France, Paris; Chief Rabbi Moshe (Moise) Netter medal of appreciation, 1901; struck in silver (marked on rim); by Jewish medallist René Stern (Paris); weight: 172.05g; size: 70.5mm; thickness: 4mm.
Obverse depicts allegorical Biblical image of the Tablets on Mount Sinai with divine images of lightning above, grain stalks below and words "Country" ("Patrie") and Religion above with the Hebrew abbreviation between them for "One G-d" above a "shofar" device. In exergue an Egyptian landscape with Sphynx, at left the Hebrew words "Leil Shimurim" (eg. "Passover Eve") and on right the Hebrew date for Passover eve (in French) "Night of 14 [in the month of] Nissan; just above on a partition line is Stern's name and the date "1895" - in that year Passover night would have been on the 8th of April. In between in a circle is an emblem commemorating the 27th of September ("7ber") 1791, the date on which French Jews were emancipated.
On reverse, the name of the Union of Jewish Communities in France around the edge "Consistoire Central Des Israélites De France" with a 7-line dedication in center, from the Michel and Fanie Weill Foundation in Strasbourg to Chief Rabbi ("Grand Rabbin") Moïse Netter, on 3 January 1901.
As part of France's attempts to assimilate north Africa into French culture, Rabbi Netter was one of several Rabbis sent in the 19th Century, to Oran, Algeria, from north-eastern France to introduce greater French culture into the customs and habits of the local Jewish community. As the "Central Consistory" is composed of several "Departmental Consistories" (each led by a Grand Rabbi), Netter was probably selected to fulfill his role as the Chief Rabbi of such a "department".
He served there from 1892-1902 and during his tenure tried to stand up to the ethnocentric president of the local Consistory, Simon Kanoui (who helped build the Great Synagogue of Oran in 1880, and was known as the "Rotschild of Oran"), who was concerned with defending the native Jews' identity - but was eventually forced to return to France. He later served as the Chief Rabbi of Algiers.
As this medal has been seen before, in bronze, with a different dedication (from 1902), it appears Rene Stern used the design as a standard template before adding a customized dedication on the reverse. In UNC with a few small crimp marks from the manufacture on the rim; JMM-58.
מילות מפתח: מדליות דמויות דיוקנים דיוקן יהודיים יהודים רבנים יודאיקה יוקאיכה צרפת