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Geneva

GENEVA, capital of Geneva canton, Switzerland. Jews apparently first settled there after their expulsion from France by *Philip in 1182, receiving protection from the local bishop. The first mention of a Jew in an official document dates from the end of the 13th century. At first Jews were not authorized to settle in Geneva itself but only in the vicinity. They engaged in moneylending and moneychanging as well as in commerce on a partnership basis with Christian merchants. There were also some physicians among them. Jews having to pass through Geneva on business paid a poll tax of four denarii (pregnant women paid a double tax). In 1348, at the time of the *Black Death, the Jews were accused of having poisoned the wells and many were put to death. From the early 15th century, the merchants and the municipal council restricted the Jewish activities, and from 1428 Jewish residence was confined to a separate quarter (near the present Rue des Granges). The relations between the Jews and the Christian merchants were strained and the Jewish quarter was frequently attacked by the populace. The most serious attack occurred at Easter 1461. The duke's representatives admonished the city authorities but the situation of the Jews continued to deteriorate. In 1488, Jewish physicians were forbidden to practice there and in 1490 the Jews were expelled from the city. Subsequently no Jews lived in Geneva for 300 years. A proposal to allow a group from Germany to settle if they undertook to pay a high tax and perform military service obligations was rejected by the municipal council in 1582. In 1780 Jewish residence was permitted in the nearby town of Carouge, which was then under the jurisdiction of the dukes of Savoy. After the French Revolution, Geneva was annexed by France and remained under French rule until 1814. During this period, the Jews enjoyed equal rights of citizenship. However, in 1815 Geneva became a canton within the Swiss confederation, and subsequently their position deteriorated. The acquisition of real estate by Jews throughout the territory of the canton was now prohibited. The Jews in Geneva were not granted civic rights until 1841, and freedom of religious worship until 1843. The Jewish community was recognized as a private corporation in 1853 and a synagogue was inaugurated in 1859. The first rabbi of Geneva was Joseph Wertheimer (1859–1908), who also lectured at the University of Geneva. At the turn of the century, Geneva University attracted many Jewish students from Russia. Chaim *Weizmann lectured there in organic chemistry in 1900–04. As early as 1925 there existed a Sephardi fraternal group which in 1965 merged with the Communauté Israelite.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

E. Ginsburger, in: REJ, 75 (1922), 119–39; 76 (1923), 7–36, 146–70; A. Nordmann, Histoire des Juifs à Genève de 1281 à 1780 (1925); J. Jéhouda, L'histoire de la colonie juive de Genève, 1843–1943 (1944); A. Weldler-Steinberg, Geschichte der Juden in der Schweiz (1966), index, S.V. Genf; K.J. Luethi, Hebraeisch in der Schweiz (1926), 35ff; L. Mysysowicz, "Université et révolution. Les étudiants d'Europa Orientale à Genève en temps de Plékhanov et Lénine," in: Schweizer Zeitschrift fuer Geschichte (1975), 514–62; idem, "Les étudiants 'orientaux' en médecine à Genève," in: Gesnerus, 34 (1977), 207–12; D. Neumann, Studentinnen aus dem Russischen Reich in der Schweiz (1867–1914) (1987); L. Leitenberg, La population juive de Carouge 1870–1843 (1992); idem, "Evolution et perspectives des communautés en Suisse romande," in: Schweiz. Isr. Gemeindebund (ed.), Jüd. Lebenswelt Schweiz (2004); 100 Jahre Schweiz. Isr. Gemeindebund, 153–66, 464–66.