France / Paris

Place de la République

Synagogue of Nazareth. Photo by FLLL – Wikipedia

Around the Place de la République, you will find one of the oldest places in Paris attesting to the Jewish cultural heritage of Paris: the synagogue of Nazareth.

But also very active cultural institutions such as the Cercle Bernard Lazare, the Center Medem and the Maison de la Culture Yiddish.

By order of June 29, 1819, King Louis XVIII authorized the Consistory to build the first major  synagogue in Paris on rue Notre-Dame-de-Nazareth. It was inaugurated in 1822.

A courtyard welcomed the faithful behind a sober facade. Inside, the thirteen massive columns were particularly noticeable. The bimah was installed in the center and the decorative motifs recalled neoclassicism.

At the rear of the building was also installed a prayer room in order to follow the tradition of the Portuguese Jews living in the area. deteriorated rapidly and various development or reconstruction projects were then considered.


Bernard Lazare

Finally, the architect Alexandre Thierry reconstructed the entire building, removing the small room from the back. Orientalist and biblical references mingled with the new project.

The facade remains sober but the crowning of the portal presence of the motifs of Byzantium and the Middle East. We also see a very beautiful rose window. Twelve arches are drawn in the project to recall the twelve tribes. On the women’s floor, three arches are inspired by the three prophets. A large arch closes the sanctuary.

The vault is painted blue with golden stars walking around it. The tevah is located in the center. The synagogue of Nazareth was inaugurated in 1852. It still remains today one of the most representative synagogues of Parisian Jewish heritage.

Bernard Lazare, born in Nîmes in 1865, committed writer and leftist, published in 1894 Anti-Semitism, its history and its causes. Two years before the Dreyfus Affair. He was also very involved in defending this cause, as well as the fate of the Armenians persecuted in 1902. He died a year later. At the corner of Turbigo and Borda streets, a square now bears his name.

Vladimir Medem

Not far from there is the  Cercle Bernard Lazare, opened in 1954. It is a very active cultural meeting place, committed to the defense of republican values ​​and the Israeli-Arab dialogue. Conferences, concerts, publications of the Cahiers Bernard Lazare but also very involved in the European Days of Jewish Cultures and Heritage.

Two other places in Paris perpetuate the memory of Parisian Jewish history and the teaching of Yiddish. Vladimir Medem, a great theorist of the Bund workers movement and committed politician, participated in the 1905 Revolution and distinguished himself during the two 1917 Revolutions.

Many institutions around the world bear his name. In Paris, the  Medem Arbeter Ring Center is a secular Jewish organization registered in the socialist movement and attached to the Yiddish culture. organizes sixty cultural events per year, as well as language workshops (Yiddish, Hebrew, Judeo-Spanish and Judeo-Arabic).

Closeby, the  House of Yiddish culture – Medem Library which is dedicated to the conservation of the heritage and the dissemination of Yiddish culture in France and in Europe and the promotion of Yiddish as a language to audiences from all walks of life. Besides its cultural activities and language workshops, it has an important library.