Tuileries Palace, 17 March, 1808
Napoleon, Emperor of the French, King of Italy and Protector of the Confederation of the Rhine;
Following a report by our Interior Minister;
Having heard the advice of our Conseil d'Etat,
We have decreed and now decree the following:
Art. 1: The regulations decided by the General Assembly of Jews, held in Paris on 10 December, 1806, will be executed and annexed to the present decree.
Art. 2: Our ministers of the interior and of religion are charged inasmuch as it concerns them with the execution of the present decree.
By the Emperor:
The Minister Secretary of State, signed Hugues B. Maret
The deputies comprising the assembly of Israelites, convoked by the imperial decree dated 30 May, 1806, after having heard the report of the commission of nine, which was appointed to prepare the work to be undertaken by the assembly, deliberating on the most suitable system of organisation to be given to their fellow Jews of the French Empire and the Kingdom of Italy, regarding the exercise of their worship and their internal regulation, have unanimously adopted the following project:
Art. 1: A synagogue and an Israelite consistory will be established in every department containing more than two thousand individuals propfessing the Mosaic religion.
Art. 2: In the case where two thousand Israelites are not present in a single department, the constituency of the consistorial synagogue shall encompass sufficient nearby departments necessary to make up the number. The synagogue shall always be placed in the town with the highest Israelite population.
Art. 3: Under no circumstances can there be more than one consistorial synagogue per department.
Art. 4: No individual synagogue can be established without the proposition being made by the consistorial synagogue to the relevant authority. Each individual synagogue shall be administrated by two notables and one rabbi, all three appointed by the relevant authority.
Art. 5: Each consistorial synagogue shall have one Great Rabbi.
Art. 6: The consistories will be made up of: a Great Rabbi, another rabbi if possible, and three other Israelites, two of whom shall be chosen from amongst the inhabitants of the town in which the consistory is sited.
Art. 7: The consistory shall be presided over by the oldest of its members, and he will take the title of Elder of the consistory.
Art. 8: In every consistorial constituency, the appropriate authority shall designate twenty-five notables chosen from amongst the highest tax payers and most recommendable of the Israelites.
Art. 9: these notables shall proceed to the election of the members of the consistory, and their election must be approved by the relevant authority.
Art. 10: No member of the consistory may be: 1° aged under 30, 2°have at any time gone bankrupt, unless he has been honourably rehabilitated, 3° be known to have practised usury.
Art. 11: Every Israelite wishing to move to France or the Kingdom of Italy must communicate this to the consistory nearest to his intended dwelling place, within the space of three months.
Art. 12: The consistories must:
1° Ensure that rabbis do not give teachings or explanations of the law, whether in public or in private, contrary to the replies given by the assembly and converted into doctrinal decisions by the Great Sanhedrin; 2° To maintain order within the synagogues, to oversee the administration of the individual synagogues, to manage the funds received and to use them for the pursuance of the mosaic religion, and to ensure that no prayer assembly can be founded without express authorisation, for whatever reason, religious or otherwise; 3° To encourage the Israelites in the consistorial constituency by every means possible to exercise useful professions and to inform the authorities of those who do not possess the means to live which they profess they have; 4° To communicate to the authorities, every year, the number of Israelite conscripts in the constituency.
Art. 13: There shall be a central consistory, in Paris, comprising three rabbis and two other Israelites.
Art. 14: The rabbis from the central consistory should be selected from the Great Rabbis. The other members shall be subject to the conditions of election set out in article 10.
Art. 15: Every year, one member of the central consistory will be subject to re-election. That member may always stand again.
Art. 16: The remaining members of the will organise the latter's replacement. The newly elected candidate must be approved by the relevant authority.
Art. 17: The central consistory's duties are as follows:
1° To correspond with the other consistories, 2° To ensure the complete execution of the present regulations, 3° to defer to the relevant authority all non respect of these regulations, whether by the breaking of the law or by the non observance of it, 4° to confirm the appointment of the rabbis and to propose, where necessary, to the relevant authority the dismissal of rabbis or members of the consistories.
Art. 18: The election of the Grand Rabbi shall be performed by the twenty-five notables mentioned in article 8.
Art. 19: The newly elected Great Rabbi may not take up office until his appointment has been confirmed by the central consistory.
Art. 20: No rabbi may be elected unless, 1° he is a native or naturalised Frenchman or Italian in the Kingdom of Italy; 2° he brings with him an attestation of ability, co-signed by three Great Rabbis of Italy, if he is Italian, or of France if he is French, and, dating from 1820,unless he speaks French in France or Italian in Italy; he who can add knowledge of Greek and Latin to that of Hebrew will be preferred, all other things being equal.
Art. 21: Rabbis must: 1° teach religion, 2° to uphold the doctrine present in the decisions of the Great Sanhedrin, 3° to encourage obedience to the laws, notably and in particular those related to the defence of the homeland, and also to encourage conscription, more especially every year at conscription time, from the first appeal by the authorities up to the completion of the exercise; 4° to show Israelites that military service is a sacred duty and to declare to them that the time spent consecrated to that service dispenses them from observances which are not compatible with that service; 5° to preach in the synagogues and to recite the prayers which are spoken by the whole congregation for the Emperor and the imperial family; to celebrate marriage and to perform divorces, but only when the parties requiring the service have well and duly provided the justification of the civil act of marriage or divorce.
Art. 22: The stipends of rabbi members of the central consistory are to be fixed at six thousand francs, those of the Great Rabbis in the consistorial synagogues, three thousand francs; the stipends of the rabbis of specific synagogues shall be fixed by the assembly of the Israelites demanding the creation of the synagogue – they cannot be less than one thousand francs. The Israelites of the respective constituencies may vote increases in stipends.
Art. 23: Every consistory must propose to the appropriate authority a project for the division of the costs of the stipends of the rabbis amongst the Israelites in the constituency. The other costs shall be fixed and divided up following the request of the consistories to the relevant authorities. The stipends of the rabbi members of the central consistory will be proportionally taken from the sums received from the divers constituencies.
Art. 24: Each consistory shall appoint an Israelite (not a rabbi) from outside the consistory who will receive the sums collected by the constituencies.
Art. 25: This receiver shall pay the rabbis and all other costs every quarter, using a bill signed by at least three other members of the consistory. He will present the accounts annually, on a fixed day, to assembled consistory.
Art. 26: Every rabbi who, after the promulgation of this regulation, does not find a post but who wishes to remain in France or in the Kingdom of Italy will be ordered to adhere, via a formal signed declaration, to the decisions made by the Great Sanhedrin. A copy of this declaration will be sent by the receiving consistory to the central consistory.
Art. 27: Rabbi members of the Great Sanhedrin will be preferred, as far as is possible, to all other with respect to the position of Great Rabbi.
Certified in conformity:
Minister secretary of state, signed Hugues B. Maret
Source: Bulletin des Lois 1808, (No. 3237)
Imperial decree of 17 March, 1808, prescribing measures for the execution of the regulation of 10 december, 1806, regarding the Jews
Tuileries Palace, 17 March, 1808