Our History

It is believed that the establishment of the Jews in Narbonne dates back to a very high antiquity. The first mention of the presence of Jews in Narbonne appeared in the 5th century in two letters dated 470 and 473, from Sidoine Apollinaire to his friend Félix de Narbonne, great Gallo-Roman dignitary. It mentions a Jew named Gozolas, an employee of Felix. In the 6th century, under the domination of the Wisigoths kings, restrictive measures were applied to the Jews who, until then, had had good relations with the other components of the population (Romans, Syrians, Greeks …). The Jews, however, remain the facilitators of commercial life, intermediaries between the East and the West.

The 40 years of the Muslim occupation, from 719 to 759, are silent on the fate of the Jews.

With the Carolingian kings, the Jews gained the right to own hereditary domains, and Charlemagne granted them many privileges, including the right to have a “king” (Nassi), a prominent figure with several buildings in the city. The Jews seem to have benefited from a fairly wide security with the possibility of animating economic life and of building up large fortunes invested in land properties or industrial farms (mills, salines, etc…). The vicomtes and archbishops of Narbonne will be able to derive considerable income from their Jewish subjects, increasing their number by granting various privileges, hence a permanent rivalry between the lords of the two Jews.

In 1173, a traveler described Narbonne as “a mistress for Hebrew law” from which it spread throughout the province. There are famous doctors, including Rabbi Kalomine, son of Rabbi Theodore, of David’s lineage. It is in Narbonne, it is said, that the Talmud owes its greatest fame. The Jewish schools of Narbonne are renowned, and many Jewish scholars are mentioned, including Jaccaben Jekar, who was one of the masters of Rachi, one of the lights of the XIIth century, and Moses of Narbonne, nicknamed Hodarchian, the preacher who composed comments (which were lost) on the Bible. The Directorate of the Talmudic Schools of Narbonne, where, in the 11th and 12th centuries, famous teachers had been taught and the founders of the Jewish educational centers of Montpellier and Lunel had been trained, assured the Nassi narbonnais high spiritual authority throughout the province. On 21 June 1306, Philippe le Bel ordered the expulsion of the Jews from his