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(822 words)

Author(s): Brigitte Sion
Although the Inquisition tribunal was abolished in 1808,  and freedom of religion for non-Catholics was established in 1869, Jews were not allowed to live in Spain as individuals until the end of the nineteenth century. In 1877 there were 416 Jews living in Spain, including thirty-one in Madrid, but they could not organize as a community until 1909; a synagogue was opened that year in Seville, and others followed in Madrid in 1917 and Barcelona in 1918. Despite their small numbers, Jews were frequently the subject of parliamentary debates, newspaper articles, and public discussion.  Dr. …


(695 words)

Author(s): Brigitte Sion
The eighteen thousand Jews of Switzerland represent about 0.2 percent of the total population. Swiss Jewry has always been overwhelmingly Ashkenazi, but immigration of Jews from North Africa and the Middle East has changed the shape of the communities of Geneva and Lausanne in the French-speaking part of the country. While a few Turkish Jews settled in these areas in the early twentieth century, significant numbers of Jews from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq arrived in the 1950s and 1960s. According to rough estimates, …

Kayat, Claude

(334 words)

Author(s): Brigitte Sion
Claude Kayat, born July 24, 1939 in Sfax, Tunisia, is one of the leading French-language writers from North Africa.He immigrated to Israel with his family in 1955, then to Sweden in 1958. The author of twenty-one plays in French and Swedish, he is mostly known for his seven novels, three of which have been awarded literary prizes.   Mohammed Cohen (1981), his first and most famous work, is an autobiographical novel that recounts the childhood of a boy born in Tunisia to a Muslim mother and a Jewish father. The hero lives in a colorful lower-class enviro…

Women - Turkey

(489 words)

Author(s): Brigitte Sion
Like all Jews, Jewish women obtained Turkish citizenship in 1923 with the establishment of the Turkish Republic. In 1934, they were granted full political rights along with all other Turkish women, including the right to vote and the right to run for elective office, among others. Education of Jewish girls and women had already begun in the last decades of the Ottoman Empire, especially with the spread of Alliance Israélite Universelle schools in the 1860s. By the early twentieth century, girls were being taught Turkish, French, math, as we…


(693 words)

Author(s): Brigitte Sion
The Jews of Belgium represent approximately 32,000 people out of a population of 10.4 million. The largest part of this community lives in Brussels and Antwerp, with over fifteen thousand in each city. Belgian Jews with origins in Islamic countries number around two thousand. The first Sephardim to settle in Belgium were Turkish Jews toward the end of the nineteenth century. The influx from Turkey continued until the 1920s. Those who settled in Antwerp worked in the diamond business and founded a community in 1898. In 1913, they built a synagogue with the financial support of the Bel…