Not so long ago, we trashed certain biographical publications as useless for genealogy. This is most definitely not one of them. The Dictionnaire biographique des rabbins et autres ministres du culte israélite du Grand Sanhédrine (1808) à la loi de séparation (1905) is a mouthful of a title for a truly fine piece of scholarship.
A joint effort between the Commission Française des archives juives and the Archives nationales, this work attempts to list every rabbi of 19th century France, including Alsace-Lorraine and the, then, colony of Algeria. There are over 2800 names, some with photographs of the individual, nearly all with a biographical article about him. The documentation of each entry, as one would expect from the National Archives, is impeccable, and includes information from civil registrations, education records, other religious and family records, and records of associations.
For anyone researching French Jewish ancestry, this book is valuable not only for those seeking to know more about a particular rabbi, but for those who wish to trace a family which included a rabbi and those wishing to follow rabbinical traditions in a certain locale. A serious and very useful work indeed.
©2011 Anne Morddel