The Marais, filled with magnificent historical buildings, charming streets and bustling kosher restaurants, boulangeries and charcuteries, has served as Paris's primary Jewish neighborhood since the 13th century. While still maintaining that old world charm, it is also the home to upscale art galleries, fashion houses and chic boutiques. So come along with us for a private guided tour as we explore France's Jewish history from its roots to modern times.
From the steps of the Notre Dame Cathedral to the 17th century Place des Vosges, from the Theater de la Ville de Paris to the Marais, Paris is filled with Jewish history, even where you least expect it! Past the deportation monument, Memorial of the Shoah and Jewish Archives, and through cobblestoned streets of the Marais and explore centuries old synagogues, museums, homes that once belonged to famous Jewish artists, quaint Judaica shops, delis, bakeries and more on Rue des Rosiers and Rue Fredinand Duval and surroundings. If time Tournelles - Synagogue Guimard.
Jewish Sites of Interest
Discover the Place de l’Ile de France where a small gate on the right side of the square leads to the Memorial to the Unknown Deportee, and the French words above the door speak volumes - “Forgive, but do not forget!”
Close by was the spot in 1240, of the infamous trial of the Talmud where cartloads of Jewish books were burned in 1242. You'll pass the Memorial to the Unknown Jewish Martyr where you will see a large bronze cylinder with the names of death camps inscribed on it.
The heart of the Jewish quarter is rue des Rosiers and its narrow streets and alleys. Here you will find numerous Jewish shops and restaurants. Jews have lived here since the middle ages. In the thirteenth century it was known as La Juiverie (the Jewry) with its own synagogues, cemeteries, and food manufacturers. Some of the street names from that earlier period survive, as we shall see. In 1394 Jews were expelled for a final time they did not return officially to Paris for nearly four hundred years.
Visit Agudath Hakehilot, an orthodox synagogue designed by Art Nouveau King Phillipe le Bel burned Jonathan at the stake Hector Guimard, the Art Nouveau architect and decorator famous for the archways he made for the Paris metro. Guimard’s wife, an American, was Jewish and with the rise of Nazism they left France for the United States. On Yom Kippur 1940 it was dynamited by the Germans, but has since been restored and is now a national monument.
Nearby is the old rue des Juifs. In the rear of the courtyard of number 20, is a sixteenth century Hotel Particulier known as the Hotel des Juifs. Now owned by an artist, it is a remnant of a Jewish community of the eighteenth century composed of Jews from Alsace, Lorraine, and Germany.
A few-minutes away is Place de Vosges, the most famous Parisian square, where the actress Rachel lived in apartment house nine. Victor Hugo lived at apartment number six and a modest second-floor synagogue can be found at apartment number 14. We return via rue des Rosiers to rue des Hospitalieres St. Gervais. Here, at number six is a Jewish boys school. The plaque on the wall commemorates the 165 students who were sent to the internment camp at Drancy and then to Auschwitz where they were murdered.
Faubourg- Montmartre: Another Parisian quarter with many Jewish sites of interest is the Faubourg- Montmartre district. Within the district there are many synagogues, kosher restaurants and offices of various Jewish organizations. In the neighborhood’s center is the synagogue located on rue Buffault 28-30. The synagogue, opened in 1877, was the first synagogue in Paris to become Sephardic, adopting Portuguese rite in 1906. Next to the synagogue is a memorial plaque dedicated to the 12,000 Jewish Parisian children deported to Auschwitz.
Theatre de la Ville de Paris, once the Theatre de Sarah Bernhardt. On the second floor of the theater is a room with her belongings, as well as memorabilia. Nearby is the Place de la Theatre Francaise, where Rachel made her debut in 1838.
The homes of former affluent Jewish can be found on Rue de Faubourg St-Honore, including the former homes of the Rothschild (Nos. 33 and 35) and the Pereires (Nos. 41 and 49), which are now embassies and ambassadors’ residences.
At Arc de Triomphe is the rue Copernic Synagogue, which houses the largest non-Orthodox congregation. The synagogue was the target of anti-Semitic attacks in 1980, killing 4 people. Built in 1906, the synagogue contains plaques for those who died in World War I and the 1980 bomb attack.
