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The Jewish cemetery of Isle-sur-la-Sorgue (1998)

by J.-C. Hérelle-Carcassone (who died in 2004)

  • The Jewish cemetery of Isle-sur-la-Sorgue

by Stéphane Lallich

Isle-on-Sorgue, which was called Isle de Venice in the 18th century formed part of the four Jewish communities of Comtat Venaissin, the "arba kehilot". From 1624, the Jews definitively lived in the carrières (streets) isolated from the towns of Avignon, Carpentras, Cavaillon and Isle.

The river Sorgue
Isle-sur-la-Sorgue Village

In the 17th century, the cemetery was near the synagogue, where the current Town hall is. At the time of the Restoration, in 1815, the Jewish cemetery took up too much space in the expanding city. It was transferred to the south-west 1,5 km from the town centre.
From the time of the French Revolution, the Jews of Isle emigrated towards the large cities of the area, towards Paris as well. The cemetery became overgrown and was completely abandoned after the war of 1914-1918.

Following genealogical research on family CARCASSONE, the author of this article wanted to visit the cemetery. This one had become completely impenetrable due to all the vegetation. To reach it, it was necessary to remove brambles and bushes with shears. During February again in April of this year, with the assistance of Mr. DARAGNES, an inhabitant of the city close to Saumane of Vaucluse, author of the plan below, some tombs were renovated.

Map of the cemetery

The cemetery is divided into squares enclosed by grids. Each square seems to belong to a different family. Two squares were uncovered, one concerning a family CREANGE, the other a part of the family CARCASSONE (see plan). The inscriptions are in relatively readable French. Many vestiges remain, vases or columns, like that of Casimir-Moïse CARCASSONE 1856. It is very probable that the other squares concern the families listed in Isle, the BEDARRIDES, MILLAUD, LISBONNE... etc.

The cemetery

The state of the cemetery does not allow for a precise inventory; but an estimate of the number of tombs would be more than a hundred.

Lise Carcassonne's grave
Casimir Carcassonne's grave

The town hall does not maintenance the cemetery due to the apparent disinterest of the descendants and in fear of vandalism and theft of tomb stones. Some motivated people have started taking steps with the municipality and need to be supported by the maximum number of descendants of the families of Isle in order restore the cemetery.