LERIDA (Catalan, Leyda; Ilerda):
City in Catalonia, which as early as the fourteenth century had an important Jewish community possessed of several privileges. Thus, it was exempted from the general obligation to provide the royal court, during its presence in the city, with beds and the necessaries of life. Again, the Jews of Lerida, at the earnest request of the representatives of the congregation, were not compelled to attend the conversion sermons of Maestre Huesca and other Dominicans. In 1306 the congregation was granted permission by the king to receive into its membership ten Jewish families driven from France. The Shepherd persecutions brought great affliction to the community. Seventy Jews surrendered their possessions to the commander of the city, "so that he might bring them in safety to Aragon; but when they got outside the city he slew them with his sword." Eight years later the Jews had to defend themselves against attacks upon their lives. The hatred of the Christians was a constant source of menace to them. In 1325 the right to prepare Passover cakes was refused to them, so that they had to turn to the king for assistance.
The Jews of Lerida engaged in industry and carried on an extensive commerce; they had one large synagogue and several small ones. In 1269 "Nasi Azday" (Ḥasdai) was appointed as rabbi, whom in the following year the king presented with a building-plot. In 1275 the communal laws ("taḳḳanot") were sanctioned by the king. The ominous year 1391 was for the Jews of Lerida one of great calamity. The massacre occurred there Aug. 13; seventy-eight Jews being killed, while most of the survivors accepted baptism. The neophytes transformed the synagogue into a church under the name "S. Maria del Milagro"; in the fifteenth century it was still almost exclusively attended by neophytes. With 1391 the real "aljama" in Lerida ceased; Jews in scant numbers probably continued to live in the city, enjoying the old privileges, but they no longer constituted a congregation. The city soon felt the decline of the taxes formerly paid by the Jews. In 1410 the city council entered into negotiations with the Jews for the purpose of reimposing part of these taxes; but this led to no result.
The poet Joseph bar Sheshet ben Latimi (1308) and the physician Abraham, who, Sept. 12, 1468, performed an operation on King Juan of Aragon for cataract, lived in Lerida.
- Joseph ha-Kohen, 'Emek ha-Baka, pp. 60, 67;
- Rios, Hist. ii. 155, 158, 380, 402, iii. 83;
- José Pleyan de Porta, Apuntos de Historia de Lerida, Lerida, 1873;
- Jacobs, Sources, Nos. 756, 941, 1062.