SOISSONS, town in the Aisne department, N. France. There was a large Jewish community in Soissons by the beginning of the 12th century at the latest. At this time Guibert de Nogent produced his treatise, De incarnatione contra Judaeos, with the aim of severing the good relations between the Jews and Count John I of Soissons. At a later date Count Raoul granted the convent of Notre Dame an annual income of six gold bezants for as long as the Jews remained in the town; they were thus untouched by the expulsion of 1182. The community possessed a synagogue, probably in the center of the Juiverie, which was situated under the castle walls, a first cemetery close to the early enclosure of the town (where an early 13th-century gravestone of one Hannah was found), and a second cemetery near St. Christopher's Gate. Jews lived in many of the villages around Soissons. The medieval community came to an end with the expulsion in 1306. Jewish scholars in the town included the commentator Shemaiah, probably a relative and pupil of Rashi. At the beginning of World War II about 80 Jews lived in Soissons but no community was reestablished after the war.
Gross, Gal Jud, 647f.; A. de Montaiglon, in: Bulletin de la Société Historique et Archéologique de Soissons, 2nd series, 4 (1873), 328f.; G. Bowgin, La Commune de Soissons (1908), index; J. Saincir, Le Diocèse de Soissons, 1 (1935), 144; Z. Szajkowski, Analytical Franco-Jewish Gazetteer (1966), 152.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.