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The Jewish Community of Angers, France


A city and capital of the Maine-et-Loire Department, France. Before the French Revolution, Angers was the capital of the province of Anjou.

Association culturelle et cultuelle israélite de Maine-et-Loire (A.C.C.I)
1 Place du Tertre Saint Laurent
49000 Angers
Phone: 02 41 87 48 10

21st Century

The Association culturelle et cultuelle israélite de Maine-et-Loire includes the Jews living in Angers, Cholet, and Saumur. The synagogue was inaugurated on April 7, 2013, in the renovated medieval building of the former Saint-Laurent church. A memorial plaque with the names of 320 Jews from Angers and the region who were perished in the Nazi concentration camps during WW II was fixed on the exterior wall of the synagogue.


Jews probably resided in Angers from the 12th century, until they were expelled by Charles II in 1289. The Jews who eventually resettled in Angers during the 14th century became the victims of bloody persecutions and humiliating restrictions. In 1394, soon after the Anjou Province was reunited with France, the Jews of Angers were again expelled, along with the rest of the Jews of the kingdom. Jews subsequently returned to Angers on business, but in 1758 the municipal council prohibited them from entering the market.

The Rue de la Juiverie ("Jews' Street"), bordering on the modern part of the city, is not the site of the medieval Jewish quarter. A number of Hebrew inscriptions can be seen on four carvings above the portal of the Cathedral of Angers, describing attributes of Jesus, mostly from Isaiah 9:5.

During the Holocaust, on July 1942, 853 Jews were arrested and sent to Auschwitz. In 1968 there were 250 Jews living in Angers.

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Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People
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Astruc, Zacharie (1839-1907), sculptor, born in Angers, France. He went to Paris as a boy. There he studied art and founded a magazine while still a student. He was a member of the society of French artists and contributed sculptures and paintings to the Salon des Champs Elysee.

Astruc was a successful sculptor who received many awards. He was also an author of poems (some in Spanish), novels and plays while a volume of his art criticism, one of which had an introduction written by George Sand.


République française

A country in Western Europe, member of the European Union (EU).

21st Century

Estimated Jewish population in 2018: 450,000 out of 65,000,000 (0.6%). France is the home of the third largest Jewish population in the world and the largest Jewish community in Europe. 

Conseil Représentatif des Institutions Juives de France - Representative Council of Jews of France
Phone: 33 1 42 17 11 11
Fax: 33 1 42 17 11 13

Consistoire Central de France – Union des Communautés Juives de France
19, rue St Georges
75009 Paris
Phone: 01 49 70 88 00
Fax: 01 42 81 03 66
e-mail :



The Jews of France

1040 | In Rashi Veritas

Brain drain is not a new phenomenon. Between the eighth and tenth centuries a mass movement began of Jewish merchants from Babylon – then the largest Jewish population center in the world – migrating to Western Europe, where international trade centers began to emerge. These Jews joined a larger and older group of fellow Jews, who had migrated back in 2nd Temple times, through the Mediterranean to Gaul, the land that we know as France.
As befits a goose laying golden eggs, the Jews received special rights and sheltered under the protection of French nobles, who shielded them from the maws of the Catholic Church. The economic prosperity allowed them to establish yeshivas and Torah centers which produced many scholars. One of these, a genius who made his living as a vintner, was born in 1040 in the province of Champagne in France, and bequeathed to posterity a comprehensive commentary on the Torah. Legend has it that the incomparable Rashi script was invented by his daughters, who were scholars themselves, but the truth is that it's the font of a Sephardi cursive script that was used in the Jewish printing presses in 16th century Italy to distinguish it from the biblical text itself. His name was Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki (Rashi), and his monumental work is still the authoritative commentary on Holy Scripture in the rabbinical world.

1240 | Where They Burn Books...

