Category: French History
This episode features our frequent and very popular guest Elyse Rivin. If you enjoy her episodes, please consider supporting her on Patreon.
In today's episode of the podcast, Elyse Rivin of Toulouse Guided Walks shares a brief history of the Jews in France as well as the places you can go in France to see this history.
First stop: Paris! The Museum of Jewish Art and History in the Marais is a cultural gem. Quick jaunt to Provence! Visit Cavaillon's open-to-the-public synagogue, a rare sight in France. Zoom over to Carpentras, home to France's continuously operating synagogue since 1367. Alsace-Lorraine! Marmoutier offers a slice of Alsacian Jewish life, like a living scrapbook. In Occitanie we make a quick stop at Mémoire Juive de Béziers. Then back up to the Paris area with the Maison Rachi in Troyes.
Jewish population in France is concentrated around Paris, Marseille, Lyon, Nice, Toulouse and Strasbourg. There are around 448 synagogues in France today.
A Brief History of Jews in France
Jewish communities have a long history in France, dating back to Roman times. Under Roman rule, they initially flourished, especially in areas like Lyon and the Mediterranean coast.
With the rise of Christianity, conditions became more challenging, but pockets of tolerance persisted. Notably, Jewish physicians were respected from the Roman era through the Middle Ages.
Charlemagne's reign was a high point for French Jews, but the onset of the Crusades brought increased hostility. Laws restricting Jewish life were enacted, and the community faced expulsion in 1306, finding some refuge in areas under papal authority like Avignon.
The French Revolution and Napoleon's rule ushered in more favorable conditions, granting full citizenship and religious governance through the Consistoire.
The 19th and 20th centuries were a roller coaster of acceptance and anti-Semitism, culminating in the dark years of World War II. Post-war France has been more accepting, yet religious identities are not openly discussed due to the secular nature of the French state.
Today, Jews make up an estimated 1% of France's population. While exact numbers are elusive due to France's secular policies, the Jewish community remains an integral part of the country's diverse cultural tapestry.
Magazine part of the podcast
- No more scooter rentals in Paris
- Annie's new service: Day-trips around the southwest of France in her electric car
- C'est la rentrée = Back to school
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Category: French History