Chapter 10 A Jewish Mission in the ‘Orients’? (Nineteenth Century–1920)

In: Missions and Preaching
Vincent Vilmain University of Le Mans

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Reflecting on a mission involving a religion with universal but non-proselytizing ambitions such as Judaism obviously entails reflecting from the viewpoint of the “inner mission.” However, beginning in the late eighteenth century, in the wake of the dual phenomenon of emancipation and assimilation, the Judaicities of Western Europe transformed, and imagined a confessionalised and nationalized Judaism compatible with modernity. Paradoxically, this new form of Judaism led to the development of a philanthropy directed especially toward the Jewish communities of the Mediterranean basin. Beginning with private initiatives such as those of Moses Montefiore, this phenomenon became institutionalized during the second half of the nineteenth century via associations such as l’Alliance israélite universelle (AIU) founded in 1860, and its counterparts the Anglo-Jewish Association (AJA, 1871) and the HilfsVerein der Deutschen Juden (HdDJ, 1901). While these organizations claimed to be defending a national model, their grasp of Oriental Judaicities—everywhere considered archaic from the standpoint of the ideal of progress embodied by Europe—were broadly in agreement, as were their strategies for regeneration. These strategies used the same approach as Christian missionaries: founding institutions such as schools, hospitals, and other charities, which would serve as crucibles for the unification of Judaism on the model of Europe’s “regenerated” Judaicities, with respect to both the renewal of religious practices and support for the idea of civilization. The phenomenon expanded rapidly in both the Ottoman and Persian Empires, as well as in North Africa. Leaders were quickly recruited on site from among local populations, demonstrating the theoretical relevance of this project that some have called the “interior colonization of Judaism,” one that left a lasting mark despite the resistance it met.


The Mediterranean, especially those spaces under Ottoman domination, underwent a demographic, political, cultural, and intellectual shift between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries that included the Jewish communities of these areas. Power relations and viewpoints, which had initially been centred on the Ottoman world, to which European Jews looked, reversed fairly sharply. In the seventeenth century, the epicentre of the largest disruption of Jewish worlds lay at the heart of the Ottoman Empire, with Sabbateanism. The aftershocks from the emergence of this messianic movement were felt as far away as Western Europe and even further away in Yemen.1 By the end of the following century, this state of affairs had already become more nuanced. Jacob Frank (1726–1791), the new self-proclaimed messiah, sought to legitimise his position by travelling to the major centres of Sephardic Judaism in the Ottoman Empire, even though he was from Poland, which was also where Baal Shem Tov emerged, the founder of the Hasidic movement that swiftly developed in the eighteenth century.2 The shift became definitive in the nineteenth century.3 The major political, cultural, and religious dynamics of Judaism—chief among them emancipation—were found in Europe, with Mediterranean Judaicities observing them and either being attracted or showing hostility, but certainly not indifference.4

1 Constructing a Relation of Domination

The legal emancipation of Jewish populations—which is to say achieving the same legal status as other inhabitants of a country, including citizenship and the renunciation of all community-specific legislation—was a phenomenon comparable in scope only to the exile in Babylon or the destruction of the second Temple in the long history of Judaism, and it opened a new era whose consequences have not yet been fully explored. By defining a new relation between Judaism and the world, emancipation prompted Jews to position themselves differently in relation to the societies alongside which they had lived for centuries, thereby challenging the foundation of the community. While there was abundant resistance to emancipation, which was sometimes presented as a diktat, especially among rabbinic authorities who were stripped of their power, there was also enthusiasm among Jewish populations that sympathised with the promise of openness of the Jewish Enlightenment (Haskalah). Emancipation, which was initially imposed more than requested, became, in the wake of the French Revolution and the Empire, a Jewish project in Central and Eastern Europe, where economic and cultural assimilation preceded legal equality, notably with the creation in 1819 of the Wissenschaft des Judentums in Berlin. The clear progression of emancipation during the nineteenth century led to the production of Jewish discourses—sometimes including an eschatological element—making the emancipation-assimilation duo a symbol of the advance of “Civilisation.”5 The nineteenth century saw European hegemony in the wider world evince itself within Judaism, via the domination of Western and Central European Judaicities over Judaicities in the Mediterranean basin. This domination exerted itself especially, but not exclusively, in the Mediterranean, as Jewish populations in Russia and Eastern Europe were long seen by Western and Central Europe Jews as semi-Asian figures in need of being “civilised.”6 While the certainties revolving around the emancipatory model began to fray in the 1880s, those of participating in a superior civilisation faded more slowly. This domination clearly exerted itself from the 1820s to the 1950s, with the gradual disappearance of Mediterranean Jewish communities, but partially endured in places of exile and gathering in Europe, America, and Israel.

This new power relation was initially exerted via individuals—Moses Montefiore’s first philanthropic trips to Jerusalem (1827)7 and later Morocco, the Altaras-Cohen (1834) report on the regeneration of Algerian Jews, or Albert Cohn’s mission to Algeria mandated by James de Rothschild (1845)8—and later by institutions, chief among them l’Alliance israélite universelle (AIU) founded in 1860,9 and later its English (Anglo-Jewish Association, AJA), Austrian (Vienna Allianz), and German (HilfsVerein der Deutschen Juden, HdDJ) offshoots, which subsequently became its competitors. Individuals and institutions were convinced of the need to “regenerate” Mediterranean Jewish populations in preparation for their emancipation, which was seen at the time as their only guarantee of safety.

The term “regeneration,” at the intersection between natural history and the history of religion, appeared in the political vocabulary of the Enlightenment, and represented a particularly important referent during the French Revolution.10 Applied to the Jews as part of Abbé Grégoire’s project presented before the Academy of Metz in 1788,11 the principle of regeneration defended the legal normalisation of the Jewish condition prior to their assimilation in French society, which was supported during the debates of 1790 and 1791 at the Constituent Assembly that led to the conferral of citizenship.12 Essentially and initially conceived outside of Judaism, the principle of “regeneration” was taken up by the second generation of French Jews, and then more broadly by the other emancipated communities of Western Europe beginning in the 1820s and 1830s.13 The principle henceforth involved leading Jews from Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean basin toward emancipation by showing preliminary tokens of assimilation, through both the modernisation of religious practices and the acquisition of new occupations. The primary medium for this regeneration was the school. These institutions exerted, notably through the founding of a very dense school network, a powerful “Civilisational” mission (KulturArbeit) in relation to their coreligionists. Understanding the meaning of this mission, its civilisational, colonial, religious, and bourgeois dimensions—as well as how such ideas became self-evident facts for those who promoted them—is one of the central issues that will be studied here.

