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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Bābāī ben Farhād

(573 words)

Author(s): Vera B. Moreen
Bābāī b. Farhād is the author of Kitāb-i Sar-Guzasht-i Kāshān dar bāb-i ʿIbrī va Goyimi-yi Sānī (The Book of Events in Kashan Concerning the Jews; Their Second Conversion), the second Judeo-Persian chronicle in verse known thus far. It covers selected events between 1721 and 1731 during the reigns of the Ṣafavid shahs (see Iran/Persia) Sultan Ḥusayn (1694-1722) and Ṭahmāsp II (1722-1731). Bābāī b. Farhād acknowledges that his inspiration to record mostly contemporary events, some of which he witnessed, came from Kitāb-i A nusī (The Book of a Forced Convert), the first …

Bābāī ben Luṭf

(676 words)

Author(s): Vera B. Moreen
Bābāī b. Luṭf, the author of Kitāb-i A nusī (The Book of a Forced Convert), the earliest known Judeo-Persian chronicle, lived in Kashan and was probably a native of that town. Most of what we know about him comes from his sketchy introduction to the chronicle. Clearly an educated man, Bābāī b. Luṭf believed that the major persecutions he witnessed, beginning in 1656 and ending in 1662, during the reign of the Ṣafavid Shah ʿAbbās II (1642-1666), constituted but another chapter in the long history of persecutions endured by the Jewish people. He therefore called his work a megillah (Heb. scrol…

Bābāʾī ben Nūrīʾel

(284 words)

Author(s): Vera B. Moreen
Bābāʾī ben Nūrīʾel, a rabbi from Isfahan, translated the Pentateuch and the Book of Psalms into Persian between 1740 and 1741 for Nādir Shah (r. 1736–1746). The shah’s religious convictions, which vacillated between the Shīʿī and Sunni versions of Islam, continue to be the subject of scholarly debate. His curiosity about religions induced him to commission Persian translations of the Gospels and the Qur’ān in addition to the Pentateuch and Psalms. The translators of the Gospels (three European and five Armenian pries…

Babovitch, Tuvia

(5 words)

Author(s): Norman A. Stillman
see KaraismNorman A. Stillman

Bacri, David Cohen

(444 words)

Author(s): Richard Ayoun
David Cohen Bacri (1770–1811) was an influential Algerian merchant who played a significant role in the relationship between the Regency of Algiers and France at the turn of the nineteenth century. He was the son of Joseph Cohen Bacri, who founded, with his three brothers, the Salomon Cohen Bacri and Brothers trading company in 1782. The firm became much larger and changed its name to Bacri and Busnach in 1797, when Naphtali ben Moïse Busnach became a partner. That same year, David married Naphtali’s sister Aziza, further solidifying the already close relationship …

Bacri, Jacob Cohen

(397 words)

Author(s): Richard Ayoun
Jacob Cohen Bacri (1763–1836), a businessman from Algiers, was a partner in Salmon Cohen Bacri and Brothers, a family firm established in 1782 (renamed Bacri and Busnach in 1797). After a short stay in Livorno (Leghorn) from 1785 to 1789, Jacob was sent to Marseilles by his older brother Joseph Cohen Bacri, and there he was in charge of the firm’s dealings with Genoa and the Levant. Jacob had a very close relationship with Dey Ḥasan, acting as his agent, and doing business and traveling under his protection. Acting both for the company and the dey, Jacob Bacri loaned the French government 10…

Bacri, Jean-Pierre

(426 words)

Author(s): Dinah Assouline Stillman
Jean-Pierre Bacriwas born in Castiglione (now Bou Ismail), Algeria, on May 24, 1951. His passion for cinema started early in childhood; his father worked in a movie theater on weekends. His family immigrated to Cannes, France, in 1962. He studied Latin and French literature at the university, intending to become a teacher of French literature and classics, but eventually left for Paris to write instead, while taking acting classes at the famous Cours Simon. Bacri wrote several plays, and received the 1979 Prize from the Fondation de la Vocation for Le doux visage de l’amour (Love’s Sweet …

Bacri, Joseph Cohen

(440 words)

Author(s): Richard Ayoun
Joseph Cohen Bacri (1740–1817), one of the five sons of Michel Cohen Bacri, was a merchant-banker and the muqaddam (government-appointed president) of the Jewish community of Algiers from 1811 to 1816. Along with three of his brothers, Jacob  Bacri, Mardochée, and Salomon, he founded a trading company named Salomon Cohen Bacri and Brothers in 1782 . The company was spearheaded by Joseph in Algiers and Salomon in Livorno (Leghorn). The Algiers branch shipped raw materials (feathers, wax, coral, leather, wool) as well as great quantities of gold and silver to …

Bacri, Roland

(405 words)

Author(s): Dinah Assouline Stillman
Roland Bacri, one of France’s leading political satirists, was born on April 1, 1926 in the Bab-El-Oued quarter of Algiers. At the age of thirty, after having contributed to the Canard Sauvage in Algiers for several years, he was invited to Paris to join the staff of  Le Canard enchaîné, a weekly satirical magazine devoted to politics. He worked there for almost forty years, often using the pseudonyms Roro de Bab-El-Oued and Le petit poète. A prolific writer, Bacri published many books and wrote poetry abounding with puns and calembours (wordplays) on political or cultural topics of…


(354 words)

Author(s): Arturo Prats
The city of Badajoz is situated in western Spain near the Portuguese border. The name Badajoz is well documented in Arabic sources as Baṭalyūs and Baṭalyaws ,  probably an arabization of an earlier Latin name. According to the historiographer Ibn Saʿīd al-Maghribī (1286), quoting Ibn Ḥayyān (d. 1076) in his Kitāb a l-Mughrib fī Ḥulā al-Maghrib, the city was refounded by ʿAbd al-Raḥmān ibn Marwān al-Jilīqī during the emirate of ʿAbd Allāh (r. 888-912). It became a breakaway region from Umayyad central authority and was only taken back by Caliph ʿAbd al-Raḥmān III in 930.In the taifa (party …


(4,295 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ayalon | Ariel I. Ahram
1. MedievalBaghdad was founded by the caliph al-Manṣūr (r. 754–775) as the new capital of the Abbasid state and served as the seat of the caliphs till the Mongol conquest in 1258. Jews apparently settled in Baghdad from the very beginning, most of them arriving at first from neighboring towns in Iraq, and later from distant lands as well. At some point in the eighth century, Baghdad became the largest Jewish center in Iraq. Although most of the Jews in Baghdad were concentrated in the Dār al-Yāhūd quarter, many, especially merchants and tradesmen, lived elsewhere. Al-Karkh, a co…

Bahaism, Conversion to

(613 words)

Author(s): Moshe Sharon
The Bahā’ī faith appeared in Iran in 1844 from within the fold of Shīʽite Islam and amid mounting messianic expectations. Iranian Jews, in massive numbers, were among the early converts to the new religion in the late 1870s and 1880s.After the execution in 1850 of the prophet-founder of the new religion, Sayyid ʽAlī Muḥammad, known as the Bāb (Ar./Pers. gate), the Bābī movement was rescued by Mīrzā Ḥusayn ʽAlī Nūrī (1817–1892). He styled himself Bahā’u’llāh (Ar. The Glory of God), thus changing the name of the movement from Bābī to Bahā’ī. Bahā’u’llāh emphasized his messianic role, which…

Bahar, Beki L.

