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Suzanne and Marcel Suares Museum of the History of Bayonne Judaism


The Jewish Museum of Bayonne is a newly created museum that was inaugurated on November 2, 2022. It was established through the collaboration of the Fondation du Judaïsme français (Foundation of French Judaism) and fourteen affiliated foundations. The idea for the museum arose from the desire to celebrate and highlight the Jewish heritage of Bayonne, which traces its roots back to the Sephardic Jews who fled Spain and Portugal during the Inquisition and settled in the city. The museum aims to promote the rich history and contributions of the Bayonne Jewish community, offering a cultural exploration of their unique traditions, including their influence on areas such as architecture, cuisine, and public life. The museum is located in a pavilion adjacent to the synagogue, which itself is a historic monument. It features exhibits that display various objects and documents related to the Jewish history of Bayonne, providing visitors with insights into the community’s past and its connections to the city.


The Jewish Museum of Bayonne aims to showcase and preserve the unique Jewish heritage of the city, promote cultural preservation and transmission, foster interfaith dialogue and understanding, and integrate with the local community.


The museum traces the history and traditions of Bayonne’s Judaism and evokes the place of this centuries-old community in the city. On the ground floor, the history of the Jews of Bayonne is presented from their arrival in the 16th century to the present day.
On the first floor, the daily life of Bayonne’s Jewish families is evoked through a selection of objects, classified as Historic Monuments or donated by individuals.

Being a recent project, the museum has a lot of aims; it intends to be open and inclusive, catering to both Jewish and non-Jewish audiences. Here are some actions they plan to take:

  1. Exhibits: The museum will feature exhibits that trace the history and routes of Jews in the region, highlighting their contributions to public life, the World War II resistance, and the Masonic movement. It will also showcase artifacts and possessions related to local Jewish families, including items donated by the community.
  2. Cultural Association: The museum is headed by Déborah Loupien-Suares, a local civic and Jewish leader, who spearheaded the creation of the museum. The cultural association she leads will oversee the museum’s operations and programming.
  3. Collaboration with Existing Museums: The museum aims to collaborate with other existing museums in Bayonne to create a museum route that showcases the Jewish history alongside other aspects of the city’s heritage. This collaboration will contribute to a broader understanding of Bayonne’s cultural diversity.
  4. Educational Initiatives: The museum will likely develop educational programs and initiatives to engage schools, universities, and the general public. These programs may include guided tours, workshops, lectures, and other educational activities to promote awareness and understanding of Bayonne Judaism.
  5. Preservation of Jewish Heritage: The museum’s location within the synagogue complex signifies its commitment to preserving and showcasing Jewish heritage. By occupying two floors of the complex, the museum aims to provide visitors with a comprehensive understanding of Bayonne’s Jewish history, culture, and traditions.

Overall, the museum’s actions revolve around preserving, promoting, and sharing the history and traditions of Bayonne Judaism while fostering openness and inclusivity.