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Lazarus, Jacques

(716 words)

Author(s): Jessica Hammerman
Jacques Lazarus was the principal advocate for the Jews of Algeria after 1948, and especially during the Algerian War (1954–1962). He was born on September 2, 1916 to Alsatian Jewish parents then living in Payerne, Switzerland, but after World War I his family moved to Colmar, which had become French once again. In pursuit of a military career, Lazarus joined the French Army in the 1930s and served until the 1940 armistice with Germany and the establishment of the Vichy regime, when he was discharged from the army under the Jewish Statute. In 1943 he became a leader of the clandestine Armée Jui…

Timsit, Daniel

(731 words)

Author(s): Jessica Hammerman
Daniel Timsit (1928–2002) was born in Algiers on January 16, 1928 to a traditional Jewish family. His parents had both spoken only Arabic as children, and none of his grandparents knew French; his paternal grandfather, the chief rabbi of Constantine, had never worn European dress. The neighborhood where Timsit grew up was adjacent to the Casbah, and because of his family’s Arabic-speaking heritage he felt a certain rapport with the country’s Muslims.In 1940 the Jews of Algeria were deprived of French citizenship by the Vichy government. Their citizenship was restor…

Ben, Myriam

(970 words)

Author(s): Jessica Hammerman
Myriam Ben (né Marylise Ben Haïm) was an Algerian activist, novelist, poet, and painter. She was born in Algiers on October 10, 1928. Her father, a Communist who had served in the French Army in Russia during the October 1917 revolution, claimed descent from the Judaized Berbers who had lived in Algeria since before the Arab conquest. Her mother’s family was of Andalusian descent and was active in the rich musical heritage of Algerian Jewry.Like the majority of Algerian Jews of her generation, Ben was born a French citizen, spoke French as her maternal language, and w…

Halimi, Gisèle

(737 words)

Author(s): Jessica Hammerman
Gisèle Halimi (b. 1927) is a French lawyer, author, and activist. Born to observant Jewish parents in La Goulette, Tunisia, she grew up fearing God and with the understanding that her life was driven by fate. In her first memoir, translated into English as Milk for the Orange Tree, Halimi recalled that her parents urged her “not to ask questions” because “God decides” (p. 27). Her early rebellion against God’s authority began a life in which she constantly questioned the status quo, and as a teenager she became concerned about women’s rights,…