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The Jewish Community of Rennes

Rennes

A city and seat of the Ille-et-Vilaine department and capital of the region of Brittany  in northwestern France.

21st CENTURY

The Jewish community of Rennes is composed of approximately 100 families.

The city has an active Jewish Cultural Association, located in the Edmund J. Safra Center that was inaugurated on January 20, 2002, and which also houses a synagogue.


HISTORY


The first record of Jews in Rennes is from the end of the 11th century. They lived in their own quarter of the town.

There is a record from 1231 of land being sold to Theodore, a Jew of Rennes and to the Jews of Nantes to establish a cemetery.

On April 10, 1240 Jews were expelled from Rennes by the Order of Ploermel which banished all Jews from Brittany, nullified debts owed to them, and gave amnesty to those who killed them.

Small numbers of Jews found their way back into Rennes and were again expelled multiple times over the course of the next centuries. Local business owners were hostile to Jews whom they saw as economic competitors. They sought to exclude them from opening shops and selling  goods at the town fairs,  and put pressure on government officials to enact laws against them. A number of Jews converted in the hope of improving their circumstances.

There is a fiscal document from 1758 that mentions three Jewish store-keepers doing business in town, one of whom was a convert to Christianity.

 In 1761, Jean-Jacques Da Costa, a wealthy merchant living in Rennes, member of a Portuguese Jewish family who converted during the  Inquisition, obtained the position of Secretary to the King in the Chancellery of Brittany.  His son Jean-Francois Da Costa de la Fleuriais  (1744-1827) made  his way into the aristocracy, married into a prominent Catholic family of Brittany, and in 1793 became a member of the municipality of Rennes.

There were a few Jews living in Rennes in the first half of the 19th century, but  a community was organized  only after the arrival of Jews from Alsace and Lorraine following the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71).

In 1871, 600 Jews were living in Rennes.  A synagogue was dedicated in 1879 and a communal center was established.

The second trial of Alfred Dreyfus (1859-1935), the French Jewish artillery officer accused of treason, was held in Rennes in 1899 and was marked by anti-Semitic violence. Dreyfus was again convicted by a military court despite the clear evidence of his innocence.

Prior to World War II Jews owned a considerable amount of real estate in the city.
 

THE HOLOCAUST

The German troops entered Rennes on June 18, 1940.  Most Jewish enterprises were closed, and the few remaining taken over by administrators. The Jews were rounded up. Between 1942 and 1944 groups of Jews were transported to the internment camp at Drancy and from there to the Nazi extermination camps.

POSTWAR

A new Jewish Community of Rennes came into being with the arrival after 1962 of Sephardi Jews from North Africa, who were joined by some Ashkenazi Jews who survived the Holocaust.  The Jewish population increased from nonexistent in February 1957 to 160 in February 1963.

Place Type:
City
ID Number:
145727
Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People
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Jules Marx Isaac (1877-1963), historian born in Rennes, France, the son of a Jewish career soldier, who like Alfred Dreyfus was appalled at the German takeover of his native Alsace after the Franco-Prussian War in 1870. At 13, Isaac lost both his parents in the course of a few months, and was sent to the lycée Lakanal at Sceaux. In 1897 he helped to found the review "Cahiers de la Quinzaine" in which he expressed support of Dreyfus in the Dreyfus affair.

In 1902 he qualified as a history teacher and taught in schools in Nice and then in Sens. A friend introduced him to the Hachette publishing house, who had just published a new collection of history textbooks. As a result Isaac was offered a position setting questions for the schools' matriculation examinations based on these textbooks. He became senior teacher at the Louis-le-Grand high school and then at the Saint-Louis high school. Later Isaac became responsible for preparing further history textbooks for French schools. He researched the origin of the World War and in particular the problem of superstition and prejudice.