(431 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Beki Luiza Bahar, born in Istanbul in 1927, is a well-known Turkish playwright from Ankara. Bahar and her family moved to Ankara, Turkey’s new capital, in 1937 because of her father’s job. She graduated from TED (Turkish Educational Association) Ankara College and attended law school for a while. She also spent some time in Marseilles with her family before returning to Ankara. Her first article was published in 1958 in the weekly newspaper Haftanın Sesi, her first poem was published in 1959 in the anthology Varlık Yeni Şiirler Antolojisi, and her first short story was published in…

Bahar, Ivet

(224 words)

Author(s): Rifat Bali
Dr. Ivet Bahar was born in Istanbul in 1957. After completing her B.S. (1980) and M.S. (1983) in the Chemical Engineering Department of Bosporus University, and her Ph.D. (1986) at Istanbul Technical University, she joined the chemistry faculty of Bosporus University. She rose in the academic ranks from assistant professor (1986–1988) and associate professor (1988–1993) to full professor (1993–2001), and was the founding director of the university’s Polymer Research Center (1989–2001). In 2001 Ba…

Bahar, Mois

(152 words)

Author(s): Rifat Bali
Mois Bahar was born on September 27, 1945 in Istanbul and graduated in 1971 from the Cerrahpaşa Medical Faculty at Istanbul University. Since 1991 he has been professor and department chairman of anesthesia and intensive care at the Istanbul University Cerrahpaşa Medical Faculty Hospital. He is, in addition the director of the Department of Craniocerebrospinal Trauma and Rehabilitation at Istanbul University’s Institute of Neurological Sciences, director of the Department for Anesthesia and Gene…

Bahrain (Bahrayn)

(309 words)

Author(s): Jeremy L. Hirsh
Although a Jewish community in the geographical area of Bahrain (Bahrayn) is referred to in the Talmud, in Arabic sources, and by the twelfth-century travler Benjamin of Tudela, the modern Jewish community traces its origins to the late 1880s, when Saleh Eliyahou Yadgar left his home in Basra and settled in Manama, the capital.  Subsequently, Jewish families from Basra, Baghdad, and other places in Iraq, and from Iran settled in Manama, and a synagogue and at least two Hebrew schools were established.Jews faced few social or economic restrictions in Bahrain, enjoyed excellen…


(360 words)

Author(s): Norman A. Stillman
Baḥuṣim (Heb. outsiders), or sometimes baḥūṣiyya, a slightly arabized variant of the Hebrew, was the name Jewish townsfolk gave to the semi-nomadic, tent-dwelling Jews who lived in duwwārs, or small encampments, in the area extending from the region around Jerid and Le Kef in western Tunisia to the province of Constantine across the border in Algeria, where they could be found between Suq-el-Ahras and Tébessa and in the southern oases. Muslims referred to them as Yahūd al-cArab (Ar. Bedouin Jews).The baḥuṣim were often allied with or under the protection of larger Arab tribal confed…

Baḥya (Pseudo)

(431 words)

Author(s): Josefina Rodríguez Arribas
Very little is known about Pseudo-Baḥya, the name generally applied to the author of the Judeo-Arabic treatise Kitāb Maʿānī al-Nafs (On the Essence of the Soul), a Neoplatonic work that for some time was attributed to Baḥya Ibn Paqūda. The dates of the sources it mentions, such as Nissim ben Jacob Ibn Shāhīn and Ibn Sīna [Avicenna], and the fact that it does not mention any writers of the second half of the twelfth century indicate that Maʿānī al-Nafs was composed sometime between the mid-eleventh and mid-twelfth centuries. The author refers to another work of his entitled On the Gradation …


(931 words)

Author(s): Onur Yildirim
The Balat quarter of Istanbul, situated on the southern shores of the Golden Horn, was heavily populated by Jews from the seventeenth to the mid-twentieth century. There were Jews living in Balat as early as the Byzantine period, and they were joined by a substantial influx of exiles from Spain in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, but Balat became the principal center of Jewish presence in Istanbul only after the Great Fire of 1660. This calamity caused the destruction of thousands of Jewish homes and shops in the districts of Eminönü, Bağçekapusu, T…

Bali, Rifat

(452 words)

Author(s): Cengiz Sisman
Rifat Bali, born into a Sephardi family in Istanbul in 1948, is an independent scholar specializing in minority issues and the history of Turkish Jews and the Turkish Republic. He received his primary education in a Jewish school, and his secondary and high school education in the French lycées Saint-Michel and Saint-Benoît respectively. From 1970 and until the late 1990s, he worked as a sales executive and later on was a self-employed businessman. Always longing for intellectual activity, he be…
Date: 2015-09-03


(4,346 words)

Author(s): Yitzchak Kerem
1. Ottoman PeriodThe Balkan Peninsula was conquered by the Ottoman Empire in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. From then until the Ottoman retreat due to military defeats and the rise of nationalism in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the Jews of the Balkans lived under Muslim rule. Before the Ottoman conquest, small Romaniot communities existed under the Byzantines, and the Romaniot rite remained dominant under the Ottomans until the arrival of masses of Sephardim in the aftermath of the expulsions from Spain (1492) and Portugal (1497). Sephardi co…


(798 words)

Author(s): Ben Zion Yehoshua-Raz
1. Historical overviewThe ancient city of Balkh was one of the most important centers of the eastern Islamic world. Situated in a region noted for orchards, horse-breeding, and minerals, and located on the main international trade routes to China and India, it was a crossroads for Persians, Indians, Arabs, and Chinese, and throughout its history attracted conquerors and migrants, Jews among them.According to the Arab chronicler al-Maqrizī (d. 1442), Jews first settled in Balkh during the reign of the Assyrian king Sennacherib (705–681 B.C.E.) under his policy of transferri…


(494 words)

Author(s): Nancy E. Berg
Shimʿon Ballas was born in 1930 in Baghdad. He was brought up in a Christian neighborhood of the city and educated at the Alliance Israélite Universelle school. He developed a love for literature through French novels and French translations. Politically active, he worked for Senator Ezra Menahem Daniel and joined the Iraqi Communist Party at an early age. As the situation in Iraq became untenable for Communists and Zionists, he emigrated to Israel in 1951. There he worked as editor of Arab affairs for Kol ha-ʿAm for a time, then left to dedicate more time to his writing, and es…

Bana, Izzet

(250 words)

Author(s): Romina Meric
İzzet Bana was born in 1950 in Istanbul. He attended II. Karma Elementary School, where he later organized and directed numerous plays. He continued his education at Liceo Scientifico Italiano I.M.I, a missionary school in Istanbul.  Bana has been an important contributor to the betterment and cultural development of Turkey’s Jewish youth clubs, such as the Dostluk Yurdu Derneği (Dostluk Youth Club), Göztepe Kültür Derneği (Göztepe Youth Club & Jewish Community Center), Yıldırımspor Kültür Derneği (Yıldırım Sports & Youth Club), and Arkadaşlık…

Banderly, Bella (Bilha)

(641 words)

Author(s): David Guedj
Bella (Bilha) Banderly was born into a Hasidic family in the city of Safed in 1889. When she was still a child, her family moved to the Jewish colony of Metulla, where she attended a school supervised by the first Hebrew-speaking teachers in the Galilee. In 1912, she married Shimshon Banderly, a merchant and public figure from Haifa, in an arranged marriage. That same year, the couple moved to Paris and lived there until they returned to Haifa in 1920. Little is known about her life during this …


(738 words)

Author(s): Reeva Spector Simon
During the nineteenth century, whether as ṣarrāfs (financial advisers) in the Middle East or tujjār al-sulṭān (royal merchants) in Morocco, members of the Jewish commercial elite used assets accumulated from money-changing, moneylending, and trade to open banks and to invest abroad. Middle Eastern Jewish bankers, in partnership with the European merchant bankers who were penetrating the region economically, provided the capital for factories, railroad construction, and real estate development in the Middle East. The European financiers were ma…

B ( anti-Jewish violence in - Bzou (Morocco): Jewish quarters in)

(871 words)

Bulgaria  anti-Jewish violence in, Balkans anti-Zionist policies in, Plovdiv (Filibe) antisemitism in, Bulgaria, Plovdiv (Filibe), Varna, Varna  influence of Great Depression on, Varna autonomy of, Plovdiv (Filibe) Byzantine rule of, Bulgaria Christian-Jewish relations in, Bulgaria, Bulgaria conquest of Serres (Macedonia) by, Serres (Siroz) culture of, Jewish influences on, Bulgaria Hungarian attacks on, Bulgaria independence of, Bulgaria, Ottoman Empire, Plovdiv (Filibe), Plovdiv (Filibe), Vidin Jews in, Bulgaria, Sephardim/Sephardi Jews in the …

