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1090 WORMS (Germany)

The Emperor confirmed the right of Jews to live anywhere in the city, although many preferred to live in their own quarter.

1090 - 1170 ELIEZER BEN NATHAN OF MAINZ (RaBaN) (Germany)

Rabbi, commentator and historian. Rabbi Eliezer was known as one of the "elders of Mainz". His major work Even ha-Ezer (Stone of Help) is famous not only for its responsa but for the light it sheds on religious practice in Germany and France. As a historian his Kuntres Gezerot Tatnav (Booklet on the Massacres) of 1096 is one of our best sources for its accounts of the Rhineland massacres at the time of the First Crusade.

C. 1090 TOBIAH BEN ELIEZER (Kastoria, Greece)

Author of a midrashic commentary Lekach Tov on the Pentateuch and the 5 Megilot. He is the only scholar of note during that period in Byzantium that we are aware of.

1090 February 19, SPEYER (Germany)

Emperor Henry IV renewed to Rabbi Judah b. Kalonymus, the poet, David b. Meshullam, and Rabbi Moses b. Yekuthiel the pledges granted six years earlier by Bishop Ruediger. In addition, the Emperor guaranteed the Jews freedom of trade in his empire as well as his protection. John, bishop of Speyer, also encouraged Jews to move to the city. In return the community paid 3 1/2 pounds silver to the Church and agreed to defend the city in case of attack. Within six years Speyer became one of the first communities on the Rhine to be attacked. After the attacks, R' Moses took upon himself the care and protection of the orphans.

1090 December, GRANADA (Spain)

Was captured by Yusuf ibn Tashfin (1019-1106), leader of the Almoravides. The Jewish community, believed to have sided with the Christians, was destroyed. Many fled, penniless, for Christian Toledo.


Although the Jewish community was quite small, this did not prevent St. Lasislas (1077-1095) from enacting measures to separate Jews as much as possible from Christians. Jews were prohibited from working on Sunday, owning slaves or marrying Christians. Despite this, no overt anti-Semitic measures were imposed.

1093 PRAGUE (Bohemia)

Comas, the early Bohemian historian, mentions Jews living in what he called the Mezi gradi Vysehrad (between the castles) on the right bank of the river "who had amassed large amounts of gold and silver." This settlement was destroyed in 1096 and not rebuilt.


Called on Pope Urban II and western countries to help him against the Sejuk Turks, who were threatening his kingdom and who controlled Syria-Eretz Israel.

1095 MOSHE IBN EZRA (Spain)

Was forced by Almohad intolerance to leave Granada. The great poet wandered for 4 decades, mourning the great past of Granada.

1095 February 6, HENRY IV (reigned 1056-1106) (Germany)

Issued a charter to the Jews and a decree against forced baptism. He desired to protect the Jews even during the Crusades and granted favorable conditions wherever possible. He also permitted forcibly baptized Jews to return to Judaism - partly because he viewed the Jews as valuable property. The Church criticized his actions.

1095 November 27, COUNCIL OF CLAREMONT

Pope Urban II summoned Christians to retake the Holy Land from the Moslems, alleging that Moslems destroyed Christian holy places. A combination of religious, economic and social motives resulted in the overwhelming response that became known as the First Crusade, which officially began in August the following year. The Pope formed an army headed by special knights (i.e. Raymond, Godfrey, etc.). A "people's" army also joined, encouraged by Peter the Hermit and other local clerics. There would eventually be a total of eight Crusades, but only the first four were of any real significance.

1096 ROUEN (Normandy, France)

Massacre of Jews under the rule of one of William the Conqueror's sons. As a consequence, more Jews decided to move to England.

1096 VISHEHRAD (near Prague) (Bohemia)

500 Jews, together with 1000 soldiers of the Duke, defeated the attacking Crusaders, thus escaping the fate of other Jewish communities.


According to some Jewish commentaries, the Messiah was supposed to arrive in the Hebrew year 4856 - 1095-6. This was derived from Jeremiah 31:6, "Ronu...(sing)...at the head of the nation". "Ronu" in gematria equals 256, i.e. 256 lunar cycles (19 years each). Thus hopes were raised and then cruelly dashed with little done to prevent the oncoming disaster.

