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The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia

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Capital city of France. There were Jews in Paris prior to the date of the Frankish invasion. The councils of Varennes in 465 and of Orleans in 533, 538, and 541 adopted certain measures against the Jews, from which it would appear that there must have been Jews in Paris and in the north of France at that time. From the days of the first Frankish kings there was in Paris a Rue de la Juiverie (Street of the Jews), leading to the palace; in 582 a synagogue was erected in this street.

Until the sixth century the Jews who lived in Paris did so under favorable conditions. They enjoyed perfect freedom in the exercise of their religion, they maintained friendly relations with the Christians, and some of them even occupied public offices, as receivers of taxes. However, it was not long before the influence of the Church began to affect the king and nobles. Chilperic (561-584) endeavored to proselytize the Jews; among them was one named Priscus. When this unfortunate refused to "acknowledge the faith" he was thrown into prison. Under the last of the Merovingian kings the situation grew worse. Clotaire II. forbade the Jews to exercise any seigniorial functions or to serve in the army (615). His son Dagobert gave them the choice of conversion or exile (629). Many went into exile, and others suffered martyrdom. A deed of gift signed by King Dagobert in favor of the Abbey of St.-Denis alludes to one Solomon, collector of taxes at the Porte Glaucin, now the Quai aux Fleurs.

With the advent of the Carlovingian kings (687) there came a great change. Charlemagne (768-814), Louis le Débonnaire (814-840), and Charles the Bald (843-877) treated the Jews with great kindness.During the struggles that disturbed the kingdom for the two centuries that followed, the Jews remained unnoticed.

In the Twelfth Century.

Of the Capetian kings Louis VI. (1108-37) and Louis VII. (1137-80) were favorably disposed toward the Jews. Under their rule the Jewish community in Paris largely increased. Many Jews dwelt also in the environs of the city and owned real estate there. According to certain chroniclers, they owned the greater part of Villejuif. In Paris itself they occupied Les Champeaux, a quarter consisting of a certain number of dark and narrow streets closed by gates at each end. Within this district were to be found the potters, the shoemakers, and the dealers in old clothes and rags. At that time there were two synagogues there; one in the Rue de la Juiverie, the other in the Rue de la Tacherie, formerly called also "Rue de la Juiverie." The community owned two cemeteries, one situated in the Rue de la Galande, the other toward the end of the Rue de la Harpe. Near-by, but on the opposite bank of the Seine, stood a mill which also belonged to the Jews. But their thrift and their wealth excited hatred and jealousy. All sorts of accusations were brought against them; they were charged with having arrested many Christians for debt, and of having accepted as pledges the sacred vessels used in church service. When, with much solemnity, Pope Innocent II. entered Paris, in 1139, the representatives of the Jewish community were permitted to present themselves with those of the city corporations. Wishing to honor the pope, the Jews, carrying the scrolls of the Law, greeted him with an address, to which he replied: "May the Lord God Almighty tear away the veil that conceals your hearts!"

Then, too, the odious calumny of ritual murder was circulated freely. In 1179 the Parisian Jews were accused of having murdered at Easter a Christian named "William."

Banished by Philip Augustus.

Philip Augustus (1180-1223), who succeeded Louis VII., displayed a hostile spirit toward the Jews, and had scarcely ascended the throne when, on a certain Sabbath-day in 1180, he ordered the imprisonment of all the Jews in his kingdom, their release being conditioned on the payment of the sum of 15,000 silver marks. In the spring of 1181 he banished them all, confiscated their lands and dwellings, and annulled four-fifths of their claims against the Christians, exacting the remainder for himself. The synagogues were turned into churches, that situated on the Ruede la Juiverie, within the city limits, Philip presented to Maurice, the Archbishop of Paris, in 1183, and it became the Church of Sainte-Madeleine-en-la-Cité. To the cloth-makers' gild the king leased twenty-four Jewish houses which were situated in the "Judearia Pannificorum" or ghetto, now the Rue de la Vieille Draperie, for the yearly payment of a tax of 100 livres.

The Jews Return.

In 1198 Philip, being hard pressed for money, permitted the Jews to return to France. They flocked back to Paris, where they repaired their synagogue in the Rue de la Tacherie, and established another in an old tower on the ramparts, La Tour du Pot-au-Diable, near the convent of St.-Jean-en-Grève. They settled near the Church of Petit-St.-Antoine, in the cul-de-sac or blind alley of St.-Faron, in the Rue de la Tissanderie, known later as the "Cul-de-sac des Juifs," in the vicinity of Mont Ste.-Geneviève, in the Rue de Judas, in the Rue Quincampoix, and in the Rue des Lombards, then inhabited by Italian usurers and therefore the financial center of Paris.

From this time the Jews enjoyed a certain degree of liberty and toleration. Some of them were compelled to pledge themselves not to leave the kingdom for a term of years. A bond given about the year 1204 by several Jews as a security for their continued residence contains the names of these Jews, the amount paid annually into the royal treasury, and the oath taken on the "roole" or scroll of the Law. One of these Jews, in a document dated 1209, is called "le Juif du roi," or the king's Jew. This appears to have been the designation of the Jews attached to the royal treasury (see See KAMMERKNECHTSCHAFT). In order that he might extort from them greater sums of money, the king permitted them to charge a high rate of interest, which, however, was subjected to certain restrictions by a decree issued in the year 1218. At this time Paris contained some very rich Jews. In 1212 the chevalier Etienne de Sancerre pawned all his property to the Jew Elijah de Braie of Paris and his son Merote as security for the sum of 80 livres which he had borrowed from them, and for which he was obliged to pay two deniers per livre each week as interest. In 1217 Philip presented the grain-market in the Juiverie to his cupbearer Rinaldo.

Under Louis VIII. and Louis IX.

Under Louis VIII. (1223-26) the Jews were again molested. In Nov., 1223, the king, instigated by the clergy, annulled all Jewish loans of more than five years' standing, exempted Christian debtors from the payment of all interest even on debts contracted later, and decreed that all bonds for debts to Jews must thereafter be signed before the royal bailiff. If any Jews left the domain of their lord they must be returned to him by the owner of the land on which they had settled. By such means many of the wealthiest of Jewish families were reduced to misery.

