Chief town of the arrondissement of that name in the department of Vaucluse, France. Jews settled at Carpentras at a very early period. The collection of rabbinical decisions called "Ḳol Bo" quotes a document (No. 117) attributed to Jacob Tam, grandson of Rashi (twelfth century), in which the rabbis of Carpentras are mentioned together with "the elders and scholars of Troyes and its environs, the great men of Auxerre, the scholars of the regions of the Rhine, the doctors of Paris and their neighbors, the scholars of Lyons, of Lombardy, of the seacoast, of Anjou, of Poitou, and the great men of Lorraine." Expelled in the beginning of the thirteenth century, the Jews returned to Carpentras in 1263. On Feb. 28, 1276, Bishop Pierre III. Rostaing made an agreement with them, signed by sixty-four heads of families, representing two-thirds of the community, by which they acknowledged themselves to be, as their forefathers at Carpentras had been, vassals of the bishop, and they consented to pay to him and to his successors the following taxes: (1) an annual quit-rent of 18 Tours pounds; (2) a tallage of 25 pounds for six specified cases; (3) sheets for the bishop's guest-beds; (4) all the tongues of the cattle they might kill, or should have killed; (5) an annual tax on their rural and urban possessions, and the thirteenth part of the total seat-rent of the synagogue; (6) ten Tours sous for every foreign or strange Jew coming to live at Carpentras, and desiring to be received as a citizen on the same terms as other Jews; (7) fifteen Tours sous for every Jew wishing to live outside of the chain fixed at the entrance of the "visataria" (post of inspection). In addition, (8) Jews are thenceforward forbidden to assist or support any person, corporation, or association against the bishop, or to have any relations or connection with them; (9) Jews are obliged to render the above-mentioned homage to every new bishop, to swear fidelity to him, and to observe the same agreement with him; (10) the bishop binds himself and his successors to impose no other taxes upon the Jews, to guard their property, and to protect them against injustice and violence; (11) the Jews are permitted to leave the city and to establish themselves elsewhere, but in that case they will cease to be citizens of Carpentras ("Revue Etudes Juives," xii. 43, 44).
The convention of April 12, 1320, between Pope John XXII. and the bishop, consecrated by the bull of "dismemberment," changed the situation created for the Jews by the act of 1276. They ceased to be the bishop's property, his "subscribed" serfs, but they remained to a certain extent his tributary vassals (Bardinet, "Revue Historique," xii. 40). Protected against the Pastoureaux by Pope John XXII. in 1320, they were nevertheless expelled by him from Carpentras in 1322. Their synagogue was demolished, a church dedicated to the Virgin Mary being erected on its site ("Revue Etudes Juives," xii. 48; compare Bardinet, l.c. xii. 17).
Pope Clement VI., well disposed toward the Jews, on his accession in 1342, revoked the edict of expulsion of John XXII. Bishop Hugues permitted twelve heads of Jewish families, who in 1343 had returned to Carpentras, to build a new synagogue, and also to have a cemetery near the city, on payment of a yearly contribution of six pounds of spices, three of ginger, and three of pepper ("Revue Etudes Juives," xii. 51; compare Bardinet, l.c. xii. 41). This agreement of 1343 was renewed by Bishop John Flandrini in 1367; but Bishop Peter IV. de Rabath revoked it in 1385 and reestablished the annual tax of eighteen pounds that dated back to 1276. Pope Benedict XIII. claimed in 1403 all the taxes which the Jews had formerly paid to the episcopal household, especially the furnishing of the sheets for the bishop's guest-beds. By an agreement of May 2, 1405, the Jews could free themselves of this prestation by paying to the bishop annually the sum of twenty florins in gold ("Revue Etudes Juives," xii. 55; compare Bardinet, l.c. xii. 43). Other agreements were made, now and later on, between the Jews and the bishopric in regard to the tax on seat-rents of the synagogue, the selling of kosher wine, the presence of the rector's sergeant atcircumcisions, marriages, and interments, and the policing of the ghetto, etc. ("Revue Etudes Juives," xii. 56 et seq.).Sixteenth Century.
Clement VII., who had confirmed the privileges of the Jews in 1524, revoked them in 1539. In a bull of June 13, 1525, he ordered the men to wear the yellow hat, and the women some other distinctive mark. Paul IV. in 1555, Pius V. in 1566, and Clement VIII. in 1592 renewed the decrees of their predecessors ("Revue Etudes Juives," vi. 90). Notwithstanding these bulls, the Jews obtained permission to wear no other signs than those they were accustomed to (ib. xxxii. 70). On the accession of Paul III. the Jews of Carpentras sent two procurators to Rome, Joseph de Lattès and Vides Avigdor of Cavaillon, in order to obtain from the pope a new examination into their rights. This request was entirely successful (ib. 74). By his bull of Feb. 26, 1569, Pius VII. expelled the Jews from the Italian and French territory. An order of the legate, dated Avignon (Aug. 3, 1570), commanded them to leave the country by Oct. 15 following. The rector, however, permitted a small number of them to remain at Carpentras; and these, a few years later, had again grown into an important community (ib. xii. 165). The bull of Clement VIII. (Feb. 28, 1593), by which the Jews were driven from the pontifical states, except Rome, Ancona, and Avignon, was not enforced at Carpentras. Those provinces which in the course of the seventeenth century had repeatedly demanded the expulsion of the Jews succeeded no better.
