ROUEN: (Seine-Inférieure, Normandie) Print
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Situated on the right bank of the Seine, the settlement of Jews in the city probably dates from the Roman period. The first known document concerning the community contains a Hebrew account of a terrible persecution that the Jews of Rouen and other localities experienced at the beginning of the eleventh century. Robert the Pious encouraged his vassals to destroy all the Jews on their lands not accepting baptism. Many were put to death or killed themselves. Among the martyrs was the learned Rabbi Senior. An influential and highly esteemed man in Rouen, Jacob ben Jekuthiel, went to Rome to invoke the protection of the pope for his coreligionists; and the pontiff sent a high dignitary to stop to the persecution (Berliner's "Magazin," iii.; "Oẓar Ṭob," pp. 46-48). In the 11th century, Rouen belonged successively to the crown of England, then to the Kingdom of Capétiens. In 1066 numerous Jews of Rouen emigrated to England, induced to settle there by William the Conqueror, who, while still in Normandy, had always protected them. His son, William Rufus, was no less favorably inclined toward them. On a complaint of the Jews of Rouen to the effect that many of their coreligionists had been forced to embrace Christianity, William Rufus not only allowed the converted to return to their old faith, but himself actually persuaded some of them to do so. In 1096, the Rouen community was totally destroyed by the Crusaders, but was reestablished shortly after, although no official document shows the further presence of Jews at Rouen before 1204. In 1217, Philip Augustus imposed a heavy tax upon the Jews of Normandy, to which the community of Rouen contributed 595 livres. This relatively small sum shows that at that time the Rouen Jews were neither numerous nor rich; while, according to an official document of 1299, the personal taxes of only one Jew of Rouen, a certain Samuel Viole, amounted to 1,200 livres annually. A certain Calot of Rouen figures in the registers of the Jewish imposts for years l296 to 1300 as the financial intermediary between his coreligionists and Philip the Fair. In an official document from 1297, Calot was chosen arbitrator in a dispute between Philip and his brother Charles, Count of Valois, concerning the property of some Jews. On banishment of the Jews from France in 1306, Philip presented the Jewish quarter to the municipality, which established a vegetable market there. This quarter, in which Maranos settled in great numbers, still bears the name "Rue des Juifs."  After expulsion of the French Jewry, some families became established in Rouen at the end of the 16th century. Others emigrated towards Amsterdam, Antwerp, Hamburg or London. Pope John XVIII called for a cessation of persecutions throughout France. During the 13th century, Medieval Rouen had a commercially viable Jewish community, but restrictions on economic freedom occurred with return of French rule in the thirteenth century. A Romanesque stone structure, dating back more than a thousand years and considered to be the oldest Jewish building in Europe has inscribed on it in Hebrew are the phrases "May the Torah Reign forever" and "This house is supreme." The structure is now located underground. With exception of Metz, Rouen was only locality in current France where several Jews put to death and others forced to accept baptism at time of First Crusade. From the 17th century, the Maranos almost entirely disappeared. A new Jewish community composed of Alsatian Jewry reappeared after the Revolution as Jews began to settle at Rouen again; and the community that formed became a rabbinate in 1876 under Benjamin Cahen. This former capitol of Normandy was known as the Museum City and for the execution of Joan of Arc in 1431.The Synagogue of Rouen, destroyed by bombings during WWII, was rebuilt in 1950. The actual community composed mostly of Jewry of North Africa numbers about 700. Synagogue and Centre Communautaire, 55, rue des Bons Enfants - 76000 ROUEN. Tél / Fax: 02-35-71-01-44. Sources: Jewish Encyclopedia and http://www.syna-rouen.fr.st/ [January 2008]

 

Carré Juif au cimetière Monumental de ROUEN: [January 2008]