PROVINS, town in the department of Seine-et-Marne, France. The earliest evidence of the presence of Jews in Provins dates from 1201. Concentrated in two streets, Rue de la Vieille-Juiverie and the Rue des Juifs, the Jews rapidly increased in number. They owned at least two synagogues and a cemetery. The importance of the market of the Provins Jewish community is described in the polemic work of Joseph "the Zealot" (le Zélateur). The extent of Jewish financial activity in Provins is apparent from the use of a special seal for ratifying documents in business transactions which involved Jews. The town itself, as well as the Jewish community – which disappeared entirely after the expulsion of 1306 – began to decline with the reign of *Philip the Fair and the transfer of the town (which had formerly belonged to *Champagne) to royal authority.
In the early 13th century, the yeshivah of Provins was under the direction of Jacob b. Meir author of a biblical commentary (not preserved) sometimes erroneously attributed to a certain Jacob of Provence. Some medieval remains have been found in a modern house on the Rue des Juifs; these include a hall with ogive vaults, which local tradition claims is the remains of a medieval synagogue.
Gross, Gal Jud, 493ff.; F. Bourquelot, Histoire de Provins (1840); M. Veissière, Une communauté à Provins (1961), 116f.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.