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ALTARAS, JACQUES ISAAC:

French ship-builder and philanthropist; born in Aleppo, Syria, in 1786, and died at Aix (Department of Bouchesdu-Rhône, France), Jan. 30, 1873. He was the son of a rabbi in Palestine, and left Jerusalem in 1806 to engage in business in Marseilles as a ship-builder trading with the Levant, in which he was successful.

In the middle of the century a project was started to assist Russian Jews to emigrate to Algeria, then recently conquered by France. Altaras took up the idea with zeal, and armed with letters of introduction from Guizot and with promises of support from many influential Jews, he started for St. Petersburg, in 1846, intending to petition the czar to allow 40,000 Jewish families to emigrate from Russia to Algeria, but he was promptly informed by the minister of foreign affairs, Count Nesselrode, that he had laid the matter before the czar, and that his application could only be supported on condition of an advance payment of about sixty rubles in taxes and fines for each family, in conformity with the Russian laws, which do not allow the Russian subjects to leave the country for lifetime. Altaras considered these difficulties insurmountable, and thus the project was abandoned. Altaras was president of the Marseilles Consistory for thirty years, and a knight of the Legion of Honor, and helped with Marini to found a school for Jewish children at Marseilles.

Bibliography:
  • La Famille de Jacob, xiv. 1873;
  • Bulletin de l'Alliance Israélite Universelle, No. 23, 1898;
  • Ginzburg, Debir, ii. Letters from Berlin and Leipsic of Wolf Rosenthal to his brother Leon Rosenthal, Nos. 59, 61-63;
  • Leḳeṭ Amarim, collection of articles, supplement to Ha-Meliẓ, pp. 81, 83, St. Petersburg, 1889.
H. R.
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