RIBEAUVILLE: Print
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see Selesat and Bergheim in particular

(German: Rappoltsweiler). http://judaisme.sdv.fr//synagog/hautrhin/a-f/bergheim.htm has text in French about this community. Ribeauvillé, encircled with walls between 1284 and 1287 was named as city in 1290. Divided into two parts, the high city and the low city, the first one was given to the bishop of Basel in 1084 by the emperor Henry IV; the second belonged to the lords of Ribeaupierre. Supposedly, these lords gave approval for Jewish families to settle in their territory for an annual fee, of course. The first Jew probably settled in Alsace toward the middle of the 12th century. Ribeauvillé, encircled with walls between 1284 and 1287 and named as city for the first time in 1290, was divided into two parts, the high city and the low city. The first one had been given by the Emperor Henry IV to the Bishop of Basel in 1084, while the second belonged to the lords of Ribeaupierre. Presumably, these lords gave the first approval families Israelites to settle in their territory, for an annual charge, of course. Besides this charge, Jews coming to Ribeauvillé had to pay at the gate of the city: 6 schillings and 8 deniers, about 3 franc 50 and, for a horseman: one half for the pedestrians. Then, every Jew of Ribeauvillé, as those of all empire, had to pay a contribution for the shrine in Jerusalem to the imperial Chamber called the fiscus judaicus (the Jewish tax office in the Middle Ages) and later to the treasure of Jupiter Capitolin à Rome. A Jew was called serf camerae fiscalis, Serf de la Chambre fiscal, and as such was the exclusive property of the emperor who could do as he wanted with him. Emperor Louis de Bavière employed this right regarding the Jews of Ribeauvillé on February 15th, 1331 by committing them to Jean de Ribeaupierre for the sum of 400 Mark-silvers, about 20.000 francs. From that day, the Jews did not have any more to pay the emperor, but to pay Ribeaupierre.  However, they remained subjects of the emperor to protect them from any fiscal injustice or persecution. This Jean de Ribeaupierre appears to have been a large-scale capitalist, since that same February 15th, 1331, he paid the sum of 1.100 Mark-silvers (about 55.000 francs) to Louis de Bavière and was able to cash in on the Jewry of Colmar, including their annual contribution of 60 grounds-silver and 300 books-deniers on Umgeld and their contribution on the purchase and sale of wine in Colmar. However, the protection of the Jews of Ribeauvillé that fell to the emperor and that should have been safeguarded in his own interest also by Ribeaupierre was neglected by him as well as the emperor. In 1337, a persecution against the Jews of the low-city of Ribeauvillé took place. Many were killed because they had been accused of poisoning wells. Supposedly, the lords of Ribeaupierre themselves wanted to kill or dispel a party of Jews to be able to take over their property. Counts Berthold de Graisbach and Albert de Hohenburg, civil servants of empire, handed notice of this delinquency exercised against the Jews, serfs de la Chambre fiscal of empire, to brothers Anselme and Jean de Ribeaupierre. However, seemingly, the emperor did not approve of this action and recommended both counts make arrangements with Ribeaupierre. Thus, on October 15th, 1338, Louis de Bavière published an express order that none of his civil servants had to deal with the brothers Anselme and Jean de Ribeaupierre because of riots against the Jewry of Ribeauvillé. Of course, the same accusation concerning poisoning of wells also was made against the Jews of Ribeauvillé in 1348 and 1349, when black Plague began to appear in Europe when Jews, by thousands, was delivered to the fire. We know, in effect, by a contemporary Jewish source, that Jews also were killed in Ribeauvillé. As for those of Bergheim, we have no definite information during this time. We know only, by documents of the 15th century kept in local Archives, that the local Administration sold the home which had acted as synagogue in the past, so that we can conclude from it that the synagogue of Bergheim, and probably also that of Ribeauvillé, had been confiscated in 1349 after the destroying of communities Israelites of these two places. In 1375, some Jewish families acquired the right of residence in Ribeauvillé at the same time as in Hattstatt and in Bergheim from a privilege granted by Leopold, archduke of Austria, dated from Basel on