Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World

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Subject: Jewish Studies

Executive Editor: Norman A. Stillman

The Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World Online (EJIW) is the first cohesive and discreet reference work which covers the Jews of Muslim lands particularly in the late medieval, early modern and modern periods. The Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World Online is updated with newly commissioned articles, illustrations, multimedia, and primary source material. 

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Sanandaj

(461 words)

Sanandaj (Sene, Sinna, Sinno) is the capital of the Iranian province (Pers. ustān) of Kurdistan and lies approximately 129 kilometers (80 miles) north of Kirmanshah. It was founded around 1640. The city was the seat of the Kurdish princes and nobility of Ardalan and a center of Kurdish and Persian poetry and other literary productivity. The Muslim-Kurdish population is Sunni, in contrast to the generally Shī’ī population in the rest of Iran. In addition to the Kurdish majority, Christian Chaldeans, Armenia…

Santarem

(473 words)

Santarém (Ar. Shantarīn) is a city in Portugal to the northeast of Lisbon. It had an important Jewish community throughout the Middle Ages, but there are no details about its Jews during the Islamic period. The first reliable information about a Jewish presence dates from 1140, when King Afonso Henriques (Alfonso I)conquered Santarém and found a noteworthy number of Jews and a synagogue considered to be the oldest in Portugal. He was the first Portuguese king to issue legislation on the relationships between Jews and Christians. In 1265,  Dinis (Denis) ascended the Portuguese thron…

Sanua, James

(11 words)

see Ṣanūʿ (Sanua), Yaʿqūb (James) Norman A. Stillman

Ṣanūʿ (Sanua), Yaʿqūb (James)

(806 words)

Yaʿqūb Ṣanūʿ, an Egyptian patriot, journalist, and playwright also known as James Sanua, represents one of the rare instances of a Jew who was actively involved in Egyptian politics. His father, Raphael, was a Sephardi Jew who had come to Egypt from Livorno and under the Capitulations (Ar. imtiyāzāt) enjoyed the status of a protégé. Yaʿqūb, born in Cairo in 1839, received a scholarship to study in Europe and went to Livorno for three years. On his return to Cairo, he earned a living for a few years by teaching foreign languages (of which he k…

Sao Pãulo

(8 words)

see Brazil Norman A. Stillman

Saphir, Jacob

(311 words)

Jacob Saphir (1822–1886) was a Jewish traveler and writer born in Oshmyany (Ashmyany) in what is now Belarus. His family moved to Palestine while he was still a child, settling in Safed, but in 1836, after their deaths, he moved to Jerusalem. In 1848, the Jewish community of Safed commissioned Saphir to travel as a meshullaḥ (emissary) through "the southern lands"  to collect alms, the so-called ḥaluqa, for the poor of Jerusalem. In 1854, he undertook a second journey, this time to raise funds for the construction of the Ḥurva Synagogue in Jerusalem, which…

Sapho

(308 words)

Sapho, a multi-talented artist best known as a singer with a strong East/West repertoire and a supporter of peace and human rights, was born in 1950 to Jewish parents in Marrakesh. At age sixteen, she immigrated with her family to France, and was soon accepted by the Petit Conservatoire de Mireille in Paris. Despite a 1977 contract with RCA, she did not receive much publicity until her second album,   Janis (1980), produced in London, which was followed in quick succession with three more albums by 1983. During this period, she became known for her dramatic stage …

Saporta, Ḥanokh

(332 words)

Ḥanokh Saporta (Ṣaporta, Sasportas) was a scholar from the Iberian Peninsula who moved to the Ottoman Empire before the expulsion of 1492. Born into one of Catalonia’s foremost Jewish families, Saporta first settled in Edirne (Adrianople) together with other distinguished rabbis from Spain and Portugal who became the leaders of the local Romaniot, Ashkenazi, and Italian congregations. Around 1481, sometime after the arrival of Isaac Ṣarfati from Germany, Saporta moved to the new Ottoman capital of Istanbul. There he headed a yeshiva whose students came from many different …

Saragossa

(1,942 words)

Article Table of Contents1. Muslim Saraqusṭa2. C Saragossa is a city on the river Ebro, in Aragon, in the northeastern part of the Iberian Peninsula. It began as a Celtiberian village on which the Carthaginians built a military post called Salduie. In Roman times it was called Caesaraugusta, in honor of the emperor Augustus. The Muslims reduced the name to Saraqusṭa when they took the city in 714. The Christians called it Zaragoza. 1. Muslim Saraqusṭa During the emirate of Cordova, Saragossa resisted an attack by Charlemagne in 777 and became the most important city of the Upper March (Ar. al-…

Sarajevo (Bosna Saray)

(9 words)

see Bosnia, Bosnia-Herzegovina Avigdor Levy

Sardari, Abdol Hossein

(862 words)

Abdol Hossein Sardari was Iran’s diplomatic representative in Paris after its legation relocated to Vichy in 1940.  He  safeguarded the lives and property of Iranian Jews in France by persuading the Nazis that Iranian “followers of Moses” were of Iranian blood and Aryan racial stock. Abdol Hossein Sardari was born into a privileged aristocratic family in Tehran in 1914. His mother, Afsar-Salṭana, was Shah Nāṣir al-Dīn Qājār’s (r. 1848–1896) niece, married to the eccentric Sulaymān Adīb al-Salṭana. The couple had four sons and three daughte…

