GHENT (Flemish Gent; Fr. Gand), city in N.W. Belgium. That there was a Jewish settlement in Ghent in the eighth century, as indicated in some early Christian chronicles, is difficult to believe. The Jews were expelled from the city as from the rest of Flanders in 1125, but they were apparently permitted to return in the 13th century. The Jews were again expelled during the *Black Death, 1348–49. Jews began to settle again only in the 18th century. In 1724, the municipal council decided on a special formula of oath for the Jews. However, by 1756, only one Jewish resident, a jeweler, was still in Ghent. When the area passed to France, at the end of the 18th century, the Jewish population increased. It numbered 20 families (107 persons) in 1817, and maintained a synagogue. The majority were peddlers, some of whom were lottery-ticket dealers. Apparently the Jewish street (Jodenstraatje) received its name at this time. In 1847, the municipal council granted a plot of land to the community for establishing a Jewish cemetery. In May 1940, before the Nazi occupation, the Jewish population numbered 300. In 1941 the Nazis prohibited the Jews of Belgium to live outside Brussels, Antwerp, Liège, and Charleroi, so that any Jews who remained in Ghent did so illegally. After the liberation in September 1944, there were 150 Jews in Ghent. There were an estimated 80 Jews living in Ghent in 1969.
E. Ouverteaux, Notes et documents sur les Juifs de Belgique sous l'ancien régime (1885), 21, 27; E. Ginsburger, Les Juifs de Belgique au XVIIIe siècle (1932), 86–97; S. Ullmann, Histoire des Juifs en Belgique jusqu'au 19è siècle (1934), 37–49, 50, 58; E. Sperling-Levin, in: Regards (Dec. 1970), 20–27.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.