NEUCHÂTEL, canton and its capital city in W. Switzerland. The earliest records of Jews in the canton date from 1288, when they were accused of a blood libel and a number were put to death. During the Black Death excesses in 1348 the Jews of Neuchâtel were burned. After 1476 there are no further references to Jews living in the canton until 1767, when a few who had come from Alsace were expelled. In 1772 they arrived in the towns of *La Chaux-de-Fonds and Le Locle, but were refused permanent residence rights. By the 1780s the Jews were considered useful to the canton as they played an important part in the export of watches, though this did not prevent their expulsion in 1790. They began to return in 1812 and obtained residence rights in 1830. The Jewish population of the canton in 1844 was 144. They thrived economically during the 19th century and in 1900 numbered 1,020, declining, however, to 266 by 2000.
A. Nordman, Les Juifs dans le pays de Neuchâtel (1923); A. Weldler-Steinberg, Geschichte der Juden in der Schweiz (1966), 56–57, 103. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: Musée Historiquede Lausanne and A. Kamis-Müller, Vie Juive en Suisse (1992), index; L. Leitenberg, "Evolution et perspectives des communautés en Suisse romande," in: Schweiz. Isr. Gemeindebund (ed.), Jued. Lebenswelt Schweiz (2004); 100 Jahre Schweiz. Isr. Gemeindebund, 153–66.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.