Louis IX. (1226-70) did not show himself particularly friendly toward the Jews. He spared no efforts to convert them to Christianity. Gregory IX., acting under the influence of the apostate Jew Nicholas Donin, ordered an examination of the Talmud, and a controversy took place June 25, 1240, at the king's court in Paris between Nicholas Donin and four noted rabbis of the day, among whom were Jehiel de Paris and Moses de Coucy. As a result all the copies of the Talmud and of other Hebrew books that had been seized by order on March 3 were consigned to the flames. For several years thereafter Louis IX. stayed his hand, although the edicts against rabbinical works continued to be enforced strictly. But on his return from a crusade in 1254 he renewed his hostile attitude toward the Talmud and toward usury. As an outcome many Jews received severe punishments, and in 1257 all the landed property they held, excepting cemeteries and synagogues, was confiscated by the king. The community of Paris was compelled to solicit the help of the Jews of the surrounding country for the support of its school, formerly so active and noted. Among the numerous emigrants of that time was Jehiel himself, the illustrious head of the school, who set out for Palestine about 1259. By a decree dated June 12, 1269, St. Louis imposed upon the Jews in addition the wearing of the badge.

Under the Philips.

Philip III. the Bold (1270-85), while retaining all the decrees of his father against the Jews, enforced them only passively. In 1271 the council of St.-Quentin reproached him for allowing Jews to sue Christians for debt in a court of justice. Philip even allowed the Jews of Paris to open a new cemetery in a garden bought from a certain canon named Maître Gilbert. Although forbidden by law to reside in the neighborhood of Mont Ste.-Geneviève, they established their quarters in the interior of the city.

Under Philip the Fair (1285-1314) the condition of the Jews became almost intolerable. In 1288 he subjected the Jews of Paris to a fine for chanting too loudly in their synagogues. About the year 1299 he imposed upon them a tax of 244 livres and 12 sous, Tours currency, called the "recepta" (revenue), and 50 livres for exemption from the wearing of the badge. To the tyranny of the king were added the persecutions of the people. In 1290 a Jew of Paris, named Jonathas, was accused of having desecrated the host. He was burned at the stake, his house was razed, and a chapel built on its site which in 1685 bore this inscription: "Upon this spot the Jews defiled the Sacred Host." But notwithstanding their sufferings, the Jews still remained in Paris. At the close of the thirteenth century they inhabited the Rue du Trave-Mourier (now the Rue de Moussy), the Rue Neuve, the Court Robert de Paris (now the Rue Renard St.-Merry), the Tacherie (now the Rue de la Tacherie), and the Petit-Pont. The Jews bore French surnames and first names, such as "Copin le Mire" (the physician), "Mosse le Mire," "Sarre le Mirgesse," etc.

Decree of Exile.

But a terrible blow fell upon them when Philip pronounced his decree of exile against them on July 22, 1306. Then the king appropriated all their property for the royal treasury. In Dec., 1307, he gave to his coachman the synagogue in the Rue de la Tacherie. A number of the Parisian Jews pretended to adopt Christianity, but being unablewholly to conceal their Jewish feelings, they suffered martyrdom. The exile, however, was not of long duration, and the Jews were recalled in 1315 by Louis X. (1314-16). This monarch took them under his protection, and directed that they should be "defended from attacks, injuries, violence, and all oppression." Their synagogues, cemeteries, and other sacred places were restored to them.

But they were not allowed to enjoy royal protection for a great length of time. In 1320 Philip V., the Tall (1316-1322), imposed a tax of 100,000 livres upon the Jews of his kingdom, and of this amount 5,300 livres were payable by the Jews of Paris. In 1321 the accusation of poisoning the wells was made. Many of the Paris Jews were burned, others were exiled, and their property, to the amount of 150,000 livres, confiscated. Then followed a half-century during which the Jews of Paris, under the administration of Rabbi Mattithiah Troyes, seem to have been left unmolested. In 1360 Manecier de Vesoul entered into negotiations for the return of the exiles to France. He settled in Paris, and was appointed by the king collector of the imposts laid upon the Jews in the provinces of the North; he had as an assistant Jacob de Pont-Sainte-Maxence, also a resident of Paris. The Jews were for a time harassed by the king's agent, who threatened to procure their expulsion from the city (1370); but Charles V. (1364-80) ordered that they should be left in peace. The harsh measures against them were canceled, and they became amenable only to the king or their guardian-general, the Comte d'Etampes. Their testimony was accepted as evidence in court; they were exempted from the gabel, or tax on salt, and from fines and servitude, and were subjected only to a special tax for entry and residence in the city.

This lenience toward the Jews soon excited the anger of both the clergy and the people. With the sanction of Charles VI. (1380-1422) the people assembled in the town hall and demanded that "the Jews and usurers should be driven out of the city." Without waiting further action, the mob rushed through the city, crying "Aux Juifs!" attacked and pillaged about forty houses, and maltreated several Jews. For four days they plundered, burned, and murdered at will. Some of the victims, barely escaping with their lives, took refuge in the prison of the Châtelet, and little children were torn from the arms of their mothers and baptized (1380).

Uprising Against the Jews 1380.

Hugues Aubriot, the provost of Paris, in spite of his disposition to protect the Jews, was unable to check the uprising; but he obtained from the king the restoration of children to their parents and the restitution of some of the plunder. This intervention in their favor drew down upon Aubriot the wrath of the Church. He was accused of being secretly a convert to Judaism, and all sorts of abominable crimes were imputed to him. He was compelled to do public penance, and was then thrown into a dungeon. Shortly after, the insurrection of the Maillotins (1381) broke out, and the Jews again suffered severely. They were seized in broad daylight in the open streets, half-strangled, beaten, and stabbed. In 1394 a wealthy baptized Jew, Denis Machault, disappeared from Paris. Seven of the principal members of the Jewish community were at once arrested on the charge of having murdered him. They were at first condemned to be burned alive; but the Parliament of Paris modified this sentence by condemning them to remain in prison until Denis Machault had been returned; in the meantime they were to be beaten "for three successive Saturdays in three different places"—in the market-place, in the Place de Grève, and in the Place Maubert. They were compelled also to pay a fine of 10,000 livres. At length Charles VI., wearied by the incessant clamor of their enemies, expelled the Jews from France in 1394. Escorted by the provost, they left Paris (Nov. 3), and what property they could not take with them was confiscated.

