This assumption was first of all advanced by the Rabbi Elie Marciano, then Rabbin of the Jewish community of Rouen. It was then taken again by a team from the C.N.R.S. headed by Bernard Blumenkrantz.
She rests on the following arguments:
- Orientation West-East. It is customary for the wall to face East (Direction of Jerusalem).
- Structure half buried. The rules prohibited too ostentatious constructions in the Jewish district.
- Absence of interior decoration (as in the current synagogues)
- Distribution on two stages. The separation of the men and the women imposed a male stage (on the bottom) and a female stage (on top).
- graffiti in Hebrew often refers to the temple of Jerusalem, which could be appropriate to that for a synagogue.
However, one can object that
- the orientation is extremely irregular in the case of the known medieval synagogues.
- Practically all the civil stone buildings known in Rouen (and beyond) are half buried. In any event, no rule can be shown regulating the height of constructions.
- In the same way the majority of the lower floor do not present decorations.
- separation between the sexes is total in the synagogue. In our monument, the women not only must use the same entry as the men, but also cross the part which would be reserved for them. Moreover the narrowness of the internal staircase of communication (41 cm for the low door) would not allow for great displacements of population.
- graffiti, not dated, are has to be regarded with precaution.
Other assumptions :SCHOOL HOUSE