Synagogue / Jewish Museum Comtadin

Discover the synagogue of Cavaillon, a masterpiece of 18th century Comtadine art, one of the most remarkable Jewish prayer houses known. Discover this synagogue which has become a Jewish museum Comtadin.

History of the Synagogue of Cavaillon

From the Medieval Synagogue there is still a turret to the north. This deliberate vestige is probably the survival of the staircase of a synagogue whose proportions can be imagined thanks to the superb polychrome wooden doors of the tabernacle, preserved in the Jewish Museum Comtadin.

Rebuilt partly above Hebraic Street between 1772 and 1774, the synagogue is designed in two superimposed volumes, connected by an external staircase.

The architectural formula of the synagogues of the Comtat, preserved only in Cavaillon and Carpentras, is unique in the world.

The Torah, which is the basis of belief, is read on a platform in front of the tabernacle where the most prominent male members, including the official, are grouped together.

Another specific feature is the insignia role accorded to the prophet Elijah, represented in the form of an armchair, treated in a symbolic fashion, lying on a cloud. The decorative vocabulary is inspired by that of the then Provence, translated by painted wood paneling, grey enhanced with blue and yellow and plastered and colored walls, in sustained pink. The golden leaf highlights the major poles of the liturgy: grandstand and tabernacle.

Two seven-pointed candlesticks stand out from the ironwork railing. The chandeliers are reused from the previous building. Autographed, they often testify to an act of piety. The upper hall cannot be separated from the low synagogue, reserved for women, which also serves as a bakery, as can be seen from the marble kneading table and the bread oven.

This is where the collections are currently presented, either from the “Cemetery of Books”, discovered in the 1930s or, when the museum was founded in 1963, of funerary steles and donations of descendants of the Pope's Jew. It is also the headquarters of their cultural association. A prefiguration of a true course in the heart of the old quarry, the ritual baths are currently visible during the Open Days of Heritage in mid-September.

Speaking of the synagogues of Vaucluse 'Carpentras, Cavaillon and Avignon' three films of each 13 minutes, broadcast at the Musée de l'Hôtel-Dieu, introduce to the vision of an essential sequence, original, in perpetual evolution of Provençal identity.

As in Carpentras, Avignon or Isle sur la Sorgue, the Jewish community of Cavaillon has been living since 1624, in a separate neighbourhood, a ghetto. It is called the quarry, from the Provencal term that means the street. This situation of exclusion and mixed tolerance, specific to the states of the Pope, was known by the texts in Cavaillon from the end of the 15th century.

In Vaucluse, this career remains today the only one still visible in the Ancien Comtat.

The quarry was strictly demarcated: to the south on Fabricis Street, now Rue de la République, where until the 18th century its only entrance, closed every night and on the occasion of the great Christian religious festivals.

In the north, recent excavations have revealed, since the late Middle Ages, the persistence of a plot adjacent to the synagogue, whose turret to the northeast is undoubtedly a deliberate remnant. The beautiful polychrome wooden doors of the tabernacle, preserved at the Comtadin Jewish Museum, allow a modest volume to be restored.

In the 18th century, the community never exceeded 200 people.

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A Synagogue became a Jewish Museum Comtadin

The launch of a museum development project will allow several tours to be created in an entire island of the old centre. A journey of evocation of the ancient ghetto through its various spaces Hebrew street, bakery, ritual baths, synagogue, Jewish Comtadin museum in a dwelling of the time will be realized first before the Jouve Museum, a bourgeois interior of the late 19th century and a museum of the Pays de Cavaillon.

Inventory and communication, conservation and foresight are inseparable tasks of Heritage. The production and dissemination of audiovisuals, the publishing of specialized books for adults, children, in the foreign language English, German, Italian and personalised reception of audiences are all fields open to creation, questioning and sharing.

Guided tours only (1h)

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From 02/01 to 30/04/2019.
Closed Tuesday and Sunday.

From 02/05 to 30/09/2019.
Closed on Tuesday.

From 01/10 to 31/12/2019.
Closed Tuesday and Sunday.
Closed exceptionally on bank holidays.

Galerie photos

Synagogue de Cavaillon

Contact & informations

Synagogue / Musée Juif Comtadin
Rue Hébraïque

84300 Cavaillon
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