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FRIBOURG (Ger. Freiburg ), capital of the Swiss canton of that name. Jews lived in the area before 1348 in Murten/Morat (1294/99). On the outbreak of the Black Death (1348–49), the Jews in the area, like those in the rest of Europe, were accused of causing the epidemic by spreading poison. After 1356 a number of Jews received permission to settle in the city of Fribourg as citizens and to engage in moneylending. As elsewhere in Switzerland, they lived in their own part of the town, although not confined to a ghetto. The decrees of expulsion of 1428 and 1463 were not permanent. Jews were subsequently granted the right to buy houses. Until at least 1481 Jews could live in the city. In that same year, Fribourg entered the Swiss Confederation. Eight Jewish doctors resided in Fribourg and others in the town of Murten, the most famous being Ackin de Vesoul.

The next mention of a Jewish presence in Fribourg dates from 1678, but Jews may have been present earlier. Jewish cattle dealers and peddlers were permitted to visit the city's open market, but the ban on Jewish commerce issued by nearby *Berne in 1787 also affected Fribourg until 1798. Restrictions against the settlement of Jews remained in force until 1864, though some privileged Jews received residence permits after 1843.

The present community was founded in 1895 by Alsatian Jews. In 2000, Jews in the canton of Fribourg numbered 138 persons; 66 were members of the community. The community built a synagogue in 1904 and acquired a cemetery. It was given official status in 1990/2001. The leading Nordmann family opened department stores. Jean Nordmann, president of the Jewish Community Association in 1973–80, was one of the first Jewish colonels in the Swiss army. Jewish subjects are taught at the local Catholic university.


Kober, in: F. Boehm and W. Dirks (eds.), Judentum, Schicksal, Wesen und Gegenwart, 1 (1965), 162–3; A. Weldler-Steinberg, 2 vols. Geschichte der Juden in der Schweiz (1966/70), index s.v.Freiburg; add. bibliography: C. Agustoni, Les Juifs de Fribourg (1987). A, Kamis, Vie Juive en Suisse (1992), sig (ed.), Juedische Lebenswelt Schweiz. 100 Jahre Schweizerischer Israelitischer Gemeindebund (2004).

[Uri Kaufmann (2nd ed.)]