August 9th. On the same date, Archduke Leopold II gave the right that the Jews paid him to the inhabitants of Bergheim, but the stay of Jews in Ribeauvillé as well as in Bergheim does not appear to have been long-term. In 1397, they once again were accused of having poisoned wells. News had been spread even to Fribourg-en-Brisgau. The Council of this city contacted the Council of the city of Colmar to know what occurred. This one answered, by letter of June 23rd, 1397, that Bruno de Ribeaupierre had imprisoned and tortured them. These events had repercussion in Basel, since Jews of this city, having learned of the accusations carried against their fellow believers of Ribeauvillé, took fright and left the city suddenly except a single family, that of the doctor of the city. Thus, the Ribeaupierre counts not only used the Jews as source of silver and income of every sort and kind, but also for another ideal purpose. Between 1331 and 1336, Ulric de Ribeaupierre made Clauss Wisse and Philippe Hake (goldsmith of Strasbourg) translate Parcival according from the French -- Meneschier (Perceval de Christian of Troy) -- in collaboration with the Jew, Samson Pine, who translated the French text in German so that Wisse and Hake had only to put it into rhyme. The author of that notice made a mistake by writing the name of the Jew as Samson Pine and that he was, in reality, Samson Chinon or Samson de Chinon, a learned Jew of this name who really lived in Zurich and probably also in Alsace around this time. As in almost all medieval cities, Ribeauvillé also had the rue des Juifs, mentioned in a 1430 document kept in the départemental Archives of Colmar. This street was located near the city wall and non-Jews also lived in it, since someone named Henssli Kubler paid annual rent of 8 Rappenpfennige for his home. At that time, Ribeauvillé also had a rabbi as seen in a letter addressed by the Council of Colmar to von Valkenstein de Ramstein dated 1443. von Valkenstein had asked the Council of Colmar to dispose an affair concerning his Jew Kiefmann and Perenz Verwer and his wife, in-laws of Kiefmann, who refused to give to their son-in-law the dowry [les cadeaux de noce] that they had promised him. Colmar answered that talks had been held on this subject, but that, according to the statements of Perenz Verwer and his wife, the disagreement already had been before to the rabbi (Judenmeister, as they said then] of Ribeauvillé, who was in possession of the documents and that the same rabbi would be called to give a final verdict in this affair. As in other cities of Alsace, the Jews of Ribeauvillé were in charge of the silver trade, since they were forbidden to possess arable lands and to work at jobs. This trade was regulated by count Ulrich of Ribeaupierre in 1450, fixing the interests that Jews could ask their debtors. Of course, Jews always were made to pay for their rights of protection and others, but a notice mentions that in addition to these obligatory contributions, they still gave presents to their lords. In 1434, they gave two measures of wine to Smassmann de Ribeaupierre. This information also proves that the Jewry of Ribeauvillé and Bergheim, contrary to those of other régions, could have fields and grapevines, contrary to those of other régions, could have fields and grapevines since the wine given in Smassmann had not been bought by Jewry, but came from their own grapevines. From the end of the fifteenth to the end of the sixteenth century, the Jews lived only in Bergheim, not in Ribeauvillé. The Regulations of Count Jean Jacques de Ribeaupierre of June 13th, 1656 on the right of protection of Jewry in Ribeauvillé mentioned these incomes. Each of them being married or having his own household had to pay annually 20 florins to the lord for the right of protection except for two widows.  