Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World

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Subject: Jewish Studies

Executive Editor: Norman A. Stillman

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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(511 words)

Author(s): Jacques Taïeb
Nabeul (Ar. Nābul) is a small coastal town located 60 kilometers (37 miles) south of Tunis. Its first Jewish families settled there around 1700, attracted by the economic boom the town was undergoing. Some came from Tunis, such as the Ghez and Koskas families, others from Jerba, such as the Cohen, Haddad, Mamou, and Uzan families. Others, such as the Chiche family, came from Algiers around 1810, or from the Holy land, like the Karila family around 1835. The Hayoun, Paienti, Taïeb, and Temam fami…

Naccache, Gilbert

(418 words)

Author(s): Habib Kazdaghli
Gilbert Naccache was born in 1939 to a Jewish Tunisian family. After completing high school at the Lycée Carnot in Tunis, he studied agronomy in France, under the guidance of René Dumont at the National Agronomy Institute in Paris. Upon his return to Tunis in the early 1960s, he worked as an agricultural engineer for the Tunisian Ministry of Agriculture from 1962 to 1968. But Naccache is best known for his political and literary activities. At the age of fifteen, he joined the Tunisian CommunistParty, but was expelled in 1959 for his Trotskyite leanings. In the mid-1960s, h…

Nādir Shāh

(978 words)

Author(s): Vera B. Moreen
Nādir ShāhAfshār (r. 1736–1747), born Nādir Qulī Beg, was a member of the Turkoman Afshār tribe in Khurāsān. He was chiefly responsible for bringing about the final disintegration of the Ṣafavid dynasty (1501–1736), briefly replacing it  with his own Afshārid dynasty (1736–1795). A victorious warrior from his youth, Nādir’s numerous military campaigns can only be highlighted here. He and his band rose to prominence during the Afghan occupation of Iran (1722–1730). Nādir came to the attention of the Ṣafavid prince  Ṭahmāsp II (r. 1722–1732) as a potential savior of his dynas…

Nadi, Yunus

(442 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Yunus Nadi Abalıoğlu (1945) was an influential Turkish journalist, publisher, and politician. Born in 1879 in the town of Fethiye in the province of Muğla, he attended the Medrese-i Süleymaniye in Rhodes and later transferred to the Galatasaray Lisesi (Galatasaray High School) in Istanbul. Subsequently, he attended Istanbul University and obtained a degree in law.             Nadi began his journalistic career in 1900 at the newspaper Malumat. In 1901, he was sentenced to three years in prison for his alleged connection with an anti-government organization. In…

Naggiar, Mardochée (Mordechai Ibn al-Najjar)

(373 words)

Author(s): Mohammed Kenbib
Mardochée Naggiar, also known as Mordechai (Murdikhay) Ibn al-Najjar, was one of the few Jewish scholars from a Muslim land who actively contributed to the European orientalist scholarship of the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Born in Tunisia, he lived in Paris from the last years of the eighteenth century until 1812, during which time he made his assistance available to many famous European scholars from France, the Netherlands, Germany, and Sweden. Naggiar translated documents, co-authored dictionaries, and…


(2,393 words)

Author(s): Elinoar Bareket
The Hebrew title nagid, derived from a biblical term meaning ruler (I Kings 1:35), was the designation in the Middle Ages of the head of a Jewish community, first in North Africa and later in al-Andalus, Egypt, and Yemen. In post-medieval and early modern North Africa, it became the standard title for a person recognized by the government as the secular head of a Jewish community, a position known in Arabic as muqaddam (Algeria), qāʾid (Tunisia), and shayk al-yahūd (Morocco and elsewhere). 1.  The First Nagids in the Maghreb In the Maghreb, the term nagid first came into use in Ifrī…

Nahmias Family

(1,432 words)

Author(s): D Gershon Lewental
Naḥmias (also Ibn Naḥmias) was a common Sephardi family name in various parts of the Ottoman Empire from the late fifteenth century on. Individuals bearing the name have been found in Istanbul, Salonica, the Holy Land, Morocco, and elsewhere. While it is possible that the Naḥmias families, particularly the ones in Istanbul and Salonica, were related, scholarly research has so far failed to demonstrate any familial ties. Various Naḥmias families have attributed their origins to different cities in the Iberian Peninsula, including Toledo, Lisbon, and Majorca. The name Naḥmias first…

Nahon, Moïse

(367 words)

Author(s): Colette Zytnicki
Moïse Nahon was born in 1870 in Tangier to a family of notables. He attended the school of the Alliance Israélite Universelle, and was trained as a teacher at the École Normale Israélite Orientale in Paris. His first position was in Fez in 1889, and in 1899 he inaugurated a new AIU school in Casablanca. He was then sent to Algiers to head continuing education programs. In 1900, he became director of the farming estate of the AIU in Regaia, Algeria, which trained young Jews in agricultural work. While in Algeria, he published a long, detailed article on Moroccan Jewry in the French journal Revue de…

Nahoum (Nahum), Haim (Ḥayyim)

(887 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Haim Nahoum (Ḥayyim Nahum) was born in 1873 in Manisa, Turkey. In 1881, he moved to Tiberias with his grandfather and studied at a yeshiva where he learned the Talmud in Hebrew and the Qurʾān in Arabic. In 1886, after completing his studies in Tiberias, he returned to Manisa, where he mastered Turkish and French. Later, he enrolled at the Mekteb-i Sultani, a government lycée  in Izmir (Smyrna), and then at the Imperial School of Law in Istanbul, where he studied Islamic law and diplomacy. In 189…

Nahray ben Nissim

(413 words)

Author(s): Phillip Ackerman-Lieberman
Nahray ben Nissim (ca. 1025-1098), nicknamed Abū Yaḥyā, was a North African merchant and communal leader. More than 350 letters, notