ORLEANS ( or ):
Chief city of the department of Loiret, France. Its Jewish community dates from the sixth century. The various councils which met at that time in the city enacted special laws against the Jews. In 533 the second Council of Orleans forbade marriages between Jews and Christians, under pain of excommunication of the latter; and the third, in 538, forbade Christians to permit Jews to act as judges, and prohibited the Jews from appearing in public between Maundy Thursday and Easter Monday, also interdicting the clergy from eating with them. The fourth council decided, in 541, that any Jew who should make a convert, or should induce one of his former coreligionists to return to Judaism, or who should appropriate a Christian slave, or should induce a Christian to embrace Judaism, should be punished by the loss of all his slaves; if, on the other hand, a Christian became a Jew, and gained his liberty on condition of adhering to the Jewish faith, that such terms should be invalid; for it would not be just for a Christian convert to Judaism to enjoy freedom.
When Gontran, King of Burgundy, made his entry into Orleans in 585, Jews mingled in the throng hailing his arrival with joyful acclamations. They delivered a Hebrew address to him, but the king received them with derision, saying: "Wo to this wicked and treacherous Jewish nation, full of knavery and deceit! They overwhelm me with noisy flatteries to-day; all peoples, they say, should adore me as their lord; yet all this is but to induce me to rebuild at the public expense their synagogue, long since destroyed. This I will never do; for God forbids it."Accused of Treason.
At the beginning of the eleventh century the report spread through Europe that the calif Ḥakim Bi-Amr Allah had destroyed the Church of the HolySepulcher at Jerusalem at the instigation of the Jews of Orleans, who had warned him, by letters written in Hebrew, of the departure of an expedition for the deliverance of the Holy Land. Although this accusation was utterly baseless, the Jews of Orleans, to escape a general massacre, were obliged to leave the city for a time. They soon returned, however, to resume their studies. Their academy was one of the most noted in France in the twelfth century; and their savants, known as the "Anciens" of Orleans, took part in the synod held at Troyes about 1150, under the leadership of R. Tam and of RaSHBaM. Philip Augustus expelled them in 1182, and turned their synagogue into a church, which he gave to the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem in the year 1200.
Like their coreligionists in other cities of France, the Jews of Orleans were obliged to wear the wheel badge, for which they were forced to pay an annual tax. In 1285 the badges in the bailiwick of Orleans brought fifty livres to the treasury, but in 1295 only thirty sous. The special tax imposed on the Jews amounted in 1298 to 500 livres, but in 1299 to 40 livres only, while by 1301 it had risen to 265 livres. The sale of their estates, exclusive of personal property, plate, and jewels, amounted in 1306 to the sum of 33,700 livres, 46 sous, 5 deniers. Their great school building, confiscated by Philip the Fair, was sold at auction at the same time and brought 340 livres, while the smaller school, situated in the city, brought 140 livres.
The principal scholars of Orleans were as follows: In the eleventh century: Isaac ben Menahem (Tos. to Men. 5a and to Giṭ. 21a); Meïr ben Isaac, liturgical poet (Zunz, "Literaturgesch." p. 251). In the twelfth century: Eleazar ben Meïr ben Isaac, Solomon ben Isaac, Joseph ben Isaac Bekor Shor (Tos. to Ḥul. 112b; Yeb. 25b, 36b; Mak. 6a; Shab. 12a; Zunz, l.c. pp. 282-285; idem, "Z. G." p. 75), Jacob of Orleans or R. Tam (died in London 1189; Tos. to Yoma 34a; Pes. 5b, 15a; Yeb. 4a; Ket. 47a; Giṭ. 8c; Zunz, "Z. G." p. 75), Abraham ben Joseph (Tos. to Ber. 45b and to Mak. 6b).
At the present time (1904) there are only a few Jewish families in Orleans.
- Aronius, Regesten, i. 60;
- Bédarride, Les. Juifs en France, p. 109;
- Brussel, Usage des Fiefs. i., book ii., ch. xix.;
- Delisle, Catalogue des Actes de Philippe-Auguste, p. 572;
- Depping, Les Juifs dans le Moyen Age, pp. 84, 147;
- Dom Bouquet, Recueil des Hist. de France, x. 34; xxii. 557, 763;
- Grätz, Gesch. v. 548;
- Gregory of Tours, Historia Francorum, viii. 1;
- Gross, Gallia Judaica. p. 30;
- Steinschneider, Hebr. Bibl. xx. 15;
- Israel Lévi, in Rapport Moral sur le Séminaire Israélite, p. 12, Paris, 1903:
- R. E. J. ii. 17, 42; xv. 247, 250, 258;
- Riant, Inventaire Critique des Lettres Historiques des Croisades, p. 38, Paris, 1880.