existence in the lands of Ashkenaz in the early second millennium. Blood libels, persecutions and expulsions were the lot of the Jews for hundreds of years afterward.
One of the low points was reached in the year 1240 and is known as “The Trial of Paris”. At this trial, initiated by King Louis IX and Pope Gregory IX, the defendant was not a person, but a work of literature - The Talmud, to be precise, which according to the Catholic Church holds messages of hatred towards all gentiles and disparagement of Jesus.
One fine day an incited mob gathered in front of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, to watch the condemned criminal – 12,000 hand-written copies of the Talmud – burned at the stake. 600 years later Jewish-German poet Heinrich Heine would comment on this event: “Where they burn books, they will eventually burn people.”

1481 | The Provenance of Provence

When speaking of the Jews of France, one cannot help but pay special attention to a singular group of Jews who lived in what is now the south of France and was called “The Sages of Provence”.
These sages were the advanced placement class of the Jewish world. They created a unique brand of thought and Bible exegesis and also engaged in philosophy and Kabbalah. The teachings of these sages was spread throughout Europe, Spain and North Africa, and their genius was a byword among Jewish intellectuals of Western Europe.
Among the main writers of this group are Hameiri, Rabbi David Kimchi (aka Rada”k), Rabbi Zarhia HaLevi (aka Raza”h), Abraham Ben David (aka Raba”d) and his son, Rabbi Isaac the Blind, and of course the great translator Judah ibn Tibbon, the man who disseminated the thought of Maimonides after translating it from Arabic into Hebrew.
The Jews of Provence as a cultural phenomenon came to an end in the year 1481, when King Louis XI of France annexed Provence to his realm.

1498 | The Odyssey of Expulsions

To the Jews of France, the late Middle Ages were an agonizing ping-pong affair of expulsions and recalls. In 1306 King Phillip IV issued an edict banning the Jews from residence in French territory. 11 years later his son, Louis X, recalled the Jews – provided they wear an identifying patch on their clothes. A mere seven years went by and the Jews were expelled again. This time it was King Charles IV, who claimed that the Jews, in their temerity, failed to pay their full amount of taxes to him.
In 1357, under Jean II and later under Charles V, the Jews returned to France, but once again suffered persecution, restriction of their freedom of occupation to the sole field of money-lending, and finally – abduction of their children.
The odyssey of expulsions ended on September 17th, 1394, when Charles VI succumbed to the pressure of the masses and issues an edict of expulsion for all Jews in his domains. To his credit, it must be noted that he gave the expelled Jews ample time to sell their property and decreed that any Christian who borrowed money from them must repay it. By 1498 there was not a Jew left anywhere in France, save for a smattering of small communities that lived in Avignon and its environs in the south of France, which was then under Papal control.

1791 | No Bread? Eat Challa

The French Revolution, which broke out in 1789, costing many their lives through the services of “Madame Guillotine”, heralded the idea of the liberal democratic state as we know it today. From a tyrannical class-based society France transformed (albeit through much bloodshed), to a democratic regime in which each person can be master of their own fate.
The first to enjoy the fruits of emancipation were the Jews of Alsace-Lorraine, an area conquered by France back in 1630. The Jews of France, then numbering some 40,000 people, were as mentioned above the first in Europe to enjoy the fruits of the revolution, but their release from the burden of being the “other” and “alien” was not easy. At first the leaders of the revolution claimed that the Jews were “a nation within a nation” and as such not eligible for treatment as equal citizens. But in 1791 the General Law Relating to the Jews was issued, granting the Jews full equality, and there was much rejoicing in the Jewish quarter of Paris.

1806 | The Twelve Question Program

It would not be off the mark to characterize the history of Europe's Jews in general and those of France in particular as a series of “almosts”. Almost equality. Almost Emancipation. Almost liberty.
As though the Law Relating to the Jews had not been passed 15 years prior, in 1806 the question of Jewish status was raised once again, this time under Napoleon, the legendary general known for his unlimited ambition.
Napoleon took a creative approach. In 1806 he gathered an assembly of leading Jews and presented them with the “12 Question Test”, designed to assess their loyalty to France. Among other things the Jews were asked how Jewish halacha views mixed marriages, whether a Jew may charge interest from a gentile, how the Jews view France and more.
The answers the Jews gave, declaring France their motherland and non-Jewish Frenchmen their brothers, did not satisfy Napoleon, and a year later he issued the “Shameful Edict”, limiting the Jews' freedoms of occupation and movement, yet forced them to enlist in the army. Shameful indeed.

