TOURS , city in the Indre-et-Loire department, central France. Jewish settlement in Tours dates from at least 570, one of the earliest recorded indications of Jewish life in France. In 1171 a notable of the community of Tours intervened in favor of the Jews of *Blois, who were persecuted following an accusation of ritual murder. A council held in Tours in 1236 forbade the Crusaders – as well as every other Christian – to conspire against the lives, health, and property of the Jews. Those found guilty of such a crime would be expelled from the ranks of the Crusaders. A subsequent Council of Tours (1239), however, excluded the Jews from testifying in lawsuits. During this period, Jews lived in a quarter known as the "Juiverie," which was situated between the old bridge and the Rue de la Caserne and consisted of at least 20 houses. They owned a synagogue and leased from the archbishop a plot of land in the Saint-Vincent parish (near the present Rue du Cygne and de Lucé) to use as a cemetery. The Jews of Tours were authorized to bury the Jewish dead, not only of their community, but of any other locality. In addition, a plot of agricultural land and a vineyard were worked by Jews. Expelled from France along with other Jews in 1306, individual Jews from Tours returned in 1315. They also suffered in the persecutions of 1321, which were later justified as punishment for their supposed collusion with the lepers. The community seems to have declined precipitously afterwards, for in 1359 the municipality ordered the final destruction of the Jewish cemetery. A number of scholars are known to have lived in Tours during the Middle Ages: an individual named Solomon corresponded with *Rashi; someone named David lived there toward the middle of the 13th century, as did a Joseph b. Elijah toward the close of the 13th century. Their works, however, have not survived. Before World War ii there were fewer than 100 Jews in Tours. There is little information on the community during the Holocaust and in the immediate postwar period. In the early 1970s, as a result of the arrival of North African Jews, there were about 550 Jews. In the early 21st century, the community maintained a synagogue, a community center, and a talmud torah.
Gross, Gal Jud, 216ff.; L. Lazard, in: rej, 17 (1888), 210–34; L. de Grandmaison, ibid., 18 (1889), 262–75; idem (ed.), Cartulaire de l'Archevêché de Tours, 2 (1904), 84–87; S. Grayzel, Church and the Jews … (19662), index; Z. Szajkowski, Analytical Franco-Jewish Gazetteer (1966), 204; B. Blumenkranz, in: Archives Juives, 6 (1969–70), 36–38. add. bibliography: Jewish Travel Guide (2002), 91.
[Bernhard Blumenkranz /
David Weinberg (2nd ed.)]