Rabbinical Learning.

From the eleventh century Paris was an important center of religious and Talmudic education. A manuscript relating to the ancient religious customs of Worms mentions a certain Elijah the Elder, who must have lived about the middle of the eleventh century ("Shem ha-Gedolim," s.). This manuscript seems to confuse Elijah the Elder of Mons with Elijah ben Judah, who lived more than a century later. In a manuscript containing responsa of Geonim (formerly in the possession of Halberstam) is one addressed by the "sages" of Rome to the "sages" of Paris (Luzzatto, "Bet ha-Oẓer," 1:57). None of the latter is mentioned by name, but their colleagues of Rome commend their piety and learning. The responsum containing this is dated at the beginning of the twelfth century.

Twenty years later the rabbis of Paris took part in a synod convoked by RaSHBaM and R. Tam. RaSHBaM remained some time in Paris, and was in friendly intercourse with the learned men of that city. In a responsum ("Or Zarua'," 1:138b) he speaks of Mattithiah Gaon, who is identical with Mattithiah b. Moses, the disciple of Rashi and head of the Talmudic school of Paris; of Judah b. Abraham, who, in collaboration with his colleague Shemaiah, revised some of the works of his master Rashi, and edited a Passover Haggadah; of Jehiel, the son of Mattithiah Gaon; of Judah ben Yom-Ṭob (the tosafist), probably the son of the celebrated tosafist Judah ben Nathan (RIBaN), son-in-law of Rashi. Samuel of Paris consulted R. Tam on the question of a bill of divorce; Moses of Paris, who was at the head of the community of Paris about the middle of the twelfth century, wrote a commentary on the Bible, after the manner of RaSHBaM. Jacob ben Samson, who lived in the first part of the twelfth century, wrote a work on the Hebrew calendar, a commentary on the Seder 'Olam Rabba, and another on Abot, and notes on the prayer-book.

Elijah ben Judah is noted for the controversy which he sustained against R. Tam on the question of phylacteries; Talmudic authors of that age often quote his opinions. Ḥayyim b. Hananeel ha-Kohen was one of the chief disciples of R. Tam; his tosafot are frequently quoted, and Eliezer of Metz was among his disciples.

Sir Leon of Paris.

Judah ben Isaac, called Sir Leon of Paris, was one of the most illustrious French rabbis of the MiddleAges. He was born in 1166 and died in 1224. He was probably the grandson of Judah ben Yom-Ṭob of Paris, and a descendant of Rashi. About 1198 he was appointed head of the Talmudic school of Paris, then attended by a great number of students, among whom were Moses de Coucy, Isaac ben Moses of Vienne, Samuel Sir Morel de Falaise, and Jehiel ben Joseph. Many of his responsa and decisions have been preserved. Judah Sir Leon compiled most of the tosafot found in the Talmud editions, and is mentioned as a commentator on the Bible and as a writer of various liturgical works. Among the most illustrious pupils of Judah Sir Leon, Jehiel ben Joseph, called Sir Vives, undoubtedly ranks first. He succeeded his master as head of the Talmudic school of Paris about 1224. He had about 300 scholars, including Isaac de Corbeil (his son-in-law), Perez ben Elijah of Corbeil, and probably also the German tosafist Judah ha-Kohen, the teacher of Meïr of Rothenburg. Jehiel bore a high reputation, even among non-Jews, as well as with the great St. Louis. He refuted the argument of the Chancellor of Paris, who attempted to prove from Numbers 23:24 that the Jews made use of Christian blood in their religious rites (comp. Zadoc Kahn in "R. E. J." 1:232).

Jehiel was also the principal champion of the Jewish cause in the disputation of 1240. Owing to the state of affairs ensuing upon the great controversy of 1240, Jehiel was obliged to send a delegate to Palestine to obtain funds for the support of the school of Paris. In 1260 he departed with his son for the Holy Land, where he died in 1268. Numerous ritual decisions and tosafot by Jehiel still exist; he is quoted also as a commentator on the Bible. After his departure the school of Paris lost all its former prestige, and for a long period there is no record of any Jewish scholars of Paris. Nevertheless, in the tax-book of Paris for the years 1296-1297 ("R. E. J." 1:61 et seq.) there occur the names of "Abraham le Mestre" and "Baru le Mestre," or "Mestrè" (= "rabbi").

Mattithiah ben Joseph.

On the return of the Jews to France, Mattithiah ben Joseph held the office of chief rabbi of Paris and of all France (1360-85). He was the son of Joseph ben Johanan Treves, who had been rabbi of Marseilles in 1343. Charles V. officially appointed Mattithiah the religious head of all the communities of France, and exempted him and Manecier de Vesoul, with their families, from wearing the badge. When Mattithiah was raised to the dignity of chief rabbi there were only four or five Talmudic scholars in the whole of France. He accordingly established a new school at Paris and gathered around him a great number of disciples. Many of his opinions and his treatise on the methodology of the Talmud are quoted by other writers.

About 1385 Johanan succeeded his father Mattithiah as chief rabbi of France and head of the Talmudic school of Paris. Johanan came into conflict with a former pupil of his father's, Isaiah ben Abba Mari (Astruc de Savoie). Isaiah, himself a rabbi of distinction, arrogated to himself the sole right to ordain the French rabbis. He considered himself the only rightful chief rabbi in France and employed the most unscrupulous methods to undermine the authority of Johanan; the latter requested the intervention of the "great ones of Catalonia," Ḥasdai Crescas and Isaac ben Sheshet, who decided in his favor. The final expulsion of the Jews from France in 1394 put an end to these unfortunate disputes; Johanan went to Italy, where he died in 1429. His reputation as a rabbi was very high, and many of his opinions and decisions have been quoted.

The Jews of Paris were noted not only for their religious learning but also for their secular knowledge, particularly in medicine. The names of Copin le Mire (= "physician"), Lyon Dacre Maire, or Mire, Moïse de Mire, and a woman, Sara la Miresse, who also practised medicine, are especially noteworthy. At the request of the physicians of Paris, and particularly of the "Grand Master" Jean de Passaraut, the famous physician Lanfranc (Leon Franco) of Milan wrote a very important work, "Practica sive Ars Completa Totius Chirurgiæ" (Paris, 1296). This book was translated into Hebrew under the title "Ḥokmah Nishlemet bi-Meleket ha-Yad."

