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CONSTANTINE(ancient Cirta):

City in Algeria; capital of the department of the same name. In ancient times it was the capital of Numidia. Jews lived there as early as the first centuries of the common era, as is attested by epitaphs found in several places in that province. As Constantine remained under the Roman domination until its conquest by the Arabs (710), it is probable that, toward the middle of the fifth century, the greater part of the Jewish inhabitants left it and settled in the neighboring towns under the Vandals, among whom the Jews enjoyed a far greater amount of freedom than they did under Christian Rome.

In common with all Algerian Jews, those of Constantine enjoyed peace from the time of the Arabian conquest until the middle of the twelfth century. Under the Almohad dynasty they were subjected to frequent persecutions. From 1509 until 1555 Constantine was in the hands of theSpaniards. During this period the Jewish community suffered severely. Under the domination of the Turks, Constantine was administered by beys, almost independent of the deys of Algiers, and under them the state of the Constantine Jews was similar to that of Jews elsewhere in Algeria.

Like all Algerian communities, that of Constantine was governed by a "muḳaddam," or president, assisted by a council. Since the French conquest the city has been the seat of a consistory, to which belong the following communities: Ain Beida, Batna, Bône, Bougie, Guelma, Philippeville, Setif, Tebassa. This district counts 6,800 Jews, of which number 3,321 live in Constantine. The rabbis of the last thirty years have been: Netter, Abraham Cahen, Jacques Levy, and Paul Haguenauer, the present incumbent. Until recently there existed in Constantine an important rabbinical school called "Eẓ, Ḥayyim."

Bibliography:
  • Bulletin Arch. 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;
  • Jacques Cahen, Les Juifs et l'Algérie au Moment de la Conquête, pp. 25 et seq.
See Algeria.S.I. Br.
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