The crusades, which spread from Europe beginning in 1096, ended the idyll of Jewish existence in the lands of Ashkenaz in the early second millennium. Blood libels, persecutions and expulsions were the lot of the Jews for hundreds of years afterward.
One of the low points was reached in the year 1240 and is known as “The Trial of Paris”. At this trial, initiated by King Louis IX and Pope Gregory IX, the defendant was not a person, but a work of literature - The Talmud, to be precise, which according to the Catholic Church holds messages of hatred towards all gentiles and disparagement of Jesus.
One fine day an incited mob gathered in front of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, to watch the condemned criminal – 12,000 hand-written copies of the Talmud – burned at the stake. 600 years later Jewish-German poet Heinrich Heine would comment on this event: “Where they burn books, they will eventually burn people.”

1481 | The Provenance of Provence

When speaking of the Jews of France, one cannot help but pay special attention to a singular group of Jews who lived in what is now the south of France and was called “The Sages of Provence”.
These sages were the advanced placement class of the Jewish world. They created a unique brand of thought and Bible exegesis and also engaged in philosophy and Kabbalah. The teachings of these sages was spread throughout Europe, Spain and North Africa, and their genius was a byword among Jewish intellectuals of Western Europe.
Among the main writers of this group are Hameiri, Rabbi David Kimchi (aka Rada”k), Rabbi Zarhia HaLevi (aka Raza”h), Abraham Ben David (aka Raba”d) and his son, Rabbi Isaac the Blind, and of course the great translator Judah ibn Tibbon, the man who disseminated the thought of Maimonides after translating it from Arabic into Hebrew.
The Jews of Provence as a cultural phenomenon came to an end in the year 1481, when King Louis XI of France annexed Provence to his realm.

1498 | The Odyssey of Expulsions

To the Jews of France, the late Middle Ages were an agonizing ping-pong affair of expulsions and recalls. In 1306 King Phillip IV issued an edict banning the Jews from residence in French territory. 11 years later his son, Louis X, recalled the Jews – provided they wear an identifying patch on their clothes. A mere seven years went by and the Jews were expelled again. This time it was King Charles IV, who claimed that the Jews, in their temerity, failed to pay their full amount of taxes to him.
In 1357, under Jean II and later under Charles V, the Jews returned to France, but once again suffered persecution, restriction of their freedom of occupation to the sole field of money-lending, and finally – abduction of their children.
The odyssey of expulsions ended on September 17th, 1394, when Charles VI succumbed to the pressure of the masses and issues an edict of expulsion for all Jews in his domains. To his credit, it must be noted that he gave the expelled Jews ample time to sell their property and decreed that any Christian who borrowed money from them must repay it. By 1498 there was not a Jew left anywhere in France, save for a smattering of small communities that lived in Avignon and its environs in the south of France, which was then under Papal control.

1791 | No Bread? Eat Challa

The French Revolution, which broke out in 1789, costing many their lives through the services of “Madame Guillotine”, heralded the idea of the liberal democratic state as we know it today. From a tyrannical class-based society France transformed (albeit through much bloodshed), to a democratic regime in which each person can be master of their own fate.
The first to enjoy the fruits of emancipation were the Jews of Alsace-Lorraine, an area conquered by France back in 1630. The Jews of France, then numbering some 40,000 people, were as mentioned above the first in Europe to enjoy the fruits of the revolution, but their release from the burden of being the “other” and “alien” was not easy. At first the leaders of the revolution claimed that the Jews were “a nation within a nation” and as such not eligible for treatment as equal citizens. But in 1791 the General Law Relating to the Jews was issued, granting the Jews full equality, and there was much rejoicing in the Jewish quarter of Paris.

1806 | The Twelve Question Program

It would not be off the mark to characterize the history of Europe's Jews in general and those of France in particular as a series of “almosts”. Almost equality. Almost Emancipation. Almost liberty.
As though the Law Relating to the Jews had not been passed 15 years prior, in 1806 the question of Jewish status was raised once again, this time under Napoleon, the legendary general known for his unlimited ambition.
Napoleon took a creative approach. In 1806 he gathered an assembly of leading Jews and presented them with the “12 Question Test”, designed to assess their loyalty to France. Among other things the Jews were asked how Jewish halacha views mixed marriages, whether a Jew may charge interest from a gentile, how the Jews view France and more.
The answers the Jews gave, declaring France their motherland and non-Jewish Frenchmen their brothers, did not satisfy Napoleon, and a year later he issued the “Shameful Edict”, limiting the Jews' freedoms of occupation and movement, yet forced them to enlist in the army. Shameful indeed.

