Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World

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Executive Editor: Norman A. Stillman

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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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Abū Qārā (Boccara)Abraham ben Moses

(535 words)

Author(s): Moshe Amar
, Abraham ben Moses Abū Qārā (Abū Qārā or Boccara, d. 1879) was a noted scholar and leader of the Jewish community of Tunis during the middle and second half of the nineteenth century.The Abū Qārā family belonged to the Portuguese/Livornese community (see Grana) in the city of Tunis. A number of family members served as rabbis and heads of the community almost from its beginning in the early part of the eighteenth century until the first half of the twentieth century. Three members of the family named Abraham served in the rabbinate o…

Abū Qārā (Boccara) Family

(324 words)

Author(s): Haim Saadoun
The Abū Qārā (Boccara) family was one of the Portuguese-Jewish families that emigrated from Italy to Tunisia during the seventeenth century. In Tunis, they belonged to the Grana community, as Jews from Livorno (Leghorn) who settled in Tunisia were known. The family was especially renowned for its rabbis. Samson Abū Qārā (d. 1769) was the first family member to serve as a judge in the Tunis rabbinical court (Heb. bet din). This was before the Twansa (Arabic-speaking indigenous Jews) and the Grana separated into separate synagogues in 1741. Abraham Abū Qārā I (d. 1817) was the first …

Abū Qurā (Boccara), Jacob

(10 words)

Author(s): Haim Saadoun
see Abū Qārā (Boccara) - FamilyHaim Saadoun

Abū ʾl-Rabīʿ ben Barukh

(380 words)

Author(s): Aurora Salvatierra Ossorio
Nothing is known about the life and work of Abū ʾl-Rabīʿ ben Barukh, mentioned by Moses Ibn Ezra in the Kitāb al-Muḥāḍara wa ʾl-Mudhākara as a poet from Lucena (Cordova). A contemporary of the scholars and men of letters connected to this city by birth or training from the middle of the eleventh century, he must have been one of the group of authors who made this enclave a prestigious center of Jewish cultural and religious life. His name is mentioned along with two other poets, Isaac ibn Lev and Abraham ibn Ḥayyāt, both from Granada and without known writings.Abū ʾl-Rabīʿ ben Barukh belonged…

Abū Saʿīd

(581 words)

Author(s): Frank Weigelt
Abū Saʿīd was a Samaritan scholar who lived in Egypt in the second half of the thirteenth century, as can be inferred from his usage of Arabic and a fatwā (responsum) he issued in 1262. He is best known for his revision of the Arabic translation of the Samaritan Pentateuch. In the oldest manuscript (MS Sassoon 977 from 727/1326–27), he is called Abū Saʿīd b. Abī al-Ḥusayn b. Abī Saʿīd, but most Samaritan scholars refer to him simply as Abū Saʿīd. For biographical and bibliographical discussion, see Shehade 1977, pp. 119–148.  Works(1) Revision of the Samaritan translation of the Torah…

Abyaḍ, Yiḥye ben Shalom

(326 words)

Author(s): Yosef Tobi
Yiḥye ben Shalom Abyaḍ (1864–1935) was a reformist rabbi, scholar, and traditional physician in Sanʿa, Yemen. He was closely associated with the work of his teacher Yiḥye Qāfiḥ. Together with Qāfiḥ, he provided new leadership for the community and worked to improve its spiritual and social conditions. He was especially active, in the spirit of his mentor, in developing programs and activities designed to counteract what they saw as the negative impact of the Kabbala on their Yemenite brethren. They both met with opposition from …

Academic Study of Iranian (Persian) Jewry

(3,667 words)

Author(s): Vera B. Moreen
Like the study of Ottoman Jewry, the academic study of Iranian (Persian) Jewry is a subfield of the study of the Jews in the Islamic and Mizraḥi (“eastern”) worlds. It originated in the study of Iranian linguistics in the late nineteenth century and began to grow in the late 1960s with the spread of the study of Judeo-Persian texts. It expanded considerably for the next three decades, but remains a neglected field of Jewish and Iranian studies, with hardly any younger scholars entering the field.Philology and LinguisticsThe study of the Judeo-Persian language began as a number of…

Academic Study of Islamicate Jewry

(12,715 words)

Author(s): Norman A. Stillman
Prior to the second half of the twentieth century, much of the research devoted to the Jews of the Islamic world followed in the paths established by the Wissenschaft des Judentums scholars of the nineteenth century and dealt with the history, literature, and thought of the medieval period. Judeo-Arabic civilization was one of the major foci of Wissenschaft scholarship, as too were aspects of Hispanic Jewish history and culture—but only for the classical Islamic Middle Ages (ca. 850–1250) in the…
Date: 2014-09-03

Academic Study of Ottoman Jewry

(6,553 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ayalon
The academic study of Jews living in the Ottoman Empire is a subfield of the academic study of Islamicate Jewry. Compared to the general study of Jews under Islam, a field that has grown tremendously since the 1970s, our understanding of Ottoman Jewry is still in its nascent stage. The pre-Ottoman Geniza period is relatively well studied, and in recent years there has been a growing number of works on Ottoman Jews in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Yet the middle Ottoman period, fr…
Date: 2013-05-06

Aciman (Acıman, Adjiman) Family

(466 words)

Author(s): Cengiz Sisman
The Acimans (Adjimans) were a family of Sephardi bankers and diplomats who attained great importance in the Ottoman Empire, especially during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The family settled in Turkey after the expulsion from Spain in 1492 and was part of the Sephardi elite, also including the Camondo and Gabbai families, that rose to prominence in the Ottoman world. Acimans served at the Ottoman court as financial consultants to the sultan and as merchants or bankers for the Janissaries ( Ocak Bâzergânı or Ocak Sarrâfı). Working with the royal elite had its risks. In…