Residence Through License.

After the expulsion of 1394 only occasionally were there any Jews resident in Paris, and these had no legal status. At last some few Jews obtained permission from Louis XI. (1461-83) to reside there, on condition of providing themselves with a license from the police, which it was necessary to renew every two or three months. It was not until about 1500 that the presence of Jews in Paris is again noticed. At that time the family of Jovea, originally from Beja in Portugal, is mentioned as residing there. It is not spoken of as Jewish, but as "Neo-Christian." Jacques Jovea (the elder) was the principal of the college of Ste.-Barbe. He brought with him four of his nephews on a mission from the King of Portugal, John III. Francis I. (1515-47) sent to Constantinople for a Jewish physician, who introduced into France the use of ass's milk. It was Francis I. also who founded a chair in Hebrew at the Collège de France (1538), and it was during his reign that Hebrew typography produced its most remarkable works.

According to some sources, which, however, are evidently inspired by malignity, Concini (Maréchal d'Ancre, prime minister of Louis XIII.) and his wife, Leonora Galagai, were of Jewish descent. They had brought some Jews from Holland to Paris, and were accused of professing Judaism themselves, of "offering the sacrifice of the cock as a Jewish oblation" on the occasion of the "Feast of the Reconciliation," and of making use of the Cabala and other Jewish works. A copy of the Maḥzor was found in their house, as well as a work entitled "Cheimuc" (Ḥinnuk), and an amulet, phylacteries, etc. ("Recueil des Charges du Procès Fait à la Mémoire de Concini," 1617).

In 1611 Marie de Medicis summoned the physician Elijah Montalto, who consented to come only on condition that he should be guaranteed perfect liberty to practise his religion; and he obtained the same privilege for his family. He bore a very high reputation at court.

Elijah Montalto.

Owing to Montalto and Concini, the Jews enjoyed some years of peace in Paris. But matters were greatly altered in the reign of Louis XIII. (1610-43); in 1615 the Jews were surprised during the celebration of the Passover, and banished on April 23. It does not appear, however, that the prohibition against their residence in Paris was strictly enforced. A certain Jean Fontanier, by turns Calvinist, monk, advocate, royal secretary, and (finally) Jew, headed the efforts to recall the Jews to France: he was burned in the Place de la Grève. About 1670 twenty-six young persons disappeared within the space of four months, and the Jews were accused of having crucified them; but the accusation was proved false, and the real criminals were discovered.

A mazarinade, under the title of "The Murder of the Pin Merchant," recounts the supposed murder of a citizen in 1652 by the gild of junk-dealers, who are supposed to have been Jews ("Les Juifs à Paris Depuis le VIe Siècle," p. 48). They are said to have murdered a pin-seller, Jean Bourgeois, for having complained of being ill-treated in revenge for his jeering at them. The whole report may be a burlesque; it indicates, however, that there were Jews in Paris at that period. François Lopez was the physician of the Faculty of Paris in 1667. Joseph Athias, the celebrated printer, was a resident of Paris at that time. Among the litterateurs of the reign of Louis XIV. was a certain Cohen, known as "the learned stranger" (1662). There was also Samuel Bernard, the noted financier, whose Jewish origin, however, is not beyond doubt.

In the Eighteenth Century.

At the beginning of the eighteenth century certain Jews were high in the favor of important personages of the court. Silva, the son of a Jewish physician of Bordeaux, was appointed consulting physician to the king in 1724; in 1738 he received a patent of nobility. Another physician, Fonseca, was on terms of intimacy with Voltaire, the Comtesse de Caylus, and other noted persons. Among the physicians of this time was also Azevedo, who lived in the Rue St.-Germaine l'Auxerrois. Little by little, the number of Jews in Paris increased; they came from Bordeaux, Avignon, Holland, Alsace, and Lorraine. Those from Bordeaux had on different occasions since the time of Henry II. secured letters patent authorizing them to reside in France; they were legally established in Paris in 1776 as a result of the efforts of Jacob Rodrigues Péreire. The last-named, celebrated as an instructor of the deaf and dumb, had lived in Paris since 1747. He was acquainted with Necker, Buffon, Rousseau, La Condamine, D'Alembert, Diderot, and others, and was appointed interpreter to the king in 1765. In 1743 Astrue was made consulting physician to the king, a position which he occupied for over twenty years. Revel was made sheriff's appraiser in 1740, and Raynal became royal secretary in 1747. Isaac Pinto, author of an "Apologie pour la Nation Juive," written in reply to Voltaire, and of a pamphlet entitled "Le Luxe," occupied a high rank in the world of letters. Israel Bernard de Valabrègue, who was employed in the royal library and as interpreter to the king in 1754, gave the support of his influence to Moïse Perpignan, Salomon Petit, Israel Salom, and Abraham and Moïse Dalpuget.

From 1767 to 1777 the Jewish merchants pressed their claims against the trade corporations, which refused to admit them into their ranks. A letter of Valabrègue to the king on the subject turned the scale in favor of his coreligionists ("Lettre ou Réflexions d'un Milord à Son Correspondant à Paris au Sujet de la Requête des Marchands des Six Corps Contre l'Admission des Juifs aux Brevets," London, 1767). In 1767 Salomon Perpignan founded the Royal Free School to further the development of the arts at Paris; he was granted papers of naturalization.

At this period German, Avignonese, and Polish Jews began to settle in Paris. There are indications of their presence in the first half of the eighteenth century, and they soon surpassed in numbers the small Portuguese community established at Paris in 1750. They entered all branches of trade; among them were bankers, merchants, innkeepers, porters, cabinet-makers, and music-teachers. Some had commercial dealings with the court, such as the jeweler Michel Oulif. The most singular instance was that of Liefmann Calmer, who came to Paris in 1769 and became Baron of Perpignan and Vidame of Amiens in 1774, after he had purchased the estates of the Duc de Chaulnes, in the Somme; he received naturalization papers in 1769. He exerted considerable influence in public affairs and became the head of the German portion of the community.

Organization of the Community.