A member of the "Ligue des droits de l'homme" ("League for the Rights of Man") and then of the "Comité de vigilance des intellectuels antifascistes" ("The Commiteee of anti-Fascist Intellectuals"), Isaac was involved in trying to foster better understanding between French and Germans. In 1936, he was made inspector-general of public education.

At the end of 1940, he was removed from office by the Vichy regime in accordance with the regime's anti-Jewish legislation. Isaac's wife and daughter were arrested in1943 and deported to Auschwitz where they were murdered. He and his son survived the war. In 1945, Isaac was re-appointed honorary inspector-general of education, but he then proceeded to dedicate a large part of his efforts to research into the causes of Christian antisemitism. He founded and was a member of the executive committee of "Amitie Judeo-Chretienne" ("The organization for Judeo-Christian Friendship") and took part in meetings demanding a revision of the Church's attitudes towards the Jews. In 1949, he intervened with Pope Pius XII to revise the Good Friday prayers, which previously contained insulting references to the Jews. He thus helped start the road that led to Vatican II and the 1965 declaration Nostra Aetate by Pope John XXIII.

In his research he showed that from the 4th century the Church had promoted a systematic degradation of the Jews by burdening them with increasingly restrictive regulations, exclusions and humiliations. The system was based on the `'teaching of contempt” and whose most harmful aspect was the the description of the Jews as “deicidal”. His arguments were set out in "Jésus et Israël", published in 1948, "Genese de l'antisemitisme" ("The Birth of Anti-Semitism")(1956), "L'enseignement du Mepris" (1962) and “The Teaching of Contempt” (1964). Isaac died in Aix-en-Provence, France.

The Dreyfus court-martial at Rennes. The final scene: Colonel Jouast delivering the Verdict. Drawing, from the weekly newspaper "The Graphic," England, 1899. Artist: Melton Prior.
Tel Aviv, Einhorn Collection.

Georges Wormser (1888-1978), politician, banker and writer.

Born in Paris, France, to an Alsatian Jewish family. He attended the Ecole normale superieure (ENS ) in Paris. During WW1 he served as an officer in the French army and was injured twice.

Wormser became a member of the staff of the French Prime Minister Gorges Clemenceau and secretary of the French delegation during the negotiations of the Treaty of Versailles. From 1934 to 1936 he served as French Minister of the Postes.

In 1936, he founded the Discount Bank which later became the Wormser Frères Banque.

In 1961, he published his most famous work "The Republic of Clemenceau", for which he received the congratulations of General de Gaulle.

Very active in Jewish communal affairs, Wormser was president of the Jewish Consistoire of Paris from 1949 to 1953 of which he stressed the importance by stating, "Every Jew has, had, or will have relations with the Consistory". He was also a member of the Central Committee of the Alliance Israelite Universelle, expressing his opposition to the plan for partitioning Palestine. Later, in 1952, during the creation of the memorial to the Unknown Jewish Martyr, he opposed the project because, he said, "it is equivalent to racial segregation. It would be a serious mistake vis-à-vis the many deportees of other religions and backgrounds."

Basch, Victor Guillaume (1863-1944), educator, philosopher, and French politician, born in Budapest, Hungary (then in Austria-Hungary). As a child he emigrated with his family to France and studied at the Sorbonne in Paris. He taught at the universities of Nancy, Rennes -where he became friends with socialist Jean Jaures - and Paris before being appointed professor of philosophy at the Sorbonne. During the Dreyfus Affair, Basch was the leader of the Dreyfussards in Rennes, where the trial was being conducted. Both as a Jew and as a Dreyfussard he was persecuted by fanatical anti-Semites in the city. Basch was the founder of the "League for the Rights of Man" and its president from 1926 to 1944. As such and as a member of the "League against Imperialism" created in Brussels in 1927 he was one of the architects of the Popular Front, an alliance of left wing parties which governed France in 1936-1937. He fought for the principles of legal and social justice and human rights He was involved in the Zionist movement and anti-Nazism. In politics he belonged to the right wing of the French Socialists and was a leader of peace movements. He was also active in several Jewish organizations, notably as executive member of the Alliance Israelite Universelle.

