As the home of Rabbi Solomon ben Isaac (better known as Rashi), the great 11th-century commentator on the Bible and Talmud, the French city of Troyes attracts a steady trickle of Jewish tourists. But aside from a monument to Rashi placed there in 1990, and a cemetery, no physical sign of medieval Jewish life remains. Liam Hoare writes:
It is possible to walk in Troyes today in the footsteps of Rashi, as I did when I was shown around the town on a sunny Saturday afternoon. . . . But any physical heritage, any traces of the Troyes of the time of Rashi, were erased by the great fire that ravaged the town in May 1524, when a quarter of the city was reduced to ash and 7,500 people were displaced. . . .
At the time of Rashi, Jews lived in Troyes under the auspices and protection of the counts of Champagne. Their role in the economy of Troyes over time became that of the money lending, although Jews were also involved in trade and commerce, the town being a center for the manufacture of cloth, leather, and wine. But the history of the medieval Jewish community of Troyes comes to an abrupt end with the final expulsion of Jews from France in 1394. Troyes, therefore, has a historical role as a cradle of Jewish thought, but its physical religious heritage today is decidedly Christian.
Read more on eJewish Philanthropy: http://ejewishphilanthropy.com/in-the-footsteps-of-rashi/