CLERMONT-FERRAND (Heb. קלאראמוֹנטי), city in Auvergne, France; capital of the Puy-de-Dôme department. The
presence of Jews there dates back at least to 470, as attested by several letters of Sidonius Apollinaris, bishop of the town; these are the oldest written records to mention Jews in France. The Jews in the locality maintained fairly friendly relations with bishops Gallus and Cautinus, but the situation changed with Bishop *Avitus , who in 576 forced over 500 Jews to accept baptism. The remainder fled to *Marseilles . A new community was formed at the latest during the tenth century in the quarter of the town whose name Fontgiève (= Font-Juifs, "Fountain of the Jews") still preserves their memory. A hillock nearby is known as Montjuzet (= Mons Judeorum, "Mountain of the Jews"). Although Jews were to be found in Auvergne in considerable numbers during the remainder of the Middle Ages, there is no evidence that any resided in Clermont-Ferrand itself. A prayer room appears to have been established in about 1780. A new community was organized at the beginning of the 19th century by Israel Wael and subsequently led by R. Moïse Wolfowicz (1820–48). Numbering 25 to 30 families in 1901, it belonged to the *consistory of Lyons until 1905. During World War II, many Jews took refuge in Clermont-Ferrand, as it was situated in the Free Zone. Their number reached 8,500, but from the summer of 1942 they were compelled to leave by the police. There were approximately 800 Jewish residents in 1969. The community had a synagogue, a cultural association, a talmud torah, etc.
Gross, Gal Jud, 588–9; A. Tardieu, Histoire de… Clermont-Ferrand (1870–71), 435ff.; B. Blumenkranz, Les auteurs chrétiens latins du moyen âge… (1963), 43–44, Z. Szajkowski, Analytical Franco-Jewish Gazetteer (1966), index; Brahami, in: Archives Juives, 3 (1966/67), 31–32.
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.