views updated Jun 27 2018


ZURICH. Although there is evidence of settlement around Zurich from the Bronze Age, the Romans were the first to fortify the site and named it Turicum. The legend of the city's foundation dates from the martyrdom of Felix and Regula, Roman Christians and the patron saints of Zurich, who fled to the city from the massacre of their legion in Valais in the third century c.e. They were martyred by decapitation for refusing to pray to Roman gods, whereupon they picked up their heads and carried them up the hill to the spot where they wished to be buried. The Wasserkirche in Zurich marks the spot where they are thought to have been executed. During the eleventh and twelfth centuries, Zurich's traders exploited the favorable location of the city between the Alpine passes and the Rhine to build the city's wealth from textiles, such as wool and silk. In 1336 the Bürgermeister Rudolf Brun led a revolt that shifted power from the patrician families into the hands of the thirteen guilds. Shortly thereafter, in 1351, still under Brunn's direction, Zurich joined the Swiss Confederation, though it remained an imperial city under the direct authority of the emperor. During the fifteenth century Zurich repeatedly attempted to centralize the Confederation under its control, and the result was civil wars such as the Old Zurich War (14391450).

Although it lay in the vast diocese of Constance, Zurich was fairly independent of the bishop and had three major ecclesiastical bodies: the Grossmünster, the Fraumünster, and St. Peterskirche. Huldrych Zwingli (14841531) arrived in Zurich in 1519 and gradually built a reform movement that gained minority, although influential, support from leading families and the guilds. In April 1525 the Reformation was formally adopted and the Reformed church established. It was an institution that remained under the control of the magistrates throughout the early modern period. Zurich developed provision for higher education, but not a university. It remained an important center of trade and a key member of the international Reformed church, but during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries Zurich was a provincial city with little influence beyond the Swiss Confederation.

See also Switzerland ; Zwingli, Huldrych .


Flüeler, Niklaus, and Marianne Flüeler-Grauwiler, eds. Geschichte des Kantons Zürich. Vol. 2, Frühe Neuzeit,16. bis 18. Jahrhundert. Zurich, 1996.

Gordon, Bruce. The Swiss Reformation. Manchester, U.K., 2002.

Bruce Gordon


views updated May 09 2018


ZURICH , capital of the canton of the same name, N. Switzerland. Jews first arrived in Zurich in 1273, settling in a street known as the Judengasse (now the Froschaugasse). They also had a cemetery. Their taxes were paid to Emperor Rudolf I of Hapsburg, but in other respects they were dependent on the town, which undertook to protect them in exchange for a fee of ten marks and authorized them to engage in moneylending. They were also allowed to acquire real property. However they were compelled to remain indoors during Holy Week. Their principal occupation was moneylending, which they practiced on a large scale, dealing with the municipality, the leading aristocratic families, and even lending considerable sums abroad in such towns as Wuerzburg, Venice, and Frankfurt. The reception hall of a Jewish moneylender has been found at Brunngasse 8. The coats of arms of his noble clients bear Hebrew inscriptions.

The rumor that the Jews had caused the plague by poisoning the wells, which spread throughout Switzerland, reached Zurich at the end of 1348. At first the municipal council attempted to protect the Jews, but it was finally forced to cede to the populace. Numbers of Jews were then burnt at the stake on Feb. 22, 1349, and their belongings confiscated by the municipal council. The emperor promptly protested, claiming compensation; once he had received this, he absolved the council from the charge of murder.

The talmudist, Moses of Zurich, author of glosses on the Se-Ma-K (Sefer Mitzvot Katan) which are known as Semak Zurich, lived in the town during the early 14th century.

In spite of the massacre of 1349, Jews reappeared in the town as early as 1352. Several expulsion orders were issued (1425, 1435, 1436), but the very number of expulsions indicates that the orders were not strictly observed. However when, in 1634, the Jew Eiron (Aaron) of Lengnau, originally of Frankfurt, was executed in Zurich for blasphemy, the Jews were finally and totally expelled.

After the *French Revolution a few Jews attempted to reestablish themselves in Zurich, but it was only after the emancipation of the Jews of Zurich (1862) that a new community, largely formed by migrants from *Endingen and Lengnau and other nearby south German and Alsatian rural communities, was established. The first synagogue was inaugurated in 1883. It was built by disciples of Gottfried Semper. The community grew rapidly until it became the leading one of Switzerland. The secretariat of the Schweizerische Israelitischer Gemeindebund (est. 1904) has its headquarters in the town. In 1895/98 some separatist Orthodox families split away and later East European Jews formed their own community (between 1912 and 1924). The West European Orthodox community erected in 1926 an art-déco synagogue on Freigutstrasse, which was recently renovated. Only in 1961 did the different East European minyanim unite in the synagogue on Erikastrasse.

Jews played a prominent role in textile trade and department stores (Julius Brann), not so much in banking, since Protestant families dominated this branch. The private "Bank Julius Bär" (est. 1897) was the biggest Jewish-owned firm. The children of the East European immigrants entered white-collar jobs. The Social Democratic lawyer David Farbstein was their leader between 1898 and 1939. In 1939 the first Jewish community center in Switzerland was opened in Zurich.