1.1 Religious Mission(s)?

If we speak of Jewish mission(s) in the Mediterranean, we are obviously speaking of an interior mission, one that was clearly centred around transforming populations in order to lead them toward “Civilisation,” marked by rationalism and “moral progress”. The religious dimension was apparently relegated to the background. However, in the field the directors of schools and other institutions, such as clinics, had to contend with local elites, religious ones in particular. Similarly, school curricula included a minimum of religious teaching. These institutions had to balance a desire to purge the perceived archaisms of Mediterranean Jewish populations with careful attention not to alienate religious elites. While the promoters of these associations—the AIU in France and other European institutions—were liberals who were sometimes defiant in face of their own rabbinic authorities, it was not a matter of “converting” these populations to a reformed Judaism, although in practice the form of the Judaism diffused by the AIU took hold. This latter subject will be the second aspect explored in this article.

1.2 The AIU, Its Associates, and Its Competitors: Unity or Diversity of a “Jewish mission in the Orient”

The final topic is the diversity of Jewish missions, and gradual siloisation of Jewish initiatives in the Orient (primarily French, English, and German). However, depending on the period and position taken by the historian, it is easy to be mistaken about those associations’ aims. Interpretive biases can also slip into analyses that are overly centred on programmatic discourses, and less on experiences in the field.

Let us consider the years preceding World War I. While schools belonging to the AIU quite clearly dominated the geography of external educational institutions, they faced stiff competition from the Anglo-Jewish Association (for example in Jerusalem, for both symbolic and geopolitical reasons), and from the HdDJ in the Balkans. These tensions arose from the observation that these institutions represented substantial networks of influence for their countries of origin, especially with regard to commerce through the intervention of language. As such, geopolitical tensions between European states influenced the actions of these institutions, which appeared more national than Jewish. In relation to the AIU, however, one could say that a genuine Jewish alliance going beyond nations existed in the 1860s, since the AIU did not exclusively recruit among French Jews.


Figure 10.1

Change in the number of AIU members

Based on the Bulletin de l’AIU, 2nd semester 1867, pp. 54–55, 1st semester 1873, p. 24, 25th anniversary, p. 16

However, upon closer inspection tensions appeared very early, especially with respect to language.14 As a result, arguing for a linear rise in tensions is somewhat dubious, as is the notion of a fundamental difference of mission principles, with the AIU being intransigent toward the principles of the HdDJ, and vice versa. Finally, while tensions existed, they were more in connection with linguistic and national issues—this was also true with the emergence of the Zionist movement15—and less with understanding Oriental Judaicities and the work to be done in connection with them.

2 The Sense of Mission

If there was a mission in the work of the AIU, AJA, and HdDJ, it first and foremost focused on the civilising project or KulturArbeit. Its outlines, foundations, and possible fluctuations remain to be defined which will be one of the purposes of this article.

2.1 Israelite and Universal

To grasp the meaning of this “Jewish mission” in the Orient, it is important to return to the birth of the AIU, and the association of the concepts “Israelite” and “universal.” The latter term has a number of roots. Despite its asserted universalism, the AIU’s first source was quite clearly French; the influence of revolutionary and liberal thought is clear in 1860, and remained generations later: “we cannot conceive of a Jew—who wants to remain Jewish—being hostile to the liberal idea,” affirmed Jacques Bigart in 1922.16 However in 1860, the founders of the AIU were inspired by their reading of Michelet, for whom France’s mission in the world replaced the Christian mission.17 This did not prevent German, Italian, Russian, and other Jews from joining.

At the same time, the AIU was clearly an emanation of the Franco-Judaism that continued to develop at the time, and was marked by a confessionalisation of Judaism and even by its secularisation, and in any event by the relegation of the expression of Judaism to the private sphere;18 Jews symbolically “yielded” to Israelites, renouncing the formation of a separate nation. The AIU was also Jewish in its conception of a particular universal. Jules Carvallo, one of the AIU’s founders, indicated in 1853 that: “Israel was given to the world to bless and improve it; but it has a duty to fulfil; namely uniting, defending, and conserving the life of those whom God reserved for this great purpose.”19 Finally, and this was potentially the most unifying factor, the AIU was clearly Occidentalist, convinced that it was in Europe—and Western Europe in particular—that the most prominent advances occurred in terms of “Civilisation.”

The founding of the AIU sparked genuine Jewish enthusiasm in Europe, from England to Russia, and even in the United States.20 Still, this enthusiasm in the Jewish press did not always translate into substantial membership, as was the case in the USA. One of its attractive features was transitioning from the model based on the providential man to one based on collective action, along with the public affirmation of Israelite identity.21 While the AIU initially proposed political support for Jewish communities who were victims of intolerance, especially in the context of the Mortara affair, the moralisation (especially of customs22) and modernisation of Oriental Jewish communities, via their productivisation and the rise of rationalism, became the two keywords in the AIU’s ideology: “There [in the Orient], as elsewhere, social improvement can come only after moral improvement; it is therefore essentially a question of spreading the education and enlightenment of Western civilisation among these populations.”23

The ideal of civilisation present at the founding of the AIU was still there 40 years later during the assessments of its results: “What was the Alliance’s goal (…)? Firstly to provide a ray of Western civilisation in places degenerated by centuries of oppression and ignorance.”24 This project of spreading universal light ensured, in 1860 and the ensuing decades, the support of numerous Jews outside of France, while this confidence in the advancement of “Civilisation” via education was in keeping with a dual perspective, that of the founders of the AIU themselves, whose journeys of upward mobility were connected to education, and the more global one of French Jews. The latter, who were from the second post-Emancipation generation, firmly believed in the idea that education must regenerate and moralise Jewish communities reduced by centuries of oppression.25

2.2 Defining the Mission

The geographical setting for this modernisation/moralisation had not yet been defined in 1860. Originally, the founders of the AIU expressed their desire to provide effective assistance to all Israelites suffering for being Jew/Israelite. Consequently, the fate of poor and discriminated-against Jewish communities was important for them, with their underprivileged coreligionists within their own borders sometimes being a leading concern. For example, the German Rabbi Alzey of Rheinhessen called on the AIU in the 1860s to found schools in Silesia, a province acquired by Prussia in 1763 with large Jewish communities that were generally poor.