Banū ʾl-Naḍīr

(561 words)

Author(s): Shari Lowin
The Banū ʾl-Naḍīr were one of the three major Jewish tribes in Medina (Yathrib) during the time of Muḥammad, along with the Banū Qurayẓa and Banū Qaynuqāʿ. Some Arabic sources provide a genealogy of the Naḍīr (and Qurayẓa) linking them to the biblical Aaron, thus explaining the title al- kāhinān (Ar. the two priestly tribes). Their origins are otherwise murky. For example, the early Arab historian al-Yaʿqūbī, in the second half of the ninth century, maintains that they were Judham Arabs who converted to Judaism and settled in Mount Naḍīr, hence, their name( Taʾrīkh, ed. Houtsma, vol. 2,…

Banū Qaynuqāʾ

(540 words)

Author(s): Shari Lowin
The Banū Qaynuqāʾ were the only one of the three major Jewish tribes in Medina (Yathrib) that did not own major agricultural tracts in or around the city. Unlike the other two Medinese Jewish tribes, they made their living as goldsmiths, from their ownership of a marketplace, and possibly from some date orchards. Lecker maintains that Muḥammad’s real reason for the assassination of Kaʽb ibn al-Ashraf, the leader of the Jewish Banū ʾl-Naḍīr, was that he tried to prevent Muḥammad from establishing a new marketplace near the one owned by the Banū Qaynuqāʾ. C…

Banū Qurayẓa

(595 words)

Author(s): Shari Lowin
The Banū Qurayẓa were one of the three major Jewish tribes in pre-Islamic Medina (Yathrib). As with the other Jewish tribes, the Banū ʾl-Naḍīr and the Banū Qaynuqā’, the Islamic sources are murky on their origin. Some maintain that the Banū Qurayẓa and the Banū ʾl-Naḍīr were descended from the biblical Aaron, hence their nickname al-kāhinān (Ar. the two priestly tribes). Others claim that all three groups were Arab clans that had adopted Judaism. Like the other two Jewish tribes, the Banū Qurayẓa were wealthy and owned many fortresses in Yathrib. T…


(641 words)

Author(s): Mark Kligman
The poetic texts known as baqqashot comprise a category of piyyut im (Hebrew liturgical texts) that embellish religious concepts. Baqqashot were composed from the first century C.E. through the nineteenth century. Some were accepted and incorporated into the standard siddur (prayerbook). The practice of reciting baqqashot seems to have originated in Spain in the fourteenth or fifteenth century as a paraliturgical ritual preceding the Sabbath morning service. It included the singing of poetic texts, some by all present in unison, and some chanted by a soloist. At times the music was …

Baradānī, Joseph al-

(514 words)

Author(s): Michael G. Wechsler
Joseph al-Baradānī was a payṭan (liturgical poet) and a cantor in tenth-century Baghdad. His father, Ḥayyim, had also been a poet and cantor, and so too were his son Nahum al-Baradānī and at least one grandson, Solomon.  As indicated by his nisba (attributive name) the family was based at some point in the Baghdad suburb of Baradān, though by Joseph’s time it had moved into the city proper, where he served with distinction as cantor of the main synagogue—in fact, in a letter Hay Gaon refers to him, post-mortem, as “the great cantor” (Heb. ha-ḥazzan ha-gadol). Joseph’s corpus of liturgical…
Date: 2015-09-03

Baradānī, Nahum al-

(679 words)

Author(s): Michael G. Wechsler
Nahum al-Baradānī flourished in the second half of the tenth century and the first decade of the eleventh as the third (at least) in a line of poets and cantors. As indicated by his name, the family must once have been based in the Baghdad suburb of Baradān, but this would have been before the time of Nahum’s father, Joseph, who served as the “Great Cantor” in Baghdad’s central synagogue. Although his main occupation seems to have been as a merchant—and a quite wealthy one, at that—Nahum is know…
Date: 2015-09-03

Barazani (Barzani), Asenath

(382 words)

Author(s): Renée Levine Melammed
Asenath Barazani (d. ca. 1670) was the daughter of Samuel ben Nethanel ha-Levi (1560?–1625/1635?), an eminent rabbi, scholar, and mystic who strove to improve the level of Jewish learning and leadership in his native Kurdistan. He founded a yeshiva in Mosul where he trained a generation of scholars who went on to educate communities throughout the country. His two most outstanding students were his daughter Asenath, whom he taught because he had no sons, and Jacob Mizraḥi, who later became her husband.Because Asenath was such a fine scholar, her father was protective of her …


(615 words)

Author(s): Arturo Prats
Barcelona (Ar. Barshilūna) was one of the most important commercial ports on the northeastern coast of Spain during the Middle Ages. There are references to the Jewish community of Barcelona as early as the ninth century, but its history is best documented during the period of the Crown of Aragon.The Arabs ruled the city during the eighth century, but it returned to Christian control in the ninth (801). Although the period of Muslim rule was quite brief -only three generations- there was constant contact with al-Andalus. After the destruction by al-Manṣūr ibn Abī ʿĀmir (Almanzor) in …

Bardavit, Beki

(273 words)

Author(s): Romina Meric
Beki Bardavid, born in Istanbul in 1936,  is a Turkish language instructor, writer, and translator. She graduated from Lycée Notre Dame de Sion in Istanbul, and subsequently obtained her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in French Language and Literature from Istanbul University Faculty of Literature in 1980. After teaching French at Lycée Saint-Michel in Istanbul for some time, Bardavid got her second Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Spanish Language and Literature from Istanbul University Faculty of Literature in 1998.In addition to her books, Bardavid has written arti…
Date: 2021-04-06

Bargeloni, Isaac ben Reuben, al-

(335 words)

Author(s): Arturo Prats
Rabbi Isaac ben Reuben al-Bargeloni was born in 1043, most probably in Barcelona, as his nisba (attributive name) asserts. According to M. E. Barjau and T. Calders he died in 1113. Documents from the Cairo Geniza describe him as a pupil of Ḥanokh ben Moses, whose lessons he probably attended while a student in Cordova.Al-Bargeloni was dayyan in Denia during the reign of the Slavic taifa king Mujāhid (r. 1014–1044/45). Abraham Ibn Da'ud states in Sefer ha-Qabbala that he was related by marriage to the powerful Ibn Lakhtush family. He was also an ancestor of Naḥmanides, and according to Simeon …

Barīd al-Yawmī (Baghdad), al-

(284 words)

Author(s): Orit Bashkin
The Iraqi newspaper al-Barīd al-Yawmī (Daily Mail) was nominally edited by a Muslim, Hāshim al-Bannā, but most of its writers and all the members of its editorial board were Jewish intellectuals, most notably Edward Shā’ul (Suhīl Ibrāhīm) and Mīr Mu‘allim (1921–1978). Nissim Rejwan, Ezra Ḥaddād, and Shalom Darwīsh were contributors.The atmosphere in which al-Barīd al-Yawmī came into being was colored by events connected with the conflict in Palestine in 1948. Iraq’s Jews were under attack by the right-wing press, while the affiliation of many radical young Jews w…

Bar Kokhba Society (Cairo)

(327 words)

Author(s): Ruth Kimche
The Bar Kokhba Society was founded in Cairo in February 1897 by Joseph Marco Baruch, a native of Turkey and graduate of the Universities of Paris and Bern, who arrived in Egypt in 1896. The society was the first Zionist organization in Egypt and in the Islamic world as a whole, and thus was the focal point of Zionist activism in Egypt at the turn of the twentieth century.The elected council of Bar Kokhba, headed by Jacques Harmalin, was made up entirely of Ashkenazi Jews belonging to the middle and lower classes. When its early efforts to recruit non-Ashkenazi members proved u…

Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah

(1,605 words)

Author(s): Shalom Sabar
1. Bar MitzvahThe Bar Mitzvah (Heb. son of the commandment) ceremony and its rituals as celebrated by the Jewish communities in the lands of Islam differed significantly from the better-known ceremony developed by European Jewry in the Ashkenazi world. Unlike the other major ceremonies of the Jewish life-cycle, Bar Mitzvah is not mentioned in the Torah, and even in texts from the talmudic era there is no indication that the day a boy reached the age of thirteen was celebrated as a festive event, although this age (plus a day) marked his legal maturity. The Mishna states that “at thirteen …

Bar-Moshe, Yiṣḥaq

(471 words)

Author(s): Nancy E. Berg
Born in 1927, Yiṣḥaq Bar-Moshe grew up in a middle-class religious family in Baghdad. After graduating from the Jewish community’s Rahil Shahmoun School, he attended a government high school before studying law at the Baghdad Law College. Briefly involved with the Communist movement, Bar-Moshe subsequently affiliated with the Zionist underground. Arriving in Israel during the mass exodus, he was housed in a transit camp (Heb. maʿabara) for three years. In 1958, he joined the Israeli Arabic broadcasting station, becoming head of its political department, before founding Al-Anbāʾ, …

Barnatán, Marcos Ricardo

(416 words)

Author(s): Naomi Linstrom
Marcos Ricardo Barnatán is an Argentine-born writer of Syrian parentage who has resided in Madrid since 1965. His central concerns include Kabbala, other mystical and occult systems, the Sephardic past, and Jorge Luis Borges.Marcos Ricardo Barnatán is a prolific and wide-ranging Argentine-Spanish creative writer, cultural critic, biographer, and student of Jewish mysticism. He was born on December 14, 1946 in Buenos Aires into a Sephardic family whose ancestors had settled in Syria following the expulsion from Spain. Sephardic …

Barouh, N. Izidor

(318 words)

Author(s): Aksel Vansten
N. İzidor Barouhwas born in Istanbul in 1915. In 1932, at the age of seventeen, he joined Turkey’s first advertising agency, İlancılıkLtd., as a customer representative. He rose quickly up the ranks and within a year ended up owning the majority of the company’s shares. Although the business depended solely on newspaper ads at the beginning, Barouh brought limitless dynamism to the Turkish advertising sector, adapting competitively and amenably to new market conditions, such as the use of radio and later television. His clients include such giants as the C…

Barouh, Yakup

(277 words)

Author(s): Rifat Bali
Yakup Barouh is a Turkish advertising executive and a leader of the Jewish community. Born in Istanbul on February 7, 1945, he graduated from Robert College with an M.A. in marketing. He is a partner and executive vice president of Ilancilik Advertising Agency, the oldest advertising agency in Turkey, founded in 1909. He is also general secretary of the Executive Committee of the Turkish Advertising Agency Association and a member of the Turkish Advertising Self-Regulation Board.Barouh first began to work with Turkish Jewish community youth organizations in 1962. A mem…


(4 words)

Author(s): Norman A. Stillman
see BenghaziNorman A. Stillman

Bar Saṭya, Joseph ben Jacob

(496 words)

Author(s): Michael G. Wechsler
In the famous Epistle of Sherira Gaon (Heb. Iggeret Rav Sherira Ga’on), Joseph ben Jacob is described as “a son of geonim, grandson of the officiants, the priests,” from which it has now been established that Joseph’s father was Jacob ha-Kohen ben Naṭronay (not Jacob ben Mordechai, as per Ibn Da'ud in his Book of Tradition), the gaon of Sura from around 911 to 924. Joseph was appointed gaon of Sura in 930 by the exilarch David ben Zakkay I in apparent retaliation against the presiding gaon, Saʿadya ben Joseph, for his support of the a…
Date: 2015-09-03

Bar, Shlomo

(634 words)

Author(s): Edwin Seroussi
Born in Rabat, Morocco, in 1943, Shlomo Bar (né Ben Ghoush) moved to Israel with his family in 1948, settling in the village of Be’er Yaʿacov, near Ramla. He dropped out of school at an early age and worked in construction, but sang and played the drums in his free time, absorbing the many musical traditions of the settlers in the Ramla vicinity (notably those from India). His breakthrough occurred in 1976 when he performed his own songs in Joshua Sobol’s Kriza (Heb. Crisis), a seminal play about the social discrimination against mizraḥi (Heb. oriental) Jews in Israel.A year later in 1977,…

Barukh, Marco

(392 words)

Author(s): Norman A. Stillman
Marco (Joseph Marcou) Barukh, an early apostle of pre-Herzlian Zionism in the Muslim world, was born in Constantinople in 1872. He studied at several European universities and because of his involvement in radical student groups was under police surveillance for much of his brief adult life. His involvement with Jewish nationalism began in 1893 when he joined the Kadimah student association in Vienna. The following year he was in Algeria, where he tried to propagate the Jewish national idea among the rapidly assimilating Algerian Jews. He published a short-lived journal,  Le Juge, bu…

Basola, Moses

(761 words)

Author(s): Abraham David
An Italian Jewish sage descended from a French family, Moses Basola (1480–1560) lived in several different cities in central and northern Italy. From the age of nine he resided in Soncino, where his father, Mordechai Basola, was employed as a proofreader by the Joshua Soncino press. At an unknown date, Basola moved to Pesaro, where he was employed as a teacher and tutor in the household of the eminent banker Moses Nissim of Foligno; he also spent time as a teacher in Fano. In 1535 or shortly thereafter, Basola received rabbinical ordination from Azriel Diena in Sabionetta. He then moved to Anco…


(1,860 words)

Author(s): Orit Bashkin
Basra (Ar. al-Baṣra) is a city in southern Iraq on the Shatt al-Arab waterway formed by the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. It lies 420 kilometers (279 miles) southeast of Baghdad. The site of the town has moved somewhat since the Middle Ages. The present site (New Basra) dates back to the eighteenth century. 1. Medieval PeriodThe Jewish community of Basra was one of the oldest and most prosperous in Iraq. Although most studies of Iraqi Jewry tend to focus on the Baghdadi community, Basran Jews played an important role in Iraq and throu…

Baṣrī, Me'ir (Mīr)

(667 words)

Author(s): Shmuel Moreh
Meir (Mīr) Baṣrī was born in Baghdad in 1911 and died in London on January 4, 2006. The scion of two distinguished families of rabbis and businessmen, the Baṣrīs and the Dangoors, he was the last president of the Jewish Community in Iraq. As the one of the older generation of Jewish officials and businessmen who considered themselves to be Iraqi patriots, he remained in Iraq until forced into exile in 1974 by the Baʿath regimeBaṣrī was educated at the Alliance School in Baghdad, where he studied French, English, and Hebrew. Later he privately studied economics and cont…

Bassan Yeḥiel

(233 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ben Naeh
Jehiel ben Ḥayyim Bassan was born into a Romaniot family in Rhodes in 1550, and moved to Istanbul in the 1580s after his wife died. He became one of the prominent rabbis of the city, and possibly also the head ( av bet din) of its rabbinical court during the first quarter of the seventeenth century. Together with Elijah Mizraḥi, Bassan disagreed with Samuel de Medina in a controversy over the right of a majority to impose its will upon the minority with regard to a communal ordinance (Heb. haskama) that had negative financial consequences for the minority. Bassan held that it was im…


(490 words)

Author(s): Walker Robins
Once featuring a substantial Jewish population, Batna is a relatively new Algerian city nestled into a break in the Aures Mountains of northeastern Algeria a little over 100 kilometers (62 miles) from Constantine. It lies in the middle of the Chaouia Berber region. Although now rapidly growing, Batna began as an unpromising settlement around a French military encampment during the conquest of Algeria in the 1830s. It was declared a city in 1848, and was already home to a Jewish population of thirty-si…

