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Busnach Family


prominent jewish family of algeria.

The Busnach (in Arabic, Bu Janah) family was one of three Livornese (Italy) Jewish families (the others were the Boucharas and the Cohen-Baqris) that were prominent in Algerian commerce and politics throughout the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The patriarch of the clan, Naphtali Busnach, established a shipping business in Algiers in the early 1720s. He was also involved in the ransoming of European captives of the corsairs (Barbary pirates).

His grandson Naphtali II was the right-hand man of Mustafa Bey of Constantine. When Mustafa was chosen dey in 1797, Naphtali became his chief courtier. At about the same time, Naphtali went into partnership with Joseph Baqri, with whom he was related by ties of marriage, and the firm of Baqri & Busnach came to hold a virtual monopoly on trade with the regency. Naphtali was appointed muqaddam (chief) of the Jewish community by the dey in 1800. Naphtali, who had survived one attempt on his life during a failed coup in 1801, was assassinated by a janissary in 1805. The incident touched off anti-Jewish riots among the Ottoman troops. Most of the Busnachs fled to Livorno at this time, although their relatives, the Baqris, remained in Algiers.

see also corsairs.


Hirschberg, H. Z. A History of the Jews in North Africa. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 1981.

Norman Stillman

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