XANTEN, town in Germany. The first documentary evidence for the presence of Jews in Xanten dates from the period of the First *Crusade when Jews from *Cologne sought refuge there. On June 27, 1096, the crusaders reached Xanten as well, and some 60 Jews were either killed or had committed suicide. Among the martyrs were Moses ha-Kohen, rabbi of Xanten, and an unidentified proselyte. In 1197 the Rhenish communities paid the bishop for permission to bury the six martyrs of Neuss in the Xanten cemetery. Though Jewish moneylenders were found in Xanten in the 13th century, the market day was held on the Sabbath so as to exclude Jews from trade (1236). The community suffered badly during the *Black Death persecutions of 1349. Reports from the 15th and 16th centuries point to Jewish activity as moneylenders. In the 17th and 18th centuries there were apparently only small numbers of Jews in Xanten. From 1690 Xanten was the meeting place for the Rhenish Jewish Diet and in 1787 a special building, which also contained a synagogue, was set aside for the assembly's meetings. In 1860 the community had its own elementary school; in 1890 it counted 85 persons. A butcher and former shoḥet, Adolf Wolff Buschoff of Xanten, was the victim of a blood *libel in 1892. Accused by a Catholic of murdering a Christian boy, a charge taken up by the antisemitic press, Buschoff was arrested but then discharged for lack of evidence. A debate in the Prussian Diet, which gave the antisemite A. *Stoecker an opportunity to fulminate against the Jews, resulted in the arrest of Buschoff for a second time; but a jury at Cleves found him innocent (1892). The community did not survive this agitation and gradually decreased to 30 persons (9.6 percent of the population) in 1916 and 14 in 1930. The synagogue was destroyed by the Nazis in November 1938.
J. Freimann, in: Festschrift… S. Dubnow (1930), 163–71; S. Braun, in: Allgemeine Wochenzeitung der Juden in Deutschland (March 10, 1961); K. Schilling (ed.), Monumenta Judaica Handbuch (1963), index; Germania Judaica, 1 (1963), 497–500; 2 (1968), 936–7; Aronius, Regesten, index; A.M. Habermann, Gezerot Ashkenaz ve-Ẓarefat (1946); Salfeld, Martyrol.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.