The Jewish Genealogy Association
By Annie & Gérard Lévy
In order to successfully carry out Jewish genealogical research in Lorraine, it is essential to have some concept of the history of this area and of the establishment of the Jewish community starting from the middle of the XVIth century.
Until the Revolution, almost all of the current Lorraine area was divided into two entities,
which frequently overlapped (map) : Les Trois Evêchés (the Three Bishoprics)
and Le Duché de Lorraine (Lorraine Duchy). What was called Le Duché de Lorraine comprised actually other areas,
including “Le Duché de Bar”, which were under the Duke of Lorraine’s authority.
These two entities became, when they were joined to France : the Generalité of Metz for the first one
(in 1648, but it already was under "French protection" since 1552), and the Generalité
of Nancy for the second one (in 1766).
In fact there was a third area albeit very small, the County of Créhange, which belonged to the Holy Roman Empire and included the towns of Créhange, Pontpierre, Denting and Niedervisse (partly for the last one).
After the French Révolution, Lorraine was divided into four departments, the Moselle, the Meurthe, the Meuse and the Vosges (only the first three will be discussed here).
In 1871 the Moselle (except for the district of Briey) and certain districts of Meurthe (Château-Salins and Sarrebourg) were annexed to Germany. The remaining parts of the Meurthe (Nancy, Toul & Lunéville districts), supplemented by the district of Briey, constitutes then and now the department of Meurthe-et-Moselle.
After 1914-1918 war, parts of Lorraine which had been annexed (including the ancient County of Créhange) became once again French and formed the new (and current) department of the Moselle. Consequences for the genealogists: during the annexation, the civil acts were written in German (sometimes even in Gothic, and very difficult to decipher), and consist of manually supplemented printed paper form; they provide less information than the majority of the French acts and are signed only by the officer.
We should therefore have in mind that each of the three current departments includes areas which were located in the Duchy of Lorraine and others which formed part of the Trois-Evêchés. As will be seen, a certain number of genealogical sources relate to only one of these two entities.
Synagogue of Metz
The return of Jews to Metz, after several centuries of absence, took place in 1567,
thanks to the presence of the French troops. So, no genealogical documents earlier than this date could be found.
From this time on, a large community developed until the middle of the XVIIIth century
(more than 500 households in 1740). The installation of the Jews in certain villages
not far from Metz dates from the beginning of the XVIIth century, but it becomes really perennial only starting
from the middle of this same century; one notes a score of establishments in 1702.
These establishments multiply towards the end of the XVIIIth century, there are 49 in 1785.
With regard to the Duchy of Lorraine, after their expulsion in 1477, a very small number of Jews settles in Nancy, then in other towns or villages, from 1636 following the French occupation (provisional), but they are frequently expelled later on. Others, also a small number, settle there starting from the end of the XVII century. In 1721, 73 households only (indicated by name) are authorized to reside in the Duchy, in 24 places (families in theory already present in 1680, the others having been expelled), but it is the beginning of more lasting communities. In the ruling of 1753 the number increases to 180 households, in 52 places ; that ruling remained theorically in force until the Revolution. For more details on the general history of the Jews in Lorraine, see the bibliography references (1) to (12). For information on the Jews in various particular communes, see references (24) to (49).
Names of the Jews
Before the decree of 1808, the Jews of France often had ‘surnames’ (their origin was nicknames) passed down from the father. Apart from the descendants of the former sacerdotal castes, who carried the name of Cahen (or Cayen, or...) or of Lévy, these names often recalled the place of origin. Thus for Metz, the majority of people bore a hereditary “family” name.
Synagogue of Insming
However, the name of Cahen or Lévy was sometimes omitted in certain acts. In addition, the same lineage hesitates sometimes between two surnames, in particular in Metz (for example: Emmerich and Gomperz); without dealing with the various alternatives used for the same name.
This habit of hereditary nicknames was less widespread in the small communes of Lorraine, where many Jews were known only by their first name followed by their father’s first name. That custom makes difficult the tracing back of the ancestors. Moreover, it is a source of mistakes for genealogists. Thus, it was common for two individuals to bear the same name in the same locality, whether they belonged to two different families or not. Upon the death of a father, common practice was that his son gave his father’s first name to his first son immediately after the death. For example, someone called Isaac Abraham would call his son Abraham Isaac; however, the civil officer sometimes reversed the names and called the new-born baby Isaac Abraham, exactly the same name as his father.
