Town in the canton of Bern, Switzerland. It had Jewish inhabitants as early as the city of Bern itself. In 1305 a few Jewish families were naturalized in consideration of a yearly tax of fifty pfennigs each. According to the patent or "Jew-letter" granted them (see Ulrich, "Sammlung Jüdischer Geschichten in der Schweiz," p. 482, Basel, 1768), they were not to be hindered in any way in their trade or traffic. A pledge left in pawn by a Christian could be sold by them after the lapse of a year and forty days. Curiously enough, weapons were allowed to be taken in pawn. In case of emergency these had to be delivered, even on the Sabbath, against adequate security, to the mayor in presence of two or three councilors; when the danger was past, they were to be returned as quickly as possible to the Jews. Nothing further is known concerning the Jews of Biel; even the date of their expulsion is unnoted. At present (1902) there are at Biel about forty-five Jewish families, who hire their, synagogue, maintain a teacher, and provide a fund for the poor and the sick.

D. M. K.
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