The Rashi of Troyes Synagogue welcomes you to our website
The City of Troyes
The historical capital of the Champagne Province, Troyes is best explored on foot, allowing you to be guided by your curiosity or to pursue your personal interests.
As you stroll through our historical center, affectionately nicknamed «the Cork» (Champagne, of course!) because of its «silhouette» in a bird’s-eye view, lovers of historical cities will be surprised and delighted : you will find Gothic churches lit by stained-glass windows which are classed among the French national treasures, multi-colored half-timbered houses, Renaissance-style mansions, refurbished buildings from our industrial heritage, and the Rashi synagogue … all periods and styles are represented here.
But Troyes also has, at only a few minutes’drive from the historical center, the biggest center of factory outlets and wholesalers in Europe, with unbeatable prices on big-name fashion clothing;
Also services to interest the whole family ; unusual, prestigious museums, rapidly expanding universities ; reasonably-priced little restaurants where you can savor a bottle of champagne from
the Aube region, whose champagne is still little-known outside our area. In short, Troyes is an up-to-date city which is very agreable to live in all year round.
The Jewish community of Troyes
5 rue Brunneval, 10000 Troyes
Tel. : 03 25 73 53 01
Today’s modem congregation, founded by Jews from Alsace-Lorraine, numbers about 150 families.
It has a large synagogue and a Cultural Center. The grouped buildings are currently undergoing a complete restoration.
Services are celebrated according to Sephardic rites. 80% of the current members of our community come from North Africa, and now only 10% are Alsatian Jews and 10% of central European origins.
The Rashi Synagogue is situated in «historic Troyes», an area rich in history, in a «champagne-style» setting : in a building whose half-timbered walls, dating from the 16th century, are judiciously shown to advantage by extensive restoration begun in 2011.
The Jewish Community of Troyes offers visitors several books on RASHI. «La Vie en Champagne» [a local quarterly magazine] devoted a special issue to him: Rashi of Troyes, English copies of
which are for sale in our gift shop. In 2015 our Cultural Center is re-editing a book written by its former president, Mr. Henri Cahen: «Troyes and its Jews».
Rashi and his work
Rabbi Shlomo Yitshaki – Rabbi Salomon, son of Isaac -, better known by his acronym Rashi, was born in Troyes in 1040.
Rashi studied at the best rabbinical schools during a several years’stay in the Rhineland, in Worms and-Mainz, which was a deciding factor in his spiritual career.
Back in Troyes, he created a Jewish study house which became very famous.During his lifetime, his teaching was renowned throughout the Ashkenazic world.
The Spanish commentator Ibn Ezra nicknamed Rashi «the Parshandata,» an Aramaic word meaning «commentator par excellence of the Torah», a term which still today refers to Rashi.
The French Chief Rabbi, René-Samuel Sirat, explains that Rashi was the first to develop a very modem method of exegesis which has continued to influence rabbinical interpretation.
Since the invention of printing, the text of the Hebrew Bible has always been published with Rashi’s commentary, which is indispensable to understanding the text.
Rashi’s sons-in-law and grandsons maintained his teachings by creating the school of the Tossafistes, a term which comes from the Hebrew word« tossfot », meaning« additions». They
continued their teacher’s work by adding their own commentary.
Thus, as (French) Rabbi Claude Sultan states, Rashi is eternal: he is still the most moderm of the Bible commentators. Moreover, starting from the 12th century, his comments also became
widespread in Christian commentaries.
Nicolas de Lyre, for example, quotes Rashi numerous times in his own Bible commentaries.
The renewal of Hebrew studies in the 16th century permitted the publication and translation into Latin of several of Rashi’s commentaries.
Rashi introduced words from the Langue d’Oïl (the old Champagne dialect, the ancestor of French) into his commentaries. Thanks to him, it is possible to date many words from our language.
Having access to this richness is very significant when we consider that written documents in vernacular languages from that period were not saved.
Rashi’s «la’azim» or glosses, which are words from Northern French (dialect) transcribed in Hebrew characters to help his disciples understand the text, constitute a veritable treasure-trove of 11th century French.
On the other hand, Rashi did not invent the writing which bears his name : the «Ktav Rashi» is a writing style invented much later by the first printers of the Talmud in the 14th century, to distinguish Rashi’s commentary from the Biblical text itself.
Rashi symbolizes a certain «way of being Jewish» in France : he was integrated into city life, he gave advice to people, Jews as well as Christians, he frequented the Court of the Counts of Champagne… He is a model of Diaspora Judaism. The «responsa» : questions and answers on difficulties of interpretation of a text, or more generally on problems of law or theology-which
appear in his work, reflect Jewish community life at that time and constitute an important historical source of information on life in 11th century Champagne.
Today Rashi still has the same extraordinary aura in the Jewish world, where he is studied by congregations the world over, and by children starting at age 5.
The Synagogue and our renovation (virtual visit)
The site www.rachi-troyes.com offers you different ways to see the evolution of the construction work accomplished since 2011 in this extraordinary place : the RASHI Synagogue.
First of all, if you click on the link ‘Construction Work’, syou can judge the state of the buildings before we began work on them and appreciate how much reconstruction has been done : including all the roofing and the interior courtyards.
Furthermore, if you click on the link ‘virtual Tour’, you can take a guided tour of these same places, which will give you a magical vision of our current work and of our coming projects.
Among these projects, the RASHI CULTURAL CENTER would like to re-create the medieval synagogue and Rashi’s Bet Hamidrash of Troyes.
Thanks to these reconstructions, each visitor today will be able to better understand all the aspects of Rashi’s daily life and of how he established his commentaries on the Bible and the Talmud.
Finally, each visitor can participate financially in these reconstitutions by making a gift to the Cultural Center (by clicking here on ‘Give a gift’), in order to reconstruct the Synagogue and Rashi’s Bet Hamidrash.
In Rashi’s Footsteps
Description of the visit : By following the route which we suggest below, the visitor will certainly walk along some of the streets which Rashi trod. (interactive map : IN RASHI’S FOOTSTEPS)
- Rashi European University Institute
- Street of the synagogue
- «Golden Mortar» building (a picturesque courtyard)
- Little Cat Street
- House of Moses [notice the statue] and pedestrian streets
- Alexandre Israel Square
- City Hall
- Sundial and writing of the Name of G.od (as a tetragram)
- Chapel of the former Pharmacy of the Hotel-D.ieu [a charity hospital in the Middle Ages]
- Former Jewish sector « in the Middle Ages »
- Saint Frobert Street, where Rashi’s «Bet Hamidrash» was situated
- Peacock Street, where Rashi lived
- Modem Art Museum, (donations by Pierre and Denise LEVY)
- Rashi Memorial a « Sphere » by Raymond Moretti, in front of the Champagne Theater
- Rashi Esplanade at the City Main Library, which is situated on the former Jewish Cemetery
Estimated time to visit these places : about 90 minutes
For all additional information on the City :
Tourist Office of Troyes
16 rue Aristide Briand
08 92 22 46 09