Also female first names frequently vary between certificates or acts but that is a phenomenon also spread elsewhere than in Lorraine. Another problem concerning the first names was also widespread in Moselle : the "translation" of the Hebraic first name: for example, Nephtali could be called Cerf in Metz or Hirtz, Hertzel... in the German-speaking part of the Moselle. Quite often, both first names (for example, Nephtali and Cerf) will appear depending of the act, which can also be a source of confusion.
It should be noted that some of these phenomena continued after 1808 (the year when Jews had to choose a hereditary family name). An individual could, even then on, be designated, depending on the act, by his old or his new name, or even by a mixture of both. More information on the names of the Jews in Lorraine is available in the works (9) and (44).
Sources for the genealogist
The majority of original documents, generally handwritten, have been used by various authors. The works and articles or reviews which result from this are the basic tools of Jewish genealogy in Lorraine (see below and the bibliography) in addition to civil acts.
However, to obtain fundamental research information, like the many lists of names, one often has to consult the original document, generally handwritten (or a photocopy). Almost all these documents are quoted in the work of Gildas Bernard (13): the sources are classified by department and indexed by commune. One will find mentioned the place where each document is deposited (departmental or communal archives, libraries...) and the reference allowing you to consult it.
Because of the past history of Lorraine, some interesting documents for the areas of the old department of Meurthe currently in the Moselle are found in AD 54 (departemental archives of Meurthe-et-Moselle). Also, even if the most of the files of the district of Briey (M.-and-M.) are deposited within AD 54, some are also in AD 55 (departemental archives of Meuse) (this district belonged formerly to the Duchy of Bar), others in AD 57 ( departemental archives of Moselle) because it formed part of the department of Moselle before 1871.
A – Sources for the period covered by civil records (after 1792)
As elsewhere in France, the essential source for creating a tree up to the Revolution is civil records, which exists, in theory, in two specimens (commune and AD). In many cases, the communal specimen was deposited in the AD. In AD 57, many of the registers are reproduced on microfilms, but it is often possible to consult the original paper. In AD 54, this last possibility does not exist, all of them are on microfilms but with free access. In addition, there are various lists drawn from the civil records created, in particular by GenAmi, to assist the genealogists.
The microfilmed civil records for the Meurthe-et-Moselle department up to 1882 can be consulted on the site of the AD 54 for a small fee. The civil records for the Meuse (up to 1902) and the Vosges (up to 1905) are also online, they are free of charge. Those for the Moselle will not be online before 2013 or 2014.
The civil records often allow you to completely reassemble a tree up to the Revolution, and even beyond that. But sometimes, that is not the case. By example not knowing the commune of origin of a wife or the name of her parents, or being unaware of the place, therefore the date, of an ancestor’s death. Various works and documents often make it possible to fill these gaps (the first two not being specific to Jews):
B - Sources before the Revolution
For Metz there are specific sources often making it possible to go back to the beginning of the XVIII century and sometimes back even further. The sources for the other Jewish communities of Lorraine are much more limited in numbers and in some cases limited in accessibility.
C – Monographs Works
Books and many articles deal with the story of Jews in a precise locality, often before as well as after the Revolution. Some of them include an important part of genealogy and reconstitution of families; these are in particular the works of J.P. Bernard and P. Faustini on Vantoux (26) and that of P. Faustini on Hellimer (33). Others do not contain precise information on the genealogical level; the researcher being interested in the locality concerned should however read them to know the framework around their ancestors’ life. The non-exhaustive list of the most important of these documents appears in the bibliography attached (references (24) to (49). Some of the monographs can be consulted in the relevant AD.
Additionally, a great number of monographs of Lorraine Jewish families were published, as well as many ascending or descending trees, in particular those carried out by the members of GenAmi (3 volumes).
General bibliography dealing with the history of Jews in Lorraine
(1) BLUMENKRANZ B., 1967. Les Juifs en Lorraine. Annales de l'Est, 199-215.
(2) CAHEN G., 1972. Les Juifs dans la région Lorraine des origines à nos jours. Le pays lorrain, n° 2, 55-83.