However, the largest Jewish community, with the greatest concentration of poverty, and facing the greatest violence was that of the Russian Empire. Their fate was as much a concern to the AIU as that of their Mediterranean coreligionists. Nevertheless, the impossibility of taking concrete action in the Russian Empire, which refused to authorise the establishment of foreign institutions, prompted the Alliance leaders to lose interest in questions specific to Eastern Europe, and to concentrate on the Mediterranean. While their understanding of Russian Judaism was similar to that of Oriental Judaism, the notion that the flame of science and progress had never entirely been extinguished within Russian Jews persisted.26 In the mid-1860s, and later for all non-Russian Jewish philanthropic associations, the assistance provided to Russian Jews essentially took the form of support for emigration, which was mostly directed to the United States, as German, French, and English communities were sometimes reluctant to welcome their poor coreligionists.

The contours of Judeity—in the sense of multiple Judaisms and Jewishnesses—were very broad. The context of the 1860s was one of the complete rediscovery of distant Jewish communities, such as the Kaifeng Jews of Henan in China or the Ethiopian Jews known pejoratively as Falashas, who were considered Jews despite the absence of Hebrew and the Oral Law among them.27

How best to approach the civilising mission of the AIU and other institutions? The representations of Mizrahi Jews in AIU-related literature overlaps with numerous elements from colonial and missionary rhetoric. For example, the representation of Mizrahi Jews as backward or primitive children figures prominently in representations such as that of Abraham Ribbi, one of the AIU’s central figures in Morocco, in 1901, when he asked: “Is not the goal of schooling to combat the immoderate display of luxury among these primitive souls, and to develop a taste for simplicity?”28 The perceived backwardness of Jewish neighbourhoods (the mellah in Morocco, for example29) was also incessantly emphasised; they were considered to be places of poverty and apathy, fertile ground for vice, early marriage, alcoholism, uncleanliness, and endemic diseases.

The mission of the AIU and its associates strongly resembled the colonial mission, but also had similarities with other forms of social action. For example, the Société de patronage des apprentis et des ouvriers israélites de Paris (Paris Patronage Society for Israelite Apprentices and Labourers), which was founded in 1853, was a model in the effort to transform Jewish youth by moving them away from trade and into more productive manual work, a project that was also pursued in the Orient.30 It was also related to the condescending view that urban elites had of populations in the countryside, which were considered archaic in every respect.

This mission essentially took the form of education. In 1854, supporters for a regeneration of Mizrahi Jews wondered what path to pursue. Donations? Scholarships to study in France? Albert Cohn, who had travelled throughout the Orient, argued for a third solution: “the only way to spread education and a taste for work among them is to create schools where they live.”31

The educational project was not a central aspect in the AIU’s first statutes, but soon appeared (1862), and involved both boys and girls. This choice to educate girls, which was rarely highlighted by the institution, was a distinctive feature for the period. Their education responded to multiple needs. The absence of a traditional Jewish educational institution for girls made Jews a key target for the Christian missionary institutions whose influence the AIU feared, especially in the Levant. Moreover, the AIU’s discourse incessantly pointed out the ill fate of Oriental Jewish women, without mentioning the situation of their colleagues in Europe.32 This characteristic of seeing the Orient as a hell for women was shared with other discourses, especially those in militant Zionist circles of the early twentieth century.33

In 1914, the AIU school network reached its apex with 184 schools in 15 countries for a total of 43,700 students, including 13,700 girls.34 These schools offering elementary education—the students were not particularly encouraged to pursue studies beyond that—were not so much conceived as places of instruction but as places of education, as the Instructions reminded teachers in 1903:

teaching must be wholly moral, it must tend, through secret avenues and continual but invisible action, to raise the child’s soul and mind (…) one of the teacher’s primary tasks will especially be to combat the bad habits that are more or less spread among Oriental populations, including egotism, pride, exaggeration of personal sentiment, platitude, blind respect for force and fortune, and the violence of petty passions.35

2.3 Post-AIU Institutions and Their Projects

The loss of French prestige following the defeat in the Franco-Prussian War (1870–1871) had an impact on the AIU’s “global” or universal authority. The Anglo-Jewish Association (AJA) was the first to break away from the AIU in 1871, even though the event was not presented in this manner by English Jews. It was theoretically just a British branch of the AIU, whose full name was originally AJA in relation to the AIU. However, this first foundation already showed a relative detachment, as the AJA invested its grants in projects of more direct interest for English geopolitics (Palestine, Iraq, Persia, Aden), where English was obviously the primary language.

Soon afterwards, the few Austrian Jews who had joined the AIU broke away. The creation of the Vienna Allianz in 1873, after many years of negotiations, marked a sharper break than that of the AJA. Without ruling out global action, its leaders concentrated their efforts on the underprivileged communities of Galicia and Austro-Hungarian Ruthenia, a very poor population generally associated with a backwardness akin to that of Mediterranean Jewish populations. The discourses of the Vienna Allianz regarding the Jews of Galicia did not include any major reorientations, neither did the methods of Bildung36—it was more a matter of acculturating Galician Jews to the urban model of Viennese Jews.

Despite threatening to do so, German Jews, who were by far the most numerous in the association, did not secede for the time being. French and German Jews even agreed after 1871 to proceed with a differentiated count for inhabitants of Alsace-Lorraine.37 German Judaism was itself highly divided both geographically and religiously, which explains the hesitation. German members, whose primacy continued to assert itself (see below), demanded the right to scrutinise AIU investment, but few concessions were made.


Figure 10.2

Proportional evolution of the number of French members in the AIU

Based on the Bulletin de l’AIU, 2nd semester 1867, pp. 54–55, 1st semester 1873, p. 24, 25th anniversary, p. 16

Finally, the HdDJ—a partial split from the AIU—was only founded in 1901, after decades of tension. It listed exactly the same goals as the AIU in its manifesto: improving the fate of coreligionists in Eastern Europe and the Orient, and promoting their moral, intellectual, and economic development.

  1. The Hilfsverein der Deutschen Juden (lit. Mutual Aid Association of German Jews) (…) establishes for its members a humanitarian objective excluding any lucrative activity, in order to promote the moral, intellectual, and economic development of their coreligionists.

  2. The Hilfsverein focuses its activity on coreligionists in Eastern Europe and Asia. Its headquarters is located in Berlin.38

Like the AIU, it founded or took over schools primarily in Romania, the Balkans, and Palestine, where the teaching of German replaced that of French. It enjoyed considerable success, as in 1913 the HdDJ counted 27,000 members and supported 44 institutions in Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean basin, with 6,960 students enrolled in its schools, or one-sixth of the AIU’s numbers.39 While the HdDJ was less hostile to Zionism than the AIU, the project was otherwise practically identical, and relations with Mizrahi Jews entirely similar.40 However, the increase of migratory flows from Eastern Europe generally prompted it to reconsider some of its objectives, and to develop aid for migrant Russian Jews on German territory.41

3 A Simultaneously Religious Mission

While religious reform was not in any way an objective in the discourses of the AIU, AJA, and HdDJ, the desire to rationalise Oriental thought as an effort to improve customs—and even more so to reproduce the Israelite model of the confessionalisation and privatisation of religion—led these associations to offer another model of Judaism.

