SAINT GALL (ST. GALLEN):
Chief town of the canton of the same name in the northeast of Switzerland. The first information concerning its Jewish inhabitants dates from the year 1349, when the Jews, who then lived in a special quarter, the "Hinterlauben" or "Brotlauben," were accused of having poisoned the wells. St. Gall followed the example of other towns near the Lake of Constance, imprisoning the Jews, burning them alive, or at best expelling them and confiscating their property. For a long time after this event no Jews lived in St. Gall; and in modern times also the right of settlement was granted only very exceptionally to a few Jews, who had to pay heavily for the concession. Even after the wars of independence the St. Gall "Jews' Law" of May 15, 1818, though it was not strictly enforced by the government, placed the Jews under severe restrictions. These exceptional laws remained on the statute-books until the emancipation of the Jews of Switzerland in Feb., 1863.
On April 8, 1864, the present Jewish community was constituted, the members having removed to St. Gall from the neighboring town of Hohenems. Religious services were organized, and Hebrew and religious classes founded. Soon afterward the cemetery was laid out; the dead had previously been conveyed probably to one of the neighboring communities.
The Jewish inhabitants of St. Gall increased numerically in the course of time through frequent migrations from the communities of Endingen and Lengnau, Gailingen (Baden), Laupheim (Württemberg), and from other places.
On, Sept. 21, 1881, the present (1905) synagogue was consecrated. The first rabbi of the existing community was Hermann Engelbert, who was succeeded in 1900 by the present incumbent, Emil Schlesinger.
The Jews of St. Gall exceed 500 in a total population of 33,087.
- G. L. Hartmann, Gesch. der Stadt St. Gallen, St. Gall, 1818;
- S. C. Ulrich, Sammlung Jüdischer Geschichten in der Schweiz, Basel, 1748;
- Augusta Steinberg, Studien zur Gesch. der Juden in der Schweiz Während des Mittelalters, Zurich, 1903.