Hachmei Provence

The term Hachmei Provence refers to the Jewish rabbis of Provence, a province in southern France, which was a great Torah center in the times of the Tosafists. The phrase literally means the wise of Provence.

In matters of Halacha, as well as in their traditions and custom, the Provençal rabbis occupy an intermediate position between the Sephardic tradition of the neighboring Spanish scholars, and the Old French (similar to the Ashkenazic) tradition represented by the Tosafists.

The term "Provence" in Jewish tradition is not limited to today's administrative region of Provence but refers to the whole of Occitania. This includes Narbonne (which is sometimes informally, though incorrectly, transliterated as "Narvona" as a result of the back-and-forth transliteration between Hebrew and French), Lunel (which is informally transliterated as "Lunil"), and the city of Montpellier, not far (7 km) from the mediterranean coast. It also included cities which at that time formed part of the Catalan political and cultural domain, such as Perpignan. In some ways the Jewish traditions of Catalonia were closer to those of Provence than to those of Castile and southern Spain.

There was a distinctive Provençal liturgy, used by the Jews of the Papal enclave of Comtat Venaissin, who remained following the expulsion of the Jews from the rest of France.[1] This liturgy was intermediate in character between the Sephardi and Ashkenazi rites, and was in some ways closer to the Italian rite than to either. After the French Revolution, when Venaissin was annexed by France, the Provençal rite was replaced by the Portuguese liturgy, which is used by the Jews of Carpentras today.

Partial list

Hachmei Narbonne



Rest of Provence

Members of the Kalonymus Family


  1. For this liturgy, see Seder ha-Tamid, Avignon 1776.
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