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A Genealogically Centred Approach to the Historical Geography of Eretz Yisrael: The cases of the Moyal and Chlouche families in Jaffa in the late Ottoman and British Mandate periods

This project has been completed by Prof. (emeritus) Ruth Kark of the Hebrew University and Prof. Joseph B. Glass of Centennial College, Toronto

Click here for the final report on this project

Previous work by the researchers ( 1991 and 2007) on Jerusalem-based Sephardi elites has yielded a deeper understanding of the role of the Valero, Amzalak, and Navon families played in the development of Palestine in the late Ottoman and British Mandate periods. These earlier studies opened with research questions that focused first on the interaction between a family unit and the landscape. The researchers hold that the modernization of Palestine and its Jewish sector began as early as in the 1830’s and that Sephardi and Mizrahi (Oriental) families such as the Amzalak, Chlouche, Eliachar, Mani, Moyal, Navon, Recanati and Valero families played critical roles at various stages in this process.

A number of by-products have resulted from this avenue of investigation. Noteworthy was the creation of family trees and extensive histories that pay greater attention to the families’ social milieu, culture, religious life and lifestyle – in order to provide a wider context for their business activities and leadership roles within the Jewish community and local society.

Two renowned Sephardi-Mughrabi (North African) families in Jaffa, the Chlouches and Moyals, who immigrated to Palestine in the 19th century, have been chosen for the present study, with a view to exploring a genealogically centred approach to historical geographical research as regards the development of Eretz Israel during the modern era.

The Moyals and the Chlouches were archetypical of the Sephardi-Mizrachi entrepreneurial elite in general. They were well-integrated into the economic life of Jaffa and the region. In the late Ottoman period they developed strong business relationships with various sectors of the local Arab population. They participated in communal life, often in leadership roles. Furthermore, they were able to cross social boundaries and interacted with both the Old and New Yishuvs and the Ottoman and British administrations.

After developing and carefully analyzing the case studies of the Moyal and Chlouche families, the results will be compared to those emanating from case studies previously conducted by the authors on the Amzalak, Valero, and Navon families in Jerusalem, as well as to case studies conducted by other researchers and by members of the families in question. This comparative analysis, combined with a thorough review of the research literature will facilitate the development of general theoretical frameworks for understanding Sephardi and Mizrachi entrepreneurial groups and their application to genealogical research and its methodologies in Eretz Yisrael.

Click here for power point presentation on this project made by Dr. Joseph Glass at the 15th Congress of the World Union of Jewish Studies (3.8.2009).