Carthage was first a settlement founded by the Phoenicians in North Africa, directly across the sea from Italy. It probably was the biblical Tarshish. Tarsus, a town, was in Cilicia to the north of which were situated large forests and copper mines in biblical days. Possibly, the ships of Tarshish were made there. Some scholars maintain that the ships of Tarshish refer to vessels traveling to the Phoenician colonies in Sardinia and Spain.
|Carthage-notice the amp hi-theaterCarthage, today is a seaside suburb of Tunisia’s capital, Tunis|
|Samaritans living in Israel now-and their Judaism is more of a basic form of ours today.|
The city of Kairouan was the greatest center of rabbinic scholarship in the west. The position deteriorated under the Almohades when many Jews accepted Islam in the 12th century. These were Moslem sectaries who rose in north Africa and conquered southern Spain in 1149-1174. In both areas they compelled all non-Moslems to become converted. Though north African Jewry ultimately recovered from the blow, in Spain it brought final disaster to the communities living under Moslem rule, who embraced Islam or fled to Christian Spain. Thus, today, the descendants who are still Muslim could find Sepharic Jewish DNA in their tests. Of course, the Spanish Inquisition occurred in 1492, when Columbus sailed the ocean blue. Jews were forced to convert to Catholicism under penalty of death if they remained in Spain, so many didn't stay. Many moved next door to Portugal. .
. Spanish refugees who settled in Tunisia were different in their customs and way of life from the native Tunisian Jews and founded separate communities. The 2 groups merged later.
When Tunisia was under Spanish rule from 1535 to 1574, many Jews died or were sold into slavery. The discriminatory legislation was lifted a little during the 19th century. Tunisia passed under French protection in 1881, and its Jews were permitted to have French citizenship since 1910.
The community suffered from Vichy laws and the German occupation during World War II. The members of the Bet Din curt in Tunis are appointed by the bey and their decisions are executed by the authorities. The Great Council of Tunisia has 3 Jewish representatives.
There were 67,000 Jews in Tunisia in 1959 with 55,000 living in the town of Tunis. Most of the Jews are merchants, storekeepers, and office workers, but by 1990, the total for the country had dropped to 2,500. as a result of emigration to France and Israel.
|Tunisian Jewish lady praying in oldest synagogue-Ghriba 2015|
She really looks like my Ashkenazic grandmother.
Resource: The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia
facebook: author, Marcia Fine