City in Rhenish Prussia, situated on the right bank of the Rhine. According to the census of 1900 it has about 2,600 Jews (500 households)in a total population of 213,767. In 1890 it had 1,401 Jews in a total population of 144,642. Although Düsseldorf was raised to the rank of a town in 1288, its Jewish community is one of the youngest in Germany, the history of the Jews in the duchy of Jülich-Berg, of which Düsseldorf was the capital, dating only from 1608; in Düsseldorf itself the first records of Jews are of a much later date. The synods or councils of the Jews of the duchy were usually held in Düren, and the name of Düsseldorf is rarely mentioned in the records which have come down to us. In the "ketab rabbanut," or contract, dated June 6, 1746, by which R. Simson ha-Levi was chosen rabbi of Jülich-Berg, it is stipulated that, inasmuch as R. Simson had taken up his residence in Düsseldorf, which is remote from some parts of Jülich, he must visit central localities like Jülich and Düren at least once a year. Similar stipulations were made with R. Mordecai b. Eliezer Halberstadt, author of the responsa "Ma'amar Mordekai" (Brünn, 1790), when he was chosen to succeed R. Simson in 1752. R. Mordecai had already styled himself rabbi of Düsseldorf and the surrounding country, which tends to prove that the community was rising in importance in the second half of the eighteenth century. An interesting incident during the rabbinate of R. Mordecai was the ordering by him of special prayers after the earthquake of Lisbon (Nov. 16, 1755; see Carl Brisch, "Zur Gesch. d. Juden im Bergischen Lande," in "Israelit," 1879, No. 7).
R. Mordecai died in 1769, at the age of 84, and was succeeded by R. Jacob Brandeis (d. 1775), who had been rabbi of Fürth and of Darmstadt for twenty years. It is stated by Adolph Kohut, editor of the "Düsseldorfer Zeitung," that R. Judah Löb Abraham Scheuer of Fürth, who died in 1821, aged 87, was rabbi of Düsseldorf and of Jülich-Berg for 42 years. Since the incorporation of Düsseldorf in the kingdom of Prussia in 1815, the community has not been connected with the neighboring communities, and later rabbis, as A. Wedell or the present incumbent, have not been "Landesrabbiner," as were their earlier predecessors.
The remains of numerous members of Heinrich Heine's family are buried in the old Jewish cemetery of Düsseldorf, which is now within the city limits, and was closed Jan. 1, 1877. Among other prominent personages buried there are David Selig, the first Jewish "Stadtrath" of Düsseldorf (d. 1849); the mother of Ḥakam Bernays (d. 1855); and Solomon Eichberg, who was cantor of the community for 50 years and died aged 85.
The anti-Jewish demonstration which occurred in Düsseldorf at the time of the reaction in 1819, seems to have been confined to "black marks and threatening placards placed on the doors of several Jewish houses" (Graetz, "Hist." v. 30). After the emancipation the Jewish community of Düsseldorf soon rose to importance among the Jewish communities of Germany, and is now the home of two prominent Jewish national organizations—the Bildungsanstalt für Israelitische Lehrer and the Verein zur Verbreitung und Förderung der Handwerke Unter den Juden. The last-named society, founded about 1880, maintains a home for apprentices, and is doing much good work. Stadtrath Gustav Herzfeld (b. 1828) is one of the founders, and was for a long time its president. The Jewish community also has charge of five foundations, which bear the names of their founders or of their dedicatees: Martha Horn, S. Scheuer, S. Simon, N. Franck, and D. Fleck. The erection of the new synagogue was decided on in March, 1899. Düsseldorf has the following institutions: Ḥebra Ḳaddisha we-Haknasat Kalah; Ḥebrah Gemilut Ḥasadim; Ḥebrah Malbish 'Arumim; Ẓedakah-Verein for general charity; and Israelitischen Privatverein for the prevention of house-to-house begging.
In 1901 the Regierungsbezirk Düsseldorf, which comprises 24 districts, had 16,032 Jews in a total population of 2,191,359.
- Allg. Zeit. des Jud. 1877, p. 379;
- Kaufmann, Mi-Pinḳes ha-Medinah shel Ḳ. Ḳ. Düsseldorf, in Oẓar ha-Sifrut, iii. 7-16;
- Israelitische Monatsschrift (supplement to Jüdische Presse), 1888, No. 11, p. 43;
- Schulmann, Mi-Meḳor Yisrael (Heine's biography), pp. 15-17, Vienna, 1876;
- Aus Heinrich Heine's Stammbaum Väterlicherseits, in Allg. Zeit. des Jud. 1901, No. 30;
- see also the supplement (Gemeindebote) to that periodical for 1898, No. 4; for 1899, No. 2; for 1900, No. 41; for 1901, No. 48;
- Statistisches Jahrbuch des Deutsch-Israelitischen Gemeindehundes, v. 15, Berlin, 1901, s.v. Düsseldorf. A Geschichte der Jüdischen Gemeinde Düsseldorfs, by A. Wedell, rabbi of that city, appeared in 1888 as a part of the Geschichte Düsseldorfs, which was published (Düsseldorf, 1888) by its historical society in commemoration of the 600th anniversary of the foundation of the city of Düsseldorf.