In the heart of Aube the former County of Champagne contained prestigious Jewish communities dating from the 11th to 13th centuries.Rashi, Rabbi Solomon son of Isaac, immense commentator of the sacred texts of Judaism, was born in Troyes in 1040. He provided an unanticipated impetus to the intellectual creativity of the Jews of Champagne. After him, many scholars who claim to be from his Champenois School influenced other Jewish communities in the interpretation of the Bible and the Talmud. Through them the name of the prestigious County of Champagne thus spread throughout the West. Their comments and legal decisions are the unique testimonies of this era and attest to intense intellectual activity and a local Jewish life that flourished.
Rashi of Troyes
Rashi left Troyes to complete his religious studies in the Rhineland. When he returned to his city of birth, he founded a study circle where he trained around twenty students in a revolutionary method of exegesis. In Troyes he devoted his life to commenting on the Talmud and the Hebrew Bible. As an accomplished scholar, he was consulted by many communities. His three daughters provided him with numerous descendants. He died age 65 on July 13, 1105. Buried in Troyes with full honors, his grave disappeared in the 16th century when the Jewish cemetery of the Preize district was demolished to enlarge the city. Rashi is still read and studied today by Jews around the world who consider him the “commentator par excellence”.
The influence of medieval Jewish communities in Aube
In the 13th century, the rich and powerful Champagne region included nearly 50 prosperous Jewish communities: Troyes, Ramerupt, Dampierre, Villenauxe, Lhuître, Ervy-le-Châtel, Chappes, St-Mards-in-Othe, Bar-sur-Aube, Mussy-sur-Seine, Brienne-le-Château, Plancy, Trannes… Beyond the current Department of Aube, the former County of Champagne and Brie contained other Jewish communities in Vitry, Provins, Joinville, Sens, and Chateau-Thierry …
Conditions changed under Louis IX, who drastically limited the rights of Jews. Then Philip the Fair and Charles VI expelled the Jews from the kingdom of France in 1306 and 1394 respectively, for a period of four centuries. The Champagne area gradually forgot this era of fruitful sharing with Jews, who had lived there for centuries.
Discover the places in Aube linked to medieval Jewish history
The synagogue and Maison Rachi
The medieval synagogues no longer exist in Champagne. Since 1960 a synagogue has been installed on rue Brunneval in Troyes in a former noble building from the 17th century. These buildings, 2000 m2 in surface area, were magnificently restored in 2016. Since 2017, alongside the cult, the synagogue hosts within its walls an audacious museographical tour where visitors can discover Rashi, his life and his work through an immersive and innovative digital scenography titled “Rashi House”.
The European University Institute Rashi
The Rashi European University Institute is an institution of higher education, open to all, devoted to Jewish and Semitic studies and research on monotheistic religions. In the spirit of the exegete Rashi, it opens Judaism to the world, in all its diversity. Classes, debate evenings, and conferences hosted throughout the year provide paths of reflection centered on religious fact and on dialogue between cultures and religions.
Troyes in the footsteps of Rashi
Troyes and the Aube are marked by the memory and heritage of Rashi and the medieval Jewish communities. Follow the 3.5 km tour of Troyes in the narrow streets in the footsteps of Rachi.
Save the date for the European Days of Jewish Culture!
Archi Rachi – Guided tour
Let’s explore the streets of Troyes from the point of view of its architecture. We will discover, thanks to the Talmud and the Bible, the descriptions that Rachi and his disciples made of it in the Middle Ages. A plunge into the techniques and tools of the Champagne region, enhanced by Hebrew and ancient French.
Visits in French, contact the guide for visits in English, Spanish and Hebrew.
Visits on October 7th, 18th, 25th at 2pm
Visit of the Maison Rachi
La Maison Rachi welcomes you in the heart of the 17th century buildings of the Troyes Synagogue for a programme of visits every September.
Reservations and information on the dates and times of the guided tours on www.rachi-troyes.com section “tourism and visits / guided tours
Rashi in the Garden of Eden
CulturistiQ and Maximilien Guide Nature take you to explore the gardens and undergrowth of Viennes to discover their biodiversity. Thanks to Rashi’s commentaries in the Talmud and the Bible, we will plunge into the natural environment of medieval times to understand the place of plants in the daily life of the time. A visit dotted with words in Hebrew and ancient French to discover beyond plants, the customs and traditions of Judaism in strong connection with nature and the environment.
Visits in French, contact the guides for visits in English.
Visits on October 18th and 25th at 10 am.
Rashi’s 980th anniversary
From 22nd to 29th November, the European University Institute Rashi celebrates the 980th anniversary of the birth of Rashi and offers a rich and diversified programme on the exegete and his work, including lectures, a study day, an artistic event and the exhibition “The Rashi School: manuscripts and glossaries, between interpretation, languages and narratives” about the recent discovery of fragments of an ancient Hebrew-French biblical glossary from the university library of Innsbruck (Austria).