By: Richard Gottheil
Town in Alsace, 17 miles from Strasburg. It was here, in the year 1348, when Europe was devastated by the Black Death (the spread of which was ascribed to the Jews), that a council was held of the representatives of the towns in Alsace to consider the proper course to be adopted with reference to the Jews. One of the leading spirits in the council was Bishop Berthold of Strasburg, who firmly demanded that the Jews be entirely destroyed. The representatives from Strasburg maintained a gallant struggle against the superstitious bigotry that sought some scapegoat for the evil that had befallen the land, and against the cupidity and rapacity that scented a prospect for plunder.The struggle was useless, and it was decided that all the Jews should be banished from the cities of the upper Rhine. The results of this decision of the Council of Benfelden constitute one of the most tragic chapters in the gloomy history of the persecution of the Jews.