Medieval route of Rashi in Champagne – Ramerupt

Ramerupt – Fresco “Rabbenu Tam and count of Champagne Henry the Ist”

Ramerupt is a small village located in the north of Aube (40 km from Troyes, 8 km from Lhuître or Dampierre).

A castle seems to have existed as early as the 10th century and was the home of one of the lords of Ramerupt. Érard de Brienne-Ramerupt had it rebuilt in 1239 with moats surrounding both the castle and the houses. The church of Saint Roch boasts some remarkable statuary. A spectacular market hall, already mentioned in the 17th century, was used as a market place.

This medieval environment is contemporary with the Jewish community that lived in Ramerupt in the Middle Ages, and whose reputation was honored by the creation of the Tossafist school in late 11th century by Rashi’s sons in law and grandsons. Meir ben Samuel, was Rashi’s daughter Yochebed’s husband. Juda ben Nathan was his daughter Myriam’s husband. They raised various children who became famous scholars in the 12th century. Some of them are best renowned as Jacob ben Meir, also called Rabbenu Tam, and his older brother Samuel ben Meir, known as Rashbam. They both teached in Ramerupt to famous scholars and are respectively the authors of numerous Talmudic and Biblical commentaries and responsa.

To remind their story and the one of the local prestigious Jewish community of Ramerupt, a fresco was created in early June 2023 on the wall of the Ramerupt former school, in front of Saint Roch Church.

The artist, Javier Sierra de Salaberry has proposed a very colorful work revealing the figures of Jacob and Samuel, grandsons of Rachi de Troyes, and their mother Yochebed, key historical figures in the Jewish community at the time of the Counts of Champagne in the 12th century, alongside Henry I the Liberal, Count of Champagne. The scene is based on a historical writing, a responsum quoted in an article by Professor Rami Reiner. The fresco depicts a meeting around 1152/53 between the young and pious Count of Champagne Henry the Ist, and Rabbenou Tam. The figures in the fresco could not possibly have met together because of their age differences at the time. However, Rabbenou Tam’s entire family lived in Ramerupt, and the artist wanted to remind us of this in his composition. It is highly likely that Rabbenou Tam held a position at the court of Champagne and that he had regular exchanges with the lord of the county. The Ramerupt region is historically an agricultural area, a land of wheat, vines and livestock. That’s why the artist chose to depict these strong symbols of local identity on the fresco. The bunches of grapes above the Torah scrolls are a reminder of Rabbenou Tam’s profession.

Filled with symbols, this fresco makes this intangible heritage more alive to the public, who have been associated with its revaluation. Indeed, beyond the tourist and artistic aspect, this achievement includes a strong social component based on the notion of transmission: the locals were included in the artistic creation of the fresco through various workshops and meetings. An original participation to make the general public and school children aware of this history that belongs to them.

Frescoes in Dampierre and Lhuître are also accessible to the visit for free. More frescoes will soon highlight the history of these towns that hosted Jewish communities during the time of the Counts of Champagne in Aube territory.

The red thread connecting each fresco relates to the symbolism of the book and the writing with the proposal of a commentary by Rashi or his disciples in Hebrew and French. Here the commentary chosen was proposed by Professor and Rabbi Marc-Alain Ouaknin and focuses on the biblical verse Exodus 26.1.

Each fresco is made on exterior walls accessible from the municipal road. The model of each fresco was entrusted to an artist selected during a Call for Artistic Project in 2021 under the supervision of the Rashi Route Scientific Committee. The frescoes are created by volunteers from the Association des Passeurs de Fresques.

Later on, twenty villages in Aube county will host a set of unique frescoes which will offer visitors and locals a real slowtourism artistic tour. For any turistic information please contact

© Text by CulturistiQ

© Pictures on top: 1 Jean Pierre Thomas, 2 Passeurs de Fresques

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