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Tajouri (Tadjouri), Ruben

(363 words)

Author(s): Mohammed Kenbib
Ruben Tajouri was a central figure in the development of the Alliance Israelite Universelle system in Morocco. Born in Libya in 1895 and educated at the Ecole Normale Israélite Orientale in Paris, he began his career in 1918 as a teacher in the AIU school in Meknes and the Franco-Israelite school in Salé. (While in Salé, he published an ethnographic study of Jewish marriage customs there.) From 1926 to 1939 he was director of the Narcisse Leven School group in Casablanca. After the death of Yomtob Sémach in 1940, he became the AIU delegate in Morocco. Despite the restrictive polices of the Vichy…

Pinto, Jacques

(280 words)

Author(s): Mohammed Kenbib
Jacques Pinto, also called “Jack,” was born in 1896 into one of the wealthiest Sephardi families in Tangier. His father, Moses Pinto, had made a substantial fortune in South America together with his paternal uncles Samuel and Ḥayyim, and had returned to Tangier just two years before his birth. Jacques followed the same path, growing the family’s business by adding finance and real estate to its import/export activities, which extended to Spain, France, Great Britain, Japan, and the United States (where his brother Abraham was his commercial representative).In addition to acting a…

Levy, Samuel-Daniel

(750 words)

Author(s): Mohammed Kenbib
Samuel Daniel Lévy was born in Tetouan on December 4, 1874, and attended the Alliance Israélite Universelle school there. In 1889 he was chosen by the school’s director Abraham Ribbi, to attend the École Normale Israélite Orientale (ENIO) in Paris. Following his graduation in 1893, he was appointed as schoolmaster in Tunis. Later he moved to Sousse (Tunisia) and Tangier. After his promotion to director of the Alliance school in Casablanca (1900–1902), where he opened a new institution for young girls, he took a post in Argentina as director and later inspector of the Jewish…

Dahir (ẓahīr) of Mawlāy Muḥammad b. ‘Abd al-Raḥmān (1864)

(623 words)

Author(s): Mohammed Kenbib
In 1864 Sir Moses Montefiore, the chairman of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, visited Morocco and met with Sultan Sīdī Muḥammad b. ʿAbd al-Raḥmān. On February 5, 1864, at his request, the sultan issued a royal decree (Cl. Ar. ẓahīr; Mor. Ar. ḍahīr; Fr. dahir) reminding his governors and pashas of the rights enjoyed by Jews dwelling in his dominion. In his capacity as commander of the faithful (Ar. amīr al-mu’minīn), charged with enforcing the prescriptions of Islamic law, including regulations regarding the legal status of non-Muslim subjects, the sultan insisted th…

Ohana, Jacob

(447 words)

Author(s): Mohammed Kenbib
Jacob (Ya’cub) Ohana (1846–1899) belonged to a well-known and powerful Jewish family in Meknes, as did his wife, Hannah née Oliel (1840–1920). A wealthy merchant, he acted as Tujjār al-Sultān (Ar. merchant of the sultan, i.e., royal merchant), a status he maintained despite the dismantling of the royal monopolies in accordance with the provisions of the Anglo-Moroccan treaty of 1856. Sultan Mawlāy al-Ḥasan (d. 1894) and Grand Vizier Bā Aḥmad (d. 1900) granted him a number of privileges and immunities. Among these were collecting taxes in the markets (Ar. mustafād) and at the gates o…

Naggiar, Mardochée (Mordechai Ibn al-Najjar)

(367 words)

Author(s): Mohammed Kenbib
Mardochée Naggiar, also known as Mordechai (Murdikhay) Ibn al-Najjar, was one of the few Jewish scholars from a Muslim land who actively contributed to the European orientalist scholarship of the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Born in Tunisia, he lived in Paris from the last years of the eighteenth century until 1812, during which time he made his assistance available to many famous European scholars from France, the Netherlands, Germany, and Sweden. Naggiar translated documents, co-authored dictionaries, and…

Fez Riots (1912)

(739 words)

Author(s): Mohammed Kenbib
The Fez riots in April 1912 broke out in protest against the French imposition of the protectorate regime in Morocco. They erupted in Fez, then the Moroccan capital, on Wednesday, April 17, 1912. Since each of the involved groups had its own historiographic perspective on the event, it is not surprising that Moroccan Jews referred to the violent riots that engulfed them as “the Pillage” (Mor. Jud.-Ar. trītl), whereas Muslim nationalists have dubbed them “the Fez Uprising” (Ar. intifāḍat Fās), and French colonial historians speak of “Fez’s Bloody Days” (Fr. les journées sanglantes de Fès)…

Wifāq, al-

(440 words)

Author(s): Mohammed Kenbib
As in other parts of the Arab-Muslim world, the creation of the State of Israel, the first Arab-Israeli War (1948), and the military confrontation that broke after the nationalization of the Suez Canal (1956) had a tremendous impact on relations between Jews and Muslims in Morocco and precipitated a mass emigration of Moroccan Jews to Israel. Al-Wifāq (Ar. agreement, entente), founded in 1956, was an organization that sought to counter this trend by convincing the country’s Jews that they could play an active part in building the “new Morocco” and wo…

Corcos, Joshua ben Hayyim

(537 words)

Author(s): Mohammed Kenbib
Joshua (Ichoua, Yechoua, Josué) ben Ḥayyim Corcos (1832–1929) belonged to an important Moroccan Jewish family whose members who had been royal merchants (Ar. tujjār al-sulṭān ) for at least two centuries and remained closely connected to the palace and the highest officials after the dismantlement of the royal monopolies in 1856. His father, Ḥayyim, head of the Jewish community of Marrakesh and the ḥevrat gemilut ḥasadim, enjoyed a privileged status as financier of the sultan, vizier, and governor. Ḥayyim hosted Moses Montefiore when he visited Morocco in 1864 and helped hi…

Oujda - Jerrada riots

(665 words)

Author(s): Mohammed Kenbib
The anti-Jewish riots in the eastern Moroccan towns of Oujda and Jerrada in 1948 occurred in a region that still had not recovered from the devastating 1945 famine, in the context of the tense relationship with France arising after Sultan Sidi Mohammed Ben Youssef's speech in Tangier (1947) calling for an end to the protectorate. Equally important were the deteriorating political situation in the Middle East, the United Nations partition for Palestine, and the clandestine Jewish emigration to the newly declared State of Israel. A steadily increasing number of Moroccan …

Sémach, Yomtob

(835 words)

Author(s): Mohammed Kenbib | Daniel Schroeter
Yomtob Sémach(1869–1940) was one of the most influential educators of the Alliance Israelite Universelle(AIU) system in Bulgaria, the Ottoman Empire, and Morocco over a period spanning fifty years. He was born in Yambol, Bulgaria, in 1869 into a wealthy merchant family originally from Edirne (Adrianople) and was educated at the local AIU schools and then at the École Normale Israélite Orientale in Paris. He began his teaching career at an AIU school in Sousse, Tunisia, in 1891, but returned to Bulgaria two years later following the death of his father, and was appointed f…


(2,362 words)

Author(s): Mohammed Kenbib | Maurits H. van den Boogert
1. Ottoman Empire“Protégé” is the imprecise term often found in Western diplomatic sources from the seventeenth century onwards to designate non-Muslim individuals who had an official connection to a European embassy or consulate in the Ottoman Empire that entitled them to some of the privileges codified in the Capitulations. In the nineteenth century, the term was also applied to groups, such as the Jews, after Great Britain proclaimed itself their protector throughout the Middle East.Original CategoriesStrictly speaking, the category of “protégé” was limited to dragomans (int…