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Eisenbeth, Maurice

(435 words)

Author(s): Brock Cutler
Maurice Eisenbeth was the grand rabbi of Algeria from the early 1930s until his death in 1958. Apart from his official duties, he was a highly regarded and prolific historian and chronicler of North African Jewry. His first studies, appearing in the early 1930s, combined historical and demographic data to trace the changing fortunes of the Jewish community of Algiers.In his capacity as grand rabbi, Eisenbeth was a popular social and political figure, reportedly enjoying the full support of the Jewish community, especially during the years of the Vichy r…

Aghion Family

(325 words)

Author(s): Brock Cutler
The Aghions, widely acknowledged to have been one of the great families of the modern Egyptian Jewish community, were one of a number of families from Italy that began laying down roots in Egypt in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. They prospered initially through money-lending and trade with Europe and later through international commerce and banking. Collaborating, working, and marrying with other important families, the Aghions moved into real estate, development, and infrastructure throughout the …

Aghion, Raymond

(261 words)

Author(s): Brock Cutler
Raymond Aghion was an intellectual, political activist, and Communist organizer in Egypt and France. He was born in 1921 in Alexandria into a wealthy Jewish family of Italian origin (see Aghion Family). Active in Communist and anti-fascist intellectual organizations in Egypt as a teenager, he joined with other younger progressives and Communists in 1939 to found the Democratic Union, a legal association and gathering place for young intellectuals. He also purchased al-Majalla al-Jadīda (Ar. The New Magazine) as a forum for leftist political writings and debate, and …

Annaba (Bône)

(532 words)

Author(s): Brock Cutler
Annaba (Ar. ʿAnnāba), formerly Bône (Ar. Būna), is a city on the Mediterranean coast of eastern Algeria. As an urban center it goes back to Punic times. Known as Hippo Regius under the Romans, it was the home of St. Augustine. Jews apparently lived there in his lifetime, and he occasionally consulted with them on questions pertaining to the Hebrew text of Scripture.The medieval Arabic name of the town, Būna, derived from its Byzantine name, Hippona. Leo Africanus (1494–1554) mentions that the area was nicknamed Bilād al-ʿUnnāb (Ar. land of jujubes) because of the fruit grown in a…

Fargeon, Maurice

(237 words)

Author(s): Brock Cutler
Maurice Fargeon was an Egyptian author, lawyer, and the president of the Union of Free Jews. An early participant in the fight against fascism, he attacked Hitler in his book Le tyran moderne: Hitler où la verité sur la vie du Fuehrer , for which he was taken to court in 1934 in a defamation suit brought against him by the German embassy and was defended by the Jewish attorney and Egyptian parliamentarian Félix Benzakein. Fargeon is best known as the editor of the multi-volume Annuaire des Juifs d’Egypte et du proche-orient, and the author of Les Juifs en Egypte, depuis les origines jusqu’…

Benider, Jacob ben Abraham

(347 words)

Author(s): Brock Cutler
Jacob Benider (ben Idder) was a British consular official from Gibraltarof Maghrebi extraction, who also served as Morocco’s ambassador to Great Britain. Born around 1704 in Gibraltar, he was the son of Abraham Benider, who had also been employed by the British government as an interpreter and consular official. Beginning in 1763, Benider served as British vice consul in Tetouan, Tangier, and Salé (see Rabat-Salé, and later at Essaouira (Mogador), Safi, and Agadir.He was given a yearly stipend by the British after helping Admiral Richard Spry to ne…