The Pope's Jews

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The Jews of the Isle

In the fourteenth century, Jews found protection in the Papal States at a time when they were being expelled from the kingdom of France. Avignon and the Comtat hosted many refugees. They usually lived near the synagogue or the “Escolo” (school) for reasons of community cohesion and religious practice.

From the middle of the fifteenth century, they gradually became subject to the rules of the ghetto (named after the Jewish area of Venice) assigned to reside in a limited space, the doors of which were closed and guarded every night.

 

Their neighbourhood became known as the “carrière”, a street name in Provençal. This part of town of nearly two acres in area, was organized around a central square connected to the city by two Le Thoroughfares closed by gates — the “Petit portal” sur la rue de la Cavalerie (today the rue de l’hôtel de ville) and the “Grand Portal” on the Grande rue Carnot. The synagogue was rebuilt several times, the last time in the eighteenth century. In L'Isle sur la Sorgue, Jews participated in the trade of silk and wool from the eighteenth century onwards, and thus contributed to the prosperity of the city.

Standing alone on the road to Caumont, you'll find the Jewish cemetery used until early last century, where a strong testimony of the ancient Jewish community still remains.