The Jews were divided at this period into three communities, governed by recognized syndics. The Portuguese were under Jacob Rodrigues Pereire; the Germans, under Liefmann Calmer; the Avignonese, under Israel Salom. Each of these communities had its own services and prayer-meetings, and its own mutual-aid society. All newcomers were obliged by a decree of Nov. 15, 1777, to present themselves before Pereire, in the first week of their arrival, provided with a duly authenticated certificate from the syndic of their community and signed by six other leading members. They were obliged to state the reason for their stay in Paris, indicate their place of residence while in the city, and give three days' notice of their departure. Péreire kept an exact register of all these notifications. Only those who visited Paris on affairs of state and were generally well known were exempt from this formality.

From time to time voices were raised in defense of the Jews; for instance, by "L'Advocat," in 1763; by "Le Mercure de France" of Feb. 11, 1786; by Mirabeau and the abbé Grégoire. Malesherbes, in 1787, appointed a committee of prominent Jews to consider what steps could be taken toward the amelioration of the condition of their coreligionists. Lopez Dubec, Furtado, and Cerf Berr laid a report before the minister in 1788, in which they outlined the most necessary reforms. Several noted Jews received papers of naturalization, but for the mass of the people there was no real change.

Efforts for Emancipation.

Shortly after this the National Assembly met, and the cry for liberty and equality echoed throughout the country. Nevertheless the Jews remained underthe special surveillance of the police. Regularly every week the commissaries of police invaded their dwellings, armed with search-warrants, and dragged to prison all whose papers were not properly executed; and this continued until June 30, 1789. On Aug. 26, 1789, the Jews of Paris addressed a petition to the States General "for the conferring upon them of those civic rights and privileges to which they had a claim in common with all other citizens and members of the common wealth of France." While awaiting the reply of the Assembly to the petition, the Jews displayed an active and zealous civism. Out of 500 Jews residing in Paris one-fourth were enrolled in the National Guard; some served even on the district committees. On Dec. 24, 1789, the Assembly postponed the decision regarding the Jews, who immediately redoubled their efforts and interested in their behalf the leaders of the city districts and the aldermen of the city. The municipal authorities of Paris treated them as French citizens from the commencement of the Revolution, and a committee of the city council addressed the National Assembly in their behalf, through the abbé Mulot.

Participation in Public Life.

On May 9, 1791, the Jews of Paris addressed another petition to the Assembly, requesting a definite answer in their favor. At length, after some further delay, a decree was passed by the session of Sept. 27, 1791, granting naturalization and the rights of citizenship to all Jews born and domiciled in France. This was to be their final and definite emancipation. They immediately became noted for their talents and their activity in public affairs. Ravel de Ternay commanded the fourth division of the National Guard; Ravel de Tacin was one of the four electors appointed by the section of the Temple, and Berthe, père, was among the thirty-three electors of the division of Quatre-Nations. In 1792 two others, also named Berthe, were captains in the National Guard. In 1797 the name of Calmer occurs in the list of 200 citizens appointed syndics by the Procureur Général. Pereyre was assessor and justice of the peace in the division of Bon-Conseil, and one Jacob in the division of the Faubourg du Nord. The number of Jewish electors and justices of the peace continued to increase. In 1794 Frey and Saum were judges of the court martial; Fribourg was a lieutenant of the gendarmerie.

The Jews were among the foremost in the improvement of the financial condition of France. Zalkind Horwitz, Cerf-Berr, Trénel, and many others gave large sums. The generosity of the Jews increased at the outbreak of the war. They stripped their synagogues to contribute to the national defense, and joined the army in large numbers; they raised free companies; they were members of the militia corps, the municipal bodies, and the assemblies of peace, but there was not one on the Committee of Public Safety or the Revolutionary Tribunal. Many, however, suffered during the Reign of Terror. Forty-six were arrested as "suspects," and nine were condemned to death and executed; the two sons of Liefmann Calmer, of whom mention has been made, perished on the scaffold. Their sister Sara was also condemned, but had the good fortune to be overlooked in prison, and was rescued from the guillotine on the 9th Thermidor.

At the close of the Revolution there were about 3,000 Jews in Paris, among them being many men of prominence, as Furtado, who was nominated for the Corps Législatif; Worms de Romilly, deputy mayor of the third arrondissement of Paris; Terquem, the mathematician; Michel Berr, barrister, and a member of the learned societies; Venture, a professor in the school of modern Oriental languages and the secretary and interpreter of Bonaparte; Vivant Denon, designer and etcher; Henry Simon, engraver on precious stones; Enisheim, the mathematician; and Elie Halévy, the poet.

Under Napoleon.

Napoleon decided to summon a "general assembly of the Jews," which convened at the Hôtel de Ville July 26, 1806. When its task was finished the emperor convoked a new assembly, the Grand Sanhedrin, Aug. 12, 1806, to convert the resolutions of the former convention into rules which would be regarded as legal by every Jewish conscience. Ten "deputies of the Jewish nation of the Seine" took part in the deliberations, and on the completion of their labors requested an audience with the emperor; but he refused to receive them. Shortly after, he promulgated a series of decrees which left no room for doubt as to his sentiments. The harshest of these decrees was that of March 12, 1808, which for more than ten years imposed the utmost restraint on the commercial liberty of the Jews. Those of the Landes and the Gironde alone were exempted from these measures. Emboldened by these exceptions, Cretet, minister of the interior, wrote to the emperor to request that the Jews of Paris might be included, stating that "of the 2,543 Jews living in the capital, there are not four who are known to be addicted to usury," and that "more than 150 Jews of Paris are at this moment serving in the army."

The Paris Consistory.

In deference to this request of the minister of the interior, the Jews of Paris were exempted from the provisions of the decrees of March 12 and April 26, 1808. On Dec. 11, 1808, a decree was passed regulating the organization of consistorial synagogues; thirteen were established throughout the empire. That of the Seine contained 2,733 members; the Consistory of Paris was appointed on April 13, 1809, and was installed on May 2, following. The "circumscription" comprised thirty-three departments. The Consistory of Paris, composed of M. de Oliveira, B. Rodrigues, and Worms de Romilly, and presided over by the chief rabbi Seligman Michel, at once set about organizing the community. Of the 2,733 Jews composing it, 1,324 were natives of Paris; the remainder were from Alsace, Lorraine, Germany, Austria, and Holland. Nearly all of these lived in the third and fourth arrondissements, where were situated the three Jewish markets (slaughter-houses), the temples, the societies (ḥebrot), the Central Consistory, and the Consistory of Paris.

