This entry contains information known to us from a variety of sources but may not include all the information currently available. Please be in touch if you notice any inadvertent mistakes in our presentation or have additional knowledge or sources to share. Thank you.
The Hebrew school in Tripoli, Libya. There was also a Hatikva School active in Tripoli, unsure if they are one in the same.
As Tripoli takes the shape of northwestern Libya along the Mediterranean coast, we are confronted with a city that, though consists mainly of rocky land, happens to also serve as both the capital and main seaport of Libya, a country in Northern Africa.
The heritage of Tripoli, (its religion, culture, ethnicity, and language), lies deep within its history of conquests and wars. The name, Tripoli, itself, was part of the naming of three colonies that were founded by the Phoenicians in the seventh century, who founded their colony of Carthage and built three cities in this region of North Africa: Oea (now Tripoli), Leptis Magna, and Sabratah.
Then under the Ottoman Empire 1551 A.D., Tripoli became a haven for Jewish refugees from Spain and Portugal, in the wake of the expulsion from Spain (1492) and the forced conversion in Portugal (1497), allowing the population of Iberian Jews to grow in the tens of thousands. In their migration, Tripoli became home to many Jews from small rural communities, and there is evidence that at the end of the 16th century, descendants of Spanish Jews who were expelled from Christian Europe also settled in Tripoli.
UNEDITED, RAW WORK:
Hebrew School, Tripoli, Libya
Points to research:
Geographic Identity of Tripoli
Jews in Tripoli
Italian Jew Life
Age group in the Hebrew school
Demographic in the Hebrew School, ex. Were they mostly Jews or Christians, Europeans or Jews
Documents from the school
Tripoli, Arabic Ṭarābulus, in full Ṭarābulus al-Gharb (“The Western Tripoli”), capital city of Libya. Situated in northwestern Libya along the Mediterranean coast, it is the country’s largest city and chief seaport.
Tripoli is the capital of Libya, a country in northern Africa. The city lies on a piece of rocky land overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. It is Libya’s largest city and main seaport.
The name is from the Greek and means “three cities.” About the 7th century bc the Phoenicians founded their colony of Carthage and built three cities in this region of North Africa: Oea (now Tripoli), Leptis Magna, and Sabratah.
It is also the site of the University of Tripoli.
Haven for Jewish Refugees from Spain and Portugal
Then, in the wake of the expulsion from Spain (1492) and the forced conversion in Portugal (1497), tens of thousands of Iberian Jews arrived in Ottoman territories.
Italy had long claimed that Tripoli fell within its zone of influence and that Italy had the right to preserve order within the state.
Charles Wellington Furlong (December 1911). "The Taking Of Tripoli: What Italy Is Acquiring". The World's Work: A History of Our Time. XXIII: 165–176. Retrieved 10 July 2009.
By 1938, Tripoli  had 108,240 inhabitants, including 39,096 Italians.
The Statesman's Yearbook 1948. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 1040.
The Jewish community went through a difficult period under the rule of the Knights of Malta and Spain (1510-1551), but the Ottoman conquest in 1551 once again allowed the community to flourish, and many Jews from small rural communities began settling in Tripoli; there is evidence that at the end of the 16th century descendants of Spanish Jews who were expelled from Christian Europe also settled in Tripoli.
In 1835, Tripoli was again under Ottoman rule and the Jewish community once again flourished. Meanwhile, the Kingdom of Italy, which was established in 1861, attempted to exert its influence Tripoli, especially within the Jewish community.
By 1950 the city also had a Talmud Torah, a Youth Aliyah school, and a school for the children of Jews who had moved from villages to Tripoli. There were also Jewish children who attended Italian schools. There was also a branch of the Zionist sports and culture organization, Maccabi, which ran from 1920 until December 1953.
Classroom at "Hatikva" Hebrew Elementary School, Tripoli, Libya 1930's.
