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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(5 words)

Author(s): Norman A. Stillman
see Atlas MountainsNorman A. Stillman


(578 words)

Author(s): Aomar Boum
The Daggatoun are a tribe of Saharan nomads, believed to be of Jewish origin, who moved constantly around the desert interior. The first person to mention the Daggatoun was Mordechai Abisrur, a Jew from the southern Moroccan oasis of Akka. In an article he wrote for the Bulletin de l’Alliance Israélite Universelle, he traced their origin to the Jewish community of Tamentit and argued that their ancestors had fled  the Tamentit region after Muḥammad al-Maghīlī incited the local Muslims to expel them from Touat in 1492. Abisrur’s name has historic…

Dahan, Jacques

(556 words)

Author(s): Mohammed Hatimi
Jacques Dahan was born in 1917 into a traditional Jewish family in the mellah (Ar. mallāḥ ) of Rabat in Morocco. He studied at the Alliance Israélite Universelle and the Lycée Gouraud. He worked as a sports writer for L’Echo du Maroc and early on became active in communal affairs, in part because of the mark left on him by the Vichy years. When General Alphonse Juin decided to create the Conseil des Communautés Israélites du Maroc (CCIM) in 1947, Dahan was elected its secretary-general because of his leadership role in communal affairs and his loyalty to France. In…

Dahir (ẓahīr) of Mawlāy Muḥammad b. ‘Abd al-Raḥmān (1864)

(623 words)

Author(s): Mohammed Kenbib
In 1864 Sir Moses Montefiore, the chairman of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, visited Morocco and met with Sultan Sīdī Muḥammad b. ʿAbd al-Raḥmān. On February 5, 1864, at his request, the sultan issued a royal decree (Cl. Ar. ẓahīr; Mor. Ar. ḍahīr; Fr. dahir) reminding his governors and pashas of the rights enjoyed by Jews dwelling in his dominion. In his capacity as commander of the faithful (Ar. amīr al-mu’minīn), charged with enforcing the prescriptions of Islamic law, including regulations regarding the legal status of non-Muslim subjects, the sultan insisted th…

Ḍāhrī, Zechariah al-

(569 words)

Author(s): Adena Tanenbaum
Zechariah (Yiḥye) ben Saʿadya al-Ḍāhrī (ca. 1519–ca. 1585) was a Yemenite Jewish religious scholar and the author of halakhic, exegetical, and literary works. He wrote a commentary on the laws of ritual slaughter, an esoteric Torah commentary entitled Ṣeda la-Derekh (Provision for the Road), and a book of homonymic rhymes called Sefer ha-ʿAnaq (Book of the Necklace), but he is best known for his Hebrew maqāma collection, Sefer ha-Musar (The Book of Moral Instruction). In his introduction to this work, he relates that he was imprisoned in 1568, along with the rest of the San'a Jewish comm…


(724 words)

Author(s): Sasha Goldstein-Sabbah
Damanhur (Ar. Damanhūr; from Anc. Eg. Timinhur) is a small town in the Nile Delta region of Egypt approximately 60 kilometers (37 miles) southwest of Alexandria and is today the capital of Buhayra Province. The earliest mention of Damanhur is in the Qawānīn al-Dawānīn, an administrative survey of towns and lands for tax purposes, by Ibn Mammātī(d. 1209). It is also mentioned by the traveler Ibn Jubayr (d. 1217) and the geographer Yāqūt (d. 1229), both of whom note that it was a medium-sized walled town. The Cairo Geniza documents make no mention of Damanhur, …

Damari (Damārī), Shoshana

(827 words)

Author(s): Edwin Seroussi
Shoshana Damari (Dhamar) was born in Yemen in 1923. The following year her family emigrated from Yemen to Palestine, settling in Rishon le-Tsiyyon. She began to perform at a very early age, accompanying her mother, a meshoreret (traditional Yemenite female singer), at weddings and parties of Yemenite immigrant families. Her brother Seʿadya (1913–1988) also became a singer, actor, and playwright.In 1936 Shoshana Damari studied singing and acting at the studio of the Shulamit School in Tel Aviv. There she met Shlomo Busami, the studio’s manager. They were married in 1939, whe…