During World War II, Basch was a member of the central committee of the French underground. He and his wife were assassinated by members of the anti-Semitic Vichy government, in 1944.

Brest

A port city in the Finistère département in the historical region of Brittany, France.

Synagogue - CC
40 quatro rue de la République
29200 Brest
France

In 1808 there were 34 Jews living in Brest and the surrounding area, among them seven Jews who were married to Catholic women and raised their children as Christians. The prayers were conducted in the house of Simon Lipman, one of the local Jews. During the 1860s there were about 60 Jews living in the city. The Jews of Brest established the first Jewish community in Brittany during the 19th century.

During the late 1970s the community started to reorganize. It opened a community center, Beth Hafsé Aaretz ("House of the Ends of the Earth") in February 1987. In 1991, the Jewish community acquired a Jewish section in the local cemetery. In early 21st century there were about thirty Jewish families living in Brest.

Lorient

A town and seaport in the Morbihan department in the historical region of Brittany, France.  

Association Culturelle Israelite Lorient (A.C.J)
9, rue de la Patrie

Synagogue
Boulevard Général Leclerc 56100
Lorient
France
Phone: 06 76 61 40 36 / 06 11 78 50 67
Email: acjlorient@yahoo.fr

The synagogue is open only on Yom Kippur.

History

There was a small Jewish community in Lorient in late 1930s. After the German occupation of France in WW II, already in 1940 the local Jews were excluded from the public service. In 1941, they were robbed of their property and one year later the 17 Jews living in Lorient were forced to wear the Jellow Jewish badge. A total of 12 Jews from Lorient were deported to the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz, none of them survived. Of the 50 people identified in Morbihan as Jewish, only four survived the Holocaust.

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Would you like to help us improving the content? Send us your suggestions
The Jewish Community of Rennes

Rennes

A city and seat of the Ille-et-Vilaine department and capital of the region of Brittany  in northwestern France.

21st CENTURY

The Jewish community of Rennes is composed of approximately 100 families.

The city has an active Jewish Cultural Association, located in the Edmund J. Safra Center that was inaugurated on January 20, 2002, and which also houses a synagogue.


HISTORY


The first record of Jews in Rennes is from the end of the 11th century. They lived in their own quarter of the town.

There is a record from 1231 of land being sold to Theodore, a Jew of Rennes and to the Jews of Nantes to establish a cemetery.

On April 10, 1240 Jews were expelled from Rennes by the Order of Ploermel which banished all Jews from Brittany, nullified debts owed to them, and gave amnesty to those who killed them.

Small numbers of Jews found their way back into Rennes and were again expelled multiple times over the course of the next centuries. Local business owners were hostile to Jews whom they saw as economic competitors. They sought to exclude them from opening shops and selling  goods at the town fairs,  and put pressure on government officials to enact laws against them. A number of Jews converted in the hope of improving their circumstances.

There is a fiscal document from 1758 that mentions three Jewish store-keepers doing business in town, one of whom was a convert to Christianity.

 In 1761, Jean-Jacques Da Costa, a wealthy merchant living in Rennes, member of a Portuguese Jewish family who converted during the  Inquisition, obtained the position of Secretary to the King in the Chancellery of Brittany.  His son Jean-Francois Da Costa de la Fleuriais  (1744-1827) made  his way into the aristocracy, married into a prominent Catholic family of Brittany, and in 1793 became a member of the municipality of Rennes.

There were a few Jews living in Rennes in the first half of the 19th century, but  a community was organized  only after the arrival of Jews from Alsace and Lorraine following the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71).

In 1871, 600 Jews were living in Rennes.  A synagogue was dedicated in 1879 and a communal center was established.