Aciman, André

(359 words)

Author(s): Aimée Israel-Pelletier
André Albert Aciman was born in Alexandria, Egypt, on January 2, 1951. He left Egypt for Italy in 1965 and settled in New York with his family in 1969. A professor of literature, Proust scholar, and writer, Aciman achieved relative notoriety with his first book, Out of Egypt: A Memoir (New York, 1994), which won the Whiting Foundation Award. The memoir is an aesthetic transposition of what it was like growing up Jewish in Alexandria during the 1950s and 1960s. It is a tour de force combining factual description and personal vision. The Alexandria Aciman evokes is as elusive as t…

Aciman, Avram

(200 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Avram Aciman (fl. second half of the nineteenth century) was born in Istanbul into the distinguished Aciman (Adjiman) family of Ottoman Sephardim. He was one of the four Jewish members of the first Ottoman Parliament, convened from 1877 to 1878. Representing Istanbul, he was the only Jewish deputy who actively participated in the proceedings of the first session. He supported the general opposition in the chamber against the high-handed bureaucratic order and proposed a legislative amendment requiring provincial officials…

Acıman, Eli

(414 words)

Author(s): Romina Meric
Eli Acıman was born in 1919 in Istanbul. He studied journalism in Paris and upon his return to Istanbul began his career in advertising. In 1944, he founded Faal Reklam Acentası (Faal Advertising Agency) together with the entrepreneurs Vitali Hakko and Mario Beghian, but the latter two withdrew from the firm soon afterward. In 1946, Acıman obtained the agency’s first major client, the Turkish industrial giant, Koç Enterprises. By 1957, the agency had grown considerably, and together with Afif Erdemir and Nesim Matan he incorporated it under the name Faal Ajans. Soon after…

Aciman, Isaiah (Yeşaya)

(351 words)

Author(s): Cengiz Sisman
Isaiah (Yeşaya) Aciman (d. 1826 in Istanbul) was a scion of the well-known Aciman (Adjiman) family. Like his father and uncles, he pursued a career in finance, and from 1808 he served as a banker to Sultan Mahmud II (r. 1808–1839), and at the same time as a money-changer for the Janissaries. Two of his contemporaries were Solomon Camondo and Ezekiel Gabbai, very influential Jewish bankers in the nineteenth-century Ottoman Empire. A powerful and wealthy man, Isaiah was a generous benefactor of Jewish communities in Istanbul and elsewhere in the empire.…

Adarbi, Isaac

(236 words)

Author(s): Leah Bornstein-Makovetsky
Isaac ben Samuel Adarbi was a  Sephardi rabbi and halakhic authority in Salonica. Born there between 1515 and 1520, he served for a time as rabbi of the Lisbon congregation in Salonica, with which his family was affiliated, while from around 1552 till his death (ca. 1584), he was rabbi of the Shalom congregation. The date of death on his tombstone (5337/1577) seems to be in error, as Adarbi signed a communal regulation in the year 5384/1584.Like Samuel de Medina, Adarbi was a disciple of  Joseph Taitatzak, but the two students disagreed with each other on some halakhic matters. …

Adato, Salamon

(272 words)

Author(s): Rifat Bali
Salamon Adato was born in 1894 in Edirne. He received his primary education at the Alliance Israélite Universelle school there, and in 1908 entered the prestigious Galatasaray Lisesi (Lycée de Galatasaray) in Istanbul, from which he graduated in 1912. Immediately afterwards he entered the law school of Istanbul University. When World War I broke out, he interrupted his studies and joined the army. After his discharge he resumed his studies, graduating in 1919, and that same year entered the law …

Adda Family

(380 words)

Author(s): Adam Guerin
The Addas, one of the first Jewish families in Egypt to engage in trade with Europe in the modern period, made significant contributions to Egypt’s economic development and held important governmental posts in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The first noteworthy member of the family was Sabbato Adda, whom Napoleon Bonaparte named grand prêtre de la nation juive in 1798, responsible for relations between the Egyptian Jewish community and the French army of occupation. Other members of the family played integral roles in the Jewish community an…

Adda, Georges

(646 words)

Author(s): Habib Kazdaghli
Georges Adda was born in Tunis on September 22, 1916 into a Jewish family that was religious and conservative; his character was marked with gravitas and seriousness. He worked as an office clerk and  joined the Communist Party in 1934. After the leaders of the Destour and Communist parties were arrested in September 1934, Adda was one of the rank-and-file members who continued the clandestine political struggle. He was arrested in September 1935, but after his release in April 1936, he attended the Conférence Consultative of the …

Addison, Lancelot

(416 words)

Author(s): William J. Bulman
Lancelot Addison, an Anglican minister and scholar of Judaism and Islam, was born in Maulds Meaburn, England, in 1632, and died in Lichfield, England, in 1703. Between 1663 and 1670, Addison was the chaplain of the British colony of Tangier, in present-day Morocco. He was acquainted with many of the Sephardic Jews living in Tangier at the time and attempted to convert them to Christianity. Through conversations with Jews and Muslims, observation of Jewish practices in Tangier, and wide reading in late Renaissance scholarship, Addison compiled materials …


(1,583 words)

Author(s): Reuben Ahroni
The peninsula of Aden is situated on the south­ern coast of Arabia, at the entrance to the Red Sea. The British crown colony (1839–196­7) occupied only some seventy‑five square miles. Aden’s climate is exceedingly harsh, marked by stifling heat. Its land is barren, devoid of agriculture and mineral wealth. The British recognized the strate­gic significance of Aden’s harbor, commanding the mouth of the Red Sea and the route to India. Aden became a center for fueling ships. With the opening of the Su…
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