CATTAUI , Egyptian family of merchants and community leaders. The Cattaui family originated in the village of Catta, a few kilometers north of Cairo. Joseph *Sambari, the historian who lived during the 17th century, was a member of this family. At the end of the 18th century elijah hadar cattaui settled in Cairo. He had two sons jacob (1801–1883) and shalom and a daughter kamar, who married the leading Cairo rabbi at that time, Elijah Algazi. Jacob obtained many concessions from the government, such as managing the customs, operating the flour mills in the vicinity of Cairo, and developing the city's new quarters. He was also the first Jew in Egypt to be honored with the title "Bey." During the rule of the khedive Abbas i (1849–1854), he was appointed director of the treasury. In his old age Jacob became president of the Jewish community of Cairo. After his death, his son moses cattaui (r. 1850–1924) succeeded him as president of the Jewish community. Moses was decorated by the Egyptian and Austrian governments, and during the last year of his life was elected to the Egyptian parliament.
Upon Moses' death the leadership of the Cairo community was taken over by his nephew joseph aslan cattaui (1861–1942). Joseph Aslan had studied engineering in Paris; when he returned to Cairo in 1882, he became an official in the ministry of public works. Later he went to Moravia to study sugar manufacturing and subsequently directed a sugar factory in Egypt; he set up many other industrial plants as well. Joseph Aslan was appointed to the councils of various economic and financial institutions and managed several business companies. In 1915 he entered politics, later becoming a member of the Egyptian delegation to London to negotiate the independence of Egypt. In 1922 Joseph Aslan was assigned to the committee in charge of drafting the 1923 Egyptian constitution. In 1924 he was appointed minister of finance, and in 1925, minister of communications. From 1927 to 1936 he served as senator. In 1938, because of paralysis, he had to retire. Joseph Aslan published a study in French (1935), defending the economic policy of the khedive Ismaīl.
His son aslan (1890–1962), born in Alexandria, was appointed in 1938 to Joseph Aslan's seat in the senate and held it until the late 1940s. Joseph Aslan's other son, renÉ (1896–?), assisted his father in the management of communal affairs; in 1943 he was elected president of the Cairo community in his place and served for three years. René was employed in the archives of the royal house and there he gathered the material for his work Le règne de Mohamed Ali d'après les archives Russes en Egypte (3 vols, 1931–36). During the 1930s and 1940s he directed many financial companies in Egypt and also served as a member of the Egyptian parliament. The brothers Aslan and René left Egypt in 1957.
Another member of this family, joseph edmund cattaui (1885–?), born in Alexandria, wrote Histoire des rapports de l'Egypte avec la Sublime Porte du xviii siècle à 1841 (1919). Still another member of the family, georges cattaui, was formerly in the Egyptian diplomatic service. Although sympathetic to Zionism, he entered the Roman Catholic Church, together with a few other Egyptian Jewish intellectuals of his generation. He published volumes of poetry in French, as well as studies on Proust and aspects of modern French and English literature.
Bibliography: J.M. Landau, Jews in Nineteenth-Century Egypt (1969), index; idem (ed.), Toledot Yehudei Miẓraim ba-Tekufah ha-ʿOtmanit (1988), index; Gudrun Kraemer, The Jews in Modern Egypt: 1914–1952 (1989), index; M.M. Laskier, The Jews of Egypt 1920–1970 (1992), index.
[Hayyim J. Cohen]