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Tombstone Inscriptions
in the Old Cemeteries of Algiers1

Rabbi Isaac Bloch (Paris, 1888)


Complete Annotated Index
Prepared by Mathilde Tagger



Introduction


  At the time Chief Rabbi of Algeria Isaac Bloch wrote his book, there were three ancient Jewish cemeteries in Algiers:

1. The Ribash Cemetery -the most ancient- called so because Rabbi Yitzhak bar Sheshet Berfet2 was buried there although the burial land dates from the end of the 13th century. In 1844, the authorities bought the cemetery ground for public needs. The bones were taken out and put together in an ossuary but the tombs of the Ribash and the Rashbatz3 (Rabbi Shimon be Tzemah Duran) were left intact.
2. The land of the Midrash Cemetery, adjoining the Ribash cemetery, was bought in 1694. In 1844 it stopped to be used as a burial place. The land was divided in several plots and sold. Many marble tombstones were stocked in the basement of a house built on one of the plots.
3. The Bacri Cemetery: A third field to be used as Jewish cemetery was bought in 1795. It was called in Behirat el Arondj (bitter orange garden) or Ayoun Skakna4 (Hot springs). Rabbi Bloch mentions it as "Bacri Cemetery". Indeed, David Coen Bacri was the official heir5 of Mardochée Bacri ben Zahout who bought the land.

  Bloch found the marble stones stocked in six various places.

A = St. Eugene Cemetery – 20 stones
B = Entrance of Bacri Cemetery – 8 stones
C = Midrash Cemetery – 10 stones
D = Ayoun Skakna Cemetery – 2 stones
E = Ground depending of Midrash Cemetery – 5 stones
F = Recently excavated tombstones from Midrash Cemetery – 3 stones

  In his book Bloch brought biographical details about 48 individuals for whom tombstones were found. 70 other persons are reminded in the text. That is a total of 118 individuals, nine of them are women.
  Each biography is preceded by the meticulous physical description of the tombstone as well as the transcribed Hebrew inscription, it full translation and literary analysis.
  The biographical details in notes are only those found in the text itself.

1.The book is written in French and its title is: "Inscriptions tumulaires des anciens cimetières Israélites"
2.The Ribash was born in Valencia (Spain) in 1386 and passed away as Algiers first Chief Rabbi in 1408
3. The Rashbatz, born in Majorca in 1361, second chief Rabbi of Algiers after the Ribash, died there in 1444 and was buried closed to the Ribash.
4. Arabic names
5. David Coen Bacri was in possession of the bill of sale signed by his ancestor Mardochée ben Zahout.
6. The stone length and width, the kind of marble, the kind of engraved letters of the inscription.
7. In French as the whole book is written in this language.


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© Jeffrey Malka, 2007
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