1860 | All Israel Are Friends

The story of the first global Jewish organization, Alliance Israelite Universelle, established in Paris in 1860, begins with a Jewish 3 year-old from Bologna named Edgardo Levi Mortara, who one day was kidnapped from his parents and taken to the Vatican, where he was “reeducated” in Catholic institutions.
The Mortara affair created great furor throughout liberal circles in Europe and was the main impetus for the founding of “Alliance”, a Jewish cultural organization meant to protect Jewish rights, which was active mainly in education.
During this period, 12 years after the “Spring of Nations” revolution, a wave of nationalism broke out and swept over France. As though through Pavlovian conditioning, the Jews were once again blamed for all the ills that had befallen the land of good taste. 12 years later, one of the main accusations hurled at the Jews was that they had gotten rich lending money to the French government for the disastrous war against the hated enemy of Prussia.

1894 | A Legendary Story

It was a winter he would never forget, and it seems that neither shall we. He was the Paris correspondent for the Austrian newspaper Neue Freie Presse, a handsome man with a thick black beard and burning eyes. He would not forget the toxic hatred, the obvious lie; he would not forget the shouts of “Death to the Jews” and the pleas of the accused, a Jewish-French military officer named Alfred Dreyfus, reprimanding those who were his subordinates but a moment ago, in a cracked voice: “I forbid you to curse me”, to no avail of course. To this day, the ripped-off ranks of Dreyfus appear in the all-Jewish nightmares.
Many historians believe that it was the Dreyfus trial that pushed the “Visionary of the Jewish State,” Binyamin Zeev (Theodore) Herzl, to dedicate his life to establishing a state for the Jews. For if in France, the country that had committed itself more than any to the ideals of equality, liberty, and fraternity, such anti-Semitism raged – what would become of the Jews huddled in the Pale of Settlement in Eastern Europe?
"If you will it", the young journalist thought to himself, "it is no legend".

1914 | Bloom of Life

On July 31st, 1914, Jean Jaures, leader of the Social-Democrat camp in French politics, sat and ate dinner at the famous Cafe du Croissant in the ninth arrondissement of Paris. All around the tempest was raging. The winds of WW1 began to blow, and Jaures, who had done everything in his power to stop the war, but in vain, was bitterly disappointed. This did not last long. During the meal an assassin appeared behind him and put two bullets in his head.
The murder of Jaures made a deep impact on his pupil and friend, Leon Blum, a socialist Jewish intellectual who would make history 22 years later by becoming the first Jewish Prime Minister of France. Blum, an attorney with a well-developed social conscience, who was defined by his biographer as a “man of words”, embodied the spirit of French Jews between the world wars. He was a man of French culture through and through, and at the same time deeply aware of his Jewish identity, an avowed Zionist, and was admired by the leaders of the Hebrew population in mandatory Palestine, who often sought his advice.

1942 | Vichy-ing The Jews Away

During WW2 France showed its ugly side. The Vichy government, a puppet regime under German protection, took part – and according to German testimony, with great zeal – in the deportation of the Jews of France (mostly Jews without French citizenship, including many who had fled from Nazi-controlled areas) to the extermination camps in the east.
One of the events that will live in infamy in French history was the deportation of 12,500 of the Jews of Paris, who were led in the dark of night, in the middle of July 1942, to the Velodrome d'hiver, where many of them died due to the harsh sanitary conditions and a severe shortage of food and water.
True, proud Francophiles will say – and rightly so – that there was a French resistance movement that abhorred the treatment of the Jews. To strengthen their argument for the republic, perhaps they will also offer the story of the nun Mother Maria Skobtsova, a Righteous Among the Nations, who managed to sneak into the velodrome along with her son disguised as waste removal workers, and hid several dozen Jewish children in the trash cans she took out. But these were the exceptions that did not indicate the rule. The numbers show that some 76,000 of the Jews of France (about a quarter of the Jews in the country) were sent to the death camps, of whom only 2,500 or so survived.