The second trial of Alfred Dreyfus (1859-1935), the French Jewish artillery officer accused of treason, was held in Rennes in 1899 and was marked by anti-Semitic violence. Dreyfus was again convicted by a military court despite the clear evidence of his innocence.

Prior to World War II Jews owned a considerable amount of real estate in the city.
 

THE HOLOCAUST

The German troops entered Rennes on June 18, 1940.  Most Jewish enterprises were closed, and the few remaining taken over by administrators. The Jews were rounded up. Between 1942 and 1944 groups of Jews were transported to the internment camp at Drancy and from there to the Nazi extermination camps.

POSTWAR

A new Jewish Community of Rennes came into being with the arrival after 1962 of Sephardi Jews from North Africa, who were joined by some Ashkenazi Jews who survived the Holocaust.  The Jewish population increased from nonexistent in February 1957 to 160 in February 1963.

Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People
Jules Marx Isaac

Jules Marx Isaac (1877-1963), historian born in Rennes, France, the son of a Jewish career soldier, who like Alfred Dreyfus was appalled at the German takeover of his native Alsace after the Franco-Prussian War in 1870. At 13, Isaac lost both his parents in the course of a few months, and was sent to the lycée Lakanal at Sceaux. In 1897 he helped to found the review "Cahiers de la Quinzaine" in which he expressed support of Dreyfus in the Dreyfus affair.

In 1902 he qualified as a history teacher and taught in schools in Nice and then in Sens. A friend introduced him to the Hachette publishing house, who had just published a new collection of history textbooks. As a result Isaac was offered a position setting questions for the schools' matriculation examinations based on these textbooks. He became senior teacher at the Louis-le-Grand high school and then at the Saint-Louis high school. Later Isaac became responsible for preparing further history textbooks for French schools. He researched the origin of the World War and in particular the problem of superstition and prejudice.

A member of the "Ligue des droits de l'homme" ("League for the Rights of Man") and then of the "Comité de vigilance des intellectuels antifascistes" ("The Commiteee of anti-Fascist Intellectuals"), Isaac was involved in trying to foster better understanding between French and Germans. In 1936, he was made inspector-general of public education.

At the end of 1940, he was removed from office by the Vichy regime in accordance with the regime's anti-Jewish legislation. Isaac's wife and daughter were arrested in1943 and deported to Auschwitz where they were murdered. He and his son survived the war. In 1945, Isaac was re-appointed honorary inspector-general of education, but he then proceeded to dedicate a large part of his efforts to research into the causes of Christian antisemitism. He founded and was a member of the executive committee of "Amitie Judeo-Chretienne" ("The organization for Judeo-Christian Friendship") and took part in meetings demanding a revision of the Church's attitudes towards the Jews. In 1949, he intervened with Pope Pius XII to revise the Good Friday prayers, which previously contained insulting references to the Jews. He thus helped start the road that led to Vatican II and the 1965 declaration Nostra Aetate by Pope John XXIII.

In his research he showed that from the 4th century the Church had promoted a systematic degradation of the Jews by burdening them with increasingly restrictive regulations, exclusions and humiliations. The system was based on the `'teaching of contempt” and whose most harmful aspect was the the description of the Jews as “deicidal”. His arguments were set out in "Jésus et Israël", published in 1948, "Genese de l'antisemitisme" ("The Birth of Anti-Semitism")(1956), "L'enseignement du Mepris" (1962) and “The Teaching of Contempt” (1964). Isaac died in Aix-en-Provence, France.

The Verdict of Dreyfus, Rennes, England, 1899

The Dreyfus court-martial at Rennes. The final scene: Colonel Jouast delivering the Verdict. Drawing, from the weekly newspaper "The Graphic," England, 1899. Artist: Melton Prior.
Tel Aviv, Einhorn Collection.

Georges Wormser

Georges Wormser (1888-1978), politician, banker and writer.

