Arles, France Museum & Crypt

Arles had an important and prominent Jewish community between the Roman era and the end of the 15th century. A local legend describes the first Jews in Arles as exiles from Judah after Jerusalem fell to the Romans. Nevertheless, the first documented evidence of Jews in Arles is not before the fifth century, when a distinguished community already existed in the town. Arles was an important Jewish crossroads, as a port city and close to Spain and the rest of Europe alike. It served a major role in the work of the Hachmei Provence group of famous Jewish scholars, translators and philosophers, who were most important to Judaism throughout the Middle Ages. At the eighth century, jurisdiction over the Jews of Arles were passed to the local Archbishop, making the Jewish taxes to the clergy somewhat of a shield for the community from mob attacks, most frequent during the Crusades. The community lived relatively peacefully until the last decade of the 15th century, when they were expelled out of the city never to return. Several Jews did live in the city in the centuries after, though no community was found ever after. Nowadays, Jewish archaeological findings and texts from Arles can be found in the local museum.




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