B (Bā Aḥmad (grand vizier, Morocco) - Bagratids (Bagrationi) dynasty)

(1,382 words)

Bā Aḥmad (grand vizier, Morocco), Corcos, Joshua ben Hayyim, Ohana, Jacob Ba-Yeshishim Ḥokhma: Arba‘im Sippure ‘Am mi-pi Yehude Iran-Paras (Wisdom Is Among the Elderly: Forty Folktales from the Jews of Iran-Persia, Ḥanina Mizraḥi), Ḥanina MizrahiBa‘al ha-Battim (Master of the Houses) seeḤamawī, AbrahamBa‘al Shem Tov, Israel (the Besht), MysticismBaalbek (Lebanon), Jewish community in, leadership of, Lebanon ba‘ale miqra (masters of, or adherents to, the Hebrew Scripture), Benjamin al-Nahāwandī Ba‘ale Rivi She‘u (poem by Abraham ibn Ezra in honor of Barukh ibn Ja…

B (Bahaism - Barāl, Azīza)

(1,239 words)

Bahaism, Bahaism, Conversion to conversion of Jews to, Bahaism, Conversion to, Iran/Persia, Kashan, Hamadan, Kirmanshah, Mysticism/Sufism (Iran)  forced, in Iran, Tehran  in Shiraz, Shiraz Jewish adeherents of, Bahaism, Conversion to, Conversion, Isfahan Jewish campaign against, Mizraḥi, Mullāh Ḥayyim Eleazar in Palestine, Bahaism, Conversion toBahar, Beki Luiza, Bahar, Beki L.Bahar, Ivet, Bahar, IvetBahar, Mois, Bahar, MoisBahā’ullah seeNūrī, Mīrzā Hụsayn ‘AlīBahbout, Shabtai, BeirutBaḥīrā, Polemics (Muslim-Jewish)Bahloul, Joëlle, Academic Study of …

B (Baransel, Nil - Beit She’an (Israel): scholars in)

(1,362 words)

Baransel, Nil, Acıman, EliBarasch, Judah Julius, BucharestBarāsh (Yemen), SanʿaBarazani, Asenath, Kurdistan, Mosul, Kurdish (Neo-Aramaic) Literature, Kurdish (Neo-Aramaic) Literature, Barazani (Barzani), AsenathBarazani, Muṣṭafā, KurdistanBarazani, Nathaniel, KurdistanBarazani (Barzani) family, Kurdistan, MosulBarbarossa, ‘Arūj, AlgeriaBarbarossa, Khayr al-Dīn, AlgeriaBarcelona  Jewish community in, Perfet, Isaac ben Sheshet, Tarragona, Barcelona Muslim rule of, BarcelonaBardavid, Beki, Bardavit, Beki Barefoot (music album, Habrera Hativeet), …

B (Beit Zilkha Yeshiva (Baghdad) - Bendjelloul, Mohamed Salah)

(1,860 words)

Beit Zilkha Yeshiva (Baghdad), IraqBeja, Isaac ben Moses, Beja, Isaac Ben MosesBéja (Portugal), Muslim conquest of, Muslim conquests and the JewsBéja (Tunisia), Jewish community in, BéjaBéjaïa (Algeria), Jewish community in, Béjaïa (Bougie, Bijāya)Bejaoui, Joseph, Kol Siyyon (La Voix de Sion) (Tunis)Bejerano, Bekhor Ḥayyim Moşe (Moses) (1846–1931), Edirne (Adrianople), Haham Başı (Chief Rabbi), Millet, Ottoman Empire, Turkish Republic, Bejerano (Becerano), Bekhor Hayyim, Guéron, Angèle, Italian Synagogue, Galata, Istanbul, Saban, Rafael DavidBekache, Shalom, Beka…

B (Bene Aharon (The Sons of Aaron, Aaron Lapapa) - Bet Aharon Synagogue (Skopje))

(1,436 words)

Bene Aharon (The Sons of Aaron, Aaron Lapapa), Lapapa, Aaron Ben Isaac Bene Binyamin ve-Qerev Ish (The Sons of Benjamin and the Inner [Thought] of [Every] Man, Benjamin Navon), Navon family bene ‘edot ha-mizraḥ (members of the ‘edot from the East), usage of term, Mizraḥim (‘Edot ha-Mizraḥ; names of Mizraḥim in Israel)Bene Israel (Children of Israel) Jews, India, India in Bombay, Bombay (present day Mumbai) in Maharashtra, PakistanBene Israel (Children of Israel) party (Ottoman Empire), Nahoum (Nahum), Haim (Ḥayyim) Bene Melakhim (The Sons of Kings, Eliahou Raphael Marcian…

B (Bet Av (House of the Father, Isaac ben Shabbetai ‘Antebi) - Binyan Na‘arim (Upbuilding of Youth, Amram ben Judah Elbaz))

(1,704 words)

Bet Av (House of the Father, Isaac ben Shabbetai ‘Antebi), ʿAntebi (Antibi) Family bet din see rabbinic courts bet din gadol (grand/central rabbinic court), Berab, Jacob Bet Dino shel Shelmo (Solomon’s Court, Raphael Solomon Laniado), Kassin Family Bet El kabbalists, Meyuḥas Family, Palestine, Abbadi, Mordechai, Farḥi, Isaac, Azriel, Aaron, Sharʿabi, Abraham Shalom Aleppo wing of, Duwayk (Douek, Dweck), Ḥayyim Saul charters of fellowship of, Bet El Kabbalists contemplative prayer of, Bet El Kabbalists influences of Mish‘an on, Mishʿan, Elijah leadership of, Algazi fa…

B (biographies - Boujad (Morocco): synagogues)

(1,146 words)

biographies  of Ezra ha-Bavli, Ezra ha-Bavli Hebrew, Literature, Hebrew Prose (medieval) of Maimonides, Moses, Maimonides, MosesBiqqur Ḥolim synagogue (Izmir), Izmir, Synagogues in the Islamic World Bir Şehre Gidememek (Inaccessible City, Mario Levi), Levi, Mariobird motifs  as decorations on marriage contracts ( ketubbot), Ketubba Artistic Traditions in jewelry, Jewelry Smithing Birkat Avraham (Abraham’s Blessing, Abraham ben Moses Maimonides), Maimonides, Abraham ben Moses, Daniel ben Saʿadya ha-Bavlibirth rates, of Jews in Turkey, Turkish Republicbirth ritual…

B (Boujenah, Matthieu - Bülbüli, Isaac)

(1,052 words)

Boujenah, Matthieu, Cinema, Arabic, Jews inBoujenah, Michel, Cinema, French, North African Jewish Actors and Characters in, France, Boujenah, MichelBoukhobza, Chochana, Francophone Maghrebi Jewish LiteratureBoumendil, Rosine seeRhaïs, ElissaBourguiba, Habib, Monastir (Tunisia), Tunis, Tunisia, Cohen-Hadria, Elie, Tunis Riots (1967)Bouzaglo, David, Music, Bouzaglo (Buzaglo), DavidBouzaglo, Ḥayyim, Bouzaglo (Buzaglo), Ḥayyim Bouzaglo, Mordecai, Mysticism, Draa (Dar‘a)Bouzet, Charles du, Anti-Judaism/Antisemitism/Anti-ZionismBouzid, Nouri, Cinema, A…

Béchar (Colomb-Béchar)

(520 words)

Author(s): Jacob Oliel
Colomb-Béchar(today simply Béchar, Ar. Bashshār) is located 725 km south of Oran near the Moroccan border. It served as the state-capital of the French department Saoura, created by a decree of August 7,  1957.  It is an important road and railroad node that was also the gate to the Sahara.  The town was created from a conglomeration of villages along the banks of the Oued Bechar (Wādī Bashshār), when the French under General Hubert Lyautey occupied it in November 1903.   A few Jews had been living in the ksar of Béchar where they worked asjewelers, blacksmiths, tailors, shoemakers, pe…