2000 | From Rothschild to Levinas

After the fall of the Iron Curtain and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Jews of France became the largest Jewish community in Europe: Some 600,000 Jews, most of whom migrated to France in the 1950s and 1960s from North Africa, as the French colonies there came to an end. The Six Day War represented a sort of messianic moment for the Jews of France as well. Their identification with Israel following the war was expressed in rallies and marches in the streets of Paris, financial support for Israel and the establishment of the “National Coordination Committee”, which united the vast majority of Jewish organizations in France.
In the 1980s the Jewish community in France was a hotbed of intellectual ferment, that included youngsters considered assimilated as well. Jewish radio stations were launched, departments of Jewish studies at universities received funding and resources, and research and publications on Jewish topics flourished. Among the celebrated Jews of France one may find intellectual Bernard Henri Levi, filmmaker Claude Lelouche, philosopher Emmanuel Levinas, thinker Jacques Derida, the famous Rothschild family and more.
But even in the 21st century France is not yet completely rid of anti-Jewish expressions and actions, this time led mostly by Muslim immigrants. These outbreaks, which included rock throwing, vandalism at synagogues and even murderous terror attacks, have led to another wave of aliyah to Israel.

Lorraine

Lorraine

A historical region in northeast France bordering Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany.

Sarreguemines

Sarreguemines

A town in the Moselle department, France.

21st Century

Communaute Israelite
Rue George 5
57200 Sarreguemines
Phone: 08 92 97 64 50

Synagogue

Rue Georges 5
57200 Sarreguemines
France

 

HISTORY

Jews have lived in Sarreguemines from the 13th century.

Expelled in 1477, they reappeared at the latest in 1690 under the French occupation taking advantage of the expansion of the town. One family was authorized to settle in the town in 1721, others in 1753, and still others in 1787. The synagogue, erected about 1769, was rebuilt in 1862.  The rabbinate originally established in 1791 continues to exist.

After the French revolution the Jewish community slowly increased to 395 persons in 1939.  In the first half of the 19th century, Sarreguemines was the largest community in the department after that of Metz, the only one to have a "deputy-rabbi" in 1831. Before World War II, the synagogue was located on rue de la Chapelle. It was a beautiful building in Vosges sandstone, dating from 1862 and built in "Roman-Byzantine" style on the plans of the architect Desgranges.  It was destroyed on September 17-19, 1940. Between 1939 and 1945, 89 of Sarreguemines Jews died in the Holocaust, having been deported to the Nazi death and concentration camps.

A new synagogue was inaugurated in 1959.

In 1971 the Jewish community numbered 250. Sixty five of the four hundred graves in the Jewish cemetery of Sarreguemines were desecrated in May, 2005.

Forbach

Forbach

A city in the Moselle department in the historical region of Lorraine, France. Between 1871 and 1918 it was annexed by Germany.

In early 21st century there is a Jewish community in Forbach.  

First Jewish presence in the city is documented in 1687, when the brothers Cahen arrived from Wesel in Germany. The beginnings of the Jewish community of Forbach date to the 18th century. In 1723 the four Jewish families of Feist Schop, Seligman Kahn, Isaac Elias and de Oster Kahn were tolerated as Schutzjuden (“protected Jews”). The number of Jewish families increased to eight during the second half of the 18th century and by the end of the century there were 21 Jewish families with about 100 people living in a separate district of Forbach. The Jewish population continued to increase during the 19th century, when Forbach became home to the second largest Jewish community in the Moselle department. In 1834 there were 314 Jews living in the city, about 10% of the entire population. Their number was about 800 in 1885, and then about 600 in 1925 and about 550 in the 1930s.

During the 18th and 19th century most of the local Jews made a living as peddlers, cattle dealers and butchers.

The Jews of Forbach first prayed in a private room built at the end of the courtyard of a house located near Porte Inférieure. The synagogue, located on Avenue Saint-Remy, was inaugurated in 1836. The building was renovated in 1862-1863, and again 1929. The community also had a school, a mikveh and a cemetery; the latter is located on the northwest edge of Forbach.

After WW I and the return of Alsace-Lorraine to France, the community lost some members of German origin. In the period between the two world wars, the community was joined by Jews living in the neighboring towns of Freyming and Merlebach who did not have a synagogue. 

Marx Haas served as the first Jewish Mayor of Forbach from 1902 to 1906. He was followed by Félix Barth, a cattle dealer of German origin, who served in that position from 1925 to 1934.

After the German occupation of France in WW II, the Jews of Forbach were deported to the Gurs camp in southern France in 1940. Of them 114 perished in the Holocaust, among them the cantor Henri Kaufmann, a former soldier of the French army decorated with Croix de Guerre 1914-18. A street of Forbach was named after him. 