There were at that time a number of prayer-houses in the city. One, in the Rue Brisemiche, was founded in 1778; another, about 1789, in the RueRenard St.-Merry; and some years later a third was established in an old Carmelite convent in the Rue Montmorency, and was called the "Carmelite-Shuhl." Almost at the same time one was opened in the Petits-Champs-St.-Martin; it was known as the "Hutmacher-Shuhl," from a manufactory of hats which occupied a portion of the same building. Still another occupied an apartment at 29 Rue des Blancs Manteaux. All these were the property of the Ashkenazic Jews. The Portuguese had their synagogue in the cemetery of St.-André-des-Arts. Two of these chapels were still in existence in 1809—that of the Portuguese and that in the Rue des Petits-Champs-St.-Martin. At that date the community possessed four other synagogues of the German rite: at 47 Rue St.-Avoye, 21 Rue du Chaume, 6 Rue des Vieilles-Etuves, and 7 Rue Geoffroy-l'Angevin. That of the Rue St.-Avoye was the most important. It soon became the synagogue of the Consistory, and all the principal solemnities and ceremonies were held there until 1822.

The financial question was a source of the utmost embarrassment to the Paris Consistory. Some complained that their taxes were beyond their means, and others refused to contribute anything at all. The assistance of the prefecture was then invoked, and legal proceedings against the recalcitrants were ordered. One Jew made a complaint in the Chamber of Deputies, accusing the consistorial administration of tyranny and oppression in the discharge of a rôle "essentially injurious to the maintenance of religion."

When the Restoration succeeded the Empire in 1815, the government regarded with favor the efforts of the Jews to disseminate knowledge and promote industry among the needy classes. An ordinance of June 29, 1819, increased the duties of the Assembly of Notables by imposing upon it the examination of the annual budget of the departmental consistories. Paris then contained nearly 7,000 Jews, and the Notables numbered 237.

Under Louis XVIII. and Charles X.

In 1819 the Paris Consistory founded a school for the purpose of instructing the mass of the Jewish population in "the knowledge of their religious, moral, and civic duties." It labored for the observance of decorum in places dedicated to religious worship, and endeavored to cultivate among the people habits of dignified deportment. On learning that the owner of the synagogue in the Rue St.-Avoye had sold his property, and that the new proprietors refused to renew the lease, the Consistory, in 1819, purchased a plot of ground and a house in the Rue Neuve St.-Laurent (No. 14), with a second entrance on the Rue de Notre-Dame-de-Nazareth. On June 29, 1819, Louis XVIII. issued a decree authorizing the Consistory to buy the property in question in the name of the Jews of Paris. The new synagogue was opened on March 5, 1822, in the presence of a great concourse of people and a number of high dignitaries of state.

When Charles X. succeeded Louis XVIII. in 1824 he accorded the Consistory a favorable reception. The members of this body were then occupied in checking the interference of the rabbis in administrative affairs. When the decree of 1823 was passed for the purpose of introducing certain advisable changes in religious matters, the Consistory opposed the "absolute authority in religious questions" which the rabbis sought to arrogate to themselves. When Seligman Michel, the chief rabbi of Paris, died in 1829, it demanded the suppression of the chief rabbinate of Paris, and the assignment of its duties to M. Deutz of the Central Consistory, who should be assisted by a "vicar." But the Assembly of Notables ignored this proposition, and appointed M. Marchand Ennery chief rabbi of Paris on Dec. 7, 1829.

At that period there was no official school for the education of rabbis, and the Notables were unanimous in urging the establishment in the capital of a Central School of Theology. The departmental consistories, on being consulted, enthusiastically indorsed this project, and the school was founded in 1829, but at Metz instead of Paris.

Oratorically, the Jewish pulpit at the opening of the nineteenth century was by no means brilliant. Seligman Michel and Sintzheim preferred to speak in Hebrew; Deutz preached in German; De Cologna, although of Italian origin, spoke in French. No rabbi was allowed to preach without the authorization of the Consistory, to which he was required to submit his sermon. It was expected that M. Marchand Ennery would confer new luster on the Jewish pulpit; but such expectations were doomed to disappointment. It was generally demanded that in future only French should be spoken in the pulpit, and by a decree of Dec. 17, 1831, the Consistory forbade the delivery in the synagogue of any discourse in any other language than French.

State Support.

One difficulty remained to be overcome. The Catholic priests were paid by the state, but for the Jewish rabbis no provision was made. This injustice was abolished by the law of Feb. 8, 1831, which decreed that the ministers of the Hebrew faith should be paid by the state. In addition to this a new law regulating Jewish communal affairs was promulgated May 25, 1844, Louis Philippe giving this measure his entire support. The community of Paris well deserved the royal favor. Fifteen of its members had distinguished themselves by their talent and activity. Anspach, Crémieux, Alfred Dalmbert, Hemerdinger, and others were noted members of the magistracy and the bar; Cohen, Samuel Heller, Joseph Henry, Moyse Samuel, and Michel Lévy (a professor at Val-de-Grace) were eminent in medicine; Edouard Cerfberr, subcommissary, Max Cerfberr, lieutenant-colonel, Mayer Worms, physician to the military school of St.-Cyr, Gabriel Salvador, captain of artillery, and others were honored in the army. Adolphe Franck and Fromenthal Halévy were members of the Institute; Olry Terquem, Salomon Munk, and Joseph Salvador were prominent in science and literature; Gustave Halphen was consul-general to Turkey; Max Cerfberr, Crémieux, and Fould were deputies; and Emile and Isaac Pereire were directors of the Versailles-Saint-Germain Railroad; Rothschild, Dupont, and Michel Goudchaux were to confer additional luster on the Jewish world.

This prosperity could not fail to excite the old hatred. A number of pamphlets were published in which the most upright Jews were made the subjects of base accusations. The Catholic press and the clergy eagerly joined the accusing forces, and the priests even made their way into the synagogues to secure young children for baptism. The Consistory did all in its power to put a stop to these attempts. It founded a house of refuge to accommodate patients taken from the hospitals where they were subject to persecution, improved religious instruction, and maintained a close watch over the young girls of the poorer classes. It was called upon to combat another difficulty. The law of Feb. 8, 1831, by abolishing the assessment for the expenses of religion, had thrown financial matters into confusion. Finding it impossible to meet the amount of the debt on the temple, the Consistory made an appeal to some of the principal members of the congregation; but with little result. Then the Consistory solicited the aid of the minister of public worship, and of the prefect of the department of the Seine. This was granted, but on condition that the temple and the house adjoining should be made over to the city. This the community indignantly refused. Finally, in 1842, the city government contributed unconditionally half the amount of the debt. But the troubles of the Consistory were not yet over. The temple was in urgent need of repairs, which in time became necessary to its safety, and an order of the prefect of police, dated Oct. 29, 1850, commanded that the building should be closed immediately.