3.1 Paring-Down Religion

Religion was not the central problem, in this view, but was in fact part of the problem. The founders of the AIU and affiliated associations in Europe were originally youth who were neither from the wealthiest elite nor from the populations receiving aid, and were most often distant from the central rabbinic authorities. For them religion remained a private matter, and represented an essentially moral education. In 1862, the Bulletin de l’AIU asserted that: “Judaism is the only religion that can bring, in the man of faith, reason and the heart into agreement.” According to this position, Judaism is mostly internal, and when combined with piety and morality, enables engagement within a liberal society. It is “the seat of inner happiness, the source of energy that has allowed the Israelites to live through centuries of persecution.”42

The AIU’s objective was thus to strengthen and purify religious feeling among Mizrahi Jews, as indicated by the Instructions from 1903. Narcisse Leven, the president of the AIU at the time, added: “we are combatting only those backward minds that confuse progress with irreligion (…) only those intolerant and superstitious minds that, like wild plants, twist around and threaten to suffocate the old trunk of Judea.”43

There was abundant denunciation of Oriental Jewish religious practices in the field. “Nothing is sadder than seeing how a religion of idealism and vivifying spirit has transformed here, as though frozen into an inert block of gestures and external manifestations that respond to the soul’s needs,” wrote an AIU leader in Constantine in 1907.44 Superstition was denounced in particular, as indicated by Abraham Ribbi in 1900:

The Zohar enjoys immense prestige. It is the sacred book par excellence. (…) Marvels fascinate them; simplistic minds, they willingly admit the supernatural, and believe in a host of superstitions (…) it is Judaism fallen to the level of the crude Islamism of the crowd.45

3.2 Opposition from Rabbinic Authorities

Most AIU school openings were met with open hostility from local rabbinic authorities, in parallel with the genuine reluctance on the part of rabbis in Europe. For instance, Salomon Ullman, the chief rabbi of France, feared the harmful effects that AIU action could have for Jews in both France and abroad.46 In Germanic territories, the AIU was seen through the local prism of sharp religious divisions between Reform, Conservative, and Neo-Orthodox Judaism.47 This was also true of Austria, where the leader of Neo-Orthodoxy, Ignaz Deutsch (1808–1881), deeply condemned the AIU, which he considered to be a conveyor of Reform Judaism. However, while the founders of the AIU were liberals, and in certain respects displayed a Judaism close to the Reform Judaism that grew out of Abraham Geiger’s thought, their considerations did not directly touch on the question of the religious reform of Judaism.

In the Orient, this rejection had two dimensions. The first and more official one from the Rabbis was the reputation for impiety among AIU staff. The other less official one was the loss of position or power on the part of local religious authorities. When the time came to establish an AIU school, even using plans prepared by a committee recruited in part from the local community, the process was often the same: excommunication or the threat of excommunication (herem) by local rabbis for any parent sending their child to an AIU school. This was true in Iraq, where the school in Baghdad had to fight from 1864 to 1868 before opening. In Palestine, the threat of herem was accompanied by that of depriving families of haluqah.48 In Jerusalem, during the school opening in 1882, the staff even suffered physical aggression; the school opened with a single student, and just fifty a few months later, most of whom were orphans taken from Christian missions before their baptism.49 In Safed in 1898, the school went from 150 enrollees to 40 after the punishment of excommunication was announced by rabbinic authorities. The same resistance was present in Morocco in the Drâa-Tafilalet region in the beginning of the 20th century where a school had to close.50 On the doctrinal level, the general accusation made against AIU schools and other institutions was irreligion; host communities also generally refused the assertions of secular science, which were deemed contrary to the teaching of the Bible and the Talmud, as noted by the Alsatian teacher Roland Marx in Baghdad in 1872:

Our Talmud Teacher, a hakham, complained in a friendly manner to M. Lurion, the president of the AIU committee, that my classes shake the foundation of our holy law; he cited in particular the explanation given for the planetary system, the Earth’s internal heat and age, and the ruins of Jerusalem. When my students make an objection drawn from the Bible, the Talmud, the Midrash, and even the Zohar, I have them understand that these are not books of secular science despite their utility, which I indeed refrained from questioning, and that they contain religious science, the only indispensable one (…).51

In an effort not to further upset local beliefs, very clear Instructions were given to teachers. They must never directly challenge rooted opinion and prejudices, but rather combat them through action that is “slow and wise (…) through gentleness and persuasion.”52 Teachers were moreover enjoined to serves as models of religious respectability: they had to attend services at the synagogue on Saturdays and holidays, as well as not transgress any of the rules of Judaism, both those recognised traditionally (kashrut, shabbat, holidays) and those rooted in the local community.

3.3 Religious Teaching in “Missionary” Institutions

The AIU’s schools, like those of other institutions, essentially taught secular subjects such as French, arithmetic, history, geography, and science. However, the teaching of Hebrew and biblical history—and of post-biblical history from 1892 onward—was also part of the curriculum.53 Hebrew courses were generally entrusted to local rabbis. This was one way of circumventing the prevailing hostility, but the results were mixed. While teachers were trained in the teaching methods of Ferdinand Buisson, rabbis practiced a form of learning that was the polar opposite, favouring rote learning. Girls followed essentially the same curriculum, but with 7–10 hours of sewing reserved exclusively for them, and fewer hours of French and religious instruction. Hebrew classes for young girls were difficult to organise, as they met with hostility from both rabbis and families, insomuch as Hebrew was the language of the Torah, whose learning was theoretically forbidden for women for fear of inculcating them with tiflut.54

AIU leaders were well aware of the problem caused by a teaching of Hebrew that was far removed from their expectations for a pared-down religion. They therefore financed a rabbinic seminary in Andrianople in 1897 led by Abraham Danon, a figure from the Haskalah. The seminary was transferred to Istanbul in 1899. While this seminary survived until 1917, it did not succeed in transforming the Ottoman rabbinate.55 The seminary founded in Tunis in 1907 was no more successful. The HdDJ also created a rabbinic seminary in Jerusalem in 1910, whose success cannot be assessed, insofar as German Judaism’s charitable work in the Orient suffered from the repercussions of the German defeat in 1918. At the same time, AIU authorities also worried about the secularisation of their former students, which was deemed to be too extreme, and repeated their desire to maintain a vibrant Jewish religion in their Instructions for 1903.

