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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Cacoun, Maggui

(301 words)

Author(s): Dalit Atrakchi
Maggui (Marie-Yvonne) Cacoun (Kakon), a Moroccan Jewish politician and businesswoman, was born in Casablanca in 1953 and is known for her work in the field of women’s rights. She is also the author of La Cuisine juive du Maroc de mère en fille (Toulouse, 1996).In August 2007 Cacoun ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the Moroccan parliament as head of the women’s list of the Parti du Centre Social (PCS; Ar. Ḥizb al-Wasṭ al-Ijtimāʿī). Cacoun was not the first Moroccan Jew to run for parliament, but she was the first Jewish woman to do so. She also heads the party’s foreign relations department.Cacou…

Cadima (Morocco)

(477 words)

Author(s): Mohammed Hatimi
Cadima was a Zionist organization that oversaw the massive immigration (aliyah) of Moroccan Jews to Israel from 1949 to 1956. It was created by a “gentlemen’s agreement” between the administration of the French protectorate in Morocco and the Jewish Agency for Israel. The agreement was signed by the resident-general, Alphonse Juin, and the Agency’s representative, Jacques Gershoni, on March 7, 1949, and suited both parties. The colonial administration would no longer interfere with illegal Jewish emigration and would maintain the social status quo, …

Cahen, Abraham

(347 words)

Author(s): Colette Zytnicki
Abraham Cahen was born in Metz in 1831, into a family of notables established in that city since the sixteenth century. After earning his high school diploma, he attended the Central Rabbinical School and was ordained in 1861. He was appointed rabbi in Constantine, Algeria, in 1863, and was named chief rabbi in 1867. In 1877, he became chief rabbi of Algiers.Cahen’s rabbinate in both cities was marked by opposition from local rabbis and community leaders. Their dissatisfaction was provoked in part by his ignorance of local traditions—he learned Arabic onl…

Cairene Purim, the

(604 words)

Author(s): Benjamin Hary
Cairene Purim is a local holiday that commemorates the deliverance of the Jews of Cairo in 1524 from Aḥmad Pasha, a tyrannical Ottoman governor. Aḥmad, the third vizier of Sulaymān I (Suleiman the Magnificent), arrived in Egypt in January 1524. Disappointed by the governorship, because he had hoped that Sulaymān would promote him to a higher post, he left no doubt as to his intention to establish his own sultanate in Egypt. Forming an alliance with the Mamluks, he ordered his name to be mentioned in Friday sermons at local mosques, instructed the head of the mint, a Jew named Abraham Castro, t…


(3,077 words)

Author(s): Jacob M. Landau
1. HistoryMiddle AgesCairo (Ar. al-Qāhira), the capital of Egypt, sits on both banks of the Nile River, 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) south of the Delta. It was built by the Fatimids following their conquest of Egypt in 969 near the earlier capital of Fustat (now called Old Cairo). From that time, and under diverse regimes, it has grown in size and importance, becoming the most populous city in Africa (with over 15 million inhabitants at present). At first, only Jews connected to the court or serving…

Cairo Collection, The

(604 words)

Author(s): Benjamin Hary
The Cairo Collection consists of more than one hundred photocopied manuscripts, mostly from Egypt, dating from the eighteenth through the twentieth century. In the 1980s this collection was brought from a synagogue in Cairo to the Institute of Microfilmed Hebrew Manuscripts at the Jewish National and University Library in Jerusalem. Most of the manuscripts are Jewish liturgical texts written in Hebrew, Aramaic, or Judeo-Arabic. The documents in the collection have made it possible to reconstruct…

Cairo Geniza

(12,776 words)

Author(s): Stefan Reif | Miriam Frenkel | Meira Polliack | Ben Outhwaite | Esther-Miriam Wagner
1. General Survey and History of DiscoverySource"Geniza" is a convenient one-word title to describe an extensive and unique collection of medieval manuscripts, mainly in Hebrew, Judeo-Arabic, and Aramaic, and usually written on vellum and paper, that has illuminated virtually every aspect of life in and around the eastern Mediterranean areas of the Islamic world a thousand years ago. The collection, consisting of well in excess of 200,000 items (written on almost half a million folios) was amassed in …

Cairo Riots (1945, 1948)

(10 words)

Author(s): Norman A. Stillman
see Egyptian Riots (1945, 1947)Norman A. Stillman


(656 words)

Author(s): Arturo Prats
Calatayud (Ar. Qalʿat Ayyūb), a city located in northeastern Spain near Saragossa, had an important Jewish community throughout the period of Muslim rule. Following the Reconquista it became, after Saragossa, the second-most-importantaljama (autonomous community) in the Crown of Aragon.Most scholars date the foundation of Calatayud to the ninth century, following the Nuṣūṣ ʿan al-Andalus of the Arab chronicler al-ʿUdhrī, known as ibn al-Dilāʾī (11th century), who states that the emir Muḥammad rebuilt the city in 862. The oldest archaeological test…

Calcutta (present day Kolkata)

(618 words)

Author(s): Shalva Weil
Shalome Cohen, a merchant from Aleppo, Syria, reputedly established the Jewish community in Calcutta in 1798. His diary, along with Moses Dwek's diary (preserved in the Sassoon Library) with entries from 1806 to 1861, provides source material on the early years of the community. In 1832, after the pogroms in Iraq under the Mamluk governor Daʾud Pasha (1817-1831), the wealthy businessman David Sassoon (see Sassoon Family) fled Baghdad for India and the Far East in order to pursue his commercial interests. Thousands of Baghdadis followed him to India, where they lived peacefully…

Calendar and calendar disputes

(1,201 words)

