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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Le Journal d’Orient

(587 words)

Author(s): D Gershon Lewental
Le Journal d’Orient (1918–1924, 1926–1971), a daily newspaper in French published in Istanbul, was founded and edited by Albert Carasso (Karasu, 1885–1982). A French-educated political scientist born in Salonica, Carasso ran the enterprise with the help of Albert Avram Benaroya (1887–1955), Lea Zolotarevsky, Marsel Shalom, Regenstreif (first name never indicated), and others. In later years, Moşe Benbasat (Benbasan) and Aaron Zonana also contributed.In its early period, Le Journal d’Orient was sympathetic to Zionism but had no formal connection to the movement. …

Le Reveil du Maroc (Tangier)

(317 words)

Author(s): Jamaa Baida
Le Réveil du Maroc was a French-language newspaper in Tangier that appeared for the first time on July 14, 1883, its founder, Abraham Lévy-Cohen, Abraham, having chosen that symbolic date, Bastille Day, as a tribute to France. Nothing on the masthead referred to the newspaper as Jewish, but its founder’s concerns, as well as its content, clearly point to a publication defending Jewish interests in Morocco.     Lévy Cohen was born in Tangier in 1844 to a family originally from Essaouira (Mogador). A businessman and a lawyer, he was also a freemason, a member o…

Le Réveil Juif (Sfax)

(366 words)

Author(s): Mohsen Hamli
Le Réveil Juif was a weekly, French-language, four-page Zionist newspaper published on Fridays in Sfax, Tunisia, from September 1924 to March 1935. Its founder and director was Félix Allouche (1901–1978), its editors-in-chief were Henri Maarek and Elie Louzon, and its editing managers were Michel Loffreda, Jacques Taieb, and Maurice Sitbon. René Cohen-Hadria, Félix Bijaoui, David Chemla, and Jacques Belaïs (from Israel) were its most famous regular contributors. Considered the most important news organ of Revisionist Zionism in Tunisia in its day, Le Réveil Juif was character…

Levi (Abū Saʿīd) ben Japheth

(881 words)

Author(s): Michael G. Wechsler
Levi ha-Levi ben Japheth (Yefet), also known as Abū Saʿīd, flourished in the first half of the eleventh century. He was the younger of the two known sons of Japheth ben Eli , the Karaite Bible exegete par excellence (his brother being ʿAlī Saʿīd, or Saʿadya, ha-Levi). Like his father, Levi apparently resided in Jerusalem, where, according to Ibn al-Hītī , he counted Jeshua ben Judah (Abū ’l-Faraj Furqān ibn Asad) among his pupils. Later Karaite writers sometimes incorrectly refer to Levi as Saʿīd (not Abū Saʿīd) or Saʿ…
Date: 2015-09-03

Levi, Davishon (Davichon Levy)

(197 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Davishon Levi (Davichon Levy), from the city of Ioannina (Janina) in Epirus, was one of the six Jewish deputies in the Ottoman parliament during its second term from 1877 to 1878 (the others were Menahem Salah from Baghdad, Avram from Salonica, Yaver Disraeli and Salamon from Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Samuel Molho from Istanbul). During his parliamentary service, Levi  demonstrated great expertise in economics and fiscal policy. He frequently called attention to the Ottoman government’s wasteful spending and rising debts, attacked some of its policies as irres…

Levi (Ha-Levi), Moshe

(1,189 words)

Author(s): D Gershon Lewental
Moses Levi (Moshe ha-Levi) (c. 1827 - 21 July 1910) served for more than three decades, from 1872 to mid-1908, as acting chief rabbi of the Ottoman Empire, a tenure defined by his own conservatism and that of the Ottoman regime with whom he maintained close ties. Born in Bursa around 1827, Levi was educated at the city’s rabbinic seminary. On the death of Yaqir Geron (Guéron, r. 1863–1872), Levi succeeded to the office of chief rabbi after several days of stormy discussions between various factions in the Jewish community of Istanbul. The appointment of a ch…

Levi, Isaac

(791 words)

Author(s): Edwin Seroussi
Isaac Levy (1919–1977) was born in Manissa, near Izmir, in Turkey. In 1922, he immigrated to Israel with his parents. He studied voice at the Conservatory of Music in Jerusalem and performed as a singer throughout the country. At the same time, he composed songs on biblical and other sacred texts as well as children’s songs in modern Hebrew, some of which became canonical of this genre, such as “Bi-Mdinat ha-Gamadim” (In the Land of the Dwarfs).Very early in his career Levy became interested in collecting, publishing, and disseminating the Sephardi musical heritage. As he put it in h…

Levi, Isaac G.