4 Competing or Associated “Jewish Missions”?

Both direct and indirect association raised problems from the very beginnings of the AIU. While 80 % of members were French in 1867, only 40 % were in 1885. The central committee nevertheless remained majority French. Of the 106 known leaders from 1860 to 1885, 55 were Parisians.56 This imbalance was obvious, with German members pointing it out from the outset, and it was even more flagrant in those countries to which missions were sent, which had no representatives, a fairly emblematic sign of the consideration given to these populations.

4.1 The Thorny Question of Language

In 1862, the French language became central to the AIU’s project, not so much through intrinsic French nationalism or patriotism, but because AIU leaders were steeped in the ideas of the French Revolution and the Grande Nation, whose language became that of liberal ideas. This phenomenon contributed to a deterritorialisation and decontextualisation of the French language, which became the language of the “civilising mission”.57 The AIU never promoted the diffusion of French as one of its objectives, but only French—the expression or language of human rights—could in their opinion serve as the instrument of the desired universalism. The arguments gradually became more prosaic: French was the language of instruction because it was the most widespread throughout the Orient, and hence the most necessary of all foreign languages, Narcisse Leven wrote in 1911.58

Local languages—Judeo-Spanish, Judeo-Arabic, Judeo-Farsi—were thoroughly disdained and considered both dubious and unstable, a judgment that was shared by all institutions until the 1920s, although in practice their use was necessary when establishing educational institutions. When they were taught, it was done relatively discreetly, and especially for an audience of young girls.59 The AIU proved in this respect to be a worthy successor to the French Enlightenment, and especially to Henri Grégoire and his project aiming to “anéantir les patois” (to annihilate patois), which materialised throughout the nineteenth century, with French Jews serving retrospectively as consenting victims. While this pattern was initially French, it also functioned in Germanic territories, whose Jewish populations gradually abandoned Yiddish for German, the language of Kultur.

While French was clearly preferred, other European languages were not necessarily excluded. For example, English was generally the second foreign language taught in schools, especially because numerous institutions were initially co-founded with the Board of Jewish Deputies, and later with the AJA.60 This was the case in Tetouan in 1862, Tangiers in 1864, and Tunis in 1867. The Board would provide an overall annual grant to the school, and paid directly for English instruction. AIU-Board relations, and later AIU-AJA relations, fluctuated greatly. The AIU circumvented its ally whenever possible, taking advantage of its more extensive local presence; the AJA, not to be outdone, competed with the AIU in certain key spaces by founding its own schools, such as in Iraq, Egypt, Persia, and Jerusalem. Relations were nevertheless entirely cordial at times. In Baghdad, between 1879 and 1903, AIU schools paid an English teacher who was a native speaker, doing so with no particular reluctance. In the field, teachers were sometimes confronted with the growing importance of English. This was quite clearly true in Egypt after 1882, with AIU teachers apparently not being the only ones counterbalancing the dogmatism of their management. Numerous Christian congregations, as affirmed in their correspondence, also introduced English in order to preserve their public.61

German was not excluded from AIU schools either. While it was not the language of a regional colonial power, it was very present thanks to the German trade networks that were booming in the Balkans and the Ottoman Empire in the early twentieth century. For example, between 1877 and 1913, the AIU financed the Goldschmidt school in Galata, which was founded for the neighbourhood’s Ashkenazi community, whose language of instruction was German. Inspection reports by AIU staff were entirely positive, and the overall assessment was similar to those of schools directly founded by the AIU: “students will certainly be superior to their parents, both morally and intellectually.”62 Teaching French thus does not appear to be the school’s objective.

For that matter, a number of schools, in the Balkans in particular, succeeded in having the AIU introduce German as a second language in the 1890s. Some teachers were even convinced that French was a waste of time in the local context.63 Nevertheless, the request by German members to expand the teaching of their language, or to train teachers not only at l’École normale israélite orientale (ENIO) in Paris but also at a German branch yet to be created, were disregarded. It was only after 1901 and the founding of the HdDJ that the AIU strove to expurgate German from its classes. While the specific foundations of the AJA preferred English, relations remained relatively cordial, reflecting the improved French-British relations of the second half of the nineteenth century.

In the late nineteenth century, AIU authorities were confronted with a new linguistic challenge in their schools relating to the rise of nationalism. This was initially the case in Bulgaria. In 1897, AIU schools in Bulgaria demanded that French be replaced by Bulgarian as the primary language of instruction. This was a challenge of a different nature than that posed by German, one that was more connected to a new nationalisation of the issue. According the Jewish leaders of the new Bulgarian State, schools in Bulgaria were first and foremost meant to ensure integration within the new nation state, rather than to serve interests deemed foreign or transnational. Even more complicated was the demand of Zionist activists, who asked for all instruction to be in Hebrew. The school in Philippoli, Bulgaria (modern-day Plovdiv), whose school committee was infiltrated by Zionists, demanded in the early 1900s that French be replaced by Hebrew. The AIU preferred to close the school, which was taken over in 1903 by the HdDJ, thereby sustaining the notion at the AIU of collusion between the HdDJ and Zionists.64

These linguistic tensions reflect not only the increasingly powerful rise of belligerent nationalism in the final decades of the nineteenth century, including within a colonial setting—with language being a strong marker of identity—but also the clear support of Jews from these countries for this increasingly siloised universal. While the ideal of civilisation still held centre stage, pretentions of having the best linguistic or cultural medium for attaining it diverged sharply.

The AJA quite clearly supported British geopolitics by strengthening the buffer zone in Suez and the Indies with schools in Jerusalem, Baghdad, Basra, and Aden, along with Mogador. The HdDJ, which was founded in 1901 by James Simon, an industrialist who made a fortune in the cotton trade,65 was in keeping with German WeltPolitik. Wilhelm II’s trip to Palestine, and his fury at seeing German grants financing French-medium schools, is sometimes considered as the trigger for this break. The conversation quickly became heated with the AIU in the context of the Moroccan crises. In 1905 and 1911, the HdDJ openly demanded that Moroccan AIU schools be put under its control, and that German become the language of instruction. Members of the HdDJ had the support of Zionists in their struggle. In 1910, the AIU was described in Judische Rundschau, the most important German Zionist periodical, as a satellite of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Already in the 1880s, some German members of the AIU had demanded that the maintenance of the AIU’s Tunisian schools be directly paid for by the French state, as at the time they considered Tunisia to be a French colony.

