- eskeles of Cracow (1694–1703), and Jonathan Eybeschuetz (1742–50) – chosen from abroad. The chief rabbi judged lawsuits between Jews but from the 18th century the parliament sought to assume this right. To this end, it ordered a compendium of Jewish customs to be deposited in its record office (1743). From the beginning of the 17th century the community owned a cemetery, a synagogue, and a poorhouse. In 1689 free and compulsory elementary schooling was introduced, and in 1764 a Hebrew press began publishing. The Jews were restricted in their economic activities by legal disabilities, however. While an oligarchy developed that achieved great wealth, the masses remained mired in poverty. Hostility toward the Jews reached its peak at the time of the execution of Raphael Lévy (1670) for alleged ritual murder. Nevertheless, before the Revolution the jurists Pierre Louis Lacretelle (1751–1824) and pierre louis roederer of Metz, future members of the National Assembly, called for granting Jews full rights. The latter organized the famous concourse of the academy of Metz on this subject Jewish emancipation (1785). In 1792 Marquis de Lafayette, who commanded the army at Metz, proclaimed the religious freedom of the Jews. The proclamation was later suspended during the Reign of Terror (1794). The consistory created in Metz in 1808, which included Moselle and Ardennes, served 6,517 Jews. The yeshivah (Ecole Centrale Rabbinique), which became the Rabbinical Seminary of France in 1829, was transferred to Paris in 1859. The synagogue, which had been destroyed earlier, was rebuilt in 1850, as was the almshouse in 1867. After the German annexation of Alsace-Lorraine (1871) about 600 Jews immigrated to France. Immigrants soon arrived from other parts of Germany as well. After 1918, when the region reverted to France, there was a massive influx of immigrants from Eastern Europe and from the Saar region. The Jewish population of the city numbered about 2,000 in 1866; 1,407 in 1875; 1,900 in 1910; and 4,150 in 1931. (Gilbert Cahen / David Weinberg (2nd ed.) -Hebrew Printing In 1764 Moses May set up a Hebrew printing press in Metz. In association with the royal printer Joseph Antoine, May published a Yiddish translation of Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe (1764) and the first edition of bezalel ashkenazi 's Asefat Zekenim (Shitah Mekubbeẓet, to tractate Beẓah, 1765). These works were followed by a large number of rabbinic and liturgical works, including the outstanding rabbis of Metz, such as Aryeh Leib b. Asher's novellae Turei Even (1781). May's effort to publish a small-scale edition of various talmudic tractates from 1768 onward led to his financial ruin. His son-in-law and successor Godechau-Spire printed several volumes of "enlightened" literature in Hebrew, such as a volume of riddles by Moses Ensheim (1787). May and his successors were active until 1793. Other Hebrew printers in Metz were Ephraim Hadamar and Seligmann Wiedersheim and successors. The Wiedersheim press continued to publish until 1870, when the German annexation of Alsace-Lorraine led to its closure. -Holocaust Period and After Under German occupation in World War II, Metz, like the rest of Moselle and Alsace, was made judenrein following the flight of the population and the particularly brutal expulsions carried out by German troops. About 1,500 Jews died after being deported, among them rabbis Bloch and Kahlenberg. German soldiers plundered and defiled the two synagogues and destroyed the workhouse. The great synagogue was used as a military warehouse. After the liberation, the reorganized Jewish community began a slow process of reconstruction. In 1970 Metz had about 3,500 Jews (including some 40 families recently arrived from North Africa) and a well-organized communal body. Metz was the seat of the consistory of Moselle, which comprised 24 communities with a total of about 5,500 Jews; the largest communities were Thionville with 450; Sarreguemines with 270; Sarrebourg with 180; and Forbach with 300. In Metz itself, in addition to the great synagogue (Ashkenazi rite) with a seating capacity of 700, there are four smaller places of worship, including one Polish and one Sephardi. The community also ran a Talmud Torah, a kindergarten with a kosher canteen, a workhouse, a mikveh, and a ḥevra kaddisha. In 1987, the Jewish population of Metz was estimated to be about 4,000. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: Gross, Gal Jud, 346ff.; R. Anchel, Juifs de France (1946), 153–212; N. Netter, Vingt siècles d'histoire… (1938); J. Schneider, La ville de Metz… (1950), 288f.; R. Clement, Condition des juifs de Metz… (1903); A. Cahen, in: REJ, 7 (1883), 103–15; 204–26; 8 (1884), 255–74; 12 (1886), 283–97; 13 (1886), 105–26; Germ Jud, 2 pt. 2 (1968), 228ff.; H. Contamine, Metz et la Moselle…, 1 (1932), 44–46; 2 (1932), 352–9; A. Hertzberg, French Enlightenment and the Jews (1968), index, ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: Guide du judaîsme français (1987), 39.
Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.
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