1096 Spring, CRUSADERS (France-Germany)

Over one quarter of the Jewish population of Germany and northern France were killed during the First Crusade (1095-1099), mostly during the months of April-June. It was estimated that in Germany, prior to the First Crusade, there were approximately 20,000 Jews. The period of time between Pessach and Shavuot (Passover and Pentecost) is also known as Sefirat Haomer which commemorates the death of Rabbi Akiva's pupils (2nd Century) and was considered a period of mourning. Since most of the massacres took place between these dates, new regulations of national mourning were added. This was also the period of time when the Unetaneh Tokef prayer for Yom Kippur was written by Amnon of Mainz.When warned by messengers about the upcoming riots from France, the Jewish leaders in Mainz replied, "As for ourselves there is no cause for fear…. we have not heard a word… that our lives are threatened”.

1096 April 10, TRIER (Germany)

After being attacked by a mob and threatened with death, Bishop Egelbert offered to save all Jews who were willing to be baptized. Most Jews chose to drown themselves instead.

1096 May 3, EMICHO (Emico), COUNT OF LEININGEN (Germany)

On his way to join the Crusade led by Peter the Hermit, he attacked the synagogue at Speyer. The Jews defended themselves but were systematically slain. Until this time atrocities in Europe were sporadic. From here on in they became organized and frequent, and Jewish martyrdom began in earnest. (It should be remembered that the atrocities committed by the rampaging crusaders were not always supported by the local burghers and bishops. Furthermore, in many countries - especially the Slavic states - the local Christian community suffered from pillages as well. John, bishop of Speyer even called out his army after 11 Jews were killed in a riot, but he was an exception rather than the rule. Approximately 5,000 Jews were murdered in Germany in 1096.)

1096 May 18, WORMS MASSACRE (Germany)

The survivors hid in the Bishop's palace for one week, after which they were either murdered or forcibly baptized.

1096 May 25, WORMS (Germany)

Simcha bar Isaac Hakohen pretended to submit to baptism. As he entered the church he attacked the priest. He was "torn to bits" by the crowd.

1096 May 27, MAYENCE (Germany)

Count Emicho entered Mayence. Approximately 1200 Jews took refuge in the Episcopal Palace and, seeing no other escape from forced conversion, chose suicide using ritual slaughter knives. Each family head killed his wife and children, with the leaders killing themselves last. The idea of suicide, normally abhorrent, was considered acceptable or even preferable under these circumstances. One Jew by the name of Isaac, his two daughters and a friend called Uriah allowed themselves to be baptized. Within a few weeks Isaac, who was remorseful of his act, killed his daughters and burned his own house. He and Uriah went to the local synagogue, locked themselves in and burned it down. A large part of the city was destroyed.

1096 May 30, COLOGNE (Germany)

In one instance of individual courage, the local bishop and some of the local burghers offered the Jews protection in their own houses. The Bishop later escorted them to towns under his protection.

1096 June 27, XANTEN AND ELLER (Germany)

Massacre of the Jewish population. This was the second massacre at Xanten in a month. Fifty Jews died. At Eller, five Jewish community leaders were assigned the task (by the community) of killing all the members and then themselves rather than suffer at the hands of the Crusaders. Out of a community of three hundred, only four remained.

1097 EMPEROR HENRY IV (Germany) and WILLIAM II (England-Normandy)

Denying any complicity in forced conversions, they offered the Jews of their realm who had been forcibly baptized the possibility of returning to Judaism. Rashi (the leading Sage and commentator) pleaded for them to be re-admitted by the community.

1098 KING COLEMAN (Hungary)

Tried to protect the Jews against the crusaders passing through part of his country.


After the Crusader attacks on Prague and its environs, Bohemian Jews escape into Poland which had not been ravaged by the crusaders. Duke Bretislav II of Bohemia used the opportunity to steal whatever he could from those fleeing. Bohemian Jews were soon joined by Jews from the Rhine.


Established merchant colonies and trade routes to the Near East with the help of the Latin rulers in Jerusalem. They were under the protection of their mother countries and excluded Jewish traders, who up to that time were very active.


Following the murder of some local Jews, he tried to bring the culprits to justice.

1099 July 15, GODFREY DE BOUILLON (Eretz Israel)

Entered Jerusalem, drove all the Jews into the synagogue and set them afire while he marched around the synagogue singing, "Christ, we adore thee". This marked the end of Jerusalem as a Jewish center for centuries, although Jews did return in limited numbers after the Moslem reconquest in 1187. It is estimated that between 20,000 and 30,000 Jews were massacred or captured and sold as slaves in Italy.

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