4.2 Facing the Internal “Colonised”/Missionised

The training of the AIU’s teachers, who are regularly referred to as “missionaries” in the historiography, was undertaken with the founding of the ENIO in Paris in 1865, which welcomed only young men; female teachers were trained at the Bischoffsheim institution until 1922. ENIO students came, quite early on, from among “the missionised.” Recruitment was conducted among the best students in all AIU schools at the ages of 15 and 16. Then came four years of study, with the signing of a decade-long contract and a post, most often in a place other than that from which they originated. The portraits of these students are on the whole not particularly flattering, with the usual commonplaces regarding “Orientals” such as indolence, lack of method, self-satisfaction, etc.66

These new missionaries certainly did not maintain new relations with Mizrahi Jews. Aron Rodrigue has affirmed that:

They emerge from the ENIO convinced that the West is the incarnation of absolute good, and westernisation the panacea for the ills of Oriental communities (…) they represent within the Sephardic world the first westernised native elite, aggressively and passionately advocating Western values.67

A kind of displacement of the stigma occurred, one that affected both female and male teachers, which was facilitated by the fact of not working in one’s region of origin. For example, in 1900 the woman director of the school in Fez denounced the servitude of girls and the backwardness of communities,68 and the female head of the school in Safi, Morocco referred to her students as “souillons” (slatterns).69 Teachers were not to be outdone, as the same grievances regularly appeared from Baghdad to Morocco: “apathy, incompetence, refusal of progress, servility.” This led to some people quitting, such as the AIU correspondent in Mogador, who left his post in 1871, “disgusted by the unwillingness of these barbarians who want no progress.”70 However, in general these AIU “missionaries” remained in their posts despite working conditions that were sometimes very difficult, especially as described by Frances Malino.71 English and German “missionaries” were much less documented than their French counterparts; the bibliography, which is generally smaller for the AJA and HdDJ than it is for the AIU, does not allow us to draw firm conclusions, although the few studies that have been produced do not show significant differences.72

In general, it is difficult to grasp how the “missionised” reacted to the activities of these institutions, as the sources essentially emanated from the latter. It is easier to follow the future of AIU students than the families that refused to enrol their children in its schools. The sources are not very pleasant in their regard, sometimes referring to the former as the “evolved.” A lack of prospects often prompted them to leave their area of origin, which did not fulfil the AIU’s original project, as this emigration deprived Mediterranean regions of this hypothetical new elite.


The great tension during the first decade of the twentieth century—especially between the AIU and HdDJ—was less a conflict surrounding the notion of “Civilisation” than a conflict within “Civilisation” that prefigured World War I and the opposition between French “Civilisation” and German Kultur. At no point was the superiority of the West over the Orient called into question, although French and German Jews affirmed that their culture was preeminent. This was particularly evident in the underlying duel of pedagogical referents: the AIU with Ferdinand Buisson, and the HdDJ with the Fröbel-Pestalozzi duo. In the final analysis, the conflict between these institutions was more a matter of national language than of language in general, with the meta-discourse being the same.

The conclusions of the historiography are prudent regarding the relations these Jewish missions had with a global mission culture.73 While the terms mission and missionary are used to refer to the teachers and directors of schools founded by these various institutions, the historiography is not always in agreement when it comes to lumping together the AIU, AJA, and the HdDJ, along with their internal colonisation activities.

This short century of Jewish missions in the Orient nevertheless produced genuine transformations and deformations. Regardless of how this acculturation is judged, it had serious repercussions. On the religious level, this mission that did not speak its name—advocating for pared-down Judaism conceived as a private faith—quite clearly transformed Oriental Judaism. Westernisation also had important consequences during the interwar period and the 1950s in the relations between Jews and the rest of the population in the nation states that were forming at the time, and sometimes still fighting for their independence.

It also had profound internal effects, as magnificently demonstrated by Albert Memmi, the former AIU student from Tunis and major anti-colonialist thinker who died in 2020.

Faced with the impossible problem of joining the two parts of myself, I made up my mind to choose one of them. Between the East and the West, between African superstitions and philosophy, between our dialect and the French language, I now had to choose. And it was Poinsot [his philosophy teacher] whom I chose passionately, with all the strength of my being. One day, as I entered a café, I suddenly saw myself in a mirror and was terribly scared. I was both myself and a stranger. The mirror ahead of me covered the whole wall, so completely that I could see no frame. Each day, I thus became more alien to myself. I had to stop watching myself, I had to step out of this mirror.74



Figure 10.3

AIU, AJA, and HdDJ educational institutions on the eve of World War One (Overview)


Figure 10.4

AIU, AJA, and HdDJ educational institutions on the eve of World War One (Morocco)


Figure 10.5

AIU, AJA, and HdDJ educational institutions on the eve of World War One (the Middle East)


Figure 10.6

AIU, AJA, and HdDJ educational institutions on the eve of World War One (Palestine)


Figure 10.7

AIU, AJA, and HdDJ educational institutions on the eve of World War One (Balkans)


See for example, Rachele Jesurun, “1666. Le messianisme juif et l’aventure de Sabbataï Tsevi,” in Histoire des Juifs. Un voyage en 80 dates de l’Antiquité à nos jours, ed. Pierre Savy (Paris: PUF, 2020), 295–299.


Jean Baumgarten, Le Baal Shem Tov (Paris: Albin Michel, 2020).


Aron Rodrigue and Esther Benbassa, Histoire des Juifs sépharades, de Tolède à Salonique (Paris: Seuil, coll. “Points,” 2002).


See for example, Aron Rodrigue, “L’exportation du paradigme révolutionnaire, son influence sur le judaïsme sépharade et oriental,” in Histoire politique des Juifs de France, ed. Pierre Birnbaum (Paris: Presses de Sciences Po, 1990), 182–195; Eva Touboul-Tardieu, Séphardisme et hispanité (Paris: PUPS, 2009).


Vilmain, Vincent, Judaïsmes européens. Laboratoires des identités partagées (1770–1930) (Le Mans Université, TEMOS/IPRA, 2019).


Karl Emil Franzos, Aus Halb-Asien (Leipzig: Verlag von Dunder & Humblod, 1876).


