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Adès Family

(323 words)

Author(s): Adam Guerin
A prominent Egyptian family of Sephardi origin, the Adès owned and operated one of the oldest and largest wholesale businesses in Egypt, as well as a chain of department stores in Cairo and Alexandria. Members of the Adès family were active in the textile trade during the latter half of the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth century.       The first Adès department store was founded by the brothers Nessim and David Adès in 1899 with branches in Cairo, Tanta, and Fayum. By 1912 the brothers had split up and organized separate import-export ventures with members of the Sakal family. Ne…

Adda Family

(380 words)

Author(s): Adam Guerin
The Addas, one of the first Jewish families in Egypt to engage in trade with Europe in the modern period, made significant contributions to Egypt’s economic development and held important governmental posts in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The first noteworthy member of the family was Sabbato Adda, whom Napoleon Bonaparte named grand prêtre de la nation juive in 1798, responsible for relations between the Egyptian Jewish community and the French army of occupation. Other members of the family played integral roles in the Jewish community an…

Ceresi, Marcel

(321 words)

Author(s): Adam Guerin
Born in 1913, Marcel Ceresi (also known as Marcel Israel) was a prominent Communist organizer in Egypt and Italy in the twentieth century. Ceresi’s political career began as a youth coordinator of Wafd demonstrations against King Fuad in 1930. In 1936 he volunteered to fight in the Spanish Civil War as a member of the International Brigades but was denied entry into the country. Ceresi traveled extensively and was connected to other Communist parties in the Mediterranean region, maintaining international contacts in Syria, Lebanon and elsewhere.In 1939 Ceresi and Raoul Curiel founde…

Rosenthal, Joseph

(331 words)

Author(s): Adam Guerin
Joseph Rosenthal (1867–1927) was born in Beirut to an immigrant family of Russian Ashkenazi origin. Early in his youth Rosenthal moved to Alexandria, and by the late 1890s he was active in socialist study groups and workers’ organizations. A jeweler by profession, Rosenthal was a charter member of the first socialist group in Egypt, the Groupe d’Etudes Sociales. In 1921, together with Salāma Mūsā, Muḥammad ‘Abd Allāh ‘Inān, and Maḥmūd Ḥusnī al-‘Arabī, he helped found the Egyptian Socialist Party, which the next year changed its name to the Communist Party of Egypt (CPE). The Britis…

Rolo Family

(393 words)

Author(s): Adam Guerin
The Rolos were an important and politically influential Jewish banking family in Alexandria in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Arriving in Egypt as Sephardi immigrants, the Rolos settled in the Jewish quarter of Cairo before moving to Alexandria sometime around 1850. The family was originally engaged in money-lending but slowly moved into modern banking and investment by the late nineteenth century. Ruben  Rolo (1820-?) directed a prosperous trading company that imported indigo. Jacob/Giacomo (1847–1917), with his brother Simon and several other partners, op…

Darwīsh, Yūsuf

(359 words)

Author(s): Adam Guerin
Yūsuf Darwīsh (b. 1910), a prominent Egyptian labor lawyer and Communist leader from the 1930s to the 1960s, was a Karaite Jew of middle-class origins. As a student at the University of Toulouse, Darwīsh founded the Association of Arab Students and was active in anti-Fascist and pro-Arab Palestinian organizations. Returning to Egypt, Darwīsh was a member of the Cairo branch of Paul Jacquot Descombes’s group, Peace Partisans, and became involved in Egyptian Communist organizations. In 1946, Darwīsh founded the New Dawn (Ar. al-Fajr al-Jadīd) Communist group with Aḥmad Ṣādiq Saʿd a…

Menasce Family

(666 words)

Author(s): Adam Guerin
The Menasce family, of Sephardi origin, was one of the wealthiest and most powerful Egyptian Jewish families in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The first members of the family to settle in Egypt came there from Palestine and Morocco. The earliest mention of the family in Cairo dates to the eighteenth century. Jacob de Menasce (1807–1887) began his career as a money-changer (Ar. ṣarrāf) and banker in Cairo’s Jewish quarter; later, in partnership with Jacob Cattaoui (Qaṭṭāwī), he opened the international banking and trading house of J. L. Menasce et fils, with branches thr…

Goar Family

(260 words)

Author(s): Adam Guerin
The Goars were an influential Jewish family in Alexandria involved in the import/export trade and banking. In the twentieth century, the brothers Edwin and Jack Goar distinguished themselves as important figures in the Alexandrine Jewish community. Edwin (1875–?), the elder of the two, was schooled in Switzerland and became one of Alexandria’s foremost import-export merchants. He belonged to the important business associations, served on several company boards, and was elected vice president and later president of the Jewish Community Council from 1948 to 1956. Jack G…


(1,273 words)

Author(s): Adam Guerin
The Mzab is a vast region of some 8,000 square kilometers (3,089 square miles) in the northern Sahara desert, located in the Ghardaia province of Algeria, approximately 500 kilometers (311 miles) south of Algiers. It is a stony plain cut by deep winding valleys. There are five major cities situated along a 72-kilometer (45-mile) stretch in the Mzab Valley: El Atteuf, Bou Noura, Beni Isguen, Melika, and the largest settlement, Ghardaia. For centuries, the Mzab Valley was one of the most important oases along the trans-Saharan trade route. The region was historically populated by…

Mosseri Family

(579 words)

Author(s): Adam Guerin
The Mosseris were a prominent Jewish family in Cairo in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Bankers, financiers, and industrialists, they held Italian citizenship, tracing their arrival from Livorno (see Leghorn (Livorno)) to Egypt in the late eighteenth century. Mūsā al-Kabīr, the first known member of the family in Egypt, owned real estate in the Jewish quarter of Cairo in the early nineteenth century. His son, Joseph Nissim Sr., continued the family’s real estate business until his death in 1876. His four sons used the capital from the family’s real…

Picciotto, Joseph Elie Bey

(395 words)

Author(s): Maurits H. van den Boogert | Adam Guerin
Joseph Elie (bey) de Picciotto (1872–1938) was a civic activist, Jewish community leader, and philanthropist in Alexandria. A much-honored public figure, he received the title of bey from King Fuʾād I in 1920, and a year later was awarded the academic title of Officier de l’Instruction Publique by the French government      Born into an Alexandrian immigrant family originally from Aleppo, Picciotto worked in a trading firm for much of his youth. In 1896, he married Judith Curiel, daughter of the well-known banker Henri Curiel, and established his own trading business with help …