JewishGen Talks: Roots of Jews in North Africa - Names and History.
Today, the Jews whose ancestors lived before mid-20th century in the four countries of Maghreb (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya) represent the largest Jewish group after the Ashkenazim. Often, they are considered Sephardi. This consideration is partly supported by the historical sources and certain names used. One can distinguish at least three independent layers of Sephardi migrants that came to this area during various periods. Another popular theory considers these Jews to be descendants of Berbers (whose tribes were present in North Africa before the Muslim conquest of these territories in the 7th-8th centuries) converted to Judaism. This theory will be critically addressed during the lecture, along with the roots of one of the most mysterious Jewish communities, that of Ghardaïa, deeply inside the Sahara desert.