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Banderly, Bella (Bilha)

(647 words)

Author(s): David Guedj
Bella (Bilha) Banderly was born into a Hasidic family in the city of Safed in 1889. When she was still a child, her family moved to the Jewish colony of Metulla, where she attended a school supervised by the first Hebrew-speaking teachers in the Galilee. In 1912, she married Shimshon Banderly, a merchant and public figure from Haifa, in an arranged marriage. That same year, the couple moved to Paris and lived there until they returned to Haifa in 1920. Little is known about her life during this …

Nahmany, Ḥaim

(493 words)

Author(s): David Guedj
Haim Nahmany (Ḥayyim Naḥmani) was born in February 1902 in Settat, Morocco. As a child he attended traditional Jewish schools in the mornings and in the evenings learned French and general studies. As a young man he moved to Casablanca, where he made a living from importing household utensils from France and Russia. Nahmany played an important role in the expansion of Zionist and Hebrew activity in the mid-1930s.  He was a member of the organizing committee of the main association for the dissemination of Hebrew in Casablanca, Magen David. During …

Bouskila, Yehiel

(486 words)

Author(s): David Guedj
Yehiel Bouskila was born in 1921 in a small town near Marrakesh. He moved with his parents to Casablanca when still a child and attended the Magen David and Keter Torah schools there. In 1938 he was given the position of teacher of Hebrew, history, and Bible in the Em Ha-Banim and Magen David schools. In 1946 he began to teach Hebrew in the Alliance school in Casablanca. At the end of 1942, the Magen David association founded a “Hebrew Club,” which Yehiel Bouskila ran. Members of the club met one evening during the week and for an oneg Shabbat on the weekend. The gatherings featured lectures …

Abitan, Maklouf

(592 words)

Author(s): David Guedj
Maklouf Abitan was born in 1908 in Casablanca. His parents had moved to this growing coastal city from the Dra’a Valley. As a child he attended traditional Jewish schools, first a ṣlā (the Moroccan version of a ḥeder - see Kuttāb) and then a yeshiva. He was a self-educated individual who taught himself French and was an avid reader of the press and literature in general. He and his wife Suliqa had three sons and five daughters. For a living, he ran a haberdashery. Abitan was active in the Hebrew and Jewish national revival that took place in Casablanca in the 1930s. In his home…