MARSEILLES

MARSEILLES, capital of the department of Bouches du Rhône; second largest town in France. The earliest recorded presence of Jews in Marseilles can be traced to the sixth century. In 574 there was a sufficient number to provide asylum for the Jews who fled from clermont-ferrand to escape the coercive measures by Bishop avitus to convert them. In 591 Bishop Theodore of Marseilles also attempted to compel the Jews of the town to accept baptism, but Pope gregory i intervened in their favor. Although scant information is available on the Jews of Marseilles during the early Middle Ages, the importance of their settlement there is confirmed by the names of sites alluding to them. At the close of the tenth century there is mention of a valle Judaica in an area of fields and vineyards and at the end of the 11th century, of a vineyard named rua Judaica. During the 12th century, the Jews formed two communities; one in the upper part of the town, which was under the jurisdiction of the bishop; the other in the lower town, which belonged to the viscount. Both communities were placed under the authority of the bishop. (It was this right which Frederick I Barbarossa ratified for Bishop Peter in 1164.) The two communities are mentioned by the traveler benjamin of tudela , who also indicates that the yeshivot and the scholars were established in the upper town. As might be expected, the merchants settled in the lower part in the vicinity of the port. There they traded with Palestine, Egypt, North Africa, Spain, and Italy, dealing mainly in wood, spices, textiles, metals, pharmaceutics, various products for dyeing, and slaves. Commercial partnerships with Christians were very common. They rarely engaged in moneylending, although toward the end of the 12th century they did advance loans to the Monastery of Saint Victor and to the squire of Trets. In 1257 the statutes of Marseilles granted Jews the status of citizens. Nevertheless they were subject to some important restrictions. Jews were prohibited from working in public on Christian festivals, or from taking an oath in a lawsuit against Christians, and no more than four Jews were allowed to embark on a ship   bound for Egypt. By at least the middle of the 14th century, all the Jews of the town had united into a single community, led by three officers who administered the schools, the three synagogues, the almshouse, and the mikveh. In the 14th century, Jews were granted equality with other citizens of Marseilles, yet they continued to have special privileges. Thus, although it was forbidden for all other citizens to sell flour in any place but on the bridge, a municipal ordinance of 1359 authorized Jews to sell or buy flour for unleavened bread (maẓẓot) in the Jewish quarter. Similarly, an ordinance issued in 1363 stipulated that whereas all other inhabitants were to sweep the street before their houses on Saturday, Jews were permitted to do so on Friday. Finally, in 1387 Jews were exempted on evenings of Jewish festivals from the general obligation to walk about with a lamp after curfew. Although they lived in an international trading port, the Jewish population remained relatively stable. For much of the Middle Ages, new arrivals in the town constituted little more than 10% of the population. (An important exception was in 1351, after an influx caused by the black death persecutions, when the percentage of new arrivals in the community reached 30%.) Although Jews did not generally participate in the maritime trade, limiting their transactions mainly to Spain, they were well represented in the town's urban commercial life, many of them acting as brokers. The Jewish surname Sabonarius has led to the belief that it was the Jews who introduced the soap industry to Marseilles. They had a virtual monopoly over coral craftsmanship, although those engaged in this occupation made very little money. Poorly off, too, were the Jews who earned their livelihood as laborers, porters, stonecutters, and tailors. Since they dealt only in small sums, even Jewish moneylenders were not noticeably wealthy. Jews did, however, distinguish themselves in the medical field, the number of Jewish physicians in the town often exceeding that of their Christian colleagues. During the 15th century, Jewish economic life experienced a setback and economic activity was reduced to the retail trade, mainly the sale of wheat and textiles. Jews also suffered more than the rest of the population when the town was plundered by the Aragonese in 1423. Most of them became impoverished, and struggled to recover economically. Late in 1484 and early in 1485, shortly after the incorporation of provence into France (1481), the Jewish quarter of Marseilles was attacked. In the wake of plunder, destruction, and murder, the Jews of Marseilles began to flee. In 1486, however, the municipal council curbed their emigration and drew up an inventory of their belongings. The ensuing period is marked by severe upheavals in the composition of the community, as reflected in the extant lists of the heads of families; at least one half of the community's members were relatively new arrivals. Jews from Spain began to arrive in large numbers, particularly after 1491. Many shipowners in Marseilles amassed fortunes as a result of their expulsion in 1492. Spanish Jews hired vessels at exorbitant prices to transport them to Italy and Constantinople, and many of these ships called at the port of Marseilles. At times, the exiles attempted to remain in the city without the authorization of the municipal council. A general expulsion order for Provence was issued in 1500 and enforced