The descent of the Grana
Tensions between the Portuguese Grana and the veteran Judeo-Arabic Touansa existed since the arrival of the former in Tunisia in the 16th century. The schism between the two groups occurred in 1710.
In 1765 the latter was pronounced a separate nation by decree, and in the pre-colonial period, the Grana received the consent of the Muslim authorities to enable internal religious autonomy, but separation was not based on East verse West. The Grana had their own rabbinic court, butcher shops, and their section in the cemetery was separated from the Touansa by wall. In the mid-19th century, the Grana lay elite created a separate cemetery; an expression of its success to institutionalize internal independence, The Grana had rights as European subjects, brought with them Livornese economic and organizational models, formed their own market Suk Grana, the main popular commercial center of the city, opened up new avenues of commerce, and even opened up the department store. They were pioneers in finance, in money exchange, and as physicians. In 1740, the custom duties of Tunis were leased to the grana for the annual sum of 80,000 piasters. They brought with them their Sephardi traditions, and the status of the woman was much higher in their culture. The rivalry between the two groups became so intense that in 1774 the Hida received the rabbinic question if the Jewish Qaid could order the execution of a Grana accused as a Franco-mason.
Initially, the Grana failed in their efforts to establish their own permanent position of Qaid, the liaison to the authorities, established. Alliance Israelite Universelle teacher David Cazes noted that in 1824 under Bey Hussein, the Grana their own Qaid, but he had no influence. In the 1823 Hat Affair, the Grana maintained the right to maintain their own European dress, wear the French cockade hat, and through European consular protection, they influenced the Bey to rescind the order for them, but the Touansa were forcefully compelled to wear a cap or a three-cornered hat. Their special treatment and influence contributed to a deterioration of relations with the Touansa.
In 1890, the French colonial administration compelled each group to move their cemetery outside of the city for sanitary reasons. Both groups bought the land together, eighty percent for the Touansa, twenty percent for the Grana. Chief Rabbi and Qaid Rabbi Eliyahu Bourgel abrogated the agreement and tried to register the property in the name of the Touansa. Relations only deteriorated. A wall was put up to symbolize the schism, but the authorities intervened at the request of the Grana in order to honor the original agreement. Bourgel also annulled the Grana monopoly over the Kupat Sedaka Charity fund under Grana Raphael Valensi and the nine member executive committee in an effort to cancel all existence of the Kahal Kadosh Portuguese and their autonomy. In 1921 the colonial administration set up a united body for all of Tunis Jewry. A body of sixty was set up with fourteen places for Grana. The assembly of sixty elected an executive committee of twelve and three places were for Grana. In 1944, special Portuguese representation was cancelled, and a 1947 decree ratified the previous decree.
The 1944 amalgamation decree formally terminated the separate status of the Grana, and they no longer had official recognition for their own rabbis. After most migrated to France or Israel, Grana group identity fell by the waist side.
Pr. Yitzchak KEREM
||Ella Fitzgerald A|