Leven, Narcisse

views updated


LEVEN, NARCISSE (1833–1915), French philanthropist and public figure. Leven was born in Germany, and his family settled in Paris during his childhood. In 1855 he graduated from the Sorbonne in law. A staunch republican, Leven acted as secretary to Adolphe *Crémieux, minister of justice during the Franco-Prussian War (1870/71). After the war he practiced law, and in 1879 was elected member of the Paris municipal council and was its vice president in 1882. However, he was defeated in the elections in 1887, as a result of an antisemitic campaign directed personally against him. Leven had been deeply stirred as a child by the *Damascus affair (1840) and later by the *Mortara case (1858). This influenced him to found the *Alliance Israélite Universelle, together with Charles *Netter, Jules *Carvallo, and others. He was successively secretary, vice president, and, from 1898 until his death, president of the Alliance central committee. Together with Zadoc *Kahn, Leven also assisted Baron de *Hirsch in formulating his colonization plans and was the first to preside over the council of the *Jewish Colonization Association (ica). Leven was a member of the Central Consistory of French Jews for over 50 years. He wrote Cinquante ans d'histoire: l'Alliance Israélite Universelle, 1860–1910 (vol. 1, 1911; vol. 2, 1920, posthumous).


J.P. Coulon, Narcisse Leven (Fr., 1920); A. Chouraqui, L'Alliance Israélite Universelle (1965), index.

[Emmanuel Beeri]