in 1492. For about 20 years, conversions increased considerably as great numbers of Jews chose baptism to evade expulsion. The 12th-century Jewish traveler Benjamin of Tudela refers to Marseilles as a "town of learned men and scholars." Among those he mentions is R. isaac b. abba mari of Marseilles, a renowned commentator and author of prayers. Several members of the ibn tibbon family also lived in Marseilles, or were born there. (Records of a rabbinical lawsuit in this family about 1250 mention family relationships and marriages between the Jews of Marseilles and those of naples , aix-en-provence , and montpellier .) nissim b. moses of marseilles was the author of a commentary – which some regard as "almost rationalist" – on the Pentateuch, entitled Sefer ha-Nissim or Ma'aseh Nissim. Samuel b. Judah ha-Marsili (also known as Miles Bonjudas), born in Marseilles in 1294, translated several philosophical and scientific works from Arabic into Hebrew. Other scholars born in the city include Judah b. David (also known as Bonjudas Bendavi or Maestre Bonjua), a talmudist and physician of the late 14th/early 15th century, and the talmudist and commentator jacob b. david provencal (second half of the 15th century), both of whom emigrated to Italy. In the second half of the 17th century, a second community was established in Marseilles for a brief period. As a result of an edict issued by Louis XIV in 1669, which granted tax exemption to the port of Marseilles, two Jews of Leghorn, Joseph Vais Villareal and Abraham athias , settled there in 1670 with their families. Their commercial success rapidly attracted other Jews. The local authorities soon protested against the presence of Jews and particularly objected to the existence of two places of Jewish worship. They obtained an expulsion order which was carried out in 1682. Despite successive renewals of the expulsion order, a new community was founded in 1760. About 1768, it owned a small synagogue and in 1783, it erected a cemetery. Although the community's membership remained relatively stable, a split occurred at the end of 1790, and both the municipality and the civil court were called upon to intervene to settle the differences. Forcibly reunited, the community established a new synagogue and a cemetery in 1804. The community was then composed of about 300 members, of whom over one third were living in poverty. The Jewish population increased rapidly to 450 in 1808, 1,000 in 1821, and 2,500 in 1865. As a result, several new institutions were established, including schools for both boys and girls, a poorhouse, and a synagogue on the Rue de Breteuil that remains in use today. -Holocaust Period and After Between 1940 and 1942, Marseilles, along with lyons , was the city in the southern or "free" zone where the greatest number of Jews and Jewish organizations and institutions found sanctuary from the German invasion. After the Allied landing in   North Africa and the German occupation of France in November 1942, there was a vicious hunt for Jews in Marseilles, which led to mass arrests and deportations. At the same time, the resistance movement increased its activities in the city. The synagogue on Rue de Breteuil was pillaged, the facade destroyed, the prayer books and the Torah scrolls burned. With the defeat of the Germans, about 5,000–10,000 Jews remained in Marseilles. The population, which was comprised of refugees from Provence and Alsace, immigrants from Eastern Europe, and Sephardi Jews from the eastern Mediterranean and from North Africa, gradually rebuilt the community and its institutions, including the Rue de Breteuil synagogue. The former military camp of Grand Arenas near Marseilles became a transit camp for Jewish survivors migrating to Palestine. Beginning in 1956, the city attracted Jewish immigrants from North Africa, and in 1962 it became their main port of entry into France. In 1969, there were an estimated 65,000 Jews in Marseilles. In 1987, the Jewish population stood at 70,000, making it the third largest Jewish community in Western Europe. Although the community's buildings and institutions expanded, they could not keep pace with the population growth. In 2002 Marseilles and the immediate vicinity was said to have over 40 synagogues. It also had three community centers, a Jewish primary school, an ort vocational school, and a network of institutions and organizations including youth movements, kosher restaurants, and mikva'ot. A consulate general of Israel was located in Marseilles. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: Gross, Gal Jud, 366ff.; B. Blumenkranz, Juifset chrétiens… (1960), index; R. Aubenas, Recueil de lettres des officialiés de Marseille…, 2 (1938), 37, 40–42, 54–55; A. Crémieux, in: REJ, 46 (1903), 1–47, 246–68; 47 (1903), 62–86, 243–61; 55 (1908), 119–45; 56 (1908), 99–123; I. Loeb, ibid., 16 (1888), 73–83; R. Busquet, ibid., 83 (1927), 163–83; J. Weyl, ibid., 17 (1888), 96–110; Z. Szajkowski, ibid., 121 (1962), 367–82; idem, Analytical Franco-Jewish Gazetteer (1966), index; M. Zarb, Privilèges de… Marseille (1961), 90, 142; Histoire du commerce de Marseille, 1 (1949), 290–3; 2 (1951), 89–96; 3 (1951), 24–31; 4 (1954), 537–9; D. Hauck, Das Kaufmannsbuch des Johan Blasi (1965), index; A. Latil, in: Répertoire des travaux de la societé de statistique de Marseille, 30 (1867), 122–53. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: Guide du Judaîsme français (1987), 39; Jewish Travel Guide (2002), 71. (Bernhard Blumenkranz / David Weinberg (2nd ed.)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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