BERNE (Ger. Bern), capital of Switzerland. Jews in Berne, engaged in moneylending, are first mentioned in a document of 1262 or 1263. In 1293 or 1294 several Jews were put to death there in consequence of a blood libel , and the remainder expelled from the city. However, an agreement was made with the citizenry through the intervention of Adolf of Nassau permitting the Jews to return, against a payment of 1,500 marks and a moratorium on debts owed to them. During the Black Death (1348) the Jews in Berne were accused of poisoning the wells, and a number were burnt at the stake. The Jews were expelled from Berne in 1392 after Christians were permitted to engage in moneylending (1384). Although between 1408 and 1427 Jews were again residing in the city, the only Jews to appear in Berne subsequently were transients, chiefly physicians and cattle dealers. After the occupation of Switzerland by the French revolutionary armies and the foundation of the Helvetian Republic in 1798, a number of Jews from Alsace and elsewhere settled in Berne. They required a special license to engage in commerce and were obliged to keep accounts in German or French instead of their customary Alsatian Judeo-German. These restrictions were removed in 1846. An organized Jewish community was officially established in 1848: a synagogue was consecrated in 1855, and a cemetery in 1871.
M. Kayserling, in: MGWJ, 13 (1864), 46–51; Tobler, in: Archiv des historischen Vereins des Kantons Bern, 12 (1889), 336–67; Festschrift zur Jahrhundertfeier der juedischen Gemeinde zu Bern (1948), ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: E. Dreifuss, Juden in Bern. Ein Gang durch die Jahrhunderte (1983).