ELBAZ André, 2007, La tentation de l occident, Itineraire d un juif Maghrebin, Montreal, Editions du Marais (French)
Reviewed by M. Eliany
Elbaz went a long way from the Jewish quarter of Meknes in Morocco to teaching French literature at Carleton University in Canada. He taught in Morocco, Niger, and the USA, before landing tenure at a Canadian university. And while on the move, Elbaz managed to publish a number of books, demonstrating his clear interest in Jewish culture and Moroccan Jewry.
In his book, La tentation de l’ occident (2007), published after his retirement, he traces his own itinerary, growing up in a Moroccan Jewish quarter (mellah) , as a dhimmi, a protected but second class citizen in a Muslim country, acquiring French education in Alliance schools, while remaining attached to his Jewish roots, he continues to cherish.
Unlike other Moroccan Jews, living now everywhere but a miniscule minority in Morocco, he does not miss his native land, where Jews were subject to hardship and persecution over centuries, in spite of intermittent decent neighborly relations.
Elbaz suggests that Western education, helped him and other Moroccan Jews, gain a better understanding of themselves, the world around them, as well as, their own heritage, thereby, acquiring a crystallized modern identity, which bridges between the old world they came from and the new world, where they settled.
Elbaz’ itinerary is an illuminating reader as to what Moroccan Jews went through to gain freedom and equality of opportunity in Canada. It illustrates how immigrants of modest origins can not only integrate in modern societies, but also make a difference with remarkable and significant contributions.
ELBAZ André (1937-) Born in Fes, Morocco, taught in Morocco, Niger, USA and settled as a professor of French literature at Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada. Among his publications are:
1972 Les romancies juifs americains et les marriages mixtes, Paris, Grassin
1976 Correspondance d’ Edmond Fleg pendant l Affaire Dreyfus, Paris, Nizet
1982 Folktales of Canadian Sephardim, Fitzhenry & Whiteside and the National Museum of Man, Ottawa and Toronto
1988 Sephardim d’hier et de demain, Musee Canadien des civilizations, Gatineau
1999 Tehila Ledavid, Poemes de David Ben Hassine. Le chantre du Judaisme Maroccain, Orot Yahadout Hamaghreb, Lod and Bar Ilan University
2000 Azharot de David Ben Hassine, Paris, University of Paris, with David Bar Tikva
2007 La tentation de l occident, Itineraire d un juif Maghrebin, Montreal, Editions du Marais