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INNSBRUCK, capital of the Tyrol, W. Austria. In the 13thcentury a Jew is mentioned as mintmaster to the duke of Tyrol. Subsequently, Jewish traders and moneylenders came to Innsbruck from Italy and Carinthia. In the first half of the 14thcentury the Jews left the city but returned soon after to replace bankrupt Florentine bankers. In 1342 the Jew Salmen of Innsbruck was granted protection by the duke. During the *Black Death persecutions (1348) the Jews of Innsbruck suffered but the community was not destroyed. In the 16th century Jews are often mentioned in Innsbruck as bankers and as agents of foreign trading houses. Despite the imperial edict expelling all Jews from the Tyrol in 1520, Jews remained in Innsbruck during this period. More settled in the city during the tolerant reign of Duke Ferdinand II of the Tyrol (1618–23), serving in the government and even gaining positions at court, in spite of recurrent protests by the municipality and guilds. A Jew was employed at court as flute player and dancing master. Religious services were held in a private house. After the death of Ferdinand II, a ban was imposed on any Jewish newcomers settling in the city, and in 1674 the burghers achieved the long-sought expulsion of the Jews; only two families were permitted to remain. Nevertheless, some families expelled from *Hohenems were allowed to settle in Innsbruck in 1676. More Jews arrived at the turn of the 18th century. In 1714 the city council asked the provincial governor's permission to expel Jews hitherto protected by the court because they endangered "the Christian character of the city." The expulsion order exempted two brothers who had donated a substantial sum to the city hospital.

When *Maria Theresa confirmed Innsbruck as a "Jewfree city" (1748), only two "tolerated" families remained there and only eight in the whole of the Tyrol. By 1785 four or five Jewish families lived in the city. In the wake of the Tyrolean revolt against Bavarian-French rule led by Andreas *Hofer (1809), looting and other anti-Jewish acts occurred. After the Congress of Vienna (1815) the few additional rights which had been granted to the Jews by the Bavarians were restricted once more. No more Jews were allowed to settle permanently in the city and they could stay overnight only with police permission. Nevertheless, Jews from Hohenems managed to establish factories in Innsbruck during the 1840s. After the constitution of 1867 (see *Austria) granted the Jews equal rights, Jewish families from all Hapsburg countries settled in Innsbruck. However, the total number of Jews always remained small – 27 Jews (0.4% of the total population) in 1869. The city authorities put obstacles before Jewish newcomers and the established Jewish settlers themselves did not favor an influx of "Eastern Jews," fearing antisemitic reaction. In addition, since synagogue services were Reform and other facilities needed to meet Orthodox requirements were absent, Orthodox Jews preferred not to come to Innsbruck.

From 1890 the Jews in Innsbruck officially belonged to the community and rabbinate of Hohenems, a branch of which was authorized in Innsbruck for the whole of the Tyrol in 1898. A separate community was instituted in 1914, becoming the seat of the rabbinate for the Tyrol and Vorarlberg. The last rabbi of Hohenems, Dr. Link, became the first rabbi of Innsbruck. After World War I, Innsbruck developed into a center of pan-German nationalistic movements and National-Socialism gained a strong hold there at an early date, side by side with latent religious antisemitism. In the 1920s the community numbered about 200 members; in 1934, when there were 317 Jews (0.5%) in the city, ritual slaughter of animals was forbidden. The younger generation was attracted to Zionism, a movement strongly opposed by the assimilationist majority. In the 1930s Zionist representatives were elected to the community board. Dr. Elimelech Rimalt (d. 1988; who was to be a Gaḥal politician in Israel and minister of posts there, 1969–70) was rabbi of Innsbruck until 1938.

After the Nazi rise to power in Germany had increased antisemitism in the city, a silent boycott of Jewish firms began. The first steps of the Nazis in Innsbruck after the annexation of Austria (1938) were "Aryanization" of all Jewish firms, confiscation of the community archives, and seizure of the passports of all Jews. The institutions of the community were able to continue their activities for a time but in the fall of 1938 the community was ordered to disband and the rabbinate was dissolved. The Jews prepared for emigration. On *Kristallnacht (Nov. 10, 1938) the houses of all Jews still living in Innsbruck were raided and demolished, and the synagogue and the cemetery desecrated; 18 Jews were attacked and arrested and three community leaders brutally murdered. Subsequently nearly all Jews left Innsbruck, some of them settling in Ereẓ Israel.

After World War II a new community – the smallest in Austria, with 100 members – was established, and a synagogue dedicated in 1961. The community was headed by Oscar von Lubomirski, a converted Polish nobleman. In 1969, the community numbered around 50 members, in 2005 around 70. A new synagogue was consecrated in 1993 on the site of the old one.


E. Rimalt, in: J. Fraenkel (ed.), The Jews of Austria (1967), 375–84; J.E. Scherer, Die Rechtsverhaeltnisse der Juden in den deutsch-oesterreichischen Laendern, 1 (1901), 618–40; A. Taenzer, Geschichte der Juden in Tirol und Vorarlberg (1905), 31, 46, 177; Strakosch-Grassmann, in: Juedisches Archiv, 2 (1924), nos. 5–7, 45–49; PK Germanyah.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.