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Hassoun, Jacques

(356 words)

Author(s): Aimée Israel-Pelletier
Jacques Hassoun was born in Alexandria in 1936 and died in Paris in 1999. He was a psychoanalyst and a political activist with Marxist leanings. Born into an observant family, he was knowledgeable in Jewish law and remained attached to Judaism and to Egypt throughout his life. He spoke Arabic and French fluently. A militant from the age of fifteen, Hassoun was member first of Dror, a Marxist Zionist group and later of Hadeto, the clandestine movement for the liberation of Egypt led by Henri Curiel. His Communist activities led to his arrest at eighteen, a six-month jail sentenc…

Aciman, André

(359 words)

Author(s): Aimée Israel-Pelletier
André Albert Aciman was born in Alexandria, Egypt, on January 2, 1951. He left Egypt for Italy in 1965 and settled in New York with his family in 1969. A professor of literature, Proust scholar, and writer, Aciman achieved relative notoriety with his first book, Out of Egypt: A Memoir (New York, 1994), which won the Whiting Foundation Award. The memoir is an aesthetic transposition of what it was like growing up Jewish in Alexandria during the 1950s and 1960s. It is a tour de force combining factual description and personal vision. The Alexandria Aciman evokes is as elusive as t…

Teboul, Victor

(612 words)

Author(s): Aimée Israel-Pelletier
Victor Teboul was born in Alexandria on May 9, 1945. When he was eleven, his family was expelled from Egypt on the grounds that they had a French passport and given seven days to leave the country. They arrived in France on December 25, 1956 and from January 1957 to May 1957 lived, under the auspices of the French government, at the convent of Notre-Dame-de-l’Osier in the Isère with a hundred other expelled Egyptian Jewish families.  In July 1963, the Tebouls emigrated to Canada, where in due course Victor earne…

Curiel, Henri

(392 words)

Author(s): Aimée Israel-Pelletier
Henri Curiel was born in Cairo on September 13, 1914 to a wealthy banking family of Italian nationality that traced its roots in Egypt to the early nineteenth century. He was assassinated in Paris on May 4, 1978 and is buried at Père Lachaise in Paris. His assassins have never been identified.In 1935, at the age of twenty-one, Curiel sought and obtained Egyptian citizenship. A militant Marxist, he regularly presided over political and intellectual discussions at his stationery and bookstore in Cairo, Le Rond Point, and was the mentor to a considerable number of Egyptian activists.In 1939,…

Jabès, Edmond

(543 words)

Author(s): Aimée Israel-Pelletier
Edmond Jabès (Heb. Yaʿabeṣ) holds an eminent place in twentieth-century French literature. He is best known for introducing a new literary form and for shaping discussion of the Jewish condition at a time when writers and thinkers were struggling to come to terms with Auschwitz. Born in Cairo in 1912, Jabès left Egypt for France in June 1957, during the Second Exodus. He was naturalized a French citizen in 1968 and died in Paris in 1991. He is buried at Père Lachaise. The presence of his paternal family in Egypt is traceable to the early nineteenth centu…

Jacques, Paula

(592 words)

Author(s): Aimée Israel-Pelletier
Paula Jacques, French novelist and journalist, was born in Cairo in 1949.  Her family immigrated without her parents to Israel in 1958, along with her two brothers,  during the great expulsion of the Jews under Nasser.  She lived on kibbutz Nahschonim before joining her widowed mother in France in 1961.  She has been involved in French theater, radio, and the press. .  Since 1999, she produces and presents a cultural magazine, Cosmopolitaine, on France Inter.  Jacques’ eight novels to date focus exclusively on the Jews of Egypt during their final decades in that count…
Date: 2015-09-03