Bedel-i Askeri

(324 words)

Author(s): İlker Aytürk
The  bedel-i askeri (military exemption tax) was a revamped version of the Ottoman poll tax ( cizye, Ar. jizya; see Taxation and Dhimma) that was adopted during the Tanzimat period. Until the modernizing reforms of the nineteenth century, non-Muslim subjects of the Ottoman Empire were not allowed to do military service in the army, which was considered to be a Muslim institution, some important exceptions notwithstanding. The Islahat Fermanı (Reform Decree) of 1856, however, provided legal equality to all Ottomans regardless of religion and br…

Behar, Cem

(243 words)

Author(s): Cengiz Sisman
Cem Behar, born into an illustrious Sephardi family in Istanbul in 1946, is an economist and a musician. He received his high school education at RobertCollege, and his baccalaureate and master’s degree from the University of Paris. Behar completed his Ph.D. in demography and economics at the Université de Paris–I (Panthéon-Sorbonne). He then taught as a visiting professor at Paris and Cambridge universities. From 1988 to 1994 and again from 1998 to 2001, he was head of the Department of Economics at Boğaziçi (Bosporus) University in Istanbul. Since 2004, he has been provost and …

Béhar, Nissim

(813 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Antébi
Born in Jerusalem in 1848, Nissim Béhar moved with his family to Istanbul, where he attended the Camondo School. Adolphe Crémieux took note of him during a visit to the school and arranged for him to go to Paris, where he became a member of the first class to graduate from the Ecole Normale Israélite Orientale (ENIO), established by the Alliance Israélite Universelle (AIU) in 1867 to train teachers for its school system in the Mediterranean and Middle East. Over the next few years he directed AIU schools in Syria, Bulgaria, and Istanbul.In 1882 Nissim Béhar founded the Torah u-Melakha prima…

Béhar, Rachel

(293 words)

Author(s): Joy Land
Rachel Béhar Stein, an outstanding principal in the Alliance Israélite Universelle educational network, was born in Jerusalem in 1859 during the Ottoman period. Her father was an itinerant rabbi with a mystical bent; her mother was a descendant of the eighteenth-century kabbalist Isaac Luria of Safed.Along with her brother Nissim (1848–1930) and her sister Fortunée (Fortuna; 1860–1929), she was one of the first Sephardi students to enroll in the teacher-training program of the Alliance Israélite Universelle. In 1872, Rachel Béhar and her sister began their studies at the Institut B…

Behmoaras, Lizi

(192 words)

Author(s): Aksel Vansten
Liz Behmoaras is a Jewish author, translator, journalist, and columnist in Turkey. She was born in Istanbul in 1950. After graduating from the Lycée Notre Dame de Sion, she began translating books from French to Turkish. Among the famous authors whose works she translated were Simone de Beauvoir, Marie Cardinal, and Paul Valéry. Behmoaras edited the culture page of the Turkish Jewish newspaper Şalom (Shalom) from 1986 to 1996. She has written columns for the Turkish newspapers Yeni Yüzyıl and Cumhuriyet, as well as the French newspapers Liberation, L’Arche, and Le Tribune Juive, and ha…


(1,329 words)

Author(s): Tomer Levi | Kirsten Schulze
1. Late Antiquity to Early Modern TimesAlthough an organized community did not really develop until the nineteenth century, Jews have lived in small numbers in Beirut since late Antiquity and a synagogue may have existed there as early as the sixth century CE.  The Megillat Evyatar (Scroll of Abiathar) relates that the Jewish community of Beirut was under the control of David ben Daniel in the late eleventh century.   In the 1170s, the Spanish Jewish traveler Benjamin of Tudela noted that there were approximately fifty Jews living in Beirut, but the community was appare…


(406 words)

Author(s): Haim Saadoun
Béja (Ar. Bāja) is a town in the north of Tunisia about 97 kilometers (60 miles) west of Tunis in the fertile Medjerda Valley.  In ancient times, it was the site of a Roman colony called Vaga, and was the central wheat-growing region and breadbasket of Tunisia; hence its appellation throughout the medieval period was Bājat al-Qamḥ (Ar. Béja of Grain).  In the modern period, the French built a new residential quarter for French settlers who worked on large farms in the area.            Jews likely first came to the town in the seventeenth century, mostly from Algeria. One of t…

Béjaïa (Bougie, Bijāya)

(538 words)

Author(s): Richard Ayoun
Béjaïa (Fr. Bougie; Cl. Ar. Bijāya) is a town on the Algerian coast about 175 kilometers (109 miles) east of Algiers and west of Greater Kabylia. It became an important city and port when the Ḥammādid dynasty (1015–1152) moved its capital there in 1067. Jews from Qal‘at Banī Ḥammād, the former Ḥammādid capital, likely followed, as evidenced by a reference to a Jewish community in Béjaïa that was persecuted during the Almohad conquest of the city in 1152. The town is also mentioned in a number of documents from the Cairo Geniza, but always in a general context without specific referen…

Beja, Isaac Ben Moses

(123 words)

Author(s): Leah Bornstein-Makovetsky
Isaac ben Moses Beja (d. 1628) was a preacher in several congregations in Salonica, and in his later years taught in the yeshiva of Nikopol (Nigbolu). In addition to homilies, eulogies, and poems, his published works include Bayit Neʾeman (A Faithful House), published in Venice in 1621, and a homily on the building of the synagogue of Nikopol entitled Keter Torah (Crown of the Torah), printed as a section of Le-Ohave Leshon ʿEver (For Lovers of the Hebrew Language) in 1628 in Paris.Two other individuals named Isaac Beja are known to have lived in Salonica. One died in 1635, the other in 1734. Le…

Bejerano (Becerano), Bekhor Hayyim

(457 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Bekhor Ḥayyim Moşe Bejerano, born in Eski Zagra (now Stara Zagora), Bulgaria, in 1846, was a respected scholar and the chief rabbi of the Turkish Republic from 1920 to 1931. From a very early age, he was educated in traditional Talmud Torahs and yeshivas. He also studied foreign languages and many other secular subjects, and ultimately became fluent in more than fifteen languages.            In 1880, Bejerano moved to Ottoman-ruled Rusçuk (Ruse), Bulgaria, where the students he taught included a future historian of Ottoman Jewry, Solomon Rosanes. Bejerano …

Bekache, Shalom

(435 words)

Author(s): Yosef Tobi
Rabbi Shalom Bekache (also Beccache), author, publisher, and exponent of the Jewish Enlightenment (Haskala), was born in Bombay in 1848 and died in Algiers in 1927. His father, Isaac Raphael, called Bekhash, had moved to India from Baghdad (Post Medieval). Shalom was educated and given his rabbinical ordination in Safed, Palestine. In 1878, after serving as a rabbi in Acre (Akko), he moved to Algeria, where he served as a rabbi first in a small community for four years, and then, until 1922, in the Ben Tuwwa congregation in Algiers.Bekache was typical of adherents of the Haskala movement i…

Bekemoharar Family

(511 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ben Naeh
The Bekemoharar family of rabbis and scholars was descended from Menahem ben Isaac Ashkenazi (1666–1733), who was born in Timişoara (Temesvár) near the border between present-day Romania and Serbia. His family moved to Edirne (Adrianople) in the heartland of the Ottoman Empire when he was two years old. When the chief rabbi of Edirne, Abraham ben Isaac Ṣarfati, died in 1722, the city’s thirteen congregations could not agree on a candidate to replace him. Seven congregations favored the late rabbi’s son-in-law Abraham Geron (d. 1751), but the other six chose Ashkenazi as thei…

Belaïche, Jacques

(343 words)