(480 words)

Author(s): Uri M. Kupferschmidt
Born on January 4, 1878, in the Italian-Jewish community of Istanbul and raised there,Isaac G. Levi obtained a doctorate in law from the University of Naples in 1900, as well as a diploma from the Istituto Orientale in Napoli. In the same year, he went toEgypt where he first practiced law independently, and soon became oriental secretary at the Italian Consulate. In 1905 he joined the Egyptian government’s Department of Statistics, making important contributions to its development and ultimately becoming its director-general. Under his guidance the Annuaire Statistique began to a…

Levi (Le-Vet Ha-Levi) Family, Salonica

(1,986 words)

Author(s): D Gershon Lewental
The Sephardi family known as ha-Levi or le-Vet ha-Levi (Heb. of the House of Levi) produced a number of leading scholars and communal leaders in Salonica during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Originating in the Portuguese city of Évora, Solomon (I) ben Joseph (d. ca. 1538), a physician and rabbi, made his way to the Ottoman Empire at the turn of the fifteenth century. He traced his ancestry back to several other distinguished and wealthy physicians, including his grandfather, Moses ben Solomon ben Isaac, and the latter’s great-grandfather, Joseph. Solomon had tw…

Levi, Mario

(287 words)

Author(s): Leslie Abuaf
Mario Levi is a Turkish Jewish author and professor of communications. Born in Istanbul in 1957, he graduated from the Lycée Français Saint Michel in 1975 and subsequently attended Istanbul University, where he pursued a degree in French language and literature, graduating in 1980. Levi’s first experiment in writing was a diary in which he made regular entries. He began his professional career in 1984, contributing articles to numerous magazines and newspapers, including Şalom , Cumhuriyet, Milliyet Sanat, and Cumhuriyet Dergisi. In 1986, he published his first book, a roma…

Lévi-Provençal, Evariste

(528 words)

Author(s): David J. Wasserstein
Evariste Lévi-Provençal (né Maklouf Evariste Lévi) was a distinguished and highly assimilated French-Jewish orientalist who was  born in Algeria in 1894, and taught in Morocco, Algeria, and France. Deprived of his teaching post under the Vichy regime, he spent the war years in Toulouse and then in Cairo, but returned to France and a chair at the Sorbonne after the Allied victory in 1945.Lévi-Provençal was one of the most productive and influential French Islamists of his day, founding or editing several scholarly journals and serving as an editor of the second edition of the Encyclopaedi…

Levi, Shabbetai

(575 words)

Author(s): D Gershon Lewental
Shabbetai Levi (Istanbul, April 10, 1876 – Ḥaifa, November, 1, 1956) was a noted early Zionist leader. As the first Jewish mayor of Haifa, he oversaw the city’s rapid development during the first half of the twentieth century. Born in Istanbul on April 10, 1876, to Siman-Ṭov Nathan ha-Levi, a merchant and businessman, and Sarah née Pereṣ, he received both a traditional and a modern education and graduated from the Faculty of Political Science and Administration at Istanbul University. He moved to Palestine in 1894 a…

Levi, Suzi Hug

(201 words)

Author(s): Rifat Bali
Suzi Hug Levi was born in 1944 inIstanbul to an Ashkenazi family and is a graduate of Robert College. Since 1980 she has been a professional painter and sculptor. She has won several awards: in 1991 the Year’s Artist award from the Istanbul Paintings and Sculptures Museum; in 1997 the Sharjah Biennial Award of the United Arab Emirates; in 1998, 1999, and 2000 the Year’s Artist award in sculpture from the Ankara Art Institution; in 2002 the Tunis Biennial Award; and in 2004 the IJAYA (International Jewi…

