# 104 / Editorial

What does this ” At home ” that Jewish grandparents and parents from the Maghreb regularly use to evoke the country they had to leave before coming to live in France or what they refer to in Israel? The nostalgic memory that such an exclamation implies has been transmitted to the generations that followed, sometimes provoking a desire to know more about “their” country of origin, as if they wanted to appropriate it in turn. Joseph Benamour, who had already asked himself whether there were any Jews left in Algeria, tells about the search of several young Frenchmen tempted to discover Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria – or even to move there. Do they represent an important phenomenon? It is difficult to say. In any case, the trajectory is symptomatic. It is that of a paradoxical “return” to countries known through family stories, but also of a return to oneself, to investigate an identity experienced as multiple and fragmented, at once Arab, Jewish and French.

In 1940 Marseilles, on the verge of leaving Europe, the great revolutionary Victor Serge was asked if he was Jewish. “I don’t have that honor,” he replied… Contrary to a large part of the communist and libertarian left which, even when it condemned anti-Semitism, was hardly interested in Jews as such, the author of Memoirs of a Revolutionary was unusually philo-semitic. Far from the positions of a Proudhon, a Marx, a Blanqui or a Bakunin, the struggle against anti-Semitism was for him “a struggle for the liberation of man, for a new humanism” and should “[constitute] one of the most imperative duties.” Mitchell Abidor evokes this preoccupation of Victor Serge, without neglecting the part of ambiguity that is sometimes revealed in it.

Séan Fergusson, a Scottish professor, goes to a Spanish university to give a course on culture and memory. As the guest of honor, he is given a private tour of its historical library. In a secret room, containing the collection of books banned by the Inquisition, the librarian opens a wooden chest and extracts – an unexpected discovery – a carefully saved curiosity: a Torah scroll. Séan Fergusson then begins his investigation. Philip Schlesinger’s “The Torah of Salamanca” tells a story of the erasure of the past and the incomplete repression of memory. The author has chosen the literary form for this story, rather than reportage; but the most curious readers should know that the Torah of Salamanca does exist, still hidden in a chest of the university library…

Joseph Benamour had already wondered in K. whether there were any Jews left in Algeria; today he investigates the need, so present among certain young Sephardic Jews of the second or third generation, to go to North Africa. Why and how do they think they will find a part of their history there? What role does family nostalgia play in these quests for identity?

Victor Serge, whose real name is Viktor Lvovitch Kibaltchitch, was born in Brussels in 1890. The man who would become a key figure in the European revolutionary mythology of the 20th century, grew up in the European libertarian milieu before joining Soviet Russia. Among the first denouncers of the abuses of Stalinism, he was deported to Siberia before being allowed to go into exile, first in Western Europe, then in Mexico. Mitchell Abidor returns to a little-known part of the career of the man who, during the war, wrote “The Extermination of the Jews of Warsaw”: that of his extreme attention – not tinged with ambiguity at times – to the specificity of the fate of the Jews.

A Scottish professor visits the ancient university of Salamanca and its historic library. In a secret room, containing a collection of books banned by the Inquisition, a Torah scroll is preciously preserved. Philip Schlesinger, himself a professor of Cultural Theory at the University of Glasgow, tells a story he heard and his protagonist’s quest to find the traces of the Spanish city’s Jewish past.

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