ATLANTIC CITY, one of the most frequently visited tourist sites on the East Coast of the United States, located off the southern New Jersey coast and part of a two-county area rich in Jewish culture and identity opportunity. At the outset of the 21st century, over 15,000 year-round Jewish residents lived in the Atlantic/Cape May bi-county area, which more than triples in population in the summer months. The gaming mecca with its nearby historic Boardwalk exists basically on Absecon Island, which includes Atlantic City, Ventnor, Margate, and the downbeach community of Longport. The area has various synagogues of most denominations including two thriving Reform congregations, several well-attended Conservative congregations, and a small but growing Orthodox population. Wildwood, part of Cape May County, is home to another Conservative congregation. The first Jewish settlers arrived in 1880, when the city was already a summer resort for Philadelphians. Ten years later the first congregation, Beth Israel (Reform), was founded, followed by Rodef Sholom (Orthodox) in 1896. From the outset Jews gravitated to the tourist-oriented industries. They have continued in this capacity and in the professions, while also playing a leading role in the city's cultural and philanthropic activities. Jewish organizational life developed gradually. As precursors to what now exists a Young Men's Hebrew Association was founded in 1911, and in 1916 the Hebrew Sheltering Home was founded to provide a temporary haven for indigent persons needing food and lodging. This then evolved into the 155-bed Hebrew Old Age Center, now formally known as Seashore Gardens Living Center, providing geriatric care. From the Montefiore True Sisters, who provided food baskets to the needy, evolved the Federation of Jewish Agencies, founded in 1923 to coordinate all fundraising, budgeting, and community planning for local, national, and overseas agencies. There was a community weekly, the Jewish Record, founded in 1939, which existed until the early 1990s. As with many northeastern cities and even the famed Catskill Resort area in New York, during the middle of the 20th century, Atlantic City underwent a decline. With the advent of air conditioning and with non-Jewish hotels ending their policy of excluding Jews, the Jewish hotels declined and went out of business. The introduction of gaming was intended to revive investment in the city and to make it a tourist destination once again. By then many Jews and most Jewish institutions had left the city. By the turn of the 20th century Atlantic and Cape May counties rather than Atlantic City had become the center of Jewish life. Atlantic County boasts two popular kosher restaurants, two day schools (Jewish Community Day School of Atlantic and Cape May Counties, housed in a new building in Northfield, and the Trocki Hebrew Academy, which is located in Egg Harbor Township), a mikveh, and a newly expanded network of social service agencies. They include the brand new Katz Jewish Community Center and Jewish Family Service, both housed as part of the "community campus" environment in Margate City. Also part of the campus is the Jewish Federation of Atlantic and Cape May Counties as well as the local Board of Jewish Education. During the summer season the well-known Camp By the Sea is a thriving area for local and summer youth held at the JCC. Atlantic City is home to the Jewish Older Adult Services agency and in nearby Galloway Township the Seashore Gardens Living Center accommodates both assisted living and long-term care in a magnificent facility opened in 2003. Seashore Gardens offers kosher living to all of its residents. Nearby Cape May is a peaceful paradise for summer and year-round visitors who want pristine beaches, a beautiful walkway, lots of hotels, and bed and breakfast choices along with top-notch restaurants. A newspaper, the Jewish Times, located in Pleasantville, serves the local community with its weekly publication. The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, a growing college in the New Jersey State Higher Education system, is also the center for the Holocaust Resource Center. Here those interested in this academic area find a study environment conducive to this highly regarded program. The rscnj campus offers a myriad of degree choices, including a baccalaureate degree in Jewish Studies and a masters degree program in Holocaust and Genocide Studies. (Linda S. Kulp (2nd ed.) ATLAS ATLAS, mountain range in Morocco and Algeria. -History Arabic literary sources tell of some berber tribes in the Atlas Mountains which observed the tenets of Judaism: e.g., the Jarawa in the Aurès Mountains of eastern Algeria (see Kahina),   the Nafusa, the Fandalawa, and Madyuna (west Algerian tribes), and the Bahlula, the Ghayata, and the Fazaz in the Moroccan Atlas. The Islamization of these tribes is ascribed to Idris the Great (ninth century). It is significant that in Jewish sources there is no mention of these tribes. The almohads did not succeed in conquering the Atlas tribes and, apparently, many Jews found shelter among them during the persecutions. Until 1956, many Jewish mellahs existed in the Atlas Mountains and on their slopes. Situated on the main communication routes in their quarters near the Berber villages, these small isolated communities remained closely attached to their faith and traditions. Their primary occupations included small business, peddling, metal crafts (silversmiths and blacksmiths), and wine production. According to legends, these tribes had once been strong enough to sustain themselves and to aid the Berbers in their internecine struggles. Many Jews in the Middle Atlas and in Sous Valley either converted voluntarily to Islam or were forced to convert during the marabout movement in the 16th century. During the 19th century the Atlas communities were finally subjugated and sometimes reduced to semi-slavery. The Jewish communities of the Atlantic Atlas disappeared. Throughout the Atlas region old Jewish cemeteries and sanctuaries served as shrines for both Jews and Muslim Berbers. (David Corcos) -In Recent Times In 1948 there were about 10,000 Jews living in the Atlas Mountains area of Morocco. About half were peddlers and artisans, while some engaged in agriculture. They were scattered in many settlements, in which there were often no more than a few dozen families. These Jews were observant, although the majority were illiterate. They lacked teachers in their villages, and frequently they had no contact even with Jewish communities in the area. Some of the villages were so isolated that their very existence was unknown, until they were discovered in the 1950s when the exodus to Israel began. Between 1952 and 1955 dozens of villages in the area were abandoned. In the largest of these, Tamzert, there were 68 families consisting of 340 persons. During this period a total of 532 families (2,914 persons) went to Israel from the Atlas Mountains, the rest, some 5,000 persons, migrating there later. The fact that they possessed no property facilitated their migration, for even the farmers among them did not own land but were tenants in exchange for a quarter of the crops. On the other hand, they were in need of basic medical attention, since many suffered from skin diseases, and from partial or total blindness resulting from trachoma. Almost all immigrants from the Atlas Mountains settled in cooperative villages in Israel and engaged in agriculture. (Haim J. Cohen) -BIBLIOGRAPHY: N. Slouschz, Travels in North Africa (1927), 295 ff., 306 ff.; R. Montagne, Berbères et le Makhzen (1930), 45–46, 66–68, 76–77; L. Poinot, Pélerinages judéomusulmans du Maroc (1948), passim; A.N. Chouraqui, Between East and West (1968), passim; P. Flamand, Diaspora en terre d'Islam (1956), 67–105; Hirschberg, in: Journal of African History, 4 (1963), 313–39; Hirschberg, Afrikah, passim; Corcos, in: Sefunot, 10 (1966), 77, 80 ff., 93 ff.; Minkovitz, in: JJSO, 9 (1967), 191–208; Kohls, in: Megamot, 7 (1956), 345–76 (Eng. summ.).

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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