The Jewish Story of Haguenau, France
Haguenau is the 4th largest city in Alsace, located about thirty kilometers north of Strasbourg. It is both an industrial and commercial city with a pleasant pedestrian city center, beautiful 18th century buildings, museums, green spaces, and diversified events throughout the year. You can discover the rich heritage of 18th century Haguenau on a self-guided audio walking tour available at the tourist office in French, German, or English. There is also a child-friendly version of the audio tour, and guided in-person tours during the summers.
Records suggest that Jews have lived in Haguenau as early as 1235. This was the year that many other Jewish communities were affected by the blood libel conspiracies, but thanks to the emperor’s protection they suffered no harm. The Jews had to pay taxes to both the emperor and the municipality, the latter of which protected them in 1338 against the Armleder bands, but unsuccessfully at the time of the Black Death. In 1349, the Jewish community was destroyed, but a new community was formed in 1354. A home on Rue du Sel was used as a synagogue and Haguenau became a refuge for the Jews from the surrounding regions.
Many Polish Jews settled in Haguenau during the second half of the 17th century, and a rabbi joined the community in 1660. There are a few notable rabbis who led the Jewish community in Haguenau including Meyer Jaïs, who later became the chief rabbi of Paris.
In 1735 there were 34 families in the Haguenau Jewish community; the community grew to 64 families in 1784, and 600 individuals on the eve of World War II. However, 148 of the 600 died in deportation and in battle and in 1968, the community numbered about 300. This number has since grown to 700 in the 21st century. The present synagogue that can be seen on the Rue des Juifs was built in 1821, and there is still a cemetery which has been in use since the 16th century.
Haguenau has three popular museums that will enhance your stay: the Luggage Museum, the Alsatian Museum and the Historical Museum. There is also the remarkable Haguenau forest (the 6th largest forest in France) which is located near the city center, perfect for hiking or cycling. You can also relax and settle on the terrace of the inn which is located at the place called "Le Gros Chêne,” a privileged place for families, in the heart of the forest massif.