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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Labaton, Mordechai

(339 words)

Author(s): Yaron Harel
Ḥayyim Mordechai Labaton, son of Rabbi Ḥalfon and Luna Labaton, was born in Aleppo around the year 1780. He engaged in the soap trade to support himself. For many years, he served as deputy to Chief Rabbi Abraham ʿAntebi. Their joint tenure was marked by stability and by efforts to strengthen the standing and authority of the rabbinical court ( bet din), because in the aftermath of the Ottoman reforms (Tanzimat), which left only matters of personal status under its jurisdiction, the court had been somewhat undermined. Their Torah scholarship, the popular belief …

Labi, Simon

(545 words)

Author(s): Moshe Hallamish
Simon ben Labi (Lavi; d. ca. 1585) was a noted kabbalist in sixteenth-century Morocco and Libya. Born into a family of Spanish exiles, Labi was active in Fez during the first half of the sixteenth century. Around 1549, he set out for the Land of Israel, but on arriving in Tripoli he decided to settle there permanently after taking note of its great potential as a site for educational activity. While in Fez, he commenced work on his Ketem Paz (The Finest Gold), a broad-ranging and profound commentary on the Zohar. Labi is unique among commentators in not being influenced …

La Boz de Izmir

(348 words)

Author(s): D Gershon Lewental
La Boz de Izmir (The Voice of Izmir) was a Judeo-Spanish political and literary weekly published in Izmir (Smyrna) from 1910 to 1922. Printed in Rashi script, it began under the editorship of Bekhor Ḥannah, who also edited the journal Bayram (The Feast), but from 1916/1917 until 1918/1919, he was replaced by B. Luria. Ḥannah had worked for many years as a clerk for the Austrian Post in Izmir, and later for the Ottoman Post after the Capitulations were abolished. Ḥannah produced La Boz de Izmir with the assistance of Jacques (Ya‘aqov) Ben-Senior, who also wrote for several other Judeo…

La Boz de la Verdad

(229 words)

Author(s): Julia Phillips Cohen
La Boz de la Verdad (The Voice of Truth) was a Ladino newspaper published by Yosef Barishac in Edirne from 1910 until his death around 1922. It initially appeared twice a week but later became a weekly. La Boz de la Verdad described itself as primarily concerned with political and literary subjects, but as the only Jewish newspaper in Edirne for most of its existence, it was obliged to cover local news as well.Although La Boz de la Verdad was the city’s longest-lived Ladino periodical, it was not the first. It was preceded by the Hebrew/Ladino journals Carmi, published from 1881 to 1882 by …

La Boz del Puevlo

(269 words)

Author(s): Julia Phillips Cohen
La Boz del Puevlo (The Voice of the People) was a Ladino newspaper published by Joseph Romano in Izmir (Smyrna) from 1908 to around 1919. In 1910, its editor-in-chief was Efraim Suhami, and its assistant director was Behor Hana, also of La Boz de Izmir (1910–1922). The paper initially appeared twice a week and later became a weekly. It ranged from four to six pages at different times.Romano, a graduate of an Alliance Israélite Universelle school, believed he had a duty to “regenerate” the Jewish community. His paper instructed readers on everything from proper …

La Buena Esperansa (Izmir), 1842

(422 words)

Author(s): Olga Borovaya
La Buena Esperansa (The Good Hope) was the name under which the first Ladino newspaper was to be published in Izmir in the summer of 1842. All the evidence suggests, however, that the project never saw light. Information in contemporaneous local and European papers testifies to the existence only of its prospectus, dated May 21, 1842. The goal of La Buena Esperansa was “to elevate the Jewish character by exciting Israelites to the cultivation of the liberal arts and sciences” ( Voice of Jacob, July 8, 1842). It was intended to be a weekly and promised to report commercial news…
Date: 2015-09-03

La Buena Esperansa (Izmir), 1874-1917

(278 words)