Alliance Girls' school, Tripoli, 1905
Over the last 150 years the Alliance Israelite Universelle (AIU) has educated one million Jewish children,
The Jews of Tripoli had ancient cultural traditions, and the Talmud Torah of Tripoli had considerable prestige in all of North Africa. It was a cosmopolitan population and included Jews from Europe who had not been included in the Ottoman censuses. Italian Jews were also prominent in the economic sense. Thus the question arose within the community of how to provide a more modern education than what could be provided by the Hara [Jewish quarter] traditional Jewish education, or Muslim schools. So they undertook to set up an Italian-language school at their own expense. Thus Giannetto Paggi arrived and founded the Italian school for boys, in Sciara Espagnol Street near the Corso Italiano. This school also set up an accounting course for bookkeeping in Italian and Arabic. The goal was to give the young people who attended the skills they needed for a business career.14
Giannetto Paggi (Fig. 1) is an important example of the contribution that Italian Jews, and thus the Jews of Pitigliano, have made to the development of Italy.
Only one branch of the Paggi family is Jewish, and it originates from Pitigliano, today a small town in Tuscany but until the 1600s the capital of the important County of the Orsini, straddling the border between the Papal States and the Grand Duchy of the Medici.
The Paggis were among the first Jewish families that, even before the unification of Italy, opened up to the outside world, abandoning the traditional trading and intermediary activities of Italian Jewry at the time, and taking on professional work to the extent that the laws of the Grand Duchy would allow them.
Thus Paggi sailed to Tripoli in 1876; as an employee of the Italian Ministry of Education, he was one of the first Italian Jews, and the first Jew from Pitigliano to become a public employee. He had four children, Vittorio Emanuele, Jole, Ida and Clelia, who all studied in Italy later.
Thus Giannetto Paggi arrived and founded the Italian school for boys, in Sciara Espagnol Street near the Corso Italiano. This school also set up an accounting course for bookkeeping in Italian and Arabic. The goal was to give the young people who attended the skills they needed for a business career.14 By 1879 the school already had 27 students.15
In 1876 Paggi had arrived in Libya, invited and financed by a group of Jewish families, “padri di famiglia” who apparently wanted a modern, Italian-language elementary school for their sons. In the introduction to Le Scuole italiane in Tripoli published by the Ministry of Colonies for the 1914 Mostra Coloniale di Genova, Professor Mascia describes the initiative as being “su proposta del Console.” 20 There were already some small Italian language schools in Libya in the 1870s (run by the Franciscan Order and other Christian orders) so, presumably, these parents were looking for some sort of Jewish education or environment as well. Details about its curriculum for these early years are not available. A report by Giannetto Paggi written many years later describes some of the difficulties he faced as founder and director of the new school:
Per avere un’idea delle difficoltà, veramente eccezionali, un mezzo alle quali doveva dibattersi che ebbe, per il primo, il pensiero d’istituire qui una scuola italiana, basterà ricordare che a quell’epoca mancava a Tripoli ogni espligazione di vita civile: ne line regolari di navigazione, ne uffici postali, ne line telegrafiche la collegavano al mondo civile; mancava perfino il mezzo di procurarsi il material scolastico, e tutto dovevasi far venire dall’Italia (Le scuole, p. 13)
[In order to have some idea of the difficulties, which were really extreme, against which he who first had the idea of setting up an Italian school here had to battle, it is enough to remind ourselves that at that time any development of civil life was lacking in Tripoli: there were no regular shipping lines, no post offices, no telegraph lines linking Tripoli with the civilized world; even the means of acquiring educational supplies were lacking, and everything had to be imported from Italy.]
Paggi also emphasized the Italian patriotic purpose of the school: “ merce il patriottismo e lo spirito di abnegazione del corpo insegnante, essa fu palestra di educazione civile, scuola di pattriotismo, valido strumento per la propagazione della nostra lingua e mezzo efficace di penetrazione pacifica.” [Due to the patriotism and the self-sacrificng spirit of the teaching staff, it was a bastion of social education, a school for patriotism, an effective instrument for the propagation of our language, and an efficient means of peaceful penetration]. He thus aligned the school with the goals of Italian colonial policy.
By 1910-11, on the eve of the Italian invasion, the school had 13 teachers, and the parallel girls’ school, founded in 1878, had 12 teachers. Paggi’s school at this point had two classes for Arabs, and two Muslim teachers, and was constantly receiving new Italian pupils just arrived from Italy. In 1912-13 the school was renamed the Pietro Verri school
The Alliance was an international organization which for many decades had defended persecuted Jews in various countries (including Libya), it had a teacher’s college in Paris where its teachers were prepared both pedagogically and psychologically to go to the Middle East, and it had its own curriculum which promoted the French language, a French education, and a modernizing Jewish education. The Alliance school included Hebrew and French, and also added Italian after 1911.