At the end of WW II, the survivors returned to Forbach. The synagogue, devastated by the Nazis and later partially damaged during the war, was restored and rededicated in 1950. A memorial plaque bearing the names of the 114 Holocaust victims of the community was fixed in the entrance hall of the synagogue.

In the 1960s the Jewish population numbered almost 300 people. In 1980 there were still about a hundred families, but later towards the end of the 20th century their number decreased as a result of many Jews moving to Strasbourg and other larger cities or immigrating to Israel.

Since the small Jewish community could no longer support the maintenance of the synagogue building, the synagogue was consequently decommissioned by the Consistoire israélite de Moselle and taken over by the city in 2015   and turned in a venue for cultural activities.  

The Jewish cemetery is located on Rue Henri Kaufmann and contains numerous gravestones.

Saarbruecken

Saarbruecken
Saarbrücken
 
Capital and largest city of the state of Saarland, Germany.

Jews were probably present in the city in 1321 when Duke John I granted the city its charter and reserved jurisdiction over the Jews. It is certain, however, that there were Jews in the adjacent villages of St. Wendel, Sarrebourg, and Sarreguemines at the time. There are no further sources mentioning the presence of Jews until 1732 when a Judenordnung ("Jewry regulation") was issued for the Saarbrucken community by the count of Usingen-Nassau.
During the French occupation (1792--1813) equality was granted and a Saarbrucken arrondissement was established with a Jewish population of 71. The Saarbrucken community grew from 10 families in 1837 to 376 persons in 1885 and 1,103 in 1910. Between 1920 and 1935 the Saar region was administered by the League of Nations. The Saarbrucken community grew to 2,650, with another 1,700 Jews were dispersed in 23 rural communities. At the time of the 1935 plebiscite on the future of the region the Jews were accused of disloyalty and subjected to intensive harassment. Large numbers of Jews chose French and Belgian citizenship and many emigrated with special "Nansen" passports. The Saarbrucken synagogue was burned down on the Pogrom Night (Nov. 9, 1938) and by the summer of 1939 only 177 Jews were left. The Jews of the Saar were deported, together with the Jews of Baden, to Gurs concentration camp in 1940.
After WW2 a new community was founded which grew from 60 in 1945-19466 to 224 in 1948 and 350 in January 1970. A new synagogue was built in 1951.

Insming

Insming

In German: Insmingen

A commune in the Moselle department in the historical region of Lorraine, France.

Jews are documented in the region from 1720. It seems that they began settling in Insming in 1725, before that date they resided in the neighboring villages of Hilsprich, Altroff and Rohrbach. The community of Insming did not have its own Jewish cemetery and they used the Jewish cemetery in Hellimer. 

In 1833 there were 18 Jewish families in Insming with a total of 88 people. The synagogue is documented since 1838, but it was built earlier, probably around 1820, in the style of the Empire period, decorated with a triangular pediment and gable, the second flanked by two small pyramids. The building of the synagogue was renovated and enlarged 1870. In the 19th century, the community employed a teacher for the education of their children.

During WW II, after the German occupation of France, the local Jews were deported to the Nazi death camps. Ten Jews of Insming perished in the Holocaust and another one was killed in action as a soldier of the French army in 1940.

The synagogue was sacked in 1941 and renovated in 1946. At the time there were 30 Jews living in Insming, most of them elderly. Due to the small number of local Jews, the synagogue was closed in 1977 and demolished in 1990.

Frauenberg

Frauenberg

A commune in the Moselle department in the historical region of Lorraine, France. Between 1871 and 1918 it was annexed by Germany.

First Jewish presence in Frauenberg is documented in 1689 with Abraham Levy, a Jew of Marmoutier in Alsace, who was permitted to live in the village in exchange of an annual tax. Abraham Levy left Frauenberg in 1709, after he was arrested, along with all Jews from the surrounding area, and charged of collusion with a band of Jewish robbers from Swabia who was active in the area. 

The beginnings of the Jewish community of Frauenberg date from early 18th century. In 1720 there were three Jewish families allowed to live in Frauenberg. Their number increased to 9 in 1753, and then to 11 in 1756, 13 in 1768, and 23 in 1770. They were “protected” Jews and had to pay taxes. Occasionally they were threatened with expulsion, particularly in 1779, when it seemed that the Jewish families of Frauenberg exceeded the total number of Jewish families allowed to live in the Duchy of Lorraine as mentioned in an edict from 1753. The expulsion was cancelled by a royal decree, following the intervention of the village landlord who was afraid of loosing the money he received from the Jews in exchange to his protection.