Ṣarfati Family

(1,632 words)

The Ṣarfati (Ṣarfaty, Ṣerfaty, ha-Ṣarfati) family of rabbis, jurists ( dayyanim), and government-appointed civil leaders ( negidim, sing. nagid ) was prominent in Morocco from the sixteenth through the twentieth century. The family traced its genealogy to descendants of the famed  Jacob ben Meʾir Tam(Rabbenu Tam, ca. 1100–ca. 1171) who had migrated to Spain from France (Heb. Ṣarfat; hence the family name). After the Spanish expulsion in 1492, one branch of the family settled in Fez. A complete Ṣarfati family tree may be found in Benṭov’s introduction to Toledot Yiṣḥaq. The first note…

Ṣarfati, Isaac

(643 words)

Isaac Ṣarfati was a German rabbi who settled in the Ottoman Empire prior to the conquest of Istanbul in 1453. He is thought to have been the author of the famous circular letter urging the Jewish communities of Central Europe to immigrate to the Ottoman realms. Although his surname indicates a family origin in northern France ( Ṣarfat), Ṣarfati came to the Ottoman Empire from Germany. Soon afterwards, he became a prominent member of the rabbinate of the Jewish community in Edirne (Adrianople), then the Ottoman capital. Rosanes and others have argued that Ṣarfati served as chief ra…

Şarhon, Karen Gerşon

(207 words)

Karen Gerşon Şarhon is a scholar of Judeo-Spanish, a singer in the Los Pasharos Sepharadis group, and the coordinator of the Ottoman-Turkish Sephardic Research Center. She was born in 1958 in Istanbul and graduated from Robert College and later on from the Linguistics and American Literature Department of the Bosphorus University (formerly Robert College) in Istanbul. She has an M.A. in social pyschology, having written her thesis on the Judeo-Spanish language, and has taught English in the Foreign Languages School of Bosphorus University. In 2006 Şarhon  became the coordinato…

Ṣarrāf

(9 words)

see Banking (Modern Period) Norman A. Stillman

Sar Shalom ben Boaz

(511 words)

Sar Shalom ben Boaz served as gaon of Sura from either 847 or 851 until 857. More than one hundred of his responsa (or those attributed to him) have survived. Like gaonic responsa in general, the majority were addressed to the Jews of Qayrawan. Their survival attests to the strong relationship between Sura and Qayrawan under Sar Shalom’s gaonate. His immediate predecessor at Sura, Kohen Ṣedeq bar Ivomay (or Ikhomay), and his successor, Naṭronay bar Hilay, similarly corresponded extensively with Qayrawan. All three maintained ties with the Jews of the Iberi…

Sar Shalom ben Moses ha-Levi

(843 words)

Abū Zikrī Sar Shalom (Yaḥyā) ben Moses ha-Levi served as raʾīs al-yahūd (nagid) in Fustat around 1170 to 1171 and again from around 1173 to 1195. Like his predecessors in office Maṣliaḥ (1127–1139), Samuel ben Hananiah (1140–1159), and his brother Nethanel ha-Levi ben Moses (1159–ca. 1169), he bore the title gaon. Before his appointment to the headship of the Jews, Sar Shalom held the post of av bet din (chief judge) in the branch of the Palestinian yeshiva in Damascus. According to the twelfth-century traveler Benjamin of Tudela, the gaon of the yeshiva was Sar Shalom’s brother Azariah.…

Sarug, Israel

(487 words)

Israel Sarug (d. 1610) was born into a prominent Egyptian rabbinic family. His activities in the first few decades of his life are uncertain. It may be that he became acquainted with Isaac Luria in Egypt and followed him to Safed, but it is also possible that he arrived in Safed only after Luria’s death to study with his surviving disciples. What is clear is that in 1594 he went to Italy, where he had an influence on Pico della Mirandola and other Neoplatonists. One of his most illustrious students was Naphtali Ṣevi Bacharach, whose voluminous ʿ Emeq ha-Melekh (Valley of the King) set forth …

Sasportas, Jacob

(576 words)

Jacob Sasportas (ca. 1610–1698), born in Oran, Algeria, was one of the most outspoken opponents of the messianic movement around Shabbetay Ṣevi and his prophet, Nathan of Gaza. He is best known for his Ṣiṣat Novel Ṣevi (Heb. The Fading Flower  of Glorious Beauty [Ṣevi] - Isa. 28:1), an invaluable collection of letters and documents about the Sabbatean movement. An abridged version, Kiṣṣur Ṣiṣat Novel Ṣevi, was printed in Amsterdam in 1737 and again in Altona in 1757, but the full work was only published by Isaiah Tishby in 1954. Sasportas was by all accounts a divisive character invo…

Sasson, Aaron Ben Joseph

(353 words)

Aaron ben Joseph Sasson(1550 or 1556–1626) was a  rabbinical scholar and author in the Ottoman Empire. A native of Salonica, he studied in the yeshivot of that city and became an outstanding student of Mordechai Maṭalon (d. 1580). Counted as one of Salonica’s foremost scholars, Sasson was a respected teacher and rabbi, as well as an adjudicator ( poseq) of questions of religious law. Petitions reached him from cities near and far, and his opinions were cited by many of Salonica’s rabbis, particularly Solomon ben Isaac ha-Levi(le-Vet ha-Levi, 1532–1600), his father-in-law. The …
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