1860 | All Israel Are Friends

The story of the first global Jewish organization, Alliance Israelite Universelle, established in Paris in 1860, begins with a Jewish 3 year-old from Bologna named Edgardo Levi Mortara, who one day was kidnapped from his parents and taken to the Vatican, where he was “reeducated” in Catholic institutions.
The Mortara affair created great furor throughout liberal circles in Europe and was the main impetus for the founding of “Alliance”, a Jewish cultural organization meant to protect Jewish rights, which was active mainly in education.
During this period, 12 years after the “Spring of Nations” revolution, a wave of nationalism broke out and swept over France. As though through Pavlovian conditioning, the Jews were once again blamed for all the ills that had befallen the land of good taste. 12 years later, one of the main accusations hurled at the Jews was that they had gotten rich lending money to the French government for the disastrous war against the hated enemy of Prussia.

1894 | A Legendary Story

It was a winter he would never forget, and it seems that neither shall we. He was the Paris correspondent for the Austrian newspaper Neue Freie Presse, a handsome man with a thick black beard and burning eyes. He would not forget the toxic hatred, the obvious lie; he would not forget the shouts of “Death to the Jews” and the pleas of the accused, a Jewish-French military officer named Alfred Dreyfus, reprimanding those who were his subordinates but a moment ago, in a cracked voice: “I forbid you to curse me”, to no avail of course. To this day, the ripped-off ranks of Dreyfus appear in the all-Jewish nightmares.
Many historians believe that it was the Dreyfus trial that pushed the “Visionary of the Jewish State,” Binyamin Zeev (Theodore) Herzl, to dedicate his life to establishing a state for the Jews. For if in France, the country that had committed itself more than any to the ideals of equality, liberty, and fraternity, such anti-Semitism raged – what would become of the Jews huddled in the Pale of Settlement in Eastern Europe?
"If you will it", the young journalist thought to himself, "it is no legend".

1914 | Bloom of Life

On July 31st, 1914, Jean Jaures, leader of the Social-Democrat camp in French politics, sat and ate dinner at the famous Cafe du Croissant in the ninth arrondissement of Paris. All around the tempest was raging. The winds of WW1 began to blow, and Jaures, who had done everything in his power to stop the war, but in vain, was bitterly disappointed. This did not last long. During the meal an assassin appeared behind him and put two bullets in his head.
The murder of Jaures made a deep impact on his pupil and friend, Leon Blum, a socialist Jewish intellectual who would make history 22 years later by becoming the first Jewish Prime Minister of France. Blum, an attorney with a well-developed social conscience, who was defined by his biographer as a “man of words”, embodied the spirit of French Jews between the world wars. He was a man of French culture through and through, and at the same time deeply aware of his Jewish identity, an avowed Zionist, and was admired by the leaders of the Hebrew population in mandatory Palestine, who often sought his advice.

1942 | Vichy-ing The Jews Away

During WW2 France showed its ugly side. The Vichy government, a puppet regime under German protection, took part – and according to German testimony, with great zeal – in the deportation of the Jews of France (mostly Jews without French citizenship, including many who had fled from Nazi-controlled areas) to the extermination camps in the east.
One of the events that will live in infamy in French history was the deportation of 12,500 of the Jews of Paris, who were led in the dark of night, in the middle of July 1942, to the Velodrome d'hiver, where many of them died due to the harsh sanitary conditions and a severe shortage of food and water.
True, proud Francophiles will say – and rightly so – that there was a French resistance movement that abhorred the treatment of the Jews. To strengthen their argument for the republic, perhaps they will also offer the story of the nun Mother Maria Skobtsova, a Righteous Among the Nations, who managed to sneak into the velodrome along with her son disguised as waste removal workers, and hid several dozen Jewish children in the trash cans she took out. But these were the exceptions that did not indicate the rule. The numbers show that some 76,000 of the Jews of France (about a quarter of the Jews in the country) were sent to the death camps, of whom only 2,500 or so survived.

