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Mosseri, Albert

(236 words)

Author(s): Lital Levy
Albert Mosseri, a physician, journalist, and Zionist, was a scion of two financially powerful Italian Sephardi families in Cairo, the Mosseri and the Cattaoui (Qaṭṭāwī) families. Mosseri studied medicine in Paris, where he began writing for Zionist student publications and campaigned for Dreyfus. Upon returning to Cairo, he joined the local Jewish reformist groups that had sprung up in the wake of the Young Turk Revolution. He utilized his skills as a physician, journalist, and activist to benefit Cairo’s Jewish quarter, contributing to the founding of a fr…

Maggid Mesharim (Calcutta)

(211 words)

Author(s): Lital Levy
Maggid Mesharim (The Announcer of Truth), edited by Rabbi Shelomo Twena, was one of a number of newspapers in Judeo-Arabic and/or Hebrew published by Baghdadi Jews in India during the second half of the nineteenth century. It appeared weekly in Calcutta from 1890 to 1900. Like its predecessors, it carried local news of Jewish communities in India, announcements of births, deaths, and marriages, shipping news and schedules, and worldwide Jewish news. Twena’s reportage focused heavily, however, on the hardships of Jews in Baghdad, such as persecution by the Ottoman authoritie…

ʿĀʾila (Cairo), al-

(210 words)

Author(s): Lital Levy
A l-ʿĀʾila (The Family), a bimonthly Arabic-language journal for women published in Cairo, was founded and edited by the Beirut-born Jewish feminist and journalist Esther Azharī Moyal (1873–1948) and was intended for a general Arabic readership. Widely circulated in Egyptand beyond, it appeared in journal form from 1899 through 1902 and was briefly revived as a newspaper in 1904. A pioneering Arabic periodical for women, and possibly the first to describe itself as a newspaper (Ar. jarīda), a l-ʿĀʾila enjoyed a relatively long and stable run. Issues from the first year fo…

Shams (Cairo), al-

(282 words)

Author(s): Lital Levy
Al–Shams (The Sun), published in Cairo from 1934 to 1948, was the last Arabic-language Jewish newspaper in Egypt. It was owned, edited, and largely written by Sa‘d (Sa‘adiya) Ya‘qūb Malkī, who previously had edited the Arabic edition of Israël ( Isrā’īl) and saw himself as continuing its mission with al–Shams. Seeking to attract both Jewish and non-Jewish readers, al-Shams promoted a reformist program that encompassed Egyptian Jewry, the Egyptian nation as a whole, and a broadly defined “East.” The paper’s content consisted of news of Egypt’s Jewish co…

Rejwan, Nissim

(294 words)

Author(s): Lital Levy
Born in Baghdad in 1924, Nissim Rejwan is an author, journalist, and political commentator. He began writing for the Iraq Times while managing the Al-Rabita Bookshop in Baghdad. In 1951 he emigrated to Israel, where he joined the staff of the Jerusalem Post. He continued there until 1996. From 1957 to 1959 he also worked as a news editor for the Arabic section of the Israel Broadcasting Authority, and again as a features editor from 1976 to 1989; from 1959 to 1966 he was editor of the Tel Aviv Arabic daily al-Yawm. Over the years he studied at the Hebrew University and later at Tel Av…

Moyal, Esther Azhari

(522 words)

Author(s): Lital Levy
Journalist, translator, author, and feminist, Esther Azharī Moyal was born in Beirut in 1873 to a Sephardi family of modest means whose name had been corrupted from Lazari to Azharī. She was educated in classical Arabic, French, and English and studied with a prominent Arab writer. In 1890 she received an academic degree, probably from the American College for Girls, after which she taught at Christian and Jewish schools in Beirut. In 1891,  Azharī joined Bakūrāt Sūrīyā (The Dawn of Syria), an association of Syrian women; in 1896 she co-founded another society, Nahḍa…

Haddad, Ezra

(409 words)

Author(s): Lital Levy
Ezra Ḥaddād (1900?-1972) was a prominent Baghdadi Jewish educator, author, journalist, and translator. He received both a traditional education at the Midrash Talmud Torah and a modern one at the Al-Taʿāwwun school (later renamed after Rachel Shaḥmon), where he studied Turkish, Persian, and French. Beginning in 1922 he taught Arabic, English, and history in the Talmud Torah school. From 1923 (or 1924) to 1928, he was headmaster of the  Al-Waṭanīyya Jewish secondary school; from 1928 to 1933 he was vice-headmaster of the Shammash school. He again served as headmas…

