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BÔNE (BONA) [Arabic, Beled el-'Anab]:

Town in the province of Constantine, Algeria, called by the Romans "Hippo Regius." It had many Jewish inhabitants as early as the first centuries of the common era, as is attested by several epitaphs found in the environs of the place. Like the Jews of other communities in Mauritania, those of Bône suffered many vicissitudes. Under the dominion of pagan Rome they enjoyed complete freedom, even making many proselytes among the Kabyles, their neighbors; but in the fourth century, when the city became the see of Augustine, they began to suffer persecution. In 431 Bône was destroyed by the Vandals, and was not rebuilt until the seventh century, this being done by the Arabs.

There are no records concerning the date of settlement of Jews at Bône after its reconstruction; but it may be supposed that the city, which, according to Ibn Ḥaukal, was very prosperous in the tenth century, attracted many of them. The second half of the twelfth century brought disaster to all the Jewish communities in the Maghreb, particularly that of Bône. The fair treatment of the Jews during the dynasties of the Aghlabites and Almoravides was followed by the terrible persecutions by the fanatical Almohades; and many of them were compelled either to immigrate to the East or to embrace Islamism. In 1152 Roger of Sicily led away captive all the inhabitants of Bône. During the fifteenth century, in consequence of the exile of the Jews from Spain, the Jewish community of Bône greatly increased; but at the beginning of the sixteenth century the city fell into the hands of the Spaniards, and the Jews underwent many sufferings. In 1541, however, the defeat of Charles V. before Algiers freed the community of Bône, and during the Turkish domination it enjoyed a fair amount of religious freedom.

Like all Algerian communities, Bône was governed by a "muḳaddam," assisted by a council ("Ṭobe ha-'Ir"). Since the French conquest of Algeria the system of consistories has been introduced, and Bône belongs to that of Constantine, having at its head a rabbi and a president. The Jewish community of the city contains 1,000 souls. It possesses an old synagogue called "Al-Gharibah" (The Wonderful), which is held in great veneration even by the Arabs, on account of a scroll of the Law which is said to have been miraculously preserved there.

Bibliography:
  • Bulletin Archéologique du Comité des Travaux Historiques, No. 1, xiii. 64;
  • Elie de la Primaudaie, Le Commerce et la Navigation de l'Algérie Avant la Conquête, p. 71;
  • Abraham Cahen, in Recueil de la Société Archéologique de Constantine, 1867, p. 104;
  • Cahen, Les Juifs et l'Algérie au Moment de la Conquête, pp. 25 et seq.
  • See Algeria.
G. I. Br.
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