Le Mans

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MANS, LE (Heb. מנש), capital of the department of Sarthe, in western France. A Jew, Vaslinus, is mentioned as a moneylender there between 1104 and 1115. In 1138, the Jews of Le Mans were attacked by local inhabitants. They lived in the quarter formed by Rues Marchande, Saint-Jacques, Falotiers or de Merdereau, Barillerie, Ponts-Neufs and de la Juiverie, and owned a synagogue and a cemetery (in the parish of Sainte-Croix), which was also used by other Jews in the vicinity. They probably also had their own market and a hospital. Another attack upon Jews may have occurred around 1200, since several Jewish converts are found in Le Mans in 1207, and in 1216, Berengaria, the widow of Richard the Lion-Hearted, Lady of Le Mans, disposed of the so-called "school of the Juiverie," i.e., the synagogue. Records show the existence of a Jewish quarter during the second half of the 13th century, the Jews of Le Mans then being under the jurisdiction of the bishop. Reference to Jewish scholars of Le Mans is found in rabbinical literature from the end of the ninth century, the most celebrated being *Avun the Great (tenth century) and Elijah b. Menahem ha-Zaken (11th century). The Jews were expelled from Le Mans in 1289 at the same time as the Jews of Maine and Anjou. During World War ii many of the Jews in Le Mans were deported. A new community was formed after the war, many of its members coming from North Africa. It numbered 400 in 1969. A stained-glass window dating from the 12th century depicting the allegorical defeated Synagogue can be seen in the Cathedral of Le Mans.


B. Blumenkranz, in: Mélanges … R. Crozet, 2 (1966), 1154; Z. Szajkowski, Analytical Franco-Jewish Gazetteer (1966), 256; Gross, Gal Jud, 392–3.

[Bernhard Blumenkranz /

David Weinberg (2nd ed.)]

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Le Mans (lə mäN), city (1990 pop. 148,465), capital of Sarthe dept., NW France, on the Sarthe River. The historical capital of Maine, it is also an important manufacturing, commercial, educational, and communications center. Its service industries, especially insurance, are important. Le Mans, which dates from pre-Roman times and before Charlemagne was a Merovingian capital, has witnessed frequent sieges and battles throughout its history. The Cathedral of St. Julien du Mans (11th–13th cent.), which contains the tomb of Berengaria, queen of Richard Cœur de Lion (Richard I of England), is partly Romanesque; its Gothic part has perhaps the most daring system of flying buttresses of any Gothic cathedral. Le Mans was the birthplace of Henry II of England and John II of France. Today, Le Mans is famous for its annual international auto race, which is run on local roads.

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Le Mans ★★★ 1971 (G)

The famous 24-hour sports car race sets the stage for this tale of love and speed. McQueen (who did his own driving) is the leading race driver, a man who battles competition, fear of death by accident, and emotional involvement. Excellent documentary-style race footage almost makes up for weak plot and minimal acting. 106m/ C VHS, DVD . Steve McQueen, Elga Andersen, Ronald Leigh-Hunt, Luc Merenda; D: Lee H. Katzin; W: Harry Kleiner; C: Robert B. Hauser.

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Le Mans City in nw France; capital of Sarthe department. It is world-famous as the venue of the Le Mans 24-hour race for sports cars. A feature of the race was the ‘Le Mans start’, in which drivers ran across the track to their cars, but this was discontinued after 1969. Pop. (1999) 150,605.

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Le Mans an industrial town in NW France, which is the site of a motor-racing circuit, on which a 24-hour endurance race (established in 1923) is held each summer.