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TROYES, chief town of the department of Aube, in northeast central France. Evidence of the earliest period of Jewish settlement in Troyes is derived from rabbinic sources. From the first half of the 11th century, an organized Jewish community collected taxes from its members, and Jews owned real estate, more particularly vineyards. The *synods which were reputedly held in the town may have been little more than assemblies convened by the local community and expanded to include the representatives of a number of dependent communities. It may be assumed that in *Rashi's time the community numbered no more than 100 people. Only from the beginning of the 13th century is there evidence of the Jews of Troyes engaging in *moneylending; their clients included the Saint-Loup Abbey. On the other hand, a number of Jews owed this abbey a regular quitrent, which was calculated in measures of wheat and wine, presumably for plots of land or vineyards leased from it.

In 1288 the community was persecuted, with accompanying bloodshed, as a result of an accusation of ritual murder (see *Blood Libel). On Good Friday, March 26, during the Jewish Passover, a body was surreptitiously placed in the house of one of the Jewish notables, Isaac Châtelain. The inquiry was carried out by the Franciscan and Dominican Orders, and 13 Jews (most of them members of Châtelain's family) sacrificed themselves in order to spare the remainder of the community. They were handed over to the "secular arm" and burned on April 24. The shock which was aroused in the Jewish world by this auto-da-fé can be measured by the fact that six elegies, in Hebrew or in Judeo-French, relate the details of it. The most moving account is the famous Complainte de Troyes, a Judeo-French elegy, the author of which Arsène *Darmesteter identified as Jacob b. Judah de Lotra (Lorraine), who also wrote a Hebrew elegy on the subject (manuscript in Vatican Library). Although King *Philip IV the Fair prohibited the religious orders from prosecuting any Jew in France without informing the civil authorities – even if it be for a religious crime (1288) – he did not disregard the material benefit accruing from this auto-da-fé when he ordered the confiscation of the victims' property for the treasury.

Following the banishment of the Jews of France in 1306, Jews returned to Troyes after 1315. In 1320 King *Philip V the Tall addressed a series of criticisms to the bailiff of Troyes because he tolerated Jews not wearing their distinctive sign and permitted them to make so much noise in their synagogues (indicating that at least two were still in existence) that even the predicant friars and the minor canons were disturbed in the execution of their duties. The Jews do not appear to have returned to Troyes after the expulsion of 1322, although several Jews in the duchy and county of Burgundy between 1332 and 1388 originated in Troyes. During the 14th and 15th centuries, however, Christians bearing the surname "le Juif" are mentioned in Troyes and were possibly descendants of converted Jews. The Jewish quarter, also known as "La Broce-aux-Juifs," was situated in the St. Frobert parish, and the St. Frobert Church is thought to be a former synagogue. The cemetery was situated at the entrance of the Faubourg de Preize. Troyes was the native city of Rashi, the great commentator on the Bible and Talmud. Rashi served as the rabbi of Troyes, where he founded (c. 1070) a school which became famous. The present-day streets rue de la Synagogue and rue Salomon Rachi perpetuate the memory of the flourishing medieval community, although their topographical relationship to the ancient location has not been determined. After Rashi, the scholars who taught or were born in Troyes included R. Jacob b. Meir *Tam, R. *Joseph b. Moses, the tosafist R. Samson, R. Joseph Ḥazzan b. Judah, his son Menahem, and the disciple of the latter, Judah b. Eliezer.

In 1808, there was not a single Jew in Troyes or in the whole of the department of Aube. The community was reorganized only during the second half of the 19th century (the synagogue was erected in 1877). On the eve of World War II there were some 200 Jews in Troyes. During the war, however, a large number of non-French Jews, as well as those who came from "prohibited" departments, were interned in the town by the Germans. The community, which was reconstituted after World War II, numbered 400 in the early 1970s and has since 1966 maintained the Rashi Community Center.


Gross, Gal Jud, 223–43; A. Darmesteter, in: REJ, 2 (1881), 199–247; idem, in: Romania, 3 (1874), 443–86; P. Pietresson De Saint-Aubin, in: Le Moyen Age, 22 (1920), 84–87; A. Lane, Quelques aspects de la vie économique et sociale à Troyes (thesis, Paris Univ., 1956), passim; J. Roserot De Melin, Le Diocèse de Troyes (1957), passim; C. Lehrmann, L'Elément juif dans la littérature française, 1 (1960), 39–41; Z. Szajkowski, Analytical Franco-Jewish Gazetteer (1966), 163.

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