Levi-Tannai, Sara

(404 words)

Author(s): Amy Horowitz
Sara Levi-Tannai (1911–2005) was an Israeli choreographer, founder of the Inbal Dance Troupe, and recipient of the Israel Prize in 1973 for her life’s work in dance. Born in Jerusalem, she lost her Yemenite immigrant parents at a young age and was raised in orphanages, where she was first introduced to Western culture. As a young woman, Levi-Tannai studied early childhood education in Tel Aviv and found a creative outlet composing songs for preschoolers, some of which remain popular to this day.…

Lévy, Alégrina Benchimol

(411 words)

Author(s): Frances Malino
Born in Tetouan, Morocco, in 1885, Alégrina Benchimol was the youngest of three sisters. Together they founded and directed Alliance Israélite Universelle schools in ten cities in North Africa and the Ottoman Empire. Her brothers were also Alliance teachers. In 1900, Alégrina left Tetuan for France to study at a private school in Auteil. She returned to North Africa in 1904 as assistant to her oldest sister, Claire Benchimol Lévy, director of the Alliance school for girls in Tripoli, Libya. When her sister died a year later, Alégrina succeeded her as director,…

Lévy, Benny

(853 words)

Author(s): Dinah Assouline Stillman
Benny Lévy was a French intellectual, essayist, philosopher, and professor at the Sorbonne (Paris VII), best known in France as one of the founders of a Maoist movement in 1968 and for having been secretary to Jean-Paul Sartre from 1973 until the latter’s death in 1980. His trajectory took him from radical politics to Western philosophy to Orthodox Judaism, and ultimately aliya to Israel, where he taught philosophy and in 2000, together with two other French Jewish philosophers, Bernard-Henri Lé…

Lévy-Cohen, Abraham

(409 words)

Author(s): Mitchell Serels
Abraham Lévy-Cohen (1844–1888) was born in Tangier, raised in Essaouira (Mogador), and educated in England, where he was naturalized. He also lived in France for eight years. Returning to Morocco as a lawyer, businessman, and journalist, he served as a member of the regional committee of the Alliance Israélite Universelle and representative of the Anglo-Jewish Association in Tangier. Though a British subject, he was a member of the Jewish Francophile elite, devoted to the advancement of French culture and interests in Morocco.On July 14, 1883, Lévy-Cohen began publishing Mor…

Levy, David

(481 words)

Author(s): Zion Zohar
David Levy is an Israeli politician who served for more than thirty-five years in the Knesset (1969–2006). Born in Rabat, Morocco, in 1939, Levy emigrated to Israel with his family in 1959 and settled in the peripheral northern town of Beit She’an. As a construction worker at the age of twenty-six, he represented the construction workers union on the Beit She’an workers’ council. The following year he became deputy mayor and later was mayor of Beit She’an from 1964 to 1977. From the mid-1960s through the early 1980s Levy was chairman of the Teḥelet Lavan faction of the Likud in the nation…

Levy, Ḥabῑb

(564 words)

Author(s): Daniel Tsadik
An important community leader in twentieth-century Iran, Ḥabīb Levy attended the Alliance Israélite Universelle school until the age of fourteen and then studied dentistry in Paris until 1913. In 1922 he became a dentist in an Iranian military hospital where Reza Shah (r. 1925–1941) was one of his patients. Later he had his own practice and also became an importer of pharmaceuticals to Iran.Levy was heavily engaged in public activities. He joined the Iranian Zionist movement in 1919, became the head of its Propaganda Commission, and in 1921 was elected to the pres…

Lévy, Messody

(329 words)

Author(s): Frances Malino
Born in Tetouan in 1898, Messody Lévy spent her youth in Tripoli, Libya where her parents, Claire Benchimol Lévy and Maïr Lévy, were the directors of the local Alliance Israélite Universelle schools. When Claire died in childbirth in 1905, Messody’s aunt, Alégrina Benchimol, married her brother-in-law, and together they raised his four children. After graduating from the local Alliance school in Tripoli—she was, her aunt wrote to the AIU in Paris, the most brilliant student she had ever taught—Messody left for Paris to train as an Alliance teacher. She returned to Morocco in 1916 …
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