Author(s): Daniel J. Lasker
It is unclear how the biblical calendar was set, despite the fact that the observance of many biblical laws, such as the holiday celebrations, is dependent upon calendrical calculation. In the immediate postbiblical period, at the end of the Second Temple, there were competing calendrical systems, and it is unclear which one was predominant. The best-known of these calendars was the Pharisaic luni-solar system, which eventually became the accepted rabbinic calendar. The months of this calendar were lunar, beginning with the new moon. The years, however, f…

Camondo, Abraham de

(648 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Abraham Salomon de Camondo (Kamondo)a member of the prominent SephardiCamondo family, was born in Istanbul in 1785. In the late 1830s he emerged as an important leader of Ottoman Jewry and played an essential role in modernizing the Turkish Jewish community. Camondo wielded significant influence in ruling circles, especially at the courts of sultans Abdülmecid I (r. 1839-1861) and Abdülaziz (r. 1861-1876). He was instrumental in the appointment of the first chief rabbi in Jerusalem in 1841. He also worke…

Camondo (Kamondo) Family

(556 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
The Camondo (Kamondo) family was a renowned Jewish family of Spanish-Portuguese origin. Members of the family settled in Istanbul in the seventeenth century after living in Venice for some time. In the eighteenth century the family acquired Austrian citizenship. Its most illustrious member was Abraham Salomon de Camondo (1785–1873), an influential banker, philanthropist, and leader of the Jewish community. During the early nineteenth century, the family established Banque Camondo, also known as I. Camondo & Cie, which extended credit to the Ottoman government d…


(1,614 words)

Author(s): Mikhael Elbaz
The Sephardi community of Canada came into being in the mid-twentieth century; it now comprises thirty-three thousand people, mostly in Montreal (21,500) and Toronto (8,500), with smaller pockets in Halifax and Vancouver (1,000 each), Ottawa, and Winnipeg. The vast majority came from Morocco (70 percent). Others came from Egypt, Lebanon, and Iraq (1,370), Iran (200), Turkey (180), Algeria, Libya, and Tunisia (245), and scattered in Canada. Many attend the oldest Sephardi house of worship in Montreal, the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue, founded in 1768.The postcolonial exodus…


(486 words)

Author(s): Omer Turan
Çanakkale is a town in Turkey on the eastern side of the Dardanelles, founded in 1463 not far from the site of the ancient Abydos. Sephardi Jews settled there sometime in the seventeenth century. In 1740, there were approximately fifty Jewish families in the town. Due to Çanakkale’s increasing political and economic importance, the Jewish populationgrew steadily during the nineteenth century: estimates point to about 550 Jews in the city in 1820, 700 in 1840, 1,100 in 1876, 1,354 in 1888, and 1,805 in 1894. At the beginning of the nineteenth centu…

Cansino Family

(555 words)

Author(s): Nicole Serfaty
The Cansino family originally came from Seville, found refuge in Tlemcen, and eventually settled inOran by order of King Ferdinand II “the Catholic.” In 1509, along with the Satorra, Ben Zmiro, and Sasportas families, the Cansinos represented “the natural families of Oran” and the Jewish circle closest to Spanish power until the expulsion of the whole community to Leghorn (Livorno) and Nice in 1669. In 1510, Isaac Cansino  was ambassador of the Zayyanid kingdom of Tlemcen to the new Christian rulers of the Spanish presidio of Melilla; he owned a house in both cities.Between 1509 and 16…

Capital Tax Law (Varlik Vergisi, 1942)

(1,324 words)

Author(s): D Gershon Lewental
The Capital Tax Law (Turk. Varlık Vergisi kanunu) was a wealth levy enacted by the Turkish Grand National Assembly on November 11, 1942 as Law No. 4305. Although its ostensible purpose was to raise funds against Turkey’s possible entry into World War II, it really was intended to destroy the economic position of non-Muslim minorities in the country and reinforce the ongoing process of economic Turkification. The Varlık Vergisi law was the final act in the pattern of anti-Jewish and anti-minority measuresadopted in the early years of the Turkish Republic. Such action…


(823 words)

Author(s): Onur Yildirim
The capitulations (Ar./Ott. Turk. imtiyāzāt) were bilateral agreements between the Ottoman Empire and various European states that conferred certain rights and privileges on subjects of those states residing or trading in Ottoman lands. The capitulations were meant first and foremost to serve Ottoman political and fiscal interests. The Ottoman government granted these commercial privileges in order to make political allies within Christendom, obtain scarce goods and raw materials, and increase custo…

Capsali, Elijah

(773 words)

Author(s): Joseph Ringel
Elijah ben Elkanah Capsali(ca. 1489–ca. 1555) was the chief rabbi of the Jewish community of Candia (Heraklion) in Crete and served several times as its civil head (It. condestablo/ rettor). He was initially educated by his father, but in 1508 left Crete to study in the yeshiva of Judah and Abraham Mintz in Padua, and then fled to Venice during a period of unrest in 1509. He returned to Crete in 1510. While in Italy, he also studied with Israel Isserlein, who proved to be the most influential of his teachers. Other rabbis …

Capsali, Moses ben Elijah

(567 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Moses ben Elijah Capsaliwas born in Candia (Heraklion), Crete, in 1420. Like his relative Elijah Capsali, Moses left Crete at a young age to further his education. He went to Germany, where he studied with major Ashkenazi rabbis such as Jacob Landau and Judah Mintz. Throughout his life, Capsali’s writings and actions were heavily influenced by his German-Ashkenazi background, even though he himself was a Romaniot. Some sources indicate that he also studied in Italy.Capsali became the leader of the Romaniot congregation of Constantinople around 1445.According to some a…
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