Lille (lēl), city (1990 pop. 178,301), capital of Nord dept., N France, near the Belgian border. With its central position in NW Europe, Lille became a great commercial, cultural, and manufacturing center, long known for its textile products—notably lisle (the name is derived from an older spelling of the city's name). Intense industrial expansion began in the 1960s, strengthened by the establishment (1967) of a metropolitan community uniting almost 90 towns with a total population of over 900,000. Steel, iron, metalworking, and chemicals were among the city's flourishing manufactures. By the 1990s, however, competiton from Southeast Asia and within Europe, including the former Eastern bloc, resulted in reduced production and high unemployment in the area.
Lille was the chief city of the county of Flanders, a brilliant residence of the 16th-century dukes of Burgundy, and (after 1668) the capital of French Flanders. Taken (1708) after a costly siege by Eugene of Savoy and the duke of Marlborough, it was restored to France in the Peace of Utrecht (1713). Among Lille's principal buildings are the huge citadel (17th cent.), one of the finest works of the French military engineer Vauban; the old stock exchange (17th cent.); several fine churches; and the unfinished cathedral (begun 1854). Lille has a large university, transferred there from Douai in 1808, and one of the most important art museums in Europe; its paintings include many of the best works of the Flemish, Dutch, French, and Spanish masters.
LILLE , city in the département of the Nord, N. France. The Jewish community of Lille was formed in the 19th century. Beginning in 1872, Lille became the seat of a chief rabbinate. Its first chief rabbi was Benjamin Lippmann, formerly chief rabbi at Colmar, who had refused to remain in Alsace after it was annexed by Germany. According to the census of the Jewish population in occupied France carried out at the beginning of 1942, there were 1,259 Jews then living in Lille, only 247 of whom were born there. The Commissariat Générale aux Questions Juives (cgqj) maintained an office in Lille. In reprisal for an underground raid the Germans executed five Jews in Lille in March–April 1942. Of the 461 French and foreign-born Jews who were deported from the region of the Nord, only 125 returned. Among those deported was Léon Berman, who was rabbi of Lille from 1936 to 1939 and who published a work titled Histoire des Juifs de France. He was arrested along with his wife and son in October 1943, interned at the camp of Drancy, and eventually transported to a death camp. In 1987 there were 2,800 Jews in Lille, which was the seat of the regional consistory. The Lille community maintained a number of institutions, including a synagogue erected in 1874, a number of small prayer halls, youth groups, a kosher butcher, and a community center. It also published a community bulletin.
Z. Szajkowski, Analytical Franco-Jewish Gazetteer 1939–1945 (1966), index; R. Berg, Guide juif de France (1971), 240–41.
[David Weinberg (2nd ed.)]