The Alliance Israélite Universelle, a French-Jewish organization founded in 1860, occupies a crucial place in the history of Sephardi communities in the modern period. In the fifty years after its creation, the Alliance established a vast network of schools in the lands of Islam for the purpose of "civilizing" the local Jewish communities and remaking them in the idealized self-image of French Jewry.
This study, drawing on the author's extensive research in the archives of the Alliance in Paris, focuses on the work of the Alliance among Turkish Jewry, one of the communities most strongly affected by the organizations' activities. Although the Alliance played a conclusive role in the Westernization of Turkish Jews, it was also the unwitting catalyst for the emrgence of new political movements such as Zionism, which turned away from the Alliance's ideology and ultimately threatened the survival of its schools. This book illuminates an important episode in the history of Sephardi and French Jewries as they interacted through the Alliance Israélite Universelle and draws important conclusions about the transformation of European as well as Middle Eastern Jewries in the modern era.