Studies in the history of the jews of Morocco David Corcos

Another branch of the Corcos family went to Morocco where they were foremost among the leaders of the "exiled" (m'gurdshim), as the Spanish Jews proudly called themselves. Several members of the family figure among those who signed the takkandt (ordinances) of the Spanish Jewish communi­ties: Hayyim Corcos signed a takkana in 1549, Joshua was a well-known rabbi in the middle of the 16th century and a firmatory of several takkandt, while Joshua's grandson, Joshua ben Jacob, was a leader of the Moroccan Jews in the second half of the 16th century. Ere long the Corcos were called to other Mediterranean countries. Everywhere they occupied the position of esteemed spiritual leaders of the Jewish communities. Moses ben Abraham Corcos, born in Fez, was in the second half of the 16th century dayyan in Tunis, and Joseph ben Joshua Corcos lived in the 18th century in Gibraltar, where he wrote his Yoseph Hen, homiletic commentaries on the Pentateuch (printed in Leghorn, 1825) and his Shfur Koma, a liturgical work containing texts from the Zohar (printed in Leghorn, 18 ll)

It goes without saying that some members of this family, which distinguished itself through the centuries by its faithfulness to Judaism, went to Palestine. One of them was Isaac Corcos, who lived in the first half of the 16th century. He was first rabbi in Egypt and then in Jerusalem. Another was Joseph Corcos, the author of a commentary on the Mishne Tora, the great codex of Maimonides. He lived in the second half of the 16th century in Palestine. His work was printed in Smyrna in 1757 and most recently in Jerusalem in 1958 and 1966. He wrote commentaries on sections of the Talmud, for example K'thubhot, and also left juridical decisions, some of which are included in the collection of Joseph Caro called Abhkat Rokhel.

When the Jews were again allowed to live in England, some members of the Corcos family settled there. Judah ben Yehiel Corcos (d. 1733) was one of the first members of the congregation of "Spanish and Portuguese Jews" in Lon­don. In 1742, Joshua ben Joseph Corcos, a rich merchant, settled in London. Other Corcos were in the 18th century successful merchants in Algiers and Leghorn, then one of the most active ports of the Mediterranean and the seat of a flourishing Jewish community.

However, the achievements of all these branches of the Corcos family cannot be compared with the great role that it played in the economic life of Morocco and in the life of Moroccan Jewry. For a long period the Corcos fulfilled the task of "the sultan's trader" and held a high position at court. First Abraham ben Judah Corcos (d. 1797) became "sultan's trader" and his descendants held this position until 1893. In the course of time the members of this distinguished family were also entrusted with the representation of the interests of Christian powers, and duly appointed consuls. From the foundation of Mogador, the Corcos family held a foremost place in it. Maimon ben Isaac Corcos (d. 1799), a rich merchant, was one of the founders of the Jewish community in Mogador. In 1822 Solomon ben Abraham Corcos be­came the British consular agent. His sons Jacob (d. 1878) and Abraham (d. 1883) undertook various missions for the sultan. Abraham, in 1862 appointed United States consul in Mogador, received Moses Montefiore and aided him in his activities on behalf of Moroccan Jewry. After his death his son Meyer (d. 1931) was American consul in Mogador. He was also learned in Jewish lore and wrote a book about the laws of the Sabbath and Passover. This book, called Ben Meir, was printed in Jerusalem in 1912. A cousin of Meyer's, Joshua ben David Hayyim of Marrakech (d. 1929), was banker to the sultan and for forty years the spokesman of Moroccan Jewry.

Some Corcos emigrated to Central and North America and there too they distinguished themselves in public life. Among these members of the family there should be mentioned Moses who returned with his wife Stella from England to Mogador. In 1884 Stella Corcos founded in Mogador a school for Jewish girls whose language of instruction was English. Other members of the ramified Corcos family lived in France. Fernand Corcos (1875-1956) was a highly esteemed lawyer in Paris and wrote several books. He was also a fervent Zionist and published a two-volume book: Le Sionisme au travail (Paris 1923-25).

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