Researching LeMarais: Synagogue de la rue Pavée

I have written several ‘drawer novels.’ Manuscripts that never see the light of day, and live their dramas out inside a closed drawer. Journaling has been a part of my life since I was about ten. Some of these I still have. Most were destroyed over the years.

But while driving home from the airport one day, a story began brewing in my mind. One that wouldn’t let me go, and I began writing the manuscript for LeMarais in March of 2010.

Most of it takes place in the Pacific Northwest. But some of it, the past and the future, take place in Paris. The Internet took me there many times.

Originally, this land was a deep, dark swamp. In 879, the Emperor donated the land to an Abbey, and the swamp was drained. Although still marshy, the Abbey planted the fertile earth with vegetable gardens. Time passed, and the area was built up, eventually beautiful structures were built. As usually happens, the city center moved elsewhere, and the area declined.

There are twenty arrondissements (districts) in Paris. LeMarais is a historic district and is located within the third and fourth arrondissements. You find the oldest churches, temples and art galleries there. As the district revived, hotels and pricey restaurants were opened. The Jewish community is still centered on the Rue des Rosier. Close by, is the Synagogue on 10 Rue Pavée, which is mentioned in my manuscript.

Jaime tells the story of how he, as a small child, went to the Synagogue one day to ask God in person for protection from his abusive father. But all he found were closed gates, and he was chased away. He later learned that the building had been damaged during the bombings of WWII. Jaime questions if God couldn’t protect his own Synagogue, how could He have protected a young child? But we will not deal with that question now.


What I want to share now is the picture I found of this massive structure. The curved lines, gray stones, and black wrought iron fence adds to the mystery of the building. It gives us no clue to what the inside looks like. I want to open these doors and go in to the holy of holies. I want to find the answers to the questions of faith that I seek.

Because ultimately, that is why I placed young Jaime in front of the locked gate. For I stand beside him wishing to speak with God.