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Encyclopaedia Judaica

Jews in Algeria 03: French occupation and emancipation rule 1830-1940

Emigration movement against emancipation - immigraiton to Algeria for emancipation - Crémieux Decree 1870 - anti-Semitism against naturalization of Jews - hatred violence 1921 and 1934

Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Algeria, vol. 2,
                    col. 617-618, table of the Jewish population in
                    Algeria 1838-1968
Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Algeria, vol. 2, col. 617-618, table of the Jewish population in Algeria 1838-1968

from: Algeria; In: Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971, vol. 2

presented by Michael Palomino (2007)


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[1830: French occupation of Algiers - French law - Jews emigrating to and from Italy, Morocco, and Tunisia - migration movement within Algeria]

<The French government had accumulated enormous debts to the Bakri and Busnach families, relatives and partners, who had been delivering grain to France for them since the end of the 18th century. These unpaid debts were the cause of diplomatic incidents that resulted in the French conquest of Algiers in 1830.

The French conquest opened a new era for the 30,000 Jews of Algeria. In the beginning the communities were allowed to continue their self-government, and the rabbis continued to administer justice. But this autonomous structure was soon overturned. Rabbinical justice was deprecated and jurisdiction of the Jews passed to the French tribunals.

The muqaddim, who had previously headed each Jewish community, was replaced by a deputy mayor. These reforms did not give rise to any protests on the part of the Jewish population, as they retained their previous legal status. However, the changes caused some to leave: many European Jews returned to Leghorn [[Livorno]], and the middle class, small tradesmen, and craftsmen emigrated to Morocco and Tunisia.

On the other hand, Moroccan and Tunisian Jews, attracted by new conditions, emigrated into Algeria. There was also a movement of Jews from the south toward the centers and the port towns.

[Implementation of French juridical structures upon Jews in Algeria - rabbis from France - emancipation]

Under the French each municipal council and chamber of commerce had one or two Jewish members. In 1858 a Jewish general counselor was elected for each province. In Algiers, Oran, and Constantine consistories on the model of those of France were created. Chief rabbis, brought from France, were appointed and paid by the government, and presided over all other religious functionaries. One of the tasks of these chief rabbis was to promote the emancipation of their followers.

Cultural assimilation was so rapid that it provoked a break with the old Jewish world. Some attempted to fight the trend toward total assimilation in such undertakings as the establishment of Hebrew printing (col. 615)

houses in Algiers in 1853 and Oran in 1956 and 1880. French education, despite its advantages, led many Jews who were unprepared for it to leave Judaism. To counteract this trend talmud torah schools were opened in many cities.

Several highly influential families formed a Jewish intelligentsia, capable of assimilating French civilization yet maintaining their own traditions. Members of these families were the first to enter the liberal professions, becoming magistrates, physicians, lawyers, engineers, high-ranking officers in the Army, and, later, university professors. Both they and the French Jews favoured the naturalization of Algerian Jews as did also the French liberals.

Algerian Jews were granted the right of individual naturalization in 1865, and on October 24, 1870 by the *Crémieux Decree all Algerian Jews were declared French citizens, with the exception of those in the south, whose legal situation remained uncertain.

[Anti-Semitism against the naturalization of 35,000 Jews - pogroms, looting, and killing]

The naturalization of some 35,000 Jews resulted in a wave of anti-Semitism. Jews were attacked and pogroms followed in Tlemcen in 1881, in Algiers in 1882, 1897, and 1898, in Oran and Sétif in 1883, and in Mostaganem in 1897, where the violence reached its peak. Up to 1900 there were in all towns and villages cases of looting and killing, and numerous cases of synagogues being sacked and the Holy Scrolls desecrated and used as banners by the rioters.

[Anti-Semitic French government: Discriminating laws against the Jews - Muslims don't support anti-Semitic law - anti-Semitic French government going down in 1902]

The *Dreyfus affair in France inflamed the anti-Jewish campaign even more. An anti-Semitic party came to power: Edouard *Drumont was elected the representative of Algiers and Max Regis became its mayor. Extraordinary measures were taken against the Jews. In Constantine, by decision of the deputy mayor Emile Morinaud, Jewish patients were not admitted to hospitals. The illegality of such steps, together with the fact that the Muslims failed to support the movement, brought about the defeat of the anti-Semitic party; in 1902 it ceased to exist altogether.

[Outburst in Oran in 1921 - massacre in Constantine in 1934 - French Jewish government since 1936 - Union of Monotheistic Believers]

The heroic participation of the Jews in World War I caused an improvement of relations, although in 1921 there was a renewed outburst of hatred in Oran.

Hitler's rise to power, greeted with rejoicing by the anti-Semites, caused a new wave of anti-Semitic campaigns, which resulted in a massacre in Constantine in 1934.

The crisis was renewed in 1936, when Léon *Blum, a Jews, became premier of France. The Jewish Algerian Committee for Social Studies, directed by Henri Abulker, André Lévi-Valensi, Elie *Gozlan, and others, undertook intensive activities aimed at curbing the racial unrest. Subsequently, the Union of Monotheistic Believers (Union des Croyants Monothéistes) was formed; during World War II it was responsible for the Muslims declining to identify themselves with the anti-Semitism of the Vichy government.> (col. 616)






Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Algeria
Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Algeria,
                            vol. 2, col. 612
Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Algeria, vol. 2, col. 612
Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Algeria,
                            vol. 2, col. 613-614
Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Algeria, vol. 2, col. 613-614
Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Algeria,
                            vol. 2, col. 615-616
Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Algeria, vol. 2, col. 615-616
Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Algeria,
                            vol. 2, col. 617-618
Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Algeria, vol. 2, col. 617-618
Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Algeria,
                            vol. 2, col. 619-620
Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Algeria, vol. 2, col. 619-620




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