The Emancipation of the Jews 1789

Speech of the Deputies of the Provinces and Bishoprics of Alsace and Lorraine Pronounced at the Bar of the National Assembly by Berr-Isaac-Berr, one of the Deputies of Lorraine and an Excerpt from the Minutes of the National Assembly Relating to It.

Source: Discours, etc... Paris, Chez Belin, 1789;
Published: Versailles, October 15, 1789;
Translated: for by Mitchell Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) 2010.


It is in the name of the Eternal, author of all justice and truth; it is in the name of this God who in giving everyone the same rights prescribed the same duties for all; it is in the name of a humanity insulted for so many centuries by the ignominious treatments which the unfortunate descendants of the most ancient of all peoples have suffered in almost all the lands of the earth, that we come before you today to call on you to kindly take into consideration their deplorable destiny.

Everywhere persecuted, everywhere degraded and yet submissive, and never rebellious. Objects among all peoples of indignation and contempt when they should have been objects of tolerance and pity. The Jews who we represent at your feet have allowed themselves to hope that amidst the important labors you are undertaking you will not reject their wishes, you will not disdain their complaints, and that you will listen with some interest to the timid claims they dare to form from within the profound humiliation under which they are buried.

We will not abuse your time, gentlemen, by speaking to you of the nature and justice of our demands. They are contained in the report we had the honor of placing before you.

If only we could be in debt to you for an existence less painful than that to which we are condemned. May the veil of opprobrium that has covered us for so long be rent; may men look upon us as their brothers; may that divine charity which is commanded you also extend to us; may an absolute reform be carried out in the ignominious institutions to which we are subject, and may this reform, until now futilely wished for, and which we solicit with tears in our eyes, be your beneficial act and your work.

Excerpt from the Minutes of the National Assembly
Of Wednesday October 14, 1789 in the evening

The deputies of the Jews of the provinces and bishoprics of Alsace and Lorraine requested the permission to be admitted to the bar. The Assembly having granted them this, one of them read out a request, where they express their wishes and hope that the Assembly would concern itself with their lot. The President answered them: “The reasons with which you support your requests do not allow the National Assembly to hear them without interest. It will take your request under consideration and will be happy to recall your brothers to peace and happiness, and you can provisionally inform those who delegated you of this.

The Assembly granted them a session at the bar, and decreed that their affair will be dealt with during the present session.

Versailles, October 15, 1789

Bureaux de Pusy, Secretary
Alexandre de la Mette, Secretary
Marquis de Rostaing, Secretary