France / Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes

Clermont-Ferrand

Jules Isaac Cultural Center of Clermont-Ferrand

Centre Culturel Jules Isaac, Rue des 4 Passeports, Clermont-Ferrand, France

Synagogue of Clermont-Ferrand. Photo by Julien – Wikipedia

The official formation of a community in Clermont-Ferrand dates back to 1808 when Israel Waël, who then headed it, donated a garden to establish a Jewish cemetery.

David Marx, the Chief Rabbi of Bordeaux, inaugurated the Clermont-Ferrand synagogue on March 20, 1862. The  synagogue on rue des Quatre-Passeports was built in a private house by local architect François-Louis Jarrier. This is thanks to a donation from Israel Waël’s son-in-law and new leader of the community, Vidal Léon.

During the Second World War, the Israelite Seminary settled there temporarily after the occupation of Paris. During the occupation of Clermont-Ferrand, many Jews were rounded up. The synagogue will remain in operation until 1943.

In the aftermath of the war, the synagogue was sold and then bought much later by the patron Edmond Safra so that it could serve as a cultural and educational space devoted to the history of the Jews and to the memory of the Righteous in Auvergne.

Thus, following major restoration work, the Jules Isaac Cultural Center has hosted here since 2013 a permanent exhibition, conferences and meetings in order to share the city’s Jewish cultural heritage and the history of the Righteous who saved them during the war.