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ARRAS:

Chief city of the department of Pasde-Calais, capital of the ancient Artois, France. According to Gross, the name of this city appears in a very curious Hebrew document (De Rossi, MS. No. 563, 23), which relates that Robert the Pious, king of France (996-1031), together with his vassals and neighboring princes, having decreed the extermination of the Jews who refused baptism, a certain Jacob b. Jekuthiel went to Rome to invoke for his coreligionists the protection of the pope. The pope sent a high dignitary to put a stop to the persecution. Jacob went from Rome to Lorraine, and thence to Flanders, about 1023. He died there at (i.e., Arras), on the banks of a river, probably the Scarpe. His sons conveyed his body to Rheims.

It does not follow from this text that there was a Jewish community at Arras at this time; and the identification of the Hebrew word in question with Arras is not at all positive. It is quite probable that Jews were living at Arras, as, indeed, they lived in the whole surrounding region, in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries; but of their history nothing whatever is known.

Bibliography:
  • Gross, Gallia Judaica, pp. 71 et seq.
G. I. L.
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