Author(s): Julia Phillips Cohen
La Buena Esperansa (The Good Hope), also known as La Esperansa, published from 1874 to 1917 (?) by Aron de Yosef Hazan, was the longest-lived Ladino newspaper published in Izmir (Smyrna). Initially a weekly, it subsequently appeared twice a week. Each issue had four pages.During its first years, La Buena Esperansa met with significant opposition, and lost readers when conservative members of the Izmir Jewish community rallied against it. In time, however, the paper became an established and influential organ in the city. In addition to reportin…


(5 words)

Author(s): Norman A. Stillman
see Judeo-Spanish LiteratureNorman A. Stillman

La Epoka (Salonica)

(536 words)

Author(s): Olga Borovaya | Julia Phillips Cohen
La Epoka (1875–1911) was a Ladino newspaper published in Salonica. It was founded by Bezalel Saadi Halevy. In 1898 his son, Samuel Saadi Halevy (Sam Lévy), became its editor-in-chief. The paper started  as a weekly, later became a bi-weekly, and eventually appeared five times per week, ranging from four to eight pages in different periods. It defined itself as a “political, economic and literary” publication and had a French counterpart,  Le Journal de Salonique, also run by members of the Halevy family. Between 1907 and 1908, it had a weekly supplement, La Epoka Literaria. La Epo…
Date: 2015-09-03

La Esperanza

(14 words)

Author(s): Norman A. Stillman
see La Buena Esperansa, Izmir, 1874-1917, La Buena Esperansa, Izmir, 1842Norman A. Stillman

La Gazette d'Israël (Tunis)

(322 words)

Author(s): Mohsen Hamli
La Gazette d’Israël was a two- to four-page weekly newspaper in Tunis published from October 1938 to July 1939 with a circulation of two thousand, and from December 1945 to September 1951 with a circulation of fifteen hundred. (Like all such journals, its readership far exceeded its circulation numbers.) An organ of Revisionist Zionism, it was founded by E. Ganem to fill the gap left by the closing of Le Réveil Juif and Kadima, and was managed consecutively by David Boccara, Raymond Cohen, Victor Haouzi, and André Scemmama. Its editors-in-chief were Henri Emmanuel an…


(586 words)

Author(s): Todd Shepard
Known as Algeria’s gateway to the Sahara, Laghouat (Ar. al-Aghwāṭ), located 400 kilometers (249 miles) south of Algiers on the southern edge of the Atlas Mountains, had a Jewish presence from at least its late sixteenth-century founding into the 1960s. With both Sephardi and indigenous (possibly Berber) roots, its Jews, like other Laghouatis, spoke dialectical Arabic in addition to Judeo-Arabic and, later, French.The city’s modern history began in blood, with the December 4, 1852, French conquest, which annexed it to the département of Algiers. Jews participated actively in …

La Justice (Tunis)

(394 words)

Author(s): Habib Kazdaghli
The Tunisian Jewish newspaper La Justice called for the extension of French jurisdiction, citizenship, and power in Tunisia. Its political opponents attacked the paper as a platform of the “assimilation party.”Founded in Tunis in 1907 by Mardochée Smadja, La Justice was named in homage to Georges Clémenceau and his campaign in favor of Alfred Dreyfus. The newspaper’s subtitle was: “journal for the extension of France’s rights and duties in Tunisia.” It called on the French to naturalize the Jews of Tunisia or at least to place them under the jurisdiction of French courts.With the outbr…

Lalehzari, Iraj

(256 words)

Author(s): Orly R. Rahimiyan
Dr. Iraj Lalehzari was an Iranian Jewish research scientist in chemistry and pharmacology. Born in 1930, he obtained a doctorate in pharmacology at the age of twenty-one from Tehran University and a second doctorate in organic chemistry in Paris in 1953, where he remained for post-doctoral studies. He returned to Iran in 1958 as professor of chemistry at the University of Tehran, becoming chairman of the department in 1970. In 1973, he was promoted to dean of the College of Pharmacology. In 1975…

