Between the Middle Ages and the French Revolution, Cavaillon, France, was home to a significant Jewish population. While Jewish communities in other parts of Europe were suffering horrific pogroms, the Jews of Provence were luckier. The Popes of Avignon, recognizing that Jesus was a Jew, decreed that they be treated with tolerance. However, because Jews were also seen as the murderers of Jesus, they established strict regulations that resulted in severe discrimination. All Jews were forced to wear a yellow hat, were allowed only certain occupations (such as money lending), and were not allowed to mingle with Christians.
The 200 Jewish residents of Cavaillon were forced to live within the cramped, walled confines of one small street known as the “carrière.” The Jewish Synagogue in Cavaillon anchored one end of this street. Since it had been converted from a prior use, it occupied two unconnected floors of a 16th century building. The lower floor, which is all that remains of the early structure, was the domain of women and the bakery. This photo shows the prayer hall on the upper floor, which only men were allowed to enter. The prayer room was rebuilt in 1774 in a Baroque style, reflecting a culture that was both Jewish and Provençal.
You may also enjoy this story about the famous Charentais Melons of France, which are grown in Cavaillon.