France's Algerian Jews
IT HAS been estimated that after the Liberation there were between 150,000 and 165,000 persons of Jewish origin living in France; at present, there are between 450,000 and half a million Jews. Thus the Jewish population has tripled in the course of the last 16 or 17 years, increasing through immigration in about the same proportion and at the same rate as the population of Israel. This new immigration came in successive waves: from the DP camps located all over Europe right after the end of the war; from Poland and Rumania before the iron curtain was lowered for good; from Hungary after the 1956 uprising; from Egypt in the wake of the Suez crisis. Throughout this entire period there has also been a steady immigration from North Africa, especially from the impoverished mellahs of Tunisia and Morocco-not, as might be expected from the coincidence in date, for political reasons but for purely economic ones.
The most recent and biggest influx thus far, however, has been the politically stimulated mass exodus of Jews from Algeria since the vian Agreements of March 1962-an exodus which has resulted in the transplanting of no less than 110,000 (out of a total of 150-160,000) Algerian Jews into France. Unlike the earlier waves of postwar immigrants, who were “rehabilitated” quite rapidly (largely with the assistance of Jewish agencies) and who have left scarcely a mark on the spiritual content of French Judaism, the Algerians have, through the power of sheer numbers, virtually transformed the character of the French-Jewish community, giving it a predominantly Sephardic cast.
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