Caen (käN), city (1990 pop. 115,624), capital of Calvados dept., N France, in Normandy, on the Orne River. It is a busy port, canalized (by Napoleon I) directly to the sea. The commercial center of the rich Calvados region, it is highly industrialized, with a thermal power station and extensive steelworks along the Orne; the nearby iron-ore mines are among the largest in France. The city's manufactures include motor vehicle parts, electronic gear, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and paper. Caen's importance dates from the 11th cent., when it was a favorite residence of William I of England (William the Conqueror). During the French Revolution it was a rallying place for the federalists; Charlotte Corday lived there.
The town, an architectural gem, was largely destroyed by bombardment during the Normandy campaign of World War II; the 14th-century Church of St. Peter's lost its famous spire, while the castle of William the Conqueror and the town hall (17th cent.) were destroyed beyond repair. However, three outstanding examples of 11th-century Norman architecture were preserved: the Abbaye aux Hommes [men's abbey], founded by William the Conqueror, who is buried there; the Abbaye aux Dames [women's abbey], founded by Queen Matilda; and the Church of St. Nicholas. The university (founded 1432 and also destroyed) has been rebuilt; in 1964 its technical institute became the National School of Advanced Electronics and Electromechanic Studies. A school of hydrography is also in Caen.
CAEN , capital of the department of Calvados, France. The medieval Jewish community of Caen lived in the Rue des Juifs between Rue Desmoneux and the Rue de l'Eglise Julien, in the vicinity of which a property called "Jardin aux Juifs" (perhaps the medieval cemetery) still exists. In 1252 the Jews were expelled from Caen but they returned later in fairly large numbers, and in 1301 the Jews paid a total of over 700 livres in tallage, as compared to a little more than 462 livres in 1217. They were expelled once more by Philip the Fair in 1306. The chief rabbinical authority of Caen was R. Joseph Porat (or Joseph b. Moses; mid-12th century), also called Don Bendit, author of a commentary on the Talmud and perhaps also of a commentary on the Pentateuch.
There is no precise information on the fate of Jews of Caen during World War ii, but one street bears the name of a Jewish physician, Peker, deported in 1943.
In 1951 a Jewish community was established which provided religious services and instruction for its approximately 30 Jewish families. Since that year, the Jewish population has grown rapidly, with an estimated 700 persons living in Caen in 1969. A combined synagogue and community center was inaugurated in 1966.
Gross, Gal Jud, 541–5; G. de La Rue, Essais historiques sur … Caen, 1 (1820), 319–20; P. Carel, Histoire de la ville de Caen (1886), 31; Histoire littéraire de la France, 32 (1898), 208.