The Art Nouveau synagogue, Agoudas Hakehilos, located on rue Pavee 10, is one of the most interesting buildings of the district, . Built in 1913 for Russian and Rumanian immigrants, the synagogue was designed by Hector Guimard, who is most famous for his designs used for Paris's metro system.
Another beautiful synagogue is located near the Eiffel Tower on rue Chasseloup-Laubat. Completed in 1913, the synagogue has a yellow-stone facade. It is attended by both North African Sephardim, Russian and German Ashkenazim.
Built in 1870, Rue des Tournelles synagogue synagogue originally catered to an Ashkenazi population, however, after the influx of North Africans in the 1950's and 60's, it became Sephardic.
A well-known synagogue is the Temple Victoire, located on rue de la Victoire 44; it is also known as the Rothschild synagogue. Opened in 1874, the synagogue has special seats located on the bimah for the chief rabbis of Paris and France. The rabbis leading the service still wear Napoleanic -era costumes.
During the 19th century, Jews were extremely active in many spheres of French society. Rachel and Sarah Bernhardt are two Jewish women who became famous actors at the Comedie Francaise in Paris. Bernhardt eventually directed plays at her own theater and was given the title "Divine Sarah" by Victor Hugo. Leading up to the Dreyfus case, French Jews enjoyed equality in exchange for an astounding degree of assimilation. Rabbis began dressing like priests, organs were put in synagogues. It was even proposed that the Sabbath be moved from Saturday to Sunday. It has been France's fate to be better known for its anti-Semitism than its Semitism. Such national disgraces as the persecution of Captain Alfred Dreyfus and the deportation of a quarter of French Jewry to Nazi death camps are, and should be, well remembered. Jews became involved in politics; for example, Achille Fould and Isaac Cremiuex served in the Chamber of Deputies. Jews also excelled in the financial sphere, two leading families were the Rothschild and the Pereire families. In the field of literature and philosophy, well-known Jews included Emile Durkheim, Marcel Proust and Salomon Munk.
In the first decades of the twentieth century, Jewish artists including Modigliani, Soutine, Kisling, Pisarro and Chagall, predominantly from Eastern Europe, were among the many foreigners attracted to Paris to pursue careers as professional artists.
The Jewish artists of the School of Paris (School immigrant artists who lived and worked in Montparnasse from 1915 to 1930) came from various backgrounds, rich and poor, orthodox and liberal. They varied in artistic style, and, with the exception of Marc Chagall and Mae-Katz, didn't paint Jewish themes. But modernist influences did not negate their personal heritage. Most thought of themselves as both artists and Jews. They met at cafes and in studios. A great camaraderie grew among these artists and the vibrant group of poets, critics, dealers, and collectors who converged in Montparnasse and have since been called the Circle of Montparnasse, referring to the new neighborhood of cafes and wide boulevards in which they settled. Located at number 42 rue des Saules, in Montmartre, is the Museum of Jewish Art. Inside one can find Chagall lithographs, sketches by Mane-Katz and paintings by Alphonse Levy. Tombstones, Ketubot, and French Jewish art, especially from the so-called Paris Jewish School,immigrant artists who lived and worked in Montparnasse from 1915 to 1930, including the painter Marc Chagall and the sculpture Jacques Lipchitz. Also there is an exhibit of synagogue models from across Europe. Paintings by Jewish artists can be found also at the L'Orangerie and in the Strauss-Rothschild Collection found at the Cluny Museum.
Chagall, Delaunay, Modigliani, Nadelman, Pascin, and Max Weber arrived in Paris by 1910. During World War I many of the Jewish artists left Paris, including Nadelman, who settled in New York. Both Mane-Katz , who had arrived in 1913, and Chagall went to Russia, their homeland, but were back in Paris by the 1920s. Moise Kisling, served in the French Army.
Those who returned found Paris a place of prosperity, but also discovered an increasingly conservative political, social, and artistic atmosphere. Nevertheless, over the course of the decade, a network of dealers, collectors, and critics would advance the popularity and commercial success of many of these artists, including, in the last two galleries, Kisling, Jacques Lipchitz, Louis Marcoussis, Chana Orloff, and Chaim Soutine. Despite their foreignness, the painterly, coloristic works and expressionistic styles that many of this group developed soon came to define French modernist painting between the wars.