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ALGAZI, MOSES JOSEPH:

Rabbi at Cairo, Egypt; born 1764; died after 1840, in which year he became prominent through the energetic support which he gave to Crémieux and Salomon Munk in their effort to establish schools for the Jews of Egypt. The movement was a direct outgrowth of the eastern journey of Montefiore, Crémieux, and Munk on the occasion of the Damascus blood-accusation, when the low plane of enlightenment prevalent among Egyptian Jews became manifest to the philanthropists. Munk issued an eloquent appeal in Hebrew and Arabic (September, 1840). At Alexandria, the local rabbi, assisted by a prominent layman, Valensino, headed the movement, while at Cairo, which contained about three hundred Jewish families, Algazi, though already seventy-six years of age, seconded by a leading layman, Adda, made such a strenuous effort on behalf of the plan that on Oct. 4, 1840, two schools—one for boys and one for girls—were opened. The institutions received the name of the Crémieux schools; and their sponsor made himself responsible for a European annual contribution of 6,000 francs toward their maintenance.

Algazi, moreover, showed an additional trait of tolerance when, despite the opposition of numerous fanatics, he supported Munk in the proposal to admit to the schools the children of the Karaites, of whom there were at Cairo about one hundred. The establishment of these institutions signified the beginning of secular culture among the Jews of modern Egypt; and soon after this event Moses Fresco, chief rabbi of Constantinople, issued a circular letter exhorting them to learn the language of the country.

Bibliography:
  • Grätz, Gesch. d. Juden, 2d ed., xi. 545 et seq.;
  • Munk's appeal (in Arabic), in Zion, i. 76-78 (the Hebrew text in Literaturblatt des Orients, 1841, col. 103);
  • Jost, Annalen, 1840, No. 52;
  • 1841, Nos. 11, 16;
  • Letter of the Ḥakam of Constantinople in Allg. Zeit. d. Jud. 1841, p. 16.
H. G. E.
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