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Encyclopedia Judaica:
Bone, Algeria


Algeria: Virtual Jewish World | Oran | Tlemcen


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BONE (or Bona, ancient Hippo Regius, named Annaba after Algerian independence from French rule), Mediterranean port in northeastern Algeria close to the Tunisian border. Located on a gulf between capes Garde and Rosa, it became one of the Maghreb's centers for the Phoenician settlers around the 12th century B.C.E. In later periods, Bone was dominated by the Romans before achieving its independence in the wake of the Punic Wars of 264–146 B.C.E. In 393 through 430 C.E. Bone emerged as one of the most important centers of Christian learning. It then fell into ruin (431) as a result of the massive assault by the Vandals. Aside from a Christian presence that had dwindled in the wake of the Arab conquest, only to be revitalized by the French conquest, it appears that a Jewish community existed in Bone from Roman times. When it was temporarily captured by Roger II of Sicily (1153), some of the Jews succeeded in organizing trade activity with Italian merchants from Pisa who established a trading post there. Although there is no solid evidence to suggest that Sephardi Jews arrived in Bone following their expulsion from Spain (1492), rabbinical responsa literature from the 1400s attests to a vibrant communal life. The city's synagogue, the "Ghriba," was the site of Jewish and Muslim pilgrims. Yet there are no available statistical data to determine the size of the community prior to the 19th century.

The economic and trade influence of Jews in Bone increased during the late 18th and early 19th centuries, when Algeria was part of the Ottoman Empire. Some of the most noteworthy and powerful Jewish merchants belonged to the Bensamon and Bacri families. Whereas the Bensamons catered to British trade interests at the port of Bone, the Bacris, whose influence extended to other Algerian ports, were the chief representatives of French interests.

In 1832, two years after France penetrated Algeria, Bone became a French possession. The French were instrumental in making Bone into a modern town. In the first decade of French rule the Jewish population increased due in part to an influx of several hundred migrants from Tunisia. During World War II the Jews numbered over 3,000. They were naturalized French citizens like the rest of Algerian Jewry by virtue of the October 1870 Crémieux Decree.

There were no Jews in Bone after 1964–65, a situation attributable to the overall decolonization process, Jewish communal self-liquidation, and the exodus to France and Israel.


BIBLIOGRAPHY:

A.N. Chouraqui, Between East and West: A History of the Jews of North Africa (1973); C.-A. Julien, A History of North Africa: Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco from the Arab Conquest to 1830 (ed. and rev. by R. Le Tourneau; 1970); J.M. Abun-Nasr, A History of the Maghrib in the Islamic Period (1987).

[Michael M. Laskier (2nd ed.)]


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.

 

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