Born in 1784 in Livorno to a family of Sephardic merchants who settled in the United Kingdom, Moses Montefiore made a fortune in finance, and successfully reinvested his funds in the gas lighting industry, which was booming in the 1820s. From 1827 to his death, he used his fortune to defend the interests of his Oriental coreligionists by conducting intense lobbying campaigns with political authorities. See Green, Abigail, Moses Montefiore: Jewish Liberator, Imperial Hero (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012).


Born in Hungary in 1814 to a Jewish Alsatian family, Albert Cohn entered the service of James de Rothschild (1792–1868), the founder of the French branch of the family, as the private tutor for his children. Rothschild then entrusted him with the management of his philanthropic initiatives, which led to Cohn’s missions to Algeria in 1845 and 1847.


The founding of the AIU in 1860 reflected the development of international Jewish solidarity. Its creators, who were young and liberal French Jews such as the journalist Isidore Cahen (1826–1902), the lawyers Narcisse Leven (1833–1915) and Adolphe Crémieux (1793–1880), the merchant Charles Netter (1826–1882), the engineer Jules Carvallo (1820–1916), and the rabbi Elie-Aristide Astruc (1831–1905), sought to regenerate Judaism by basing themselves on the French model. The AIU strove to act politically, conducting an intense lobbying effort at the Congress of Berlin in 1878 in favour of the emancipation of Jews in the newly created state of Bulgaria. However, it was culturally that the AIU distinguished itself the most, especially in the field of education. It opened its first school in Morocco in 1862 and created a network across the Mediterranean basin that developed throughout the second half of the nineteenth century, before slowly regressing beginning with the end of World War I. Behind the generous discourse of its founders, which celebrated the French Revolution and its precepts, was hidden a more ethno-confessional logic. The Mortara affair of 1858 profoundly marked European Judaism. The removal of Edgardo Mortara from his Jewish family in Bologna by the Papal States police on the orders of Pope Pius IX was widely talked about in 1858. Mortara, who was born in 1851, was secretly baptised by his Christian nurse as an infant. Believing that the very sick child was near his death, she thought it right to have him baptised for the salvation of his soul. This baptism was revealed only six years later and sparked the removal of Edgardo Mortara from his family; considered Christian by virtue of the indelible sacrament of the baptism, the child could not be raised by a Jewish family. This caused a huge scandal that resonated well beyond Jewish communities. European liberals and Italian patriots in particular called for the elimination of the temporal authority of the pope and the Church. This was joined by the memory of the Damascus affair, and the many offenses against the Jews of Morocco during the 1850s. In Europe as elsewhere, the AIU thought of itself as the defender of Jewish interests and worked to conserve them within Judaism. See Lisa Moses Leff, Sacred Bonds of Solidarity: The Rise of Jewish Internationalism in Nineteenth Century France (Stanford: Stanford University Press, coll. “Stanford Studies in Jewish History and Culture,” 2006); André Kaspi, ed., Histoire de l’Alliance israélite universelle de 1860 à nos jours (Paris: A. Colin, 2010).


Lucien Jaume, Le religieux et le politique dans la Révolution française. L’idée de régénération (Paris: PUF, 2015).


Henri Grégoire, Essai sur la régénération physique, morale et politique des juifs; ouvrage couronné par la Société royale des sciences et des arts de Metz, le 23 août 1788 (Metz: Imprimerie de Claude Lamort, 1789).


Alyssa Goldstein-Sepinwall, The abbé Grégoire and the French Revolution: The making of modern universalism (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005).


Perrine Simon-Nahum, La Cité investie. La science du judaïsme français et la République (Paris: Cerf, coll. “Bibliothèque franco-allemande,” 1992).


Zosa Szajkowski, “Conflicts in the Alliance Israélite Universelle and the Founding of the Anglo-Jewish Association, the Vienna Allianz and the Hilfsverein,” Jewish Social Studies, 19, no. 1/2 (1957): 29–50.


Vincent Vilmain, “Une mission juive au XXe siècle? L’exemple des politiques de santé sionistes auprès des populations juives autochtones de Palestine à la Belle Époque,” Histoire et missions chrétiennes, 21, no. 1 (2011): 55–80.


Roland Lardinois and Georges Weill, Sylvain Lévi. Le savant et le citoyen. Lettres de Sylvain Lévi à Jean-Richard Bloch et à Jacques Bigard, secrétaire de l’Alliance israélite universelle (1904–1934) (Paris: Honoré Champion, 2010), 203.


Valérie Spaëth, “Mondialisation du français dans la seconde moitié du XIXe siècle: L’Alliance israélite universelle et l’Alliance française,” Langue française, 167, no. 3 (2010): 55.


Denis Charbit, “Déclinaisons historiques du franco-judaïsme,” in Les Cultures des Juifs, ed. David Biale (Paris: Editions de l’Eclat, 2010).


Cited by Perrine Simon-Nahum, “Aux origines de l’Alliance,” in Histoire de l’Alliance israélite universelle, ed. André Kaspi (Paris: Armand Colin, 2010), 42.


Georges Bensoussan, L’Alliance israélite universelle (1860–2020): Juifs d’Orient, lumières d’Occident (Paris: Albin Michel, 2020), 58.


Less, Sacred Bonds.


This chapter uses as a key concept, the verb to moralise, in the specific sense of improving the moral values of a behaviour or person/making them more moral.


Bulletin de l’AIU, July 1863: 3.


Jacques Bigart, L’Alliance israélite universelle et son action éducatrice Conférence faite le 6 février 1900 à l’Union scolaire (Paris: impr. De Maréchal et Montorier, 1900), 14.


Valérie Assan, “Judaïsme et entrée dans la modernité: le projet de l’Alliance israélite universelle,” Le Télémaque, 52, no. 2 (2017): 43–54.–2-page-43.htm.


André Chouraqui, L’Alliance israélite universelle et la renaissance juive contemporaine, 1860–1960; cent ans d’histoire (Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 1965), 164.


Bulletin de l’AIU, 1868: 101. On the Falashas or Beta Israel, see the article by Emanuela Trevisan Semi in this volume.


AIU Archives (hereafter AAIU), Maroc, V, B.24, cited by Georges Bensoussan, L’Alliance israélite universelle, 84.


On the Moroccan mellah, see especially Emily Gottreich, Jewish Morocco: From Pre-Islamic to Postcolonial Times (London: IB Tauris, 2020).


Bensoussan, L’Alliance israélite universelle.


Michael Graetz, Les juifs en France au 19e siècle: de la Révolution française à l’Alliance israélite universelle (Paris: Seuil, 1989).


See for example, the Revue des écoles de l’Alliance israélite universelle 1 (1901): 8, cited by Spaëth, “Mondialisation du français,” 55.