(3) CAHEN G., 1972. La région lorraine. In dir. Blumenkranz B. Histoire des Juifs en France, Toulouse, 77-136.Histoire des Juifs en France (4) CAHEN G., 1990. Les Juifs lorrains. Du ghetto à la nation (1721-1871). Catalogue de l'exposition (Metz 30/6-24/9). Association mosellane pour la conservation du patrimoine juif, 134 p.
(5) DALTROFF J., 1995. L'histoire des communautés juives rurales de Moselle, 16 p.
(6) JOB F., 2003. Meurthe-et-Moselle, Meuse. In Schumann H. Mémoire des communautés juives Meurthe-et-Moselle, Meuse, Vosges. Editions Serpenoise, 9-38.
(7) MARCHAL M.J., 1993. Viva America. Emigration mosellane vers les Etats-Unis. Chez l’auteur, Corny-sur-Moselle.
(8) MENDEL P., 1950. Les noms des Juifs français modernes. Revue des études juives, CX, 32-63.
(9) MEYER P.A., 1999. Présentation historique. In Schumann H. Mémoire des communautés juives Meurthe-et-Moselle, Meuse, Vosges. Editions Serpenoise, 9-33.
(10) ROSENFELD C. et LANG J.B., 2001. Histoire des Juifs en Moselle. Editions Serpenoise, 455 p.
(11) VANSON L., 1934-35. Curieuses requêtes de Juifs tendant à faire partie, au fur et à mesure des places disponibles, des cent quatre-vingts familles juives tolérées, en Lorraine, dans l'Ancien Régime. Revue juive de Lorraine, X p. 175, 197, 225, 257, 291, 319, et XI p. 11, 38, 64, 98, 126, 155, 187.
(12) WEILL G., 1966. Les Juifs dans le Barrois et la Meuse du Moyen-Age à nos jours. Revue d'études juives, 125, 287-301.
Basic bibliography for Jewish genealogy in Lorraine
(13) BERNARD Gildas (sous la dir. de), 1990.
Les familles juives en France XVIe siècle-1815. Guide des recherches biographiques et généalogiques, Archives nationales, 281 p.
(14) BERNARD J.P., 2001. Les cimetières israélites de Moselle. Relevé des tombes. Cercle de Généalogie Juive, 2 tomes, 396 et 373 p.
(15) BOUVAT-MARTIN J.C., 2001. Tables du Memorbuch de Metz (1720-1849). Cercle de Généalogie Juive, 114 p.
(16) CALBAT Jean-Louis, 2001. Les mariages juifs en Moselle (1792-1892). Cercle de Généalogie Juive, 217 p.
(17) FAUSTINI P., 2001. La communauté juive de Metz et ses familles (1565-1665). Chez l'auteur, Thionville, 282 p.
(18) FLEURY J., 1999. Contrats de mariage juifs en Moselle avant 1792. Recensement à usage généalogique de 2021 contrats de mariage notariés. Cercle de Généalogie Juive, 3e édition, 254 p.
(19) GENAMI éditeur, 2004. Metz. Recensement de 1739. Les familles juives de Metz en 1808. Recouvrement de la dette de l'ancienne communauté juive, listes de 1811 et de 1853, 189 p.
(20) KATZ Pierre, 1999. Recueil des déclarations de prise de nom patronymique des Juifs de Lorraine en 1808. Cercle de Généalogie Juive, non paginé.
(21) MEYER P.A., 1991. Les Juifs de la Province des Trois Evêchés en 1702. Revue des études juives, janvier-juin, 5- 69
(22) MEYER P.A., 1998. Tables du registre d'état civil de la communauté juive de Metz, 1717-1792. Cercle de Généalogie Juive, 462 p.
(23) SCHWARZFUCHS S. (traduit par), 1971. Un obituaire israélite, le "Memorbuch" de Metz (vers 1575-1724). Société d'histoire et d'archéologie de la Lorraine, 117 p.
Main monographs on Jews in Lorraine
(24) ANONYME, 1999. La synagogue et la communauté
de Phalsbourg. Société d'histoire et d'archéologie de Lorraine, 19 p.
(25) BAJETTI P., 1986. La communauté israélite de Boulay. Les cahiers des pays de la Nied, 5, 24-35.
