In the Footsteps of Rashi: Medieval French Jewry

Tour Highlights: Rouen, Old Town, Paris, St. Denis, Reims, Troyes, Central Square, Rammerupt, Orleans, Blois, Beaugency, Notre Dame Cathedral, and SO much more! 

Our journey takes us back nearly a thousand years, to the “250 yearlong” Renaissance of the 12th Century. This is not the famous Italian Renaissance that began somewhat later, but a revolution in thinking, technology and — in particular — reading that made the later one possible. Urban centers were growing in northern France, and many different types of political, social, economic and religious institutions were developing. The very small Jewish community lived alongside its Christian neighbors: while they typically lived in their own neighborhoods, there was no ghetto, and Jews and Christians spoke the same language (“Old French”), dressed alike, practiced many of the same professions — and drank the same beer, the typical daily beverage for everyone. They even mostly ate the same foods, for meat was, of course, a luxury. Not to overstate the picture, however, there was no little love lost between the two communities, and suspicion, particularly on anything that touched on religious practice or theology, was the rule.

Nonetheless, dialogue was frequent, not as religious disputation (this only occurred later on) and it took place informally on the road, in the taverns and in the workplace — and, occasionally, during excursions of a religious and intellectual nature. In particular, Christian clergy were interested in Hebraica Veritas, “the ‘true meaning’ of the Hebrew Scriptures, the Tanakh and, not knowing Hebrew, would turn to the local Jews for help in understanding the underlying Hebrew meaning of their own Latin Bibles.


JEWISH EXPLORATIONS is a collaboration between the Philadelphia-based Gil Travel Group, a leader in travel to destinations around the world for over 40 years and Adults Jewish Learning Programs. JEWISH EXPLORATIONS study tours are led by outstanding Judaic Studies scholars whose depth and breadth of knowledge in their chosen fields of expertise is unparalleled. Our programs are designed to be intimate learning opportunities and are limited to no more than 25 participants.  From archaeological sites in Israel to world renowned manuscript collections in England and from the deep South in the United States to the winding alleyways in La Juderia in Spain, JEWISH EXPLORATIONS give you a deeper understanding of the sweep of Jewish civilization around the globe and throughout the span of history.