Maghrebi Jews

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Maghrebi Jews
David LevyDanny AyalonNinet TayyebSilvan ShalomAmir Peretz

Famous people of Maghrebi Jewish background
Total population
1,400,000 (estimate)
Regions with significant populations
Israel 1,000,000
 France 400,000
 Morocco 6,000
 Tunisia 2,000
Hebrew, Judæo-Arabic, Judeo-Berber , Haketia, French
Judaism (Sephardic rite)
Related ethnic groups
Ashkenazi Jews, Mizrahi, Sephardi Jews, other Jewish ethnic divisions; Samaritans.
The present-day Arab Maghreb Union countries

Maghrebi Jews (in Hebrew Maghrebim מַגּרֶבִּים or מַאגרֶבִּים) are Jews, who traditionally lived in the Maghreb region of North Africa (al-Maghrib, Arabic for "the west"). Established Jewish communities existed in North Africa long before the arrival of Sephardic Jews expelled from Spain. The oldest Jewish communities were present during Roman times, and possibly as early as within Punic colonies of Ancient Carthage period. Maghrebi Jews largely mixed with the newly arrived Sephardic Jews from 13th century till 16th century, eventually being overwhelmed by Sephardics and embracing a Sephardic Jewish identity in most cases. The mixed Maghrebi-Sephardic Jewish communities collapsed in the mid-20th century as part of the Jewish exodus from Arab countries, moving mostly to Israel and France and merging into the Israeli Jewish and French Jewish communities.

Today, descendants of Maghrebi Jews in Israel largely embraced the renovated Israeli Jewish identity and in many cases intermixed with Ashkenasi and Mizrahi Jewish communities in Israel. Some of Maghrebi Jews (literally Western Jews) also consider themselves as part of Mizrahi Jewish community (literally Eastern Jews), even though there is no direct link between the two communities, except the Arabic-speaking background and the parallel exodus from Arab and Muslim countries in Middle East (exodus of Mizrahim) and North Africa (exodus of Maghrebim) in the mid-20th century.


Ghriba Synagogue

Jewish presence in North Africa dates back to pre-Roman times, possibly correlating the late Punic settlements in the area.

After Jewish defeat in the First Jewish-Roman War in 70 CE, a great number of Jews were sent by general Titus to Mauritania, and many of them settled in what is now Tunis. These settlers were engaged in agriculture, cattle-raising, and trade. They were divided into clans, or tribes, governed by their respective heads, and had to pay the Romans a capitation tax of 2 shekels. Though during the great disturbances of the Kitos War, there must have been a significant reduction of the Jewish population, Jews continued to thrive in parts of North Africa also under the dominion of the Late Roman empire. After 429 CE, with the fairly tolerant Vandals, the Jewish inhabitants of the North African province increased and prospered to such a degree that African Church councils deemed it necessary to enact restrictive laws against them. After the overthrow of the Vandals by Belisarius in 534 CE, Justinian I issued his edict of persecution, in which the Jews were classed with the Arians and heathens.[citation needed]

In the seventh century the Jewish population was augmented by Iberian Jewish immigrants, who, fleeing from the persecutions of the Visigothic king Sisebut[1] and his successors, escaped to the Maghreb and settled in the local Byzantine cities. A much greater migration of Spanish Jews took place between 1391 and 1492, by the Alhambra decree edict of expulsion.

Notable Maghrebim[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ ²
  • ² A l'arrivée des Juifs espagnols : Mutation de la communauté. Richard Ayoun.
  • [1] Jewish encyclopedia.