Author(s): Habib Kazdaghli
Jacques Bellaïche was born in Tunis on July 17, 1913. While working as a sales clerk he joined the Youth Hostel movement in its formative years. Later he joined the union movement during the period of the Popular Front (1936–1937) and was active in the Communist Party. He was arrested in April 1940 for distributing copies of the subversive newspaper L’Avenir Social, held in the civil prison of Tunis, and then moved to the military prison of Algiers. His case was dismissed in July 1941, after sixteen months in prison. He was arrested again on November 28, …


(683 words)

Author(s): Brigitte Sion
The Jews of Belgium represent approximately 32,000 people out of a population of 10.4 million. The largest part of this community lives in Brussels and Antwerp, with over fifteen thousand in each city. Belgian Jews with origins in Islamic countries number around two thousand.The first Sephardim to settle in Belgium were Turkish Jews toward the end of the nineteenth century. The influx from Turkey continued until the 1920s. Those who settled in Antwerp worked in the diamond business and founded a community in 1898. In 1913, they built a synagogue with the financial support of the Bel…


(922 words)

Author(s): Yitzchak Kerem
Belgrade (Serb. Beograd; Ott. Turk. Belghād, and occasionally Belghād Üngürüz to distinguish it from other Balkan towns with the same name) is a city in southeastern Europe, situated at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers, and the capital of Serbia. Jews have lived in Belgrade at least since the period immediately following the Black Death (1346–1350). In 1376, Ashkenazi Jews expelled from Hungary moved there. They were later joined by Jews from Bavaria (1470) and Italy, many of the lat…

Bénabou, Marcel

(522 words)

Author(s): Dinah Assouline Stillman
The French historian and writer Marcel Bénabou was born in Meknès, Morocco, on June 29, 1939, to an observant Sephardi family. A brilliant student at the Alliance Israélite Universelle school, he left Morocco and religious practice in 1956 to study in Paris and was a student at the prestigious Ecole Normale Supérieure. He later became a professor of ancient history at the University of Paris7—Denis Diderot and authored a number of scholarly works, most notably La résistance africaine à la romanisatio n (1976).In addition to his academic career, Bénabou is also a novelist and …

Bénady, Claude

(516 words)

Author(s): Gilat Brav
The Tunisian poet, novelist, and essayist Claude Bénady (b. Tunis, 1922; d. Francem 2000) was born to a Jewish father and a Christian mother. He graduated at Lycée Carnot high school in Tunis and from 1942 to 1945 served in French military campaigns in Tunisia, France, and Germany.Bénady’s war experiences deeply affected his world views, as expressed in his literary work: He believed that truth is reflected only through poetry, especially the surrealistic form, using automatic writing that evokes unconscious memories and thus purifies both t…

Benaioun (Ben Ayoun), Salomon

(563 words)

Author(s): Aviad Moreno
Salomon Benaioun (Ben Ayoun) (b. July 30, 1867, d. March 22, 1921) was a printer from Oran who established the Imprimerie Française du Maroc, one of the first modern printing houses in Morocco, after moving from Oran to Paris and acquiring printing skills there. At the request of Haïm Benchimol and with the invitation of the French Legation in Tangier, he settled in Tangier at the end of the nineteenth century to publish Le Reveil du Maroc, one of Morocco’s first newspapers. In June 1915, in addition to operating his printing house in Tangier, he managed the Jewish weekly La Liberté/El Horria, …
Date: 2022-09-28

Benamozegh, Elijah b. Abraham

(639 words)

Author(s): Laura Bonifacio Roumani
Elijah Benamozegh was born in Livorno (Leghorn), Italy, on April 24, 1823 into a family of wealthy merchants and rabbis. His parents, Abraham and Clara, were originally from Fez, Morocco. His father, who was seventy-one years old when Elijah was born, died when the child was three. Under the guidance of his maternal uncle, Judah Coriat (see Coriat Family ), Elijah undertook traditional Jewish biblical and rabbinic studies; at a very early age he also began the study of Kabbala, especially the Zohar.Forced to enter the world of business to earn a living, Benamozegh worked in …

Benardete, Maír José

(893 words)

Author(s): Aviva Ben-Ur
Maír José Benardete (Mair José Benardete; M. J. Benadete; Meyer Benardete; Mercedes Benardete; 1895–1989), the eldest of nine children, was born in the Ottoman Empire in the city of Çanakkale to a Ladino-speaking family. At the age of eight, he contracted a serious illness that left him unable to walk for months. He spent his year-long convalescence among the Sephardic women of his community, absorbing the Judeo-Spanish folklore and language that would later serve as a focus of his scholarship. After recovering, he enrolled in the Alliance Israélite Universelle school, whe…

Benaroya, Albert

(444 words)

Author(s): D Gershon Lewental
Albert (né Armand) Avram Benaroya, a Turkish journalist, linguist, and educator,  was born in Edirne in 1887 and died in Istanbul on June 20, 1955. He received his primary education at the Alliance Israélite Universelle (AIU) school in Edirne, from which he graduated at a precocious age, and then attended the École Normale Israélite Orientale (ENIO) in Paris (1906). From October 1910 he taught at the École Ṣror ha-Ḥayyim de Hasköy in Istanbul before being appointed teacher of French at a Turkish…

Benaroya, Avraam

(936 words)

Author(s): D Gershon Lewental
Avraam Benaroya, a socialist leader and journalist, was born in Bidini, Bulgaria, in 1886 and died in Ḥolon, Israel, in 1979 (?). Raised in Lundt, Bulgaria, Benaroya studied law in Belgrade, but left his studies to teach in Plovdiv, where he published The Jewish Question and Social Democracy (in Bulgarian). Immediately after the Young Turk Revolution of 1908, he moved to Salonica, where he worked as a typographer and soon organized the Sephardi Circle of Socialist Studies, which initially counted thirty members. Dumont notes that Benaroya’s group fell within the “Broad” facti…

Ben Asher, Aaron (Abū Saʿīd Hārūn) ben Moses

(1,221 words)

Author(s): Aharon Maman
Aaron Ben Asher (Abū Saʿīd Hārūn) lived and worked in Tiberias in the first half of the tenth century. He was the sixth and last member of the Ben Asher dynasty of masoretes (see Ben Asher, Moses). He is considered to have been the close and the most authoritative of the masoretes. His name is especially linked with two large literary projects:(1) Sefer Diqduqe ha-Teʿamim, dealing with clear masora matters, such as special characters, qeri and ketiv, and lists of defective and full scripts in the Bible. Along these occur neighboring grammatical matters, such as the divi…

Ben Asher, Moses

(648 words)

Author(s): Aharon Maman
Moses ben Asher lived and worked in Tiberias in the second half of the ninth century C.E. He was a member of the fifth generation of the Ben Asher family, which had earned a reputation for raising famous masoretes. The first member of the dynasty was Asher the Elder, who lived in the eighth century, as recorded in an ancient masoretic work: “Asher, the greatest elder of blessed memory, followed by his son Nehemiah, may his soul rest in peace, followed by [his son] Moses ben Nehemiah, followed by his son Asher, followed by his son Moses, i.e…

Ben ʿAṭṭār, Ḥayyim

(632 words)

Author(s): Jessica Marglin
Ḥayyim ben Moses ben ʿAṭṭār (Ibn ʿAṭṭār) was born in 1696 in Salé, Morocco, and died in 1743 in Jerusalem. His paternal grandfather, the elder Ḥayyim ben ʿAṭṭār, a scholar in his own right, was responsible for much of the younger Ḥayyim’s education. At age thirteen Ḥayyim accompanied his father and grandfather to Meknes, where his grandfather took over the family’s trading business. There Ḥayyim married his cousin Fa’ṣoniya (the granddaughter of Shem Ṭov ben ʿAṭṭār, the elder Ḥayyim's brother). Her father, Moses ben ʿAṭ…

Ben ʿAṭṭār (or Ibn ʿAṭṭār) Family

(1,479 words)

