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July 05 , 2007

The Last Arab Jews

The Communities of Jerba, Tunisia


The once numerous and vital Jewish communities of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia have disappeared, succumbing during the past century to the assimilating temptations of French culture, or, more recently, to the pressures of migration. Only the two communities of the island of Jerba still remain. Only they have succeeded in maintaining and reproducing their religious and social institutions, in adjusting to the new realities around them while preserving intact their cultural, communal identity. This lavishly-illustrated book, first published in 1984, portrays the life and history of two Jerban Jewish villages and explores the paradoxes of their continuity. How and why are they so fully Jewish while, at the same time, so thoroughly embedded in their Muslim, North African environment? Although its focus is one small ethnic group, the implications of this study extend to the broad subject of relations between Arabs and Jews in modern times.

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