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SENS, town in the Yonne department, N. central France. The mention of an expulsion of the Jews from Sens around 876 in an 11th-century chronicle is seemingly a confusion and probably refers to the expulsion, at the beginning of the 11th century, of Duke Raynaud of Sens, who "Judaized" and called himself the "king of the Jews." However, it is certain that in 1146 King Louis VII officially authorized the settlement of Jews in Sens. According to a local chronicler writing a short while later, he also allowed them to have synagogues and cemeteries. Soon after, Pope Alexander III intervened to protect the Jews of Sens from the Christians who attempted to baptize them by force and disturbed them at worship and during burial services. Even King Philip Augustus is said to have assisted the Jews at the beginning of his reign, despite the zeal of Archbishop Guy of Noyers. According to a local chronicler, it was this archbishop who was responsible for the massacre of the Jews of *Bray-sur-Seine in 1190. Having returned to Sens in 1198 (after their expulsion from the kingdom in 1182), the Jews erected a synagogue in 1208 which Pope Innocent III deemed to be too high. Archbishop Gauthier de Cornut adopted a favorable attitude toward the Jews both in local affairs and in a more general way, such as at the time of the disputation of Paris in 1240. After their expulsion in 1306, there was no further Jewish community in Sens during the Middle Ages. Although there was both a Grande and Petite Juiverie street, only the latter had been inhabited by the Jews. The synagogue, which is said to have contained paintings of religious ceremonies, was demolished about 1750. The most eminent of the scholars of Sens was *Samson b. Abraham, tosafist, legal authority, commentator, and liturgical poet. Other tosafists who lived in Sens were Eliezer (c. 1175), and Moses and Isaac ha-Levi (c. 1250). Nathan b. Joseph *Official and his son Joseph b. Nathan, author of Yosef ha-Mekanne, probably lived in Sens.

A small Jewish community existed in Sens before World War II and there were still about 50 Jews there in 1941. A new small community, consisting mainly of Jews from North Africa, was established in the 1960s. In 1970 there were 50 Jews living in the town.


Gross, Gal Jud, 661f.; idem, in: REJ, 6 (1882), 167–86; 7 (1883), 40–77; H. Bouvier, Histoire de l'Eglise et de l'Ancien Archidiocèse de Sens, 3 vols. (1906–11), index; C. Porée, Histoire des Rues et des Maisons de Sens (1920), 286, 289ff.; B. Blumenkranz, Juifset Chrétiens dans le Monde Occidental, 4301096 (1960), 63; idem, Les Auteurs Chrétiens Latins du Moyen Age (1963), 253.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.