Author(s): Shalom Bar-Asher
The Ben ʿAṭṭār (or Ibn ʿAṭṭār) family of court Jews attained great prominence in Fez and Salé during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. A number of family members were appointed by the ruler as secular leaders of the Jewish community (Heb. negidim, Ar. shuyūkh), and others were noted rabbinical scholars and jurists ( dayyanim). The family exercised great influence at the court of the nascent Alawid (Alaouite) dynasty starting in the last quarter of the seventeenth century, when the sultans Mawlāy al-Rashīd (r. 1664–1672) and Mawlāy Ismāʿīl (r.1672–1727) turned northw…

Benbanaste, Nesim

(270 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Nesim Benbanaste (1939—1992) was a prominent Turkish Jewish writer and intellectual. After completing his high school education at Beyoğlu Musevi Lisesi (Beyoğlu Jewish Lycée) in Istanbul, Benbanaste attended the Faculty of Law of Istanbul University. He later worked at several private schools as a teacher and director. He was affiliated with one of Turkey’s oldest publishing association, the Türk Basın Birliği (Turkish Press Union).            From 1963 until his death, Benbanaste wrote numerous articles, essays, poems, and translations. An admirer of Atat…

Ben Berechiah Family

(582 words)

Author(s): Michael G. Wechsler
The activity of the Ben Berechiah family is represented during the period of the Cairo Geniza primarily by the sons of Berechiah, Joseph—whose kunya was Abū Yaʿqūb—and Nissim. The brothers were merchants based in Qayrawān , and apparently constituted one of the more prominent Maghrebi merchant “firms” in the first third of the eleventh century. They were related by marriage to the prominent Tāhirtī merchant family (one of the brothers was married to a daughter of Barhūn ben Mūsā al-Tāhirtī), and through …
Date: 2015-09-03

Benchimol, Haïm

(355 words)

Author(s): Jamaa Baida
Haïm Benchimol (1834–1915) was born into a family of Moroccan Jewish dragomen and businessmen who worked actively with the French legation in Tangier. Thanks to a clause in the 1880 Madrid Convention, the legation granted him and his family hereditary French protection for “services rendered.”As a broker-interpreter for the French legation and a well-known Freemason, Benchimol was elected head of the Jewish junta (governing committee) of Tangier) in 1890, and also become president of the regional committee of the Alliance Israélite Universelle. At the end …

Bendahan, Blanche

(325 words)

Author(s): Julie Strongson-Aldape
Blanche Bendahan (née Bénoliel) was born in Oran, Algeria on November 23, 1903 to a Jewish family of Moroccan-Spanish origin. Shortly after her birth, her family moved to France, where she was educated in the French system. Bendahan published her first collection of poetry, La voile sur l’eau, in 1926 and then her first novel, Mazaltob (also spelled Mazeltob), in 1930. Mazaltob, which won an award from the Académie Française, portrays a North African woman in Tetouan, Morocco, and the oppression to which she is subjected by the patriarchal society in which she lives…

Ben Ezra Synagogue

(4,545 words)

Author(s): David Cassuto
The Ben Ezra Synagogue in Fustat (today Old Cairo) was the site of the great treasure trove of documents known as the Cairo Geniza. It came to be called Ben Ezra because of a legend that Ezra the Scribe had given skeptical Egyptian Jews a Torah scroll with magical powers to convince them of his authority. In the Middle Ages, the synagogue was known as Kanīsat al-Yerushalmim and Kanīsat al-Shāmiyyīn (Synagogue of the Jerusalemites or Synagogue of the Palestinians). As the doyen of Geniza studies, S. D. Goitein, has observed, the building referred to by the Arab historian al-Maqrīzī (d. 1442) …

Ben Gardane (Ben Guardane)

(293 words)

Author(s): Haim Saadoun
Ben Gardane (Ar. Ben Qardān) is a small coastal town in the southeast of Tunisia, situated on the main road from Tripoli to Tunis near the Libyan frontier. The modern development of the town commenced just after the establishment of the French protectorate in 1881, when the French built two military posts there to protect the Libyan border.            The modernization of the town attracted Jews, who came there for economic reasons, mainly from the island of Jerba in Tunisia and from Zuara in Libya. The Jewish population grew from about 234 in 1906 to…


(1,633 words)

Author(s): Maurice Roumani
Benghazi (Ar. Bin-Ghāzī), the largest city in the Libyan province of Cyrenaica, is located on the northeastern side of the Gulf of Sirte and served as a bridge between the Maghreb and the Mashreq. Cyrenaica, and Benghazi in particular, belongs culturally more to the Islamic East than to the Islamic West, and thus is differentiated from Tripolitania and Tripoli.1. Jewish Settlements in AntiquityCyrenaica (Cyrene) was founded by the Greeks in the seventh century B.C.E. The area later became known as the Pentapolis after its five cities, which included Bereni…

Ben Giat (Ghiat, Benghiat), Aleksander

(520 words)

Author(s): Olga Borovaya | Julia Phillips Cohen
Aleksander Ben Giat (Ghiat) (ca. 1863–1923), was a Sephardi journalist, author, translator, and publisher. He was born in Izmir (Smyrna), where he attended an Alliance Israélite Universelle school. In 1884 he co-founded a short-lived Ladino periodical called La Verdad (The Truth). Over the next few years, he wrote for La Buena Esperansa and El Telegrafo until, in 1897, he founded his own Ladino newspaper, El Meseret (The Joy).In its opening issue, Ben Giat announced that the new paper would be a school for young and old, and emphasized El Meseret's literary character.The paper …
Date: 2015-09-03

Bengio, Mordechai

(407 words)

Author(s): Mitchell Serels
Mordechai Bengio, the son of Joseph Bengio, was born in 1825 and was elected chief rabbi of Tangier at the age of twenty-eight in 1853, succeeding his grandfather, Moses, who died of the plague. Serving as chief rabbi until his own death in 1917, he reformed the community governing council, the Junta (Heb. maʿamad ) and introduced a measure of democracy on nonreligious issues. He also supported the opening of communal schools. He was considered a great rabbinic authority.Bengio organized the first communal election of Junta members, held on May 9, 1853, but the elected Junta…

Bengualid (Ben Walīd), Isaac

(394 words)

Author(s): Marc Angel
Rabbi Isaac Bengualid (1777–1870), born in Tetouan, was a scion of a distinguished rabbinic family that had come to Morocco from Castile after the expulsion from Spain in 1492. He had one son by his first wife, who died soon after giving birth, and four sons and six daughters by his second wife.Bengualid was known for his vast rabbinic erudition as well as his saintliness. In 1835, he was appointed head of the rabbinical court in Tetouan.  A two-volume collection of his responsa, Vayomer Yiṣḥaq (Livorno, 1876), was published through the efforts of his sons.In one of his responsa, recogni…

Ben Ḥalfon, Abraham

(390 words)

Author(s): Yosef Tobi
Abraham ben Ḥalfon, one of the first Hebrew poets in Yemen, lived in Aden in the early decades of the twelfth century. His surviving sixty-seven poems treat religious holidays, life-cycle events, and fast-days, as well as secular themes like praise and friendship. His verse, strongly influenced by the medieval Andalusian school of Hebrew poetry, is marked by biblical language and Arabic meter. For this reason, and also because few of his poems were printed and studied until 1991, scholars were long unable to identify his place of origin, b…

Ben Ḥassin, David

(814 words)

Author(s): Ephraim Hazan
David ben Aaron ben Ḥassin (Ibn Ḥassin, Ḥassin), one of the best-known and most beloved poets of Moroccan Jewry, was born in Meknes in either 1722 or 1727 into a scholarly and devoutly religious family. As a child he was given a Torah education and was an excellent student. At the age of seventeen, he wrote an essay entitled Migdal David (Tower of David) that proffered new insights on the Torah and ideas about Torah study and memorization. He married the daughter of his teacher, Mordecai Berdugo.Ben Ḥassin lived in a tragic era in the history of the Jews of Morocco. During his yo…
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