Armand Lunel, The Jews of the South of France, trans. from the French by Samuel N. Rosenberg. With a Foreword by David A. Jessula. Hebrew Union College Annual, Vol. 89. Cincinnati: Hebrew Union College Press, 2018. 159 pp.
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The best-known encapsulation of Jewish history in Europe was written by Raul Hilberg in his introduction to The Destruction of the European Jews (1961): “The Nazi destruction process did not come out of a void. It was the culmination of a cyclical trend. We have observed the trend in the three successive goals of anti-Jewish administrators. The missionaries of Christianity had said in effect: You have no right to live among us as Jews. The secular rulers who followed had proclaimed: You have no right to live among us. The German Nazis at last decreed: You have no right to live.”
Do the Jews of the south of France, one of the oldest Jewish communities in the world, fit comfortably into this formulation? That is the subject of Armand Lunel’s magisterial Juifs du Languedoc, de la Provence et des Etats Francais du Pape, published in 1977 after his death in Monaco, where (after four years of army service) he had been a professor for thirty years. Although subsequently honored by the Grand...