Born in Paris, France, to an Alsatian Jewish family. He attended the Ecole normale superieure (ENS ) in Paris. During WW1 he served as an officer in the French army and was injured twice.

Wormser became a member of the staff of the French Prime Minister Gorges Clemenceau and secretary of the French delegation during the negotiations of the Treaty of Versailles. From 1934 to 1936 he served as French Minister of the Postes.

In 1936, he founded the Discount Bank which later became the Wormser Frères Banque.

In 1961, he published his most famous work "The Republic of Clemenceau", for which he received the congratulations of General de Gaulle.

Very active in Jewish communal affairs, Wormser was president of the Jewish Consistoire of Paris from 1949 to 1953 of which he stressed the importance by stating, "Every Jew has, had, or will have relations with the Consistory". He was also a member of the Central Committee of the Alliance Israelite Universelle, expressing his opposition to the plan for partitioning Palestine. Later, in 1952, during the creation of the memorial to the Unknown Jewish Martyr, he opposed the project because, he said, "it is equivalent to racial segregation. It would be a serious mistake vis-à-vis the many deportees of other religions and backgrounds."

Basch, Victor Guillaume
Basch, Victor Guillaume (1863-1944), educator, philosopher, and French politician, born in Budapest, Hungary (then in Austria-Hungary). As a child he emigrated with his family to France and studied at the Sorbonne in Paris. He taught at the universities of Nancy, Rennes -where he became friends with socialist Jean Jaures - and Paris before being appointed professor of philosophy at the Sorbonne. During the Dreyfus Affair, Basch was the leader of the Dreyfussards in Rennes, where the trial was being conducted. Both as a Jew and as a Dreyfussard he was persecuted by fanatical anti-Semites in the city. Basch was the founder of the "League for the Rights of Man" and its president from 1926 to 1944. As such and as a member of the "League against Imperialism" created in Brussels in 1927 he was one of the architects of the Popular Front, an alliance of left wing parties which governed France in 1936-1937. He fought for the principles of legal and social justice and human rights He was involved in the Zionist movement and anti-Nazism. In politics he belonged to the right wing of the French Socialists and was a leader of peace movements. He was also active in several Jewish organizations, notably as executive member of the Alliance Israelite Universelle.

During World War II, Basch was a member of the central committee of the French underground. He and his wife were assassinated by members of the anti-Semitic Vichy government, in 1944.

Brest

Brest

A port city in the Finistère département in the historical region of Brittany, France.

Synagogue - CC
40 quatro rue de la République
29200 Brest
France

In 1808 there were 34 Jews living in Brest and the surrounding area, among them seven Jews who were married to Catholic women and raised their children as Christians. The prayers were conducted in the house of Simon Lipman, one of the local Jews. During the 1860s there were about 60 Jews living in the city. The Jews of Brest established the first Jewish community in Brittany during the 19th century.

During the late 1970s the community started to reorganize. It opened a community center, Beth Hafsé Aaretz ("House of the Ends of the Earth") in February 1987. In 1991, the Jewish community acquired a Jewish section in the local cemetery. In early 21st century there were about thirty Jewish families living in Brest.

Lorient

Lorient

A town and seaport in the Morbihan department in the historical region of Brittany, France.  

Association Culturelle Israelite Lorient (A.C.J)
9, rue de la Patrie

Synagogue
Boulevard Général Leclerc 56100
Lorient
France
Phone: 06 76 61 40 36 / 06 11 78 50 67
Email: acjlorient@yahoo.fr

The synagogue is open only on Yom Kippur.

History

There was a small Jewish community in Lorient in late 1930s. After the German occupation of France in WW II, already in 1940 the local Jews were excluded from the public service. In 1941, they were robbed of their property and one year later the 17 Jews living in Lorient were forced to wear the Jellow Jewish badge. A total of 12 Jews from Lorient were deported to the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz, none of them survived. Of the 50 people identified in Morbihan as Jewish, only four survived the Holocaust.