In 2005, Zurich had four Jewish congregations – the moderately Orthodox Israelitische Cultusgemeinde (ICZ; 2,596 members), the Orthodox Israelitische Religionsgesellschaft (IRG, 332 families and singles), Agudas Achim (275 families and singles) which follows the East European tradition – and the egalitarian Liberal Jewish congregation Or Chadasch (est. in 1978, 500 members) each possessing its own religious institutions (e.g., four different Jewish cemeteries) and officials. Besides them, there is a sizeable moderate Orthodox minyan in the quarter of Wollishofen. Inner-Jewish polarization led to the founding of often rival Orthodox minyanim of Chabad, the Belzer Ḥasidim, etc. In the two Jewish old age homes, there exist additional minyanim. The only German-language Swiss-Jewish weekly paper, Tachles, is edited in Zurich. It succeeded the Israelitisches Wochenblatt fuer die Schweiz, which had appeared since 1901. In 2005 Tachles bought the American-Jewish Aufbau and tried to establish it as a monthly. A full-time Orthodox Jewish school was founded in 1956, which in 1970 had more than 145 pupils from Orthodox families only. A private moderate Orthodox day school was organized by members of the Cultusgemeinde in 1979, which had also about 170 pupils of every type of observance. Religious lessons are provided even after sixth grade, when the day school program ends ("Achinoam"). The youth movements Aguda-youth, Ha-Goshrim, Bnei Akiva, and Ha-Shomer ha-Ẓa'ir (est. in 1933) play an important role in educating the Jewish youth of Zurich.

In 2005 a new constitution of the canton was accepted, including a paragraph on the possible recognition of two democratically organized Jewish communities, the Cultusgemeinde and the Liberal one.

Many Jews moved to the suburbs of Zurich. In the canton of Zurich there were 6,461 Jews (2000), about two-thirds members of the congregations; some Anglo-Saxon families living in central Switzerland (Zug, Lucerne) also belong to them. Since about 1910 Zurich has been the center of Jewish life in Switzerland.

Hebrew Printing

During the 16th and 17th centuries a number of Christian printers in Zurich produced books containing Hebrew type; chief of these was the house of Froschauer (from 1528), which used the type of *Fagius. In 1558 Eliezer b. Naphtali Herz *Treves printed Psalms with a rhymed Yiddish translation by Elijah Baḥur Levita. The same year Hebrew type was used in J. Reuchlin's Clarorum Verorum Epistolae. In the 17th and 18th centuries the presses of J.J. Bodmer and of J.H. Heidegger used Hebrew type, the former from 1635 to 1727, the latter from 1673 to 1766. A few Hebrew works were also produced in Zurich in the 19th century.


Germ Jud, 2 (1968), Germ. Jud., 3/ii (1998) index; Schweizerischer Israelitischer Gemeindebund, Festschrift zum 50-jaehrigen Bestehen (1954); A. Weldler-Steinberg, Geschichte der Juden in der Schweiz (1966). Hebrew Printing: K.J. Luethi, Hebraeisch in der Schweiz (1926), 32 35; Ḥ.D. Friedberg, Toledot ha-Defus ha-Ivri be-Eiropah (1937), 11–12; C. Freimann, Gazetteer of Hebrew Printing (1946), 78. add. bibliography: Festschrift 100 Jahre Israelitische Religionsgesellschaft Zürich (irgz) (1995); Geschichte der Juden im Kanton Zürich (2005); icz (ed.), Juden in Zürich (1981), K. Huser Bugmann, Schtetl an der Sihl. Einwanderung, Leben und Alltag der Ostjuden in Zürich 18801939 (1998), SIG (ed.), Juedische Lebenswelt Schweiz. 100 Jahre Schweizerischer Israelitischer Gemeindebund (2004); H. Strauss-Zweig, David Farbstein (18691953). Juedischer Sozialistsozialistischer Jude (2002).

[Simon R. Schwarzfuchs /

Uri Kaufmann (2nd ed.)]


views updated Jun 08 2018

Zürich City on the River Limmat, at the nw end of Lake Zürich, in the foothills of the Alps, n Switzerland; the country's largest city. Conquered by the Romans in 58 bc, the city later came under Alemanni and then Frankish rule. It became a free imperial city in 1218, and joined the Swiss Confederation in 1351. In the 16th century, it was a focal point of the Swiss Reformation. Ulrich Zwingli founded Swiss Protestantism at Zürich's cathedral in 1523. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the city developed as a cultural and scientific centre. It has the Swiss National Museum and many old churches. Zürich is the commercial hub of Switzerland and has numerous banking and financial institutions. Industries: motor vehicles, machinery, paper, textiles, electrical products, printing and publishing, tourism. Pop. (1996) 344,000.


views updated May 18 2018

Zurich. Swiss city with long musical tradition. Main orch. is the Tonhalle, founded 1868. Its cond. have incl. Friedrich Hegar (1868–1906), Volkmar Andreae (1906–49), and Erich Schmid (1949–57) jointly with Hans Rosbaud (1950–62), Rudolf Kempe (1965–72), and Charles Dutoit (1967–71). Among smaller ensembles the Collegium Musicum was cond. by Paul Sacher from 1941. At the opera house, Parsifal had its first authorized stage perf. outside Bayreuth in 1913. Operas given f. stage p. in Zurich incl. Lulu (1937), Mathis der Maler (1938), Moses und Aron (1957 cond. Rosbaud), The Greek Passion (1961), and Sutermeister's Madame Bovary (1967).