Mosseri, Mathilde

(427 words)

Author(s): Lital Levy
Mathilde-Mazal Mani was a scion of the Baghdadi Mani family of rabbinic fame, who resettled in Hebron in the 1860s and played central roles in the leadership of the Sephardi yishuv in Hebron and Jerusalem. Her father,  Isaac Malkiel Mani, was the first Jew appointed as a judge in the Ottoman judicial system. Mathilde was born in Hebron in 1893. At the age of five, she moved with her family to Jerusalem, where she was educated at the Evelyn de Rothschild school. In 1912 she married Albert Mosseri, an Egyptian Jewish doctor and journalist who had moved to Palestine. The following y…

Tsemah, David (Ṣemaḥ, Dāhūd)

(320 words)

Author(s): Lital Levy
David Tsemaḥ (Dahud Ṣemaḥ, 1902–1981) was known variously as a rabbi, poet, and scholar. Born in Baghdad, he was educated at both the local Alliance Israélite Universelle school and the Bet Zilkha yeshiva. At the age of twelve, he composed Hebrew and Arabic poems about the horrors of the First World War which were slated for publication but then burned for fear of the Ottoman authorities. Tsemaḥ later became a rabbi and ritual circumciser (Heb. mohel) as well as a bookseller and collector. In addition to his own original Hebrew poetry and his scholarly criticism of Sephardi ve…

Kattan, Naim

(300 words)

Author(s): Lital Levy
Naim Kattan is a Francophone Canadian novelist, essayist, and critic. Born in Baghdad in 1928, Naim Kattan attended the Alliance Israélite Universelle school and took a deep interest in Arabic and French literature at an early age. He studied law at the University of Baghdad from 1945 until 1947, then took a French government scholarship to study at the Sorbonne from 1947 to 1951, where he became active in Parisian literary circles. His fictionalized memories of these years appeared as Adieu, Babylone(1975; translated as Farewell, Babylon, 1976; 2nd ed. 2007) and   Les Fruits arrachés (1…

Tahdhīb (Cairo), al-

(280 words)

Author(s): Lital Levy
Al-Tahdhīb (Edification), published in Cairo from 1901 to 1903, is probably the oldest extant example of a Jewish periodical in standard Arabic. It was founded, edited, and largely written by the Egyptian Karaite lawyer and writer Murād Farag (Faraj) (1866–1956), who utilized it as a platform to promote reform in the local Karaite community. The paper addressed the community’s identity and cultural orientation, and endorsed legal and educational reforms. Its eclectic content included didactic essays exhorting moral behavior and dispensing advice,…

Cohen, Zaki

(313 words)

Author(s): Lital Levy
Born in Aleppo in 1829, Zaki Cohen (Zākī Kūhīn) was rabbi of the Beirut Jewish community. Around 1874, he founded Tiferet Yisrael (The Glory of Israel), also known in Arabic as al-Madrasa al-Waṭaniyya al-Isrāʾīliyya (The National Jewish School). Beirut’s first modern Jewish school, anteceding the Alliance Israélite Universelle school by four years, it was probably intended to be an alternative to Christian missionary schools. Tiferet Yisrael catered to the children of upper-class Jewish families, who came as boarders from neighboring count…

Mevasser (Calcutta)

(135 words)

Author(s): Lital Levy
The Mevasser (Herald) was a weekly newspaper in Judeo-Arabic published by the Baghdadi Jewish community in Calcutta on the Hebrew press of Ezekiel ben Sulaymān Hanin from 1873 to 1878. It was one of a number of newspapers in Judeo-Arabic and/or Hebrew printed by Baghdadi Jews in India during the second half of the nineteenth century. It carried local news of Jewish communities in India, announcements of births, deaths, and marriages, shipping news, and worldwide Jewish news translated and reprinted from other Jewish newspapers. Lital Levy Bibliography Avishur, Yiṣḥaq. “Baghdadi Ju…

Haskala Movement

(2,859 words)

Author(s): Yossef Chetrit | Lital Levy
1. Maghreb European colonialism, which led to the French conquest of Algeria in 1830 as well as the expansion of the protégé system through the foreign consulates in the Maghreb, exposed Jewish communities in the area to the influence of European culture and lifestyles. In Algeria, young Jews were attending French schools as early as 1846; in Morocco, the first school of the Alliance Israélite Universelle (AIU) opened in Tetouan in 1862, with many more following in other communities. In Tunisia, the first AIU school opened in 1879, and in Tripoli (Libya) in 1890.       Concurrent with th…