La Liberté/El Horria

(491 words)

Author(s): Aviad Moreno
La Liberté/El Horria (French and Arabic, respectively for liberty) was a Jewish newspaper that appeared in Tangier, Morocco, between 1915 and 1922. It was published and printed by Salomon Benaioun (Ben Ayoun) (d. 1921). Originally from Oran, Algeria, Benaioun moved to Tangier in the late nineteenth century, where he issued several publications from his self-owned Imprimerie Française du Maroc printing house. They included the first Moroccan newspaper in French, Le Reveil du Maroc (Tangier) (1880–1899), first published by Benaioun’s predecessor, Abraham Lévy-Cohen. La Liberté/…

La Luz de Israel (Istanbul)

(209 words)

Author(s): D Gershon Lewental
La Luz de Israel (The Light of Israel; Istanbul, 1853–?) was a Judeo-Spanish weekly gazette in Istanbul, printed in Rashi script and edited by Léon de Ḥayyim Castro, a member of the Italian Castro family. Founded in 1853, and also known as Or Yisraʾel (The Light of Israel), the paper followed the first major Jewish newspaper to appear in Istanbul, the Journal Israélite (1841–1860). It was devoted primarily to news and reportage on the Crimean War. According to Moïse Franco, Castro owned a printing press and began issuing the paper in 1853 to capitalize on Jewish readers’ …

La Nation (Salonica)

(652 words)

Author(s): D Gershon Lewental
La Nation was a bi-weekly, then weekly, and later daily newspaper published in Salonica from 1900 to 1913. Edited by Judah Salomon Asseo, and printed in Judeo-Spanish (using Rashi script) and French, it served as an organ of the Cercle (later Club) des Intimes, a Jewish philanthropic and cultural organization in Salonica, as stated in its subtitle, “Revista Nasional Judea Independiente, organo del Club des Intimes.” The Cercle des Intimes was founded in 1873, and was restructured in 1907 as the Club des Intimes.For a brief period, La Nation flirted with Zionism and printed articles by Vlad…

Laniado Family

(1,310 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ayalon
The Laniado family probably arrived in the Ottoman Empire soon after the expulsion from Spain in 1492. Rabbis from the family appear to have played a central role in Aleppo in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, for they are frequently mentioned and quoted by other scholars throughout this period. Most of what information there is about the lives and official positions of the Laniado rabbis, however, is derived from works by members of the family and therefore is of questionable reliability. This applies most especial…

Lapapa, Aaron Ben Isaac

(964 words)

Author(s): D Gershon Lewental
Aaron ben Isaac Lapapa (ca. 1604–1667) was a highly regarded rabbi who led the Jewish community of Manisa for many years and then moved to Izmir to share the post of chief rabbi with Ḥayyim ben Israel Benveniste. He was one of the few rabbis in Izmir to oppose Shabbetay Ṣevi. Lapapa was born and grew up in Manisa. He studied at the yeshiva of Abraham Muṭal and under Ḥayyim ben Shabbetay (ca. 1555–1647) in Salonica, then went to Istanbul to study under Joseph ben Moses Miṭrani (Mahariṭ, 1569–1639), who often praised him. Lapapa was already considered an important scholar by the…


(474 words)

Author(s): Isabelle Rohr
The town of Larache (Ar. al-ʿArāʾish) is located on the Atlantic coast of Morocco at the mouth of the river Loukkos (Oued Loukkos), near the ancient town of Lixus, where legend places the Garden of the Hesperides. The first mention of Jews in Larache dates back to 1492. A Basque pirate, Juan López de Marondon (or Narondo), robbed Jewish exiles from Spain on their way to Larache. Throughout the sixteenth century, Larache saw the arrival of crypto-Jews from Portugal who wished to revert to Judaism. In 1542, when Portugal expelled the Jews of Arzila (Ar. Aṣīla), some of th…
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