Vincent Vilmain, Les femmes juives dans le sionisme politique (1897–1921). Féministes et nationalistes (Paris: Champion, 2018).


Comparative maps of AIU, AJA, and HdDJ networks are available in the appendix.


AIU, Instructions générales pour les professeurs (General Instructions for Teachers), Paris, 1903: 28.


Literally “education” or “training,” but in the nineteenth century the term denoted an edification that was often both moral and civilisational.


Carsten L. Wilke, “Das deutsch-französische Netzwerk der Alliance Israélite Universelle, 1860–1914: Eine kosmopolitische Utopie im Zeitalter der Nationalismen,” Frankfurter judaistische Beiträge, 34, no. 8 (2007): 173–199; “La fraternité sauvegardée. Les militants français et allemands de l’Alliance israélite universelle à l’épreuve de la guerre (1868–1873),” Archives Juives, 46, no. 2 (2013): 59–80.;


§ 1 Der Hilfsverein der Deutschen Juden, (…) setzt sich unter Ausschluss jeder gewinnbringenden Tätigkeit für seine Mitglieder das humanitäre Ziel, die sittliche, geistige und wirtschaftliche Entwicklung seiner Glaubensgenossen zu fördern.

§ 2 Der Hilfsverein will seine Tätigkeit insbesondere den Glaubensgenossen im östlichen Europa und in Asien zuwenden. Der Sitz des Hilfsvereins ist Berlin, HdDJ statutes, cited by Edmund Burkard, “Überwindung von Armut durch Bildung”. Das Schul-und Bildungswerk des Hilfsvereins der Deutschen Juden (1901–1937/1938) (Doctoral thesis, Siegen, 2016), 18–19.


Ibid., 34. Comparative maps of AIU, AJA, and HdDJ networks are available in the appendix.


Eli Bar-Chen, “Two Communities with a Sense of Mission. The AIU and the Hilfsverein der Deutschen Juden,” in Jewish Emancipation Reconsidered: The French and German Models, eds. Michael Brenner, Vicki Caron, and Uri R. Kaufmann (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2003), 111–121.


David Hamann, “Migration organisieren. Paul Nathan und der Hilfsverein der deutschen Juden (1881–1914/18),” Kalonymos, 19, no. 2 (2016): 6–10.


AIU, Instructions générales pour les professeurs (Paris, 1903), 96.


Cited by Chouraqui, L’Alliance israélite universelle, 70.


Cited by Rodrigue, De l’instruction à l’émancipation, 108.


Cited by Elizabeth Antébi, Les missionnaires juifs de la France, 1860–1939 (Paris: Calmann-Lévy, 1999), 47.


Cited by Chouraqui, L’Alliance israélite universelle, 42.


Projects for the religious reform of Judaism developed initially in the Germanic space. The increasingly bold proposals of Abraham Geiger prompted reservations, such as those of Zacharias Frankel, the forerunner of the masorti or conservative movement, in addition to opposition based on principle, such as that of Samson Raphaël Hirsch, who founded Neo-Orthodoxy.


The haluqah (lit. “sharing”) was a fundraising system designed to maintain the Jewish community in Palestine. It is attested with certainty in the late eighteenth century, although its origins probably date back to the beginnings of rabbinic Judaism and its Palestinian academies.


Cited by Chouraqui, L’Alliance israélite universelle, 364.


Emmanuel Haymann, Au cœur de l’intégrisme juif (Paris: Albin Michel, 1996), 59–60, cited by Bensoussan, L’Alliance israélite universelle.


Cited by Antébi, Les missionnaires juifs, 221.


AIU, Instructions générales pour les professeurs (Paris, 1903), 20.




Translated as promiscuity, frivolity, and even debauchery, TB, Sotah 20a.


Rodrigue, “La mission éducative,” 243.


Chouraqui, L’Alliance israélite universelle, 96.


Spaëth, “Mondialisation du français,” 55.


Narcisse Leven, Cinquante ans d’histoire (Paris: F. Alcan, 1911), 34.


Danielle Omer, “L’enseignement de ‘la langue du pays’ dans les écoles de l’Alliance israélite universelle (1860–1913).” Documents pour l’histoire du français langue étrangère ou seconde [online], 45 (2010), published online on January 31, 2014. URL:


Created in the eighteenth century as a representative body for the Jewish community in the United Kingdom, the Board of Jewish Deputies continued to serve as a preferred representative in the nineteenth century, including abroad and especially with the AIU in the 1860s. The Anglo-Jewish Association, which was originally founded in 1871 as a local branch of the AIU, assumed its remit. Already highly autonomous upon its foundation, it gradually became independent in the ensuing decades.


Danielle Omer, “Le français, l’allemand, l’anglais: l’impossible alliance?” Documents pour l’histoire du français langue étrangère ou seconde [Online], 53 (2014), published online on September 12, 2017. URL:


Ibid., 4.




Danielle Omer, “Trois langues d’enseignement en compétition: bulgare, français, hébreu. Le cas de classes primaires d’une école de l’Alliance israélite universelle en Bulgarie (fin du 19e).” Documents pour l’histoire du français langue étrangère ou seconde [online], 43 (2009), published online January 16, 2011. URL:


Burkard, “Überwindung von Armut durch Bildung.”


Albert Navon, Les 70 ans de l’Ecole normale israélite orientale (1865–1935), 1937, 33, cited by Bensoussan, L’Alliance israélite universelle, 129.


Rodrigue, “La mission éducative,” 233.


AAIU, France, XIV, F.25 cited by Bensoussan, L’Alliance israélite universelle, 123.


AAIU, France, XV, F.26 cited by Ibid., 197.


Ibid., 203.


Frances Malino, “The Women Teachers of the Alliance israélite universelle (1872–1940),” in Jewish Women in Historical Perspective, ed. Judith Reesa Baskin (Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press, 1998), 248–269.


Laura S. Schor, The Best School in Jerusalem: Annie Landau’s School for Girls (1900–1960) (Waltham, MA: Brandeis University Press, coll. “HBI Series on Jewish Women,” 2013).


See for example the synthesis provided by Valérie Assan in the introduction to her Les consistoires israélites d’Algérie au 19e siècle: “L’alliance de la civilisation et de la religion” (Paris: Armand Colin, 2012).


Albert Memmi, The Pillar of Salt, trans. Edouard Roditi (Paris, Boston: Beacon Press, 1992 [1955]), 229–230.


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Missions and Preaching

Connected and Decompartmentalised Perspectives from the Middle East and North Africa (19th-21st Century)



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