At this time it became necessary to elect another chief rabbi for Paris. Deutz, the latest of the three chief rabbis of the Central Consistory, died on Feb. 2, 1842. The office remained vacant until 1846, when Marchand Ennery was called upon to fill the vacant place. There was a desperate contest for the office of chief rabbi of Paris. The Consistory having provisionally installed Charleville, rabbi of Dijon, a storm of opposition was at once aroused. Marchand Ennery protested publicly in the temple against this proceeding. The struggle was soon confined to two candidates, Charleville and Isidor. The latter went to Paris as a protégé of Crémieux, and preceded by the repuṭation won by his energetic protest against the oath "More Judaico" at Saverne in 1839. After numerous discussions, some of which were in writing, the Consistorial Commission unanimously decided in favor of Charleville. On Oct. 26, 1847, it laid a report of the proceedings before a convocation of the Consistory, and the most prominent Jews, in the Salle Saint Jean. More than fifty persons were assembled. Adolphe Crémieux, at the head of the opposition, demanded that the decision of the commission should be annulled. The discussion became so violent that the Consistory resigned. Crémieux was then elected president, and a committee was appointed to examine the two candidates as to the duties and powers of the chief rabbi. Charleville refused to appear before this committee, and Isidor was immediately nominated. The Notables were divided into two factions. The election took place on Nov. 9, and definitely settled the vexed question. Of the 225 registered electors, about two-thirds cast their votes. At the second ballot Isidor was elected chief rabbi of Paris by a majority of about 20 votes.

The community had hardly recovered from the effects of this disturbance when the February Revolution broke out (1848). The provisional government contained two Jews—Adolphe Crémieux, minister of justice, and Michel Goudchaux, minister of finance; the latter was succeeded in 1849 by Achille Fould. While Louis Napoleon was president of the republic five Jews were members of the Constituent Assembly—Raynal, Michel Alcan, Crémieux, Michel Goudchaux, and Achille Fould; the last two were the representatives of Paris. As a rule, the Jews took part in any struggle on the side of liberty; they served as members of the National Guard and as directors of the humble Maison de Secours for the care of the wounded in the Rue des Trois-Bornes.

It had become absolutely necessary to rebuild the synagogue in the Rue de Notre-Dame-de-Nazareth. Religious services had been temporarily transferredto the premises at No. 20 Rue de Montmorency. The new synagogue was dedicated on March 20, 1852. But soon after it was opened it was discovered to be wholly inadequate to the increased requirements of the congregation, the Jewish population having increased to at least 20,000; and it was resolved to build another synagogue.

The Question of Fusion.

It was thought that the opening of a new synagogue would be attended by a union of the Jews of the Portuguese and German rites. In 1826 the Portuguese Jews had abandoned the synagogue in which they had worshiped since 1770. Being unable to defray the cost of a new synagogue, they had rented a house on the Faubourg St.-Germain. They had gradually removed their homes to a distance from its vicinity, and the synagogue was abandoned. The rooms hitherto occupied by the boys' school in the consistorial building were just then vacant, and the Consistory made them over to the Portuguese, who transformed them into a prayer-house (1830). The demolition of the German synagogue obliged the Portuguese Jews once more to search for a new habitation. At that moment the project of fusing the two rites was suggested. While the Consistory was endeavoring to accomplish this object, the Portuguese administration established their synagogue in the Rue Lamartine. The Consistory opposed this step, but the Portuguese protested against their subjection, and the synagogue was opened for religious services on June 4, 1851.

The question of fusion was still agitated, however. A committee was appointed in 1855, which devoted several years to the careful elaboration of a plan of ritual, in which many of the Portuguese rites were included. Nevertheless, the Portuguese community regarded the concessions made to them as inadequate, and without further investigation, before the adjournment of the session, pronounced in favor of the preservation of their autonomy. Amid the discussion of these various questions the Consistory had not lost sight of its plans for the erection of two new synagogues. The city of Paris offered to bear half the expense of their construction provided the synagogues became its property on completion. Notwithstanding this offer, there were many obstacles to be encountered from the side of the authorities, especially when the question arose of supplying the synagogue of the Rue de la Victoire with an entrance on the Rue de Chateaudun, about five hundred paces from the Church of Our Lady of Loretto. But the zeal of the Parisian Jews was not to be checked by these difficulties. To the unpretentious house of refuge in the Rue des Trois-Bornes succeeded Rothschild's great hospital (1852). The Talmud Torah was founded in 1853, and the Rothschild Orphan Asylum in 1857. The Theological Seminary was removed from Metz to Paris in 1859, and the fund for a lying-in women's hospital was started in 1860. The House of Refuge for children (or Foundling Asylum) and the Technical School followed in 1865. The community of Paris then numbered about 30,000. Isidor having been appointed chief rabbi of France, the chief rabbinate of Paris passed to Ulmann in 1866; Zadoc Kahn, appointed coadjutor in 1867, was elected chief rabbi of Paris in 1868.

During the Franco-Prussian War.

When the war broke out in 1870, the Jews hastened to enlist in the National Guard and the Garde Mobile. Among the more distinguished officers were colonels Salvador, Brisac, and Abraham Lévy; commandants Bernard, Crémieux, Alfred Cerf, and T. Cahen; captains Lévy, Brandon, Joseph Weill, Cahen-Mervith, Charles Abraham, Hippolyte Gall, and Moyse Moyse; lieutenants Gustave May, Albert Brunswick, Alphonse Lévy, Louis Dreyfus, Jules Bernheim, Fernand Ratisbonne, Myrtil Blum, and Paul Sée; all these received decorations for distinguished bravery before the walls of Paris.

