Local Jewish Community: Chalon


The first mention of a Jewish community in Chalon-sur-Saone (Burgundy) dates back to 1075. In the Middle-Ages, what is now known as the main street was called Rue des Juifs. In 1306, the Jews were expelled from France by Philip IV but they were allowed to stay in Burgundy. They were “invited” back to France 9 years later.

In 1394 the Jews were expelled again (by Charles VI also know as Charles the Mad) and all the communities left France this time. Only after the French Revolution did they start coming back.

Local archives show that in Chalon one of the city cemeteries had a Jewish corner in 1836. Local Jews must have met in their homes for a while since the synagogue was only built in 1882.

It is the same synagogue which is still used today by the 21 Jewish families who live there.


The whole building belongs to the community. The cellar is where kosher wine is stocked. the door at the top is the entrance to the shul common room and kitchen. The firt door, on the right, alsmot at the top is the entrance of the synagogue itself.


The synagogue is still exactly as it was in 1882, except for paint work. The benches were modelled on those of the Grande Synagogue de Paris.


The mechitza, on the left, is typical of French shuls of the late 19th century or early 20th century in that the separation is minimal.




11 thoughts on “Local Jewish Community: Chalon

  1. Lovely. I especially like the detail over the Aron Kodesh of the דע לפני מי אתה עומד.

    It reminds me of the synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island, the first synagogue in the U.S. Especially because of the white and the clean lines.

  2. What a beautiful shul!

    The mechitza, on the left, is typical of French shuls of the late 19th century or early 20th century in that the separation is minimal.
    My understanding is that this was true in many other locations as well.

  3. What a wonderful post, Ilana, with beautiful photographs!

    I especially like the bima and the Ark. Such a beautiful synagogue.

  4. nice to see these photos. I am
    sitting on o a boat in the Saone about 1 km from the synagugue. We tried to get in on a Monday afternoon but the door next to the sign was locked and the main building, which probably was the shul before WW II has been converted to offices. I guess that with 21 families there is no full time staff. Thanks for showing me what we could have seen.

    • We tried to see the Synagogue in Chalon Sur Saone on Saturday, April 7, 2012–(it was Passover), naturally it was closed. Would love to hear from someone who has been inside the sanctuary. My email is stevelake2@cox.net. My wife and I live in Las Vegas.

      Zai Gesundt,

      Steve Lake

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