Sèlestat

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SÈLESTAT

SÈLESTAT (Ger. Schlettstadt ), town in the department of Bas-Rhin, Alsace, in eastern France. The presence of Jews in Sélestat is confirmed from at least the beginning of the 14th century. While town officials succeeded in protecting Jews from outside attacks, particularly from the *Armleder bands, a number of Selestat's inhabitants attacked them in 1347 and again in 1349, believing that they were responsible for spreading the *Black Death. As a result of these attacks, several Jews were murdered and others fled. Others accepted baptism, but they were soon accused, with the rest of the Jewish population, of spreading the Black Death. The synagogue was confiscated and converted into an indoor market; from the middle of the 16th century it was used as an arsenal. The Jews returned a short while later, but they were again expelled at the beginning of the 16th century. The street which was known at first as "Judenschuel" and later as the Rue des Juifs was inhabited by this second community. From that time onward, Jews visited Sélestat for trading purposes, but they were not allowed to settle there. During the 17th century Jews from neighboring localities acquired a plot of land for use as a cemetery, which still existed in 1971. A new Jewish community was not established in Sélestat until after the French Revolution. It was soon the third largest Jewish settlement in Alsace. The population continued to decline throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, however. Between the two world wars, the community numbered approximately 250. The synagogue, which was erected in 1890 and sacked by the Germans during World War ii, was later rebuilt. The community was reconstituted after the war, and in 1971 numbered 180 persons.

bibliography:

Germ Jud, 2 (1968), 744–6; J. Geny, Schlettstadter Stadtrechte (1902), passim; I. Dukerley, in: Archives Israélites, 22 (1861), 631ff.; M. Ginsburger, ibid., 96 (1935), 142f.

[Bernhard Blumenkranz]