(3,844 words)

Author(s): Yaron Harel
Damascus (Ar. Dimashq al-Shām, Damascus of Syria, or simply al-Shām) is the capital of modern Syria and the largest city in the country. Located in southwestern Syria, Damascus is about 80 kilometers (129 miles) from the Mediterranean Sea behind the Lebanese mountains, some 680 meters (2,231 feet) above sea level. One of the most ancient cities in the world, Damascus extends along both banks of the river Barada.1. Ancient PeriodThe history of Jewish settlement in Syria, the nearest place of exile to the Land of Israel, extends from ancient times in unbroken succession …

Damascus Affair (1840)

(831 words)

Author(s): Moshe Ma'oz
In February 1840, an Italian Capuchin monk named Padre Tomaso and his servant disappeared in Damascus. Local Christians, abetted by the French consul Benoît Ulysse-Laurent-François de Ratti-Menton (a rabid antisemite himself), accused Jews of murdering Tomaso and using his blood to bake matza for Passover. Blood libels of this kind were not uncommon in medieval Christian Europe, but only found their way to Syria in later centuries, possibly brought there by European priests or missionaries. The incident in Damascus was probably influenced …

Damascus Document   

(1,264 words)

Author(s): Fred Astren
The Damascus Document, designated CD for “Cairo Damascus” and also known as the Zadokite Fragments, was originally found among materials from the Cairo Geniza in two incomplete manuscripts dated to the tenth and twelfth centuries. Fragments of eight manuscripts were subsequently discovered in Cave 4 at Qumran along with other, smaller fragments, all of which include additional material not found in CD. The Qumran finds indicate that CD is properly understood to be one of the Dead Sea Scrolls, originating in a Second Temple setting whose spe…


(777 words)

Author(s): Amnon Shiloah
1. Ancient IsraelThe Bible, Mishna, and Talmud refer to dance in various contexts. Among the occasions that inspired dancing, for instance, were a festival during which it was customary to dance in the vineyards (Judg. 21:21), the group dances performed by women to the accompaniment of drums in celebration of military victories and to welcome the returning soldiers, and the notable event reported in Exod. 15:20, which tells how Miriam and the women burst into song and dance accompanied by drums to mark the miraculous parting of the Red Sea that saved the people of Israel.After the fall of…

Dangoor, Ezra Sasson ben Reuven

(317 words)

Author(s): Shaul Regev
Ezra Sasson ben Reuven Dangoor (1848–1930), born and educated in Baghdad, was a student of Rabbi ʿAbd Allāh Somekh. Although he devoted much of his time to religious activities, Dangoor had to work to support himself, studying in the mornings and earning his living in the afternoons. He worked as a ritual slaughterer and ritual circumciser, and from 1880 to 1886 was the scribe in charge of writing documents issued by the Bet Din of Baghdad. In 1894, Dangoor was appointed chief rabbi of Rangoon, Burma, but a year later ill health compelled him to return to Baghdad, where he w…

Daniel ben Azariah

(427 words)

Author(s): Elinoar Bareket
Daniel ben Azariah, a scion of the exilarchic house in Babylonia, was gaon of the Palestinian yeshiva from 1052 to 1062. After his branch of the family was deposed from the exilarchate, Daniel set out to find a place where he could build a following. Uncertain at first whether to settle in the Maghrib or in Egypt, he eventually created a cadre of supporters in Fustat, mainly among prominent members of the Jerusalemite congregation. Several Geniza documents indicate that Daniel was charismatic but arrogant, driven by ambition to obtain the gaonate of Jerusalem. His cand…

Daniel ben Eleazar ibn Hibat Allāh

(462 words)

