ARCILA (Asila = ancient Zilis), port 27 mi. S. of Tangiers. Jews probably settled there in ancient times. When the Portuguese conquered the city in 1471, they seized 250 Jews and sold them as slaves in Portugal; they were ransomed by Isaac *Abrabanel. After 1492 Arcila was a disembarkation port for refugees from Spain and Portugal. The Portuguese governor Borba treated them inhumanly, but finally permitted their departure for Fez. When many of them returned, Borba forced their conversion. In 1510 a community was established. Ships from India and Brazil laden with spices, precious woods, and fabrics called at Arcila; cereals were exported, and much of this trade was in Jewish hands. The evacuation of the Jews of *Azemmour to Arcila was planned in 1541 and the following year they were given one month to leave for Fez. When the Portuguese were driven out in 1546, the Jews returned, lived among the Muslims, and paid an annual tax of 60 gold ducats. In the 19th century the very influential Levy-Benshetons were diplomatic representatives of England and the United States in Arcila. In 1940 the community numbered only 500. There was no organized community in 1968.
D. Corcos, in: Sefunot, 10 (1966), 74; B. Meakin, Land of the Moors (1901), 221–6; Miège, Maroc, 2 (1961), 336, 385; Hirschberg, Afrikah, 1 (1965), 307, 314.
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.