LIÉGE (Flemish Luik, Ger. Luettich), capital of Liége province, E. Belgium. There is no evidence that a Jewish community existed in Liége in the Middle Ages. During the 11th century Bishop Wazon, the overlord of the city, had a religious disputation with a Jewish physician at the court of Emperor Conrad II. In 1138 a Jewish physician, Moses, cured a cleric Rodolphe de Saint Trond in Liége, but there is nothing to attest to his residence there. In 1573 a Jew in Liége became converted to Christianity, and in 1722 a German rabbi and his family were baptized. The first real evidence of the existence of a Jewish community in Liége postdates the French occupation at the end of the 18th century. There were 24 Jews living in the city in 1811, and 20–30 Jewish families in the second half of the 19th century. The oldest tombstone in the Jewish cemetery, with a Hebrew inscription, dates from 1842. The community in Liége had a synagogue and established communal institutions. On May 11, 1940, during the Nazi occupation, the Jewish population numbered 2,000 (according to the Gestapo report, it numbered 3,000 in 1939). An order issued by the Germans on Oct. 29, 1941, designated Liége as one of the four cities from which Jewish residence in Belgium was not excluded, along with Brussels, Antwerp, and Charleroi. On the liberation of Liége by the United States army on Sept. 8, 1944, there were 1,200 Jews in the city. Around 600 had been deported.
In 1959 the population numbered 594. There was then a ḥazzan-minister in Liége, but no rabbi, and no local source of kasher meat. The synagogue was Reform in tendency. About 25% had intermarried; Jewish religious observance was weak and tendencies to assimilate strong. However, Israel and Zionism, as a means of expressing Jewish identity, played a large role in community life. Liége had four Zionist societies and other fund-raising organizations on behalf of Israel. In 1968 its Jewish population was 1,500, dropping to around 1,000 in the early 1980s, with a shrinking Jewish community still in existence at the turn of the century.
E. Ouverleaux, Notes et documents sur les juifs de Belgique… (1885); E. Ginsburger, Les Juifs de Belgique au XVLIIe siècle (1932), 1, 97; J. Stengers, Les juifs dans les Pays-Bas au Moyen Age (1950), index; W. Bok, Aspects de la Communauté Juive de Liège (1959).
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.