The Jews of Paris devoted themselves also to works of charity and succor. The Benevolent Society despoiled its own coffers to forward the cause of the war. The Rothschild Hospital placed 100 beds at the disposal of the wounded. Rothschild, Cahen d'Anvers, Halphen, Strauss, and others rivaled one another in the number and extent of their deeds of charity. Patriotic contributions poured in. The rabbis and theological students volunteered as hospital chaplains. A student of the rabbinical seminary, Raphael Lévy, entered the 111th Regiment. Three pupils of the Polytechnic School—Edmond Bechmann, Alphonse Fould, and Edmond Mayer—demanded to be sent to the front. Commandant Fanchetti raised a battalion. The company of the Paris francs-tireurs was commanded by Jules Aronssohn. Commandant Bernard, Sergeant Bloch, Leser (a law student), and several others fell during the siege of Paris.

Many Jews served their country with talent and energy in the councils of the government. Crémieux was again appointed minister of justice; Narcisse Leven became his secretary-general and was succeeded by Léonce Lehmann; Hendlé was private secretary to Jules Favre, minister of foreign affairs; Eugène Manuel was appointed secretary-general to the minister of public instruction, Jules Simon; and Camille Sée became secretary-general to the minister of the interior.

During the terrible events of 1870-71 the Jewish community of Paris was totally disorganized; its services were discontinued, and many of its works of benevolence were abandoned. On the conclusion of the war the Jews set to work to repair the ravages made by the struggle. The immigration of the Jews from Alsace and Lorraine, and the years of tranquillity which ensued, enabled the Jews of Paris to cope successfully with the appalling situation created by the war, the siege, and the commune. The Jewish population increased considerably, and the educational and benevolent institutions multiplied in proportion. Three new synagogues were opened, one in the Rue de la Victoire, in 1874, one in the Rue des Tournelles, in 1876, and one in the Rue Buffault in 1877. In 1890 Zadoc Kahn was elected chief rabbi of France, and J. H. Dreyfus, formerly chief rabbi of Belgium, became chief rabbi of Paris.

After the close of the war Judaism made rapid progress in the capital, and the community had distinguished representatives in every branch of the useful arts and humane sciences. This had the effect of arousing the hostility of the reactionary and clerical party, whose efforts culminated in the machinations revealed in the Dreyfus Case. But France soon came to her senses under the energetic rule of Waldeck-Rousseau, who overpowered the anti-Semitic clique, and avenged the humiliations to which the Jews had been subjected.

The following is a brief account of the religious leaders and the charitable institutions of the Paris community:

The most important representatives of Jewish journalism are the "Archives Israélites," "L'Univers Israélite," and the "Revue des Etudes Juives." The chief Jewish libraries are those of the Seminary and the Alliance Israélite Universelle.

The Jewish population of Paris is estimated (1904) at about 60,000, the total population being 2,536,834. The majority of the community come from Alsace and Lorraine. FRANCE.

  • Léon Kahn, Les Juifs à Paris Depuis le VIe Siècle, Paris, 1889;
  • idem, Les Juifs à Paris sous Louis XV.;
  • idem, Les Juifs de Paris au XVIIIe Siècle, Paris, 1894;
  • idem, Les Juifs de Paris Pendant la Révolution, Paris, 1898;
  • idem, Histoire des Ecoles Communales et Consistoriales Israélites de Paris;
  • idem, Les Professions Manuelles et les Institutions de Patronage;
  • idem, Les Etablissements de Charité et les Cimetières;
  • idem, Les Sociétés de Secours Mutuels Philanthropiques et de Prévoyance;
  • Isaac Ury, Recueil des Lois Concernant les Israelites Depuis 1850;
  • Gross, Gallia Judaica;
  • Martin Bouquet, Reeueil des Historiens des Galls et de la France, 23 vols., Paris, 1738;
  • Henri Lucien Brun, La Condition des Juifs en France Depuis 1789;
  • A. E. Halphen, Reeueil des Lois Concernant les Israélites Depuis 1789, Paris, 1851.

L. G. L.


The activity of the Hebrew press of Paris, which began in 1508, was confined almost exclusively to the Biblical field. But the first book printed, by Aegidius Gourmont, was Tissard's Hebrew grammar; this was followed, in 1516, by a Hebrew alphabet; in 1520 there appeared Moses Ḳimḥi's "Mahalak"; in 1534, "Tr. de Modo Legendi Ebraice," by P. Paradisius. Gourmont continued to print parts of the Bible until 1531; his corrector was Pierre Soubzlefour, and his typesetter, Guidacerius; the latter in 1532 worked on some Psalms in the printing establishment of Franz Gryphius. A new edition of Guidacerius' "Grammatica Hebræa" appeared in "Collegio Italorum" (1539). The Bible, complete as well as in parts, was printed by Cephallon (1533), Wecheli (1534-38), Robert Stephanus (1539-56), and Juvenius (1559). In 1559 Morellus issued Hai Gaon's "Musar Haskel."

After a long interval the printing of Hebrew books recommenced—in 1620, edited by Philipp d'Aquina—and continued until 1629. In 1628 an anonymous work, entitled "Keter Torah," containing Hebrew paradigms and a sermon, was printed by Anton Vitre. The latter printed also a polyglot Bible by Le Jay (1630-45), by means of Hebrew matrices cut by Le Bé (Aug. Bernard, "Hist. de l'Imprimerie Royale du Louvre," p. 55). At the same time Louis XIII. established (1640) a printing establishment which had Hebrew type. This was little used at the time, but in 1802 the Hebrew hymn for peace, by Elie Halévy, father of Fromenthal Halévy, was printed therefrom. Under Napoleon I., the printer Setier published the first Jewish ritual at Paris, and, in 1822, the Hebrew ode of Chief Rabbi Abraham de Cologna. His printer successors were Dondey-Duprey; the Jouausts, father and son (printed the ritual of Créhange and the Solomon Munk edition of Maimonides' "Moreh"); E. Durlacher (printed a Maḥzor in ten volumes, 1850-65).

  • Steinschneider and Cassel, Jüdische Typographie, in Ersch and Gruber, Encyc. section , part 28, p. 52;
  • H. Omont, Spécimens de Caractères Hébreux, Paris, 1889-90;
  • M. Schwab, Les Incunables Hébreux, Paris, 1883.
M. S.
Bibliography Information
Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Paris'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​tje/​p/paris.html. 1901.
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