Communauté israélite de Liège
- Jewish Community of Liège
There was no organised Jewish community in Liège before the early 19th century. France’s annexation of the episcopal principality then ensured the Jews’ presence and civil and political equality. The number of Jewish families living in Liège is thus rose from eight in 1808 to 220 in 1890. Most of these families originally came from Dutch Limburg (50%), Prussia, and Alsace-Lorraine. During this period the Jewish community answered to the Jewish community of Maastricht, which itself belonged to the Consistory of Krefeld.
Formal recognition of the Jewish Community of Liège came about in 1876 with the Royal Decree of 7 February. In 1878, the community set up its headquarters in the Outre-Meuse neighborhood, where the abandoned chapel of the former Saint Julian’s Hospice, which had been turned into a grain market at the time of the French Revolution, became a synagogue. The number families making up the community doubled in the early 20th century, especially after World War I, due to the incessant influx of immigrants fleeing the poverty and pogroms of Eastern Europe.
Only half of the community survived the Holocaust and the synagogue was profaned. A double painting of the victims’ names in Latin and Hebrew letters that hangs at the back of the synagogue recalls the memory of some of them, along with the resistance fighters and Jewish soldiers who fought against Nazi Germany. Moreover, many ornaments, stained-glass windows, and ritual objects are dedicated to them.
The Jewish community of Liège participated and continues to participate in many patriotic events and inaugurations, including the inauguration of the American cemetery and the national memorial to the Resistance. The synagogue and the Jewish Center next it continue their activities and house a range of very active institutions, such as WIZO, S.O.S.-Bienfaisance, the S. Kruglanski Museum, KKL, and the Hachomer Hatsair Youth Movement. Today, services continue to be held for shabbat and there are also weekly Jewish studies classes.
Open only by appointment
Jewish Central Consistory of Belgium website consulted on 29/10/2014
Pierre-Alain Tallier (dir.), Gertjan Desmet & Pascale Falek-Alhadeff, Sources pour l'histoire des populations juives et du judaïsme en Belgique/Bronnen voor de geschiedenis van de Joden en het Jodendom in België, 19de-21ste eeuw, Brussel, ARA-AGR/Avant-Propos, 2016, 1,328 p.