VALENSI (al-Valensi, Balansi, Valença, Valencin, Valencia, Valenciano) , family which originated in *Valencia (Spain). R. samuel ben abraham valensi (1435–1487), talmudist in Zamora, *Spain, was the disciple of R. Isaac Campanton and the teacher of several scholars, including R. Jacob *Ibn Ḥabib, the author of Ein Ya'akov. Of his works only a brief treatise, entitled Kelalei Kal va-Ḥomer (Venice, 1599), on the methodology of the Talmud, is extant. After the expulsion from Spain, his family took refuge in *Morocco. moses valensi and his son abraham valensi countersigned the first takkanot of the megorashim ("exiles") in Fez (1494, 1554). samuel valensi, an inhabitant of Azemmour, distinguished himself by his military valor in the war near *Ceuta, where he led 1,400 Jewish and Muslim soldiers. He came to the assistance of the besieged *Safi with his ships and compelled the large army of attackers to abandon its campaign (1534). In *Marrakesh, joseph valencia was the private physician of three successive sovereigns from 1590 to 1628.
Some of the Valensis of Morocco settled in *Venice in about 1650. joseph valensi was a rabbi there in about 1680. Several members of the family later settled in Leghorn, while others moved to *Tunis before 1690. The origin of the members of Valensi family in Tunis is France and not Leghorn. They came to Tunis at the end of the 18th century and during the 19th. In many documents, they appear as the leaders of the Grana community (the name of the community founded in Tunis by the immigrants from Leghorn) in Tunis and also as the representatives of the French nation ("Notables Français" and "Députés de la Nation française") from 1858 onward. They served the Grana community for a period of 100 years. In the minute book of the marriage contracts of the Grana community are recorded many members of this family from the end of the 18th century onward, many of them as bridegrooms and brides, and others as leaders and dayyanim. Many of the Valensi family members in Tunis were French citizens. The Valensis distinguished themselves especially as physicians, scholars, soldiers, and diplomats in Tunis, where the first known family member was gabriel de manuel valensi (1686), a financier. joseph valensi became involved in Franco-Tunisian political affairs between 1792 and 1812. His son samuel valensi had a successful career in politics, and his grandson gabriel valensi, who was appointed official interpreter between the beys and the French sovereigns, was charged with diplomatic missions to Paris in 1867 and 1878. hayyim davis valensi was a dayyan and signed many marriage contracts in the Grana community in Tunis between the years 1821 and 1824; gabriel ben ya'acov valensi signed marriage contracts in the Grana community between 1806 and 1810; gabriel ben reuven valensi was the treasurer of this community in 1815; moses valensi (1825–1909) was sent on a Tunisian government mission to the United States. gabriel valensi (1845–1915) was a lieutenant general in the army of the bey. He was involved in the charities of his sister Zodika, who dedicated property to the Eẓ Ḥayyim synagogue of the Grana community. He served also as the treasurer of this community and was a philanthropist. His signature appears on many regulations of his community from 1860 until 1893. In 1890 he was the opponent of the qa'id and chief rabbi Eliyahu Burgel and opposed him when Burgel wanted to diminish the autonomy and the property rights of the Grana community. The dispute broke out when the Jewish community in Tunis had severe economic difficulties, and Burgel took from the Grana community its 20 percent share in the new cemetery. Before this dispute Gabriel Valensi succeeded in achieving for his community a good new agreement with the Touansa community. In 1895 Gabriel Valensi wrote a letter to the chief rabbi of France, Rabbi Zadok Kahn, and to the *Alliance Israélite Universelle about the dispute with Burgel, and he was victorious in this struggle.
His son rodolphe valensi, linguist and engineer, wrote scientific works.
joseph valensi (d. 1908) was the Austro-Hungarian consul and the chief administrator of the municipal services of Tunis. He was famous for his philanthropy. raymond valensi (1847–1920) represented his country abroad, and his son joseph valensi, professor of fine arts, was one of the architects of the Paris Exhibition (1925–31). théodore valensi (1886–1954), philanthropist, novelist, painter, and barrister, was called to Paris, where he was a senior adviser in the ministries of Clémenceau and Briand and chief private secretary of the Cabinet du Ministre. victor raymond valensi (d. 1942) was the last member of the Valensi family who served the Grana community. He died at the age of 95. In 1881 he was appointed the head of the Alliance Israélite Universelle in Tunis and was its representative.
alfred valensi (1878–1944), philanthropist and barrister, contributed to leading European newspapers. He wrote on legislation and sociology and was an active Zionist. He founded the first Zionist organization in Tunis in 1910. He was seized by the Nazis and died during deportation. victor valensi, a notable Tunisian architect in the 1920s and 1930s, published studies of the local architecture of northern Africa and is best known for designing the Grand Synagogue of Tunis in 1938. He died in Buchenwald. mauricio valensi was mayor of Napoli after World War ii.
Neubauer, Chronicles, 1 (1887, repr. 1965), 107, 113; J.M. Toledano, Ner ha-Ma'arav (1911), 72, 78–80; D. Corcos, in: Sefunot, 10 (1966), 68, 78; P. Lambert, Choses et gens de Tunisie (1912), 418–20; Livre d'or de la Tunisie (1932), 184–5. add. bibliography: A. Rodrigue, Ḥinukh, Hevrah ve-Historyah, Kol Yisrael Ḥaverim vi-Yehudei ha-Yam ha-Tikhon, 1860 – 1929 (1991), 150; P, Sebag, Histoire des Juifs de Tunisie (1991), 81–82; A. (R). Attal and Y. Avivi, Pinkas u-Ketubot shel ha-Kehillah ha-Portugezit be-Tunis ba-Me'ot ha-18 – 19, 1 (1993); idem, Pinkas ha-Ketubbot, Taryag – Taryad, 2 (2000); Y. Avrahami, Pinkas ha-Kehillah ha-Yehudit ve-ha-Portugezit be-Tunis, 1710 – 1944 (1997); S. Bard, Le-Toledot ha-Tenu'ah ha-Ẓiyyonit be-Tunisia (1980), 135, 147.
[David Corcos /
Leah Bornstein-Makovetsky (2nd ed.)]