In 1658, there was 4 Jewish households in Ribeauvillé, in 1697 thirteen, in 1705 twenty - three, and in 1784, fifty-eight. The Jewry of Ribeauvillé and Bergheim met with those of Haut Alsace and hired Samuel Lévy as spiritual leader in 1700, son of Hart Lévy of Metz, and confirmed this commitment by a decree of the king Louis XIV of January 20th, 1702. Samuel Lévy took up residence in Ribeauvillé and later in Colmar. In la Revue des Etudes juives à Paris (vol. 65 (1913) p. 274 and ss.) the activity of Samuel Lévy, both as rabbi in Alsace and as treasurer for Duke Leopold of Lorraine, as well as that of his successor Samuel Sanvil Weil, son of Baruch Weil de Ribeauvillé, who performed rabbinical functions from 1711 until 1753 in the county of Ribeaupierreand in all Haut and Bas Alsace under French administration. The Jewry of Ribeauvillé and Bergheim also had the right to buy houses, but it seems that they did not use this right before the 18th century. According to documents kept in the départemental Archives of Colmar, an inquiry made in this respect in the Ministry of Justice census showed that houses were bought by Jews from Ribeauvillé only from 1748 and from Bergheim only from 1735. The one bought by Simon Weil in 1748 cost 2,000 pounds and right of recording of 12 pounds. Jacob Lazarus bought a home from Isaac Mayer for 1,200 pounds and 7 pounds 4 sou of transfer tax. Other houses are sold for 1,100, 900, 348, and 712 pounds, etc. The most expensive in Ribeauvillé was worth 10,030 pounds. This home of Meyer Weil in Ribeauvillé was sold in 1754 to Libmann Moyses from Bergheim, who exercised rabbinical functions. The same Meyer Weil, on his own, constructed the synagogue of Ribeauvillé and gave it to the community on October 29th, 1738 with evidence given at the notaries Haxo and Drouineau in Colmar. The history of this home and the synagogue was published by J.J. Becker in the newspaper of Ribeauvillé in 1911. See a photo of the rabbi's home at http://judaisme.sdv.fr//synagog/hautrhin/a-f/bergheim.htm. Ribeauvillé remained a rabbinical seat up to First World War. Since this time, both communities were part of the rabbinate of Colmar. In 1738, religious services as well as internal order of the Community was established by the rabbi and the president of the community and confirmed by the Ministry of Justice Regulations in 27 articles. Close to the actual synagogue, which was constructed between 1830 and 1840 on the site of the old one is the Jewish Almshouse founded in 1832 by the members of the community. The Revolution finally brought the Jewry of France freedom and emancipation. The principle inserted in the Statement of Human Rights that said "no one must be worried about his opinions, even religious, provided that their demonstration does not upset the public order established by law" should have drawn Jewry of citizenship rights, but it was nothing, because religious questions became more complicated in Alsace especially with its local difficulties and of incorrigible prejudices. As soon as the news of the storming of the Bastille was known, riots occurred in almost every villages of Sundgau in which Jews lived. Documents kept in the Archives of Mulhouse and Basel where, contrary to pretense, the instigators and the authors of this riot were not at all impoverished peasants, but almost only landless people whose only purpose was to ransack Jewish houses. These events had their repercussion also in Ribeauvillé, since several persecuted Jews Baruch Lévy de Froeningen whose home was destroyed and who was the stepfather of Séligmann Meyer de Ribeauvillé as well as Raphael Félix, ancestor of the famous tragedian Rachel Félix, addressed requests to the Ministry of Justice with a view to settling in Ribeauvillé. Although these requests were granted, a notice kept in the départemental Archives of Colmar show that soon afterwards, a riot in Ribeauvillé was mentioned in an Order of the Board of Directors of the Haut-Rhin on December 13th, 1791. Even in nineteenth century, the Jewry of Ribeauvillé and Bergheim was threatened with persecution. In a letter from the Prefect to the mayor of Ribeauvillé dated from September 26th, 1819 said that from information of the Prosecutor of the King, "The Jews were insulted, which seems to predict the repetition of the persecutions by some parties from Germany that ferment and wait to break loose." [January 2008]

There never has been Jewish graveyard either in Ribeauvillé or in Bergheim. In 14th and 15th centuries, they buried their dead in Colmar, because when the authorities of this city confiscated the Jewish cemetery in 1510with the consent of Emperor Maximilian, William de Ribeaupierre protested against this measure because this graveyard was not only for the use of the Jewry of Colmar, but also for all those of Austrian domains. Later, the Jewry of Ribeauvillé, Bergheim and communities of the vicinity bought ground in the suburbs of Sélestat in a Burner district called also Paradies-weg and established a cemetery there. This ground was enlarged at different times through purchases of fields by the representatives of the community and those of Ribeauvillé. [January 2008]