Jewish Provence

In the 14th century, the countryside of Provence became the home of many Jews who were exiled from the Kingdom of France by Philip the fair and Charles VI. When Provence became part of France in 1481, the Jews were welcomed by the Pope of Avignon.

8:30am Depart ship from pier in Marseilles Port for Jewish Heritage tour of Provence.

First stop will be Cavallion where you will visit Synagogue - a masterpiece of Comtadine art from the 18th century, this synagogue is one of the most remarkable Jewish houses of prayer standing today. The Synagogue, rebuilt during the 18th century, occupies the upper floor and contains pure Louis XV style furnishings. It also houses a Judeo-Comtadin Museum.

10:30am Depart for Carpentras

Back as 1357 – one fifth of the population of Carpentras was Jewish. Carpentras synagogue is the oldest in France. The plain façade conceals a Rococo sanctuary similar to Italian synagogues of the same period. Regulations in force at the time made it illegal for synagogues to have exterior decoration. Built during 1741–1743, the structure contains parts of a 14th-century synagogue that was on the same site. The present building was partially restored in 1930, 1953, and 1959 and it has been designated an historic landmark. Inside, the Bimah, the raised reading platform, is at the opposite end of the room from the Aron Kodesh, the Holy Ark, the cabinet where the Torah scrolls are kept. This is also characteristic of the same Italianate style. In Orthodox Judaism women are not permitted to pray in the same room as men. Here and in most synagogues of that era this separation was effected with a balcony or mezzanine that you see today. But here in the 18th century, women sat in the basement where a small window allowed them to hear the chants and prayers. In addition there was an official known as the rabbi of women. The basement also contains remnants of a matzo oven and mikvah, a ritual bath.

Visit synagogue and take part of the Shabbat service (subject to confirmation), afterwards meet community members.