Discover the synagogue of Cavaillon, a masterpiece of the 18th century Comtadine art (local architecture), one of the most remarkable Jewish prayer houses known. Discover this synagogue which has become a museum of the Jewish history in the region.
From the Medieval Synagogue there is still a turret to the north. This vestige is probably a remain from 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.
Partly rebuilt above La Rue Hébraïque (Hebraic street) between 1772 and 1774, the synagogue is designed in two superimposed volumes, connected by an external staircase.
The architecture of the Comtat synagogues, preserved only in Cavaillon and Carpentras, is unique in the world.
The Torah, which is the basis of belief, is read on a platform facing the tabernacle where the most prominent male members of the community, 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 the Provençal style back then; painted wood paneling, grey enhanced with blue and yellow, plastered and colored walls and a vivid pink. The golden leaf highlights the major poles of the liturgy: grandstand and tabernacle.
Two seven-pointed candlesticks stand out from the 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 only during the Heritage Days in mid-September.
Three films (13min each) about the synagogues of Vaucluse 'Carpentras, Cavaillon and Avignon' are broadcasted at the Musée de l'Hôtel-Dieu.
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 quarry remains today the only one still visible in the Ancien Comtat.
The quarry was strictly marked out: to the south on Rue Fabricis, 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, the persistence of a small square from the Middle ages, 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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The museum development project will allow several tours to be created in the historical center. A tour of the ancient ghetto through its various places Rue Hébraïque, the bakery, the ritual baths, the synagogue and the Jewish museum hosted in an ancient mansion will be realized first before the Jouve Museum, a bourgeois interior of the late 19th century and a museum of the Pays de Cavaillon (the town and its surroundings).
Inventory and communication, conservation and foresight are inseparable tasks of Heritage department. As well as producing and sharing audiovisuals, publishing specialized books for adults, children, in the foreign language English, German, Italian and personalised tour for different publics.
Guided tours only (1h)
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