Author(s): Michael G. Wechsler
Daniel ben Eleazar ibn Hibat Allāh, who elsewhere refers to himself as Daniel b. Eleazar he-Ḥasid, succeeded Eleazar b. Hillel b. Fahd as gaon of the main Babylonian yeshiva in Baghdad (following the decline of the ones in Pumbedita and Sura). Daniel’s gaonate began no later than April–May 1201, which is when the earliest of his letters affirming his incumbency is dated. He is mentioned by the Arab historian and native of Baghdad Ibn al-Sāʿī (1197–1276) in the extant portion of his History ( al-Jāmi ʿal-mukhtaṣar), in which he transcribes the writ of Daniel’s appointment to the …
Date: 2015-09-03

Daniel ben Ḥasday

(584 words)

Author(s): Michael G. Wechsler
Daniel ben Ḥasday (Ḥisday) served as exilarch in Baghdad after the death of his father, Ḥasday ben David b. Hezekiah. The date of Daniel’s accession is uncertain. It was no earlier than 1113, because Ḥasday ben David is mentioned as exilarch in a bill of sale written that year. It was no later than 1120, because Daniel is mentioned in a Purim-style story in the Cairo Geniza concerning an edict issued that year against the Jews of Baghdad and their eventual deliverance (for the lat…
Date: 2015-09-03

Daniel ben Saʿadya ha-Bavli

(326 words)

Author(s): Roni Shweka
Daniel ben Saʿadya ha-Bavli was a rabbinic scholar and pupil of Samuel ben Eli Gaon who lived in Baghdad and Damascus in the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries. In Damascus, where he probably moved after the death of Samuel ben Eli (1194), he was noted for his eloquent preaching. The Andalusian poet and traveler Judah al-Ḥarīzī heard him there in 1220 and praised him in his Taḥkemoni (46).Like his teacher Samuel ben Eli, Daniel ben Saʿadya, was a determined critic of Maimonides. He sent forty-seven refutations and questions on the Mishne Torah and another thirteen questions on Sefer…

Daniel ben Samuel ibn Abī ʾl-Rabīʿ ha-Kohen

(496 words)

Author(s): Michael G. Wechsler
Daniel ben Samuel ibn Abī ʾl-Rabīʿ ha-Kohen succeeded Isaac ben Israel in 1248 as gaon of the main Babylonian yeshiva in Baghdad and continued in office until his death in 1250/51. The Arabic historian Ibn al-Fuwaṭī (p. 218) reports that when Daniel, accompanied by “a throng of Jews and a group of devotees of the dīwān,” was returning to the yeshiva “on foot” after being appointed by the chief qāḍī ‘Abd al-Raḥmān, he was met by “a group of the common people [who] interposed with the intent to stone him, yet they were rebuffed in their endeavor and prevented.” Wh…
Date: 2015-09-03

Daniel ben Saul ben Anan

(1,016 words)

Author(s): Yoram Erder
Daniel ben Saul (fl. 9th century) was the grandson of ʿAnan ben David, said to have founded the proto-Karaite Ananite sect in the eighth century. The Jacobite Syrian historian Bar Hebraeus (d. 1286), basing himself on earlier Syriac chronicles, recounts that in 825 a battle over the office of exilarch in Baghdad broke out between Daniel and David ben Judah. Bar Hebraeus asserts that Daniel was an adherent of the Ananite heresy. Since this conflict had repercussions for Christians in the Abbasid caliphate, it attracted the attention of Christian chroniclers. According to their accou…

Daniel, Ezra Menaḥem

(356 words)

Author(s): Peter Wien
Ezra Menaḥem Daniel, the son of Menaḥem Ṣāliḥ Daniel, was born in Baghdad in 1874 and died there in 1952. Daniel followed in his father’s footsteps in many ways: he was a member of the Administrative Council (Majlis al-Idāra) of the vilayet of Baghdad from 1901, continued his father’s charitable work and established substantial religious endowments (Arab. waqf; plural awqāf) in different parts of the Iraqi countryside, particularly in the Hindīya district of the Ḥilla province. In 1932, he succeeded his father as a senator and remained in office until his death. As a land…

Daniel, Jean

(5 words)

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