Fortified town of Alsace, situated on the Moder, sixteen miles north of Strasburg. Attracted by the numerous privileges granted to its inhabitants by Frederick Barbarossa, Jews settled there soon after it received its charter as a city (1164), and a synagogue was established in 1252. Until the middle of the sixteenth century the Jews lived peaceably among their fellow citizens, thoughat the time of the Crusades they had to petition Emperor Conrad, imploring his protection. In 1262 Richard IV. officially confirmed the privileges of the city in a charter which contained the following paragraphs concerning the Jews: "We desire and ordain that the Jews of Hagenau, serfs of our imperial chamber, according to our letters patent, be subject only to our chamber and to our orders. No one may subject them to uncustomary service, or transgress our law without incurring our disfavor."Confiscation and Banishment.
In consequence of the refusal of the citizens of Hagenau to submit to Charles IV. while Louis of Bavaria was still alive, John of Lichtenberg entered the city and confiscated the houses and synagogue of the Jews. The towns-people, impoverished by the protracted civil war, in their turn plundered the Jews, subjected them to every imaginable persecution, and finally banished them (1346). The Jews were, however, soon readmitted on condition that they paid the debts of the city. The persecutions of 1349, which the community of Hagenau escaped, brought to the environs of that city a considerable number of Jews. In order to arrest their increase Sigismund, although confirming the protection of Jews already established in the city, prohibited the sale or lease of houses to new arrivals (1436). This, however, did not prevent the municipality from repeatedly granting for a certain sum, the amount of which was continually increased, temporary shelter to the Jews of the environs whenever war or disorders arose in the country. In 1561 the municipal council issued an order prohibiting non-resident Jews from frequenting the synagogue; and the congregation was compelled to sign a treaty in which it pledged itself, under penalty of having the house of worship closed altogether, to enforce the regulation.
During the second half of the sixteenth and the first half of the seventeenth century the condition of the community remained unchanged. Only six families, which had settled at Hagenau in the twelfth century, were allowed to have a permanent residence there; and it was only on a heavy monetary payment that a newcomer was allowed to take the place of a deceased head of one of these families. Besides the yearly taxes to the emperors and to the city, the Jewish residents had to pay for a special permit for maintaining their synagogue and for every interment.In the Eighteenth Century.
With the occupation of Alsace by France in 1648 the municipality adopted a more liberal policy toward the Jews. In 1657 it granted gratuitously a temporary shelter to Polish refugees. Under the pressure of the government one Gershon, a Jewish purveyor to the army, was admitted as a resident. He was followed by others; so that in 1695 the community numbered nineteen families. But this liberality on the part of the municipality was due to the fact that its finances were in an unsatisfactory condition, and the exorbitant taxes paid by the Jews contributed materially to the income of the city. It is not astonishing, therefore, that as soon as the municipality became more prosperous it showed itself more rigorous toward new Jewish settlers. Thus in 1714 it issued an edict forbidding the citizens to shelter foreign Jews and prohibiting resident Jews from transacting business on Sundays or Christian holy days. In 1720 it issued the following regulations, which remained in force until the French Revolution: "The Jews who are at present living in the city may remain. Only one married son in each family has the right to settle in the city; the other children, both male and female, must on marriage leave it, except when they live in common households with their parents. Grandsons acquire this right of residence only on the death of their grandfather." The Jews of Hagenau were, moreover, restricted in their commercial activity to dealing in horses, cattle, and old clothes, and to the lending of money on interest; and they were closely watched by the Christian merchants, who were jealous of Jewish competition. In 1790 Hagenau ceased to be an imperial privileged city; and the history of its Jewish community thenceforward differs little from that of other communities in France and Germany.Rabbis.
During the Middle Ages the affairs of the Hagenau congregation had been administered by elected officers. About the middle of the seventeenth century the Jews applied to the municipality for permission to nominate a rabbi. This demand being refused, a certain Löwel, availing himself of his privilege to engage a bookkeeper, brought to the city, ostensibly in that capacity, a rabbi named Meyer, who was registered as Löwel's bookkeeper (1660). Meyer soon gained the favor of the municipality, which tacitly recognized him as judge in civil affairs between Jews. Meyer was very active in the rebuilding of the synagogue (1665) and in the construction of a new edifice (1683), the former one having been burned in 1677. Meyer's successors, until the introduction of consistories, were: Wolf Hohenfelden (d. 1720); Elijah Schwab of Metz (1722-46); Samuel Halberstadt (1746-53); Lazarus Moyses (1753-71); Jequel Gougenheim (1771-?). On the introduction of consistories in France Hagenau was assigned to the consistory of Strasburg. The present rabbi is M. Lévy; and the community numbers 695 Jews in a total population of 17,958.
- Lévy, Coup d'Œil Historique sur l'Etat des Juifs en France, et Particulièrement en Alsace, in Revue d'Alsace, 1836, i. 269-295;
- Véron and Réville, Les Juifs d'Alsace sous l'Ancien Régime, in ib. 1864, pp. 271-289;
- Reuss, Les Israélites d'Alsace au XVII. Siècle, Paris, 1898;
- Scheid, Histoire des Juifs d'Alsace. Paris, 1873;
- idem. Histoire des Juifs de Haguenau, in R. E. J. 1885;
- see also Jew. Encyc. i. 455, s.v. Alsace.