2000 | From Rothschild to Levinas

After the fall of the Iron Curtain and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Jews of France became the largest Jewish community in Europe: Some 600,000 Jews, most of whom migrated to France in the 1950s and 1960s from North Africa, as the French colonies there came to an end. The Six Day War represented a sort of messianic moment for the Jews of France as well. Their identification with Israel following the war was expressed in rallies and marches in the streets of Paris, financial support for Israel and the establishment of the “National Coordination Committee”, which united the vast majority of Jewish organizations in France.
In the 1980s the Jewish community in France was a hotbed of intellectual ferment, that included youngsters considered assimilated as well. Jewish radio stations were launched, departments of Jewish studies at universities received funding and resources, and research and publications on Jewish topics flourished. Among the celebrated Jews of France one may find intellectual Bernard Henri Levi, filmmaker Claude Lelouche, philosopher Emmanuel Levinas, thinker Jacques Derida, the famous Rothschild family and more.
But even in the 21st century France is not yet completely rid of anti-Jewish expressions and actions, this time led mostly by Muslim immigrants. These outbreaks, which included rock throwing, vandalism at synagogues and even murderous terror attacks, have led to another wave of aliyah to Israel.

A city in western France

Nantes is the administrative seat of the Loire-Atlantique département, and the Pays de la Loire region. Nantes has historically and culturally belonged to the province of Brittany.



The major Jewish institution in Nantes is the Consistoire Israelite de Nantes Synagogue.



The first reference to Jews in Nantes dates to 1234. In 1236 the Jews of Nantes, along with Jews throughout Brittany and other provinces in western France, were victims of riots that broke out during the Sixth Crusade. They were subsequently expelled from France in 1240.

Beginning in the second half of the 16th century, many Portuguese Marranos settled in Nantes. The Vaz, Mendez, and Rodriguez families, among others, generally became loyal Christians, and many went into the clergy. Towards the end of the 16th century Abraham d'Espinoza, the grandfather of the philosopher Baruch Spinoza, stayed in Nantes with a few members of his family before continuing to Holland. In 1636 several Portuguese Jews from Bayonne, who had been expelled during the Franco-Spanish War (1635-1659), settled in Nantes.

At the end of the 18th century a number of local merchants, particularly those who dealt in old clothes, leveled a number of legal charges against several Jewish merchants. Public opinion, however, favored the Jews, evidenced by the articles printed in the Journal de la Correspondence de Nantes between 1789 and 1791, and in the Feuille Nantaise, from 1795.

In 1808-1809 there were 25 Jewish families living in Nantes in 1808-1809. An organized community was established in 1834, with a membership of 18 families. A synagogue was built in 1870. By 1898 there were about 50 Jewish families in Nantes.



According to the census conducted by the Vichy government, there were 531 Jews in Nantes in 1942. By the beginning of September 1943 that number had dropped to 53, a result of arrests and deportations.

A number of Jews were arrested and imprisoned in the Caserne Richemont; they were deported in January 1944.



Very few Jews came to settle in Nantes after the war; in 1960 the city’s population was about 25. However, as the city grew, and especially after Jews began arriving from North Africa, the Jewish community grew, reaching about 500 in 1969. Community institutions began to be established and included a combined synagogue and community center, religion classes, and various youth activities.



A city and the administrative center of the Indre-et-Loire department, central France.

21st Century

There are about 200 families that animate a traditional Jewish community.

In 2009, the Jewish Cultural Association of Indre et Loire or ACIIL was established. In 2010 they organized the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Jewish community in Tours that included a number of conferences and concerts, a symposium and an exhibition dedicated to the history, culture, music and Jewish art. In particular, the exhibition organized at the Hotel Gouin, a 15th century mansion, with the assistance of the Jewish Museum (MAHJ) of Paris, was undoubtedly the flagship of these events.

In 2011, ACIIL took part in the Eurogusto events presenting Jewish cuisine to the 25,000 participants.  

In the fall of 2016, the community celebrated the 50th anniversary of Nostra Aetae in the presence of the Chief Rabbi of France Haïm Korsia, several rabbis as well as bishops and the archbishop. More than 400 people attended this celebration of friendship between Jews and Catholics.


