Kugel: Where East Met West


At first, Jews had it good in the Roman-administered land which is now France. Having lost their own homeland, they have dispersed throughout immense Roman Empire, settling mostly along trade routes. Even though they were still not allowed to own land, nor practice law or hold any administrative positions (restrictions are nothing new to us!), they were highly valued as physicians, as well as tax collectors and sailors (Jewish Encyclopedia). Acknowledged by the Church in V century, they freely mingled with Christians and even sang Hebrew psalms at the funeral of a Bishop of Aries. Christians, in turn, participated in Jewish Shabbos and holiday feasts (ibid.)

Alas, the Romans exit from the stage of history. Enter Dagobert, King of the Franks, who makes Paris his capital and builds the Saint Denis Basilica. Beloved and admired by most of his subjects for “rendering justice to rich and poor alike” (Durant

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