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BERG:

An independent duchy until 1815; at present part of the Prussian Rhine province. Jews settled here at an early period. In 1298 Count Wilhelm of Berg protected them against the hordes led by Rindfleisch. At the time of the Black Death in 1349 many were killed by the Flagellants. Many of the Jews driven from Cologne settled in Berg. The rabbi of Cologne, "Pruno Soeskind," settled at Deutz, others went to Siegburg, and still others to Mülheim-on-the-Ruhr. A synagogue was at that time organized at Deutz, the cemetery being outside of the "Severinthor" of Cologne until in 1629 the electoral government presented to the Jews a burial-place.

Even in early times a community had existed at Siegburg, which paid to the abbot a certain sum as protection money (Geleitgeld), the Jews being also required to take part, like other citizens, in guarding the gates. The chief of the community acted as its judge, only criminal cases being brought before the abbot. The Jews of Siegburg were slain in 1287 on the accusation of having killed a boy, Johänneken, who was afterward canonized by the Church. Often to their detriment the Jews of Siegburg aided the archbishop and the city of Cologne with money. In 1334 Archbishop Walram killed Meyer of Siegburg and his son Joelman, and confiscated their property.

The ghetto and synagogue at Mülheim lay in the lower part of the city, on the Rhine; the Jews burying their dead at first in the cemetery at Cologne, and afterward at Deutz. Since 1774 they have had a cemetery of their own. The settlement at Kaiserswerth also dates back to an early period. During the "Soest quarrel" 1,445 horsemen from Cleves invaded Mülheim and Deutz, plundering and carrying off the richest Jews. About 1,400 Jews of Siegburg barely escaped annihilation, a gipsy woman having accused them of a murder. In 1588 the community of Deutz suffered by fire. In 1583 they fled before the troops of Archbishop Truchsess von Waldenburg (who tried to regain his diocese, from which he had been deposed) to Cologne; again, in 1631, before the Swedes, and were temporarily received back on payment of large sums of money. In 1665 some students plundered the Jewish houses in Deutz. In the seventeenth century the Jews of Siegburg were forced to entertain troops contrary to the stipulations of their charter. A Jew, David, was compelled in 1663 to pay the regular taxes, in addition to the eight gold guldens, protection money, he was already paying. The community of Deutz paid one-seventh of allthe taxes; that of Mülheim, as much as any one who owned three "morgen" of land. Lazarus van Geldern became court factor at the court of the principality of Jülich-Berg in 1727. In 1755 the Jews suffered by a violent earthquake, and in 1784 by the floods of the Rhine, during which the synagogue was destroyed. A new synagogue at Deutz was consecrated in 1786, and one at Mülheim two years later. On the advent of the French army all the restrictions placed upon the Jews, such as polltax and protection money, were abolished. In 1808 there were 2,905 Jews at Düsseldorf, 1,264 at Cologne, and 1,552 at Cleves.

Rabbi Süsskind, mentioned above, was succeeded by Vivis, well known from his opposition to the resolutions of the synod of Bingen, under Seligmann Bing Oppenheim, at the beginning of the fifteenth century. Vivis was also physician to the duke of Berg. The seat of the district rabbinate was transferred from Deutz to Bonn in the sixteenth century. At this time there also lived at Deutz the physicians Sander (who had permission to visit Cologne) and Solomon ben Isaac Joseph (1560-1631). The latter's son, also a physician, died in 1657. In the seventeenth century the physicians Judah Loeb ben Nathan (died 1670), Jacob ben David (died 1688), Jeremiah ben Solomon of Coblenz (died 1688), and a woman physician named Vögele (died 1731) lived at Deutz, as well as the scholars Kossmann Levi of Essen, and Moser. The latter was the son-in-law of Rabbi Judah Maehler of Cologne, and author of several works.

Among the rabbis of Düsseldorf may be mentioned Samson Levi Fröhlich (1706-50), Mordecai Halberstadt (1751-69), Jacob Brandeis (1769-74); and Judah Loeb Scheuer (1779-1821). Isaac Bonem Rappoport was district rabbi. Jacob Kopenhagen wrote a small book on the floods of the Rhine in 1784.

Bibliography:
  • Brisch, in Israelit, 1879, Nos. 4, 6-8;
  • Wedell, Gesch. der Juden in Düsseldorf, pp. 80-82.
D. A. F.
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