The Jews willingly paid the episcopal taxes, etc., imposed upon them by the agreement of 1276. Twice, however, they resisted, in 1513 and in 1781; but each time they were compelled to render homage to the bishop, and to pay all that they owed him (ib. xii. 63). The Revolution and the annexation of the county of Venaissin by France freed them from this yoke of the Middle Ages.
The synagogue, built in 1741 upon the same spot as the one of 1367, was repaired in 1784, and again in 1899. It has several distinctive features not found outside of the county, unless in Italy (see detailed description by I. Loeb, "Revue Etudes Juives," xii. 227, 235). The cemetery, probably the same as the one granted to the Jews in 1343 by Bishop Hugues, is situated in the northeastern part of the city, in the quarter called "La Fontrouse." Neubauer has described in the "Archives des Missions Scientifiques" (3d series, vol. i.) some tomb-stones from the old cemetery, now in the museum of Carpentras. For the construction and support of their synagogue and cemetery, the expenses of their ritual, and the heavy taxes arbitrarily imposed upon them from time to time, the community contracted a debt which, at the beginning of this century, amounted to 286, 831.22 francs. This was fully paid between June 26, 1822, and Sept. 6, 1825.
Carpentras constituted formerly, together with Avignon, Lisle, and Cavaillon, the four communities, "Arba' Ḳehillot," that were the only ones tolerated in the French pontifical territory. They had a special liturgy: (1) the seder of "Yamim Nora'im" (Ritual for the New Year and Day of Atonement; Amsterdam, 1739); (2) the seder of the three "Regalim" (Festivals; Amsterdam, 1759); (3) the seder of the four fasts (Amsterdam, 1762); (4) the "Seder ha-Tamid" (Daily Ritual; Avignon, 1767); (5) the"Seder ha-Ḳonṭeris" (Ritual Opusculum; Avignon, 1767). The Hebrew Provence poems inserted in the "Seder ha-Tamid" and in the "Seder haḲonṭeris" have been translated and published by E. Sabatier (Nímes, 1876) under the title of "Chansons Hebraico-Provençales des Juifs Comtadins," and also by Dom Pedro d'Alcantara, emperor of Brazil (Avignon, 1891), under that of "Poésies Hébraico-Provençales du Rituel Israélite Comtadin."
The community of Carpentras, which, in 1789, had 1,000 Jews, counts to-day only thirty to thirty-five families in a total population of 10,628. It belongs to the "Circonscription Consistoriale" of Marseilles; and possesses, in addition to the synagogue, a maẓẓot factory.Scholars and Physicians.
The following noted scholars dwelt in Carpentras: Hanan ben Nathan Ezobi (thirteenth century) and his two sons, the poets Eleazar and Joseph, the first of whom settled later on at Béziers, the second in Perpignan; Abraham Malaki; Mordecai ben Yosifya, Abraham the Elder, Abraham ben Isaac, and Ḥayyim de Carcassonne (thirteenth century); Mordecai ben Isaac, a correspondent of Abba Mari of Lunel (in 1303-06); Moses ben Judah Rouget, Ishmael ben Todros of Noves, and Asher ben Moses of Valabrègue (members of the rabbinical college in 1582); Ḥayyim Crescas, Moses ben Joseph Kolon, Ẓemaḥ ben Moses Caslari, Isaac Leon, Jacob Vidal (1580-89); Rabbi Jesse, R. Saul, and R. Solomon Lion (1629); Solomon Ezobi (1620-23), a learned Talmudist and distinguished astronomer, who was in correspondence with the celebrated Peirese of Aix, and the Hebraist John Plantavit de la Pause, bishop of Lodève ("Revue Etudes Juives," xi. 101, 292; compare Gross, "Gallia Judaica," p. 611); David ben Joseph Carmi (1621-22); Elijah Carmi, editor of "Seder ha-Tamid," and a liturgical poet bearing the same name (1682); Mordecai Astruc, author of a thanksgiving prayer, inserted in the "Seder ha-Tamid" and recited at Carpentras on the Ninth of Nisan; Saul ben Joseph de Monteux, son of the liturgical poet Joseph ben Abraham Monteux, who composed a "piyyuṭ" upon the deliverance of the Jews at the time of the riot at Carpentras in 1682; Mordecai ben Jacob, author of an elegy upon the martyrdom of the Hasmonean priest Eleazar (Zunz, "Z. G." p. 473); Judah Aryeh Loeb ben Ẓebi Hirsch of Krotoschin (eighteenth century), author of a concordance, a dictionary of Hebrew proper names, and two works on the Pentateuch; Moses Sinai (1742), Joseph de Lattés (1746-58), Jacob Ḥayyim Vidas, Isaiah Samuel Crémieux, Judah David Crémieux, Joseph Milhaud, Israel Crémieux, Jacob Lunel, Menahem Lion, and Abraham Roguemartine (1731-62).
Also the following physicians: Bondavit Boninas of Marseilles (1343), Maître Mayé or Magister Magius Macipi, Boniac, and Thoros (1357), Isaac Tauroci or Thoros (1367), Cresques Bondavid, Ḥayyim, and Solomon (1400-01), Samuel Bonajudo (1532), Isaac Thoros, Vides Avigdor of Cavaillon, and Isaac de Lattés (1540-64), Sauves or Saulves (1570), Joseph ben Isaac ha-Levi (1571), Moses ben Judah (1583), and Moses of Cavaillon.
- Loeb, Les Juifs de Carpentras, in Revue Etudes Juives, xii. 34 et seq.;
- Perugini, ib. iii. 104;
- Zunz, Ritus, Index, s.v.;
- Gross, Gallia Judaica, pp. 605 et seq.