MembersJews in Islamic Countries: Algeria from a Personal Reflection

The forgotten story of North Africa’s Algerian Jewish Aliyah to Israel

By Rachel Avraham |
Photo: Public Domain

Jewish history in Algeria can be traced back to the First Century. According to the World Jewish Congress, “In the 14th century, with the expulsion of Jews from Spain, many Spanish Jews moved to Algeria, dramatically increasing the size of the community. The Jews in Algeria spoke the Berber language, especially in the eastern part of Algeria, in the Kabyle lands, and prayed in Berber.  By the 17th and 18th centuries they also spoke Arabic, Spanish, Ladino, Italian, and Hebrew with some communities speaking Judeo-Arabic as their daily language. In Oran, they preserved the Spanish dialect of Ladino into the 19th century.”

However, while the Jewish community in Algeria dates back to antiquity, Professor Haim Ze’ev Hirschberg noted that at the end of the 14th century, the Jews of Algeria were persecuted to such an extreme that there is no indication “how the indigenous Jews managed to survive the period of tribulations.” According to best-selling author Joan Peters, “In the 16th century, the Jews of Tlemcen were regularly attacked. Some were forcefully...

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