Small town in the department of Vaucluse, France. In his book, "Réponses de Rabbins Français et Lorrains" (Vienna, 1881), Joël Müller mentions (No. 17) a rabbi of Cavaillon, Eliezer ben Judah, pupil of Isaac ben Menahem, who lived at Orleans in the second half of the eleventh century. It also appears from the same book (Nos. 21, 22) that the celebrated Rashi of Troyes was in correspondence with the scholars of Cavaillon. Gross ("Gallia Judaica," p. 591), however, maintains that the passage refers not to Cavaillon, but to Châlons-sur-Saône. However that may be, it is certain that Jews were living at an early period at Cavaillon. A Jew named Jaquiellus was a tenant of crown lands in 1303 (Bardinet, "Revue Historique," 1880, xiv. 36). A document of the year 1372 mentions five Jews who, in the name of the community, rendered homage to the bishop, to whom the Jews of Cavaillon paid an annual quit-rent for the houses and lands owned by them in his territory (ib. xii. 44, 46).
In 1453 the Jews were relegated to a special quarter ("Inventaire des Archives de la Communauté de Cavaillon," No. 127). The year 1485 was an unfortunateone for the Jews of Cavaillon. Imitating the inhabitants of Arles and Tarascon, the Christians of Cavaillon fell upon the Jews and pillaged their property ("Rev. Et. Juives," vi. 35).
Toros of Cavaillon, one of the three wardens of the Jewish community of Avignon in 1400, is identified by Steinschneider with the physician Todros of Cavaillon, the author of a pharmacopœia written partly in Hebrew and partly in Latin (Renan-Neubauer, "Les Ecrivains Juifs," p. 725). Something is known of another scholar of Cavaillon, Jacob Léon, for whom Moses Farissol Botarel in 1465 wrote a treatise on the calendar. Gross (l.c. p. 539) identifies this Jacob Léon with Jacob of Cavaillon, at whose suggestion Mordecai Durant Farissol copied, in the same year, a part of Levi ben Gerson's book, "Milḥamot ha-Shem."
Cavaillon was one of the four communities ("arba' ḳehillot") having a special ritual of prayers (see Carpentras), this being edited in 1767 at Avignon, by Elijah Carmi, a teacher at Carpentras. A new edition of this liturgy was published in 1855 at Aix, by Michel Milhaud.
The lists of the Jews of Carpentras ("Rev. Et. Juives," xii. 193-212) contain the names of a number of Jews called after the town of Cavaillon. In 1413-1414 there were also at Perpignan Jews who came originally from Cavaillon (ib. xiv. 75). At Arles R. Joseph of Cavaillon was in 1385 a member of the rabbinical college of judges in the scandalous trial mentioned in the article on Cadenet, Provence. R. Isaac ben Nathan of Cavaillon was in 1582 a member of the rabbinical court of Fossano, Italy. A document of the same year, relating to the excommunication of the woman Bonastorga of Carpentras, bears the signatures of Bongoias de la Rocca and David Cohen of Cavaillon ("Rev. Et. Juives," x. 82). At Cavaillon, in 1713, lived the poet Gad ben Judah of Bédarride, author of a thanksgiving prayer preserved in the ritual of Avignon (Zunz, "Z. G." p. 466).
The old community has almost disappeared, only three Jewish families residing in Cavaillon in 1901. The synagogue, which was repaired in 1774, has been preserved. It rests partly upon an archway under which a street passes; and this arch was probably once the gate to the ghetto. The synagogue closely resembles that of Carpentras.