During the first half of the 19th century the Jewish population continued to increase with 150 Jews recorded in 1808. This number grew to 181 in 1831, and then reached a peak of 201 in 1840. During the second half of the 19th century the number of Jewish inhabitants declined steadily with 137 Jews recorded in 1866, then 108 in 188, and 67 in 1890. In 1936 there were four Jewish families living in Frauenberg.

The first attempt to open a synagogue in 1763 was unsuccessful due to the opposition of the village landlord. The building was finished only after 1782, when a new agreement was reached between the local Jews and the village landlord. The modest building of the first synagogue was replaced by a larger prayer room opened in an adjacent house in 1869. The building also served as a Jewish school and probably housed a mikveh as well. A Jewish cemetery was opened some time between 1720 to 1740 and served additional Jewish communities in the region, including the Jews of nearby Sarreguemines, who only in 1899 opened their own cemetery.

The building of the synagogue was destroyed during WW II.

Address of the Jewish cemetery: rue de l'Église, Frauenberg

Grosbliederstroff

Grosbliederstroff

In German: Großblittersdorf

A commune in the Moselle department in the historical region of Lorraine, France. Between 1871 and 1918 it was annexed by Germany. Grosbliederstroff borders the city of Saarbrücken in Germany.

The first Jewish presence in Grosbliederstroff is documented in 1690, when the Levy family of the Palatinate in Germany is permitted to settle in the village. For most of the time during the 18th century there were not more than two Jewish families in the village. Only after the French Revolution and the granting of equal civil rights to Jews could additional Jewish families, many coming from Créhange, Loupershouse in Lorraine, and Langensulzbach in Germany, settle in Grosbliederstroff. Other families moved to Grosbliederstroff from the neighboring village of Rouhling.

The number of the Jewish inhabitants of Grosbliederstroff continued to grow during the first half of the 19th century. In 1835 there were about 225 Jews living in the village.

After 1808 the Jews of Grosbliederstroff belonged to the Consistoire Israélite of Metz. The first synagogue, located behind the house of the merchant Mendel Salomon, was opened in early 19th century. The building disappeared at an unknown date. In 1947, the former house of Mendel Salomon, located at 28, rue de la Liberté, was sold by the community to a private individual. 

A new synagogue was built in 1835. It was renovated during 1869-1870, and again in 1908 and in 1933. After the German occupation of France during WW II, the synagogue was turned into a military canteen. The building was damaged by artillery fire during the battles in the winter of 1944-1945.

In 1836 the Jewish community bought a piece of land next to the synagogue and built a school building with two apartments, one for the teacher and the other for the cantor. The mikveh was located between the old synagogue and the house of Mendel Solomon. The Jewish cemetery was opened in 1885.

The synagogue was restored after the war and inaugurated in June 1949. The interior space was reduced to a third of the previous area and the space gained was used to build an apartment.

Address of the synagogue: rue des Fermes, address of the Jewish cemetery: on Rue du Stade, Grosbliederstroff.

Merlebach

Merlebach

In German: Freimingen-Merlenbach 

A district of the commune of Freyming-Merlebach in the Moselle department in the historical region of Lorraine, France. Between 1871 and 1918 it was annexed by Germany.

Jews lived in Merlebach during the first half of the 20th century, but they did not set up an organized Jewish community. Instead, they preferred to be part of the small communities that existed in the region. Kosher meat was supplied by a Jewish butcher from Gross Bittersdorf and the nearest synagogue was in Forbach.

After WW II, Jews returned to Merlebach and from the autumn of 1945 prayers were held in a room in Myrtil Kahn's house. Around 1950, Marcel Simon, the president of the Jewish community of Merlebach, succeeded in having a small synagogue built in the town. The building was inaugurated on March 19, 1961, and it was used through the 1980s. A separate Jewish section was opened in the local cemetery after WW II, the first burial took place in 1963.

During the 1960s, after the arrival of Jews from North Africa, there were about thirty Jewish families living in Merlebach. Due to the economic decay of the region, most Jews left the town by 2000. The Jewish community was dissolved and the building of the synagogue building was sold to the local municipality.

Address of the former synagogue: rue Saint-Nicolas; the Jewish cemetery is located on rue des Vosges, Merlebach.