(26) BERNARD J.P. et FAUSTINI P., 2005. Vantoux, Vallières, Méy et Grimont. Une communauté juive aux portes de Metz du 17e au 20e siècle. Histoire, Généalogie, Cimetière. Cercle de Généalogie Juive, 277 p.
(27) BOUR J. et GAERTNER L., 1999. Les familles juives d'Insming, Nelling, Rening, Grening. Chez J. Bour, 130 p.
(28) CAHEN G., 1959. Les Juifs de Sierck avant la Révolution. Almanach-calendrier des communautés israélites de la Moselle, 88-94 (aux AD 57).
(29) DALTROFF J., 1992. Les juifs de Niedervisse, 215 p.
(30) DALTROFF J., 1999. Les Juifs de Delme aux XVIIIe et XIXe siècles. Entre traditions et mutations. Les cahiers lorrains, 3, 323-353.
(31) DEUTSCH D. Les premières communautés juives de Forbach. Les cahiers forbachois, Société d'histoire et d'archéologie de la Lorraine, chier n° 1, 6-15.
(32) ENGELBREIT R., 1993. La communauté juive de Forbach. 176 p.
(33) FAUSTINI P. 2004. La communauté juive de Hellimer. Documents 1700-1850. chez l'auteur, Thionville, 294 p.
(34) FLAUS P., 1984. Comté et comtes de Créhange du XVIIe au XVIIIe siècle. Mémoire de maîtrise, Université de Metz. Sur les Juifs : p. 85-91)
(35) GEUDEVERT C., 1995. Les Juifs à Bliesbrück (1793- 1917), 76 p.
(36) GINSBURGER E., 1903. Les Juifs de Frauenberg. Revue d'études juives, 47, 87-122.
(37) GINSBURGER M., 1905. Les Juifs de Metz sous l'Ancien Régime. Revue des études juives, L, 112-128 et 238-260.
(38) HEMMERT D., 2000. Les familles juives de la vallée inférieure de la Blies de la fin du XVIIe au début du XVIIIe siècle. Les Cahiers Lorrains, n° 3, 413-428.
(39) JOB F., 1989. Les juifs à Lunéville aux XVIIIe et XIXe siècles. Presses universitaires de Nancy, 324 p.
(40) JOB F., 1991. Les Juifs de Nancy. Presses universitaires de Nancy, 170 p.
(41) JOB F. et S., FREUND C., 1999. Le cimetière israélite régional de Lunéville (1759-1998). Cercle de Généalogie Juive, 2e édition, 80 p.
(42) KERNER S., 1979, 1984. La vie quotidienne de la communauté juive de Metz au XVIIIe siècle (à partir du Pinkas (registre) inédit de cette communauté). Thèse (inédite). Université de Paris VIII 1979, version revue 1984, 258 p. + LXXIV p.>
(43) MENDEL P., 1995. Les Juifs de Bionville en pays messin (du XVIIe siècle à nos jours). Association mosellane pour la conservation du patrimoine juif, 62 p.
(44) MEYER P.A., 1993. La communauté juive de Metz au XVIIIe siècle. Histoire et démographie. Presses universitaires de Nancy et Editions Serpenoise, 325 p.
(45) MEYER P.A., 1984. Notables juifs à Nancy : une lignée au XVIIIe siècle. Archives juives, 20, n°1-2, 13-24.
(46) NETTER N., 1995 (réimpression de l'édition de 1938). Metz et son grand passé. Vingt siècles d'histoire d'une communauté juive. Editions Jeanne Laffitte, 534 p.
(47) PERISSE R., 1995. La communauté juive de Fénétrange. Essai historique. 124 p.
(48) ROOS P., 1992-1997. Histoire des Juifs à Thionville. 22 p.
(49) WILLIGSECKER A., 1994. La communauté israélite de Grosbliederstroff aux 18e et 19e siècles, 46 p.
There are also other monographs on some of the localities quoted above as well as on many other localities in Moselle; it would be tedious to list them. One could see the book by J.P. Bernard and M. Crehange: "Les Juifs dans les monographies locales de Moselle" (CGJ, 129 p.). The monographs are much less numerous for the Meuse and Meutthe-et-Moselle departments. For the last one, the researcher could see in the AD54 the book: "Inventaire de documents sur les Juifs aux Archives Départementales de Meurthe-et-Moselle" (81 p.).