The Jewish settlement in Tours is one of the earliest in France of which there is evidence (at least from about 570). In 1171 a notable of the community of Tours intervened in favor of the Jews of Blois who were persecuted following an accusation of ritual murder. A council held in this town in 1236 forbade the crusaders - as every other Christian - to conspire against the lives, health, and property of the Jews; those found guilty of such a crime would be expelled from the ranks of the crusaders. Another Council of Tours (1239), however, excluded the Jews from testifying in lawsuits. The Jews then lived in a quarter named "juiverie," which was situated between the Old Bridge and the rue de la Caserne and consisted of at least 20 houses. They owned a synagogue and leased a plot of land from the archbishop in the Saint- Vincent parish (near the present rue du Cygne and de Luce) to use as a cemetery. It was clearly stipulated that they were authorized to bury not only the Jewish dead of Tours, but also those of any other locality. In addition, a plot of agricultural land and a vineyard were worked by Jews.

After the expulsion of 1306, the Jews returned to Tours in 1315. They also suffered in the persecutions of 1321, which were justified after the events as having been perpetrated in punishment for their supposed collusion with the lepers.

Jews do not appear to have returned to Tours in 1359. On the contrary, in that year the municipality ordered the final destruction of the Jewish cemetery. A number of scholars are known to have lived there during the middle of the 13th century; and Joseph b. Elijah toward the close of the 13th century. The works, however, have not survived.

The synagogue of Tours, in a fusion of Art Nouveau and Oriental styles, was erected in 1907 to the plans of the architect Victor Tondu. It includes a residential building reserved for the local rabbi. The stained glasses by Pierre Lux Fournier were added in 1949.

After the World War I, Jewish immigrant families from Turkey and Thessaloniki, Greece, settled in Tours. They were followed during the 1930s by Jewish families from Eastern Europe, particularly from Poland. During the early 1920s a Jewish youth association was founded in Tours.

The Holocaust

During World War 2, the Jews of Tours were persecuted by the Nazis and by the Vichy regime. They were arrested and interned at the La Lande camp in Monts,. A total of 1019 Jews from Tours and the surrounding area were deported to Along with Jewish inhabitants from other places to the Nazi death camps at Auschwitz and Sobibor, of them only 33 survived.

After World War 2

The few survivors returned to Tours and rehabilitated the ransacked synagogue. Community life resumed its course with the appointment of the community's president Pierre Blum, who served in this position until 1972.  In the early 1970s, as a result of the arrival of Jews from North Africa, there were about 550 Jews living in Tours. They owned a synagogue and a Talmud Torah.

Le Mans

Capital of the department of Sarthe, France.

Reference to Jewish scholars of Le Mans is found in rabbinical literature from the end of the 9th century, the most celebrated being Avun the great (10th century) and Elijah B. Menahem Ha-Zaken (11th century).

A Jew, Vaslinus, is mentioned as a moneylender there between 1104 and 1115. In 1138, the Jews of Le Mans were the victims of a local persecution. They lived in the quarter formed by Rues Marchande, Saint-Jacques, Falotiers or De Merdereau, Barillerie, Ponts-Neufs and De La Juiverie, and owned a synagogue and a cemetery (in the parish of Sainte-Croix), which was also used by other Jews in the vicinity. They probably also had their own market and a hospital.

Another local persecution may have occurred around 1200, since several Jewish converts are found in Le Mans in 1207, and around 1216, Berengaria, the widow of Richard the Lion- Hearted, lady of Le Mans, disposed of the so- called "school of the juiverie", i.e., the synagogue. There is again mention of a Jewish quarter during the second half of the 13th century, at which time the Jews of Le Mans were under the jurisdiction of the bishop.

The Jews were expelled from Le Mans in 1289, at the same time as those of Maine and Anjou.

During World War II many of the Jews in Le Mans were deported. A new community was formed after the war, with many of its members arriving from North Africa.

The community numbered 400 in 1969.

A stained-glass window dating from the 12th century which depicts the synagogue can be seen in the cathedral of Le Mans.

Les Sables-d'Olonne

A seaside town on the Atlantic Ocean in the department of Vendée, France

Synagogue Association Beth Yehouda
35 rue Gambetta
85100 Les Sables D Olonne