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By Andre N. Chouraqui

Among East and West: A heritage of the Jews of North Africa by way of Chouraqui, Andre N.; tr. via Bernet, Michael M.

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Extra resources for Between East and West: A History of the Jews of North Africa

Sample text

At Gurara, in the Touat region in the extreme north between Tamentit and Gerara, Arab historians record the existence of a small Jewish kingdom in a region where the race and the language of the Berber Zenatas has been preserved to this day. Gravestones engraved with Hebrew characters have been found there. This kingdom managed to survive the triumphs of Islam, but succumbed during a general massacre in 1492 that was fired by the recrudescence of Moslem religious fervor following This Library PDF version is for the use on an institutional computer only.

The growth and spread of nomadism in North Africa is directly traceable to the effects of the century of Vandal domination. The second factor that influenced the lives of the Jews during this period is that the Vandals supported the Arian heresy, de­ nying the co-eternity, consubstantiality and, therefore, the true divinity of Jesus. This heresy had been formally condemned at the Council of Nicaea, but it continued to undermine Christi­ anity everywhere, particularly in North Africa from the time of the Vandal invasion.

Each community was headed by a religious assembly in which full Jews, proselytes and semi-proselytes shared equally, and an administrative council, usually of nine members, which was elected by the community. Inscriptions show that occasionally women were members of the councils. The Council of Elders administered the community. It directed the finances, super­ vised the religious organization of the town, represented the interests of the community before the courts and the authori­ ties. It distributed relief, decided on the construction of syna­ gogues, schools and libraries.

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