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LORRAINE (Heb. לוֹתִיר), region in E. France, formerly Lotharingia. Although the region of Mainz-Speyer did not form part of Lotharingia, the Hebrew sources use "Gedolei Lotar" to denote not only *Gershom b. Judah, who was born either in Metz or Mainz, but also apparently his disciples in these two towns and the tosafists of Speyer as well as those of Metz, Toul, and Verdun. The Jews are only mentioned in the duchy proper from the time of Simon II (1176–1205), who is said to have expelled them. There is evidence for the presence of the Jews in *Trier from as early as the fourth century and in *Metz, *Toul, and Verdun in the Carolingian period. At the beginning of the 13th century, a group of Jews was driven out of Saint-Dié on the pretext that one of them had practiced sorcery. In 1286 Duke Ferri III (1251–1304) permitted a number of them to live in Lorraine (in exchange for a quitrent of pepper) and to acquire a cemetery in Laxon, near Nancy, to serve the whole of the duchy. In charters granted to towns in the duchy (e.g., Neufchâteau, Sierck) he stipulated the right to admit Jews. In *Sarreguemines, Duke Raoul took three Jews under his protection in 1336, and acquired some land from another in Laneuve-ville-devant-Nancy, while many Jews who had been expelled from France settled in neighboring Barrois.

From that date the Jews seem to have disappeared from the duchy, probably as a result of the *Black Death, but Lorraine appears to have admitted some of the refugees from France at the end of the 14th century (according to Joseph ha-Kohen, Emek ha-Bakha, ed. Vienna (1852), 74). In about 1455 Duke John II (1453–70) sold to many Jewish families the right to reside in the market towns of *Nancy, Neufchâteau, Pont-à-Mousson, *Lunéville, Rosières-aux-Salines, and Sarreguemines. Duke René II (1473–1508), however, confiscated their belongings and expelled these families in 1477 as a way of "giving thanks to God" for his victory over Charles the Bold in the same year. In theory this expulsion decree remained in force until the 18th century, but from as early as the 16th century the duke, his officers, and his vassals turned a blind eye to the arrival of a few isolated individuals, as well as attracting the financier Maggino Gabrieli to Nancy in 1597 and authorizing a large group to reside in Saint-Hippolyte, on the Alsatian slope of the Vosges. Jews are also mentioned in various villages, especially of German-speaking northern Lorraine: first in Vaudrevange, Sierck, *Morhange, Vaudoncourt, and Faulquemont in about 1600; then in *Boulay, Dieuze, Frauenberg, Sarreguemines, and Puttelange under French rule (1633–97); and finally during the reign of Leopold I (1658–1705), to whom the territory was restored by the Treaty of Ryswick in 1697.

As he was in debt to the Jewish bankers of Metz, Leopold even authorized some of them, including Samuel *Lévy and Moses Alcan, to settle in Nancy, entrusting the former with the administration of his finances (1715). After Lévy's downfall Leopold turned against the Jews: his decree of August 1720 subjected the movements of foreign Jews to strict control and that of April 1721 expelled all those who had arrived in the duchy after 1680. A list of the 74 families authorized to remain was published. They were spread out in small groups (with the exception of 19 families in Boulay) in 24 localities, mostly in German-speaking Lorraine. All formed a single community with one officer, Moses Alcan of Nancy, and a central synagogue in Boulay. In 1733 their number was increased to 180 families and the officers, then three in number, were charged with raising an annual tax of 100,000 livres. The Jews of Lorraine were authorized to appoint a rabbi by Stanislaus I, duke of Lorraine and Bar (1736–66), but it was not until 1785 and 1788 that those of Lunéville and Nancy were able to open synagogues and cemeteries. Stanislaus interpreted liberally the restricted number of 180 families. A decree of 1753 shows that Jews had then settled in 28 new localities, including Lunéville, Etain, and Bar; those exceeding the official quota were granted special authorizations or, after the reunion of the territory with France (1766), were naturalized. In 1789 there were about 500 Jewish families in Lorraine, 90 of them in Nancy, where bankers, army purveyors, and merchants were able to develop the cloth trade and to establish industries; one member of the Cerfberr family even acquired the seigniory of Tomblaine. During the preparation of the Estates-General (1788–89) most of the memoranda of complaints ("cahiers de doléances") from *Alsace and Lorraine were bitterly anti-Jewish. From many villages of Lorraine came such suggestions as that the Jews should be forced to engage inmanual labor, that usury should be forbidden, and even that the Jews should be totally expelled from France.

In 1789 Berr Isaac *Berr led a delegation of the Jews of Lorraine, Metz, and Alsace at the National Assembly and published two pamphlets calling for the emancipation of the Jews. After the dissolution of the single community of the Jews of Lorraine (1790) and the constitution of independent communities in Lunéville, Sarreguemines, Lixheim, etc., the two *consistories of Metz and Nancy, with 6,500 and 4,200 Jews respectively, included most of the Jews of Lorraine (1808). The number of rabbis increased and synagogues were also established in *Phalsbourg, Sarreguemines, Verdun, Epinal, and Toul. After 1871 many Jewish refugees from Alsace and Moselle settled in that part of Lorraine which remained French after the Franco-German War. The department of Vosges, which by then had 2,500 Jews, was incorporated in a new consistory formed in *Vesoul (subsequently transferred to Besançon). In the remainder of French Lorraine, the number of Jews rose to between 7,000 and 8,000 in 1900, 4,000 of whom lived in Nancy. In the part of Moselle annexed by Germany after 1871 there were 7,015 Jews in 1900 (in comparison with 8,571 in 1870). The Jews who remained in this department left many of the villages for Metz or the newly industrialized regions, where they were joined by immigrants from the rest of Germany and Eastern Europe. After Alsace-Lorraine had been ceded to France by the Treaty of Versailles (1919) more immigrants came to the region. The Jewish population of Lorraine was greatly reduced by assimilation and the massive deportations of World War II, especially in the south, although it was slightly augmented by the arrival of some 200 families from North Africa after 1962. In 1970 rabbinates were to be found in Metz, Nancy, and Sarreguemines only: other communities numbering more than 100 persons were in Thionville, Lunéville, Forbach, Epinal, Sarrebourg, and Saint-Avold.


Germ Jud, 1 (1937), 160ff.; Gross, Gal Jud, 293–305; C. Pfister, History of Nancy, 1 (1902), 678–81; 3 (1908), 311–38; L. Vanson, in: Revue juive de Lorraine, 10 (1934); 11 (1935), passim; A. Hertzberg, French Enlightenment and the Jews (1968); Z. Szajkowski, Economic Status of the Jews in Alsace, Metz and Lorraine (1954); B. Blumenkranz, in: Annales de l'Est (1967), 199–215.

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