Jacob Rodrigues Pereira

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Jacob Rodrigues Pereira

Jacob Rodrigues Pereira or Jacob Rodrigue Péreire (April 11, 1715 – September 15, 1780) was an academic and the first teacher of deaf-mutes in France.

Born Jacob Rodrigues Pereira in Peniche, Portugal, he was a descendant of a Marrano (Portuguese Crypto-Jews) family and was baptized with the name of Francisco António Rodrigues. He returned to Judaism together with his mother. His parents were Magalhães Rodrigues Pereira and Abigail Ribea Rodrigues. After his father's death his mother fled with her son from Portugal to escape the Portuguese Inquisition and the charge that she had relapsed into heresy, and about 1741 she settled at Bordeaux.

Jacob Rodrigue Péreire formulated signs for numbers and punctuation and adapted Juan Pablo Bonet's manual alphabet by adding 30 handshapes each corresponding to a sound instead of to a letter. He is therefore seen as one of the inventors of manual language for the deaf and is credited with being the first person to teach a non-verbal deaf person to speak. In 1759, he was made a member of the Royal Society of London.

Rodrigues Pereira with patient

A lifelong devotee to the well-being of the Jews of southern France, Portugal, and Spain, beginning in 1749 he was a volunteer agent for the Portuguese Jews at Paris. In 1777, his efforts led to Jews from Portugal receiving the right to settle in France.

In 1876 Pereira's remains were transferred from the Cimetière de la Villette (where he had been buried the year in which that cemetery was opened) to that of the Cimetière de Montmartre.

In Bordeaux the street "Rodrigues-Pereire" was named in his honor.

His grandsons, the Péreire brothers, Émile Péreire (1800–75) and Isaac Péreire (1806–80), were well-known French financiers and bankers during the second empire who encouraged the construction of the first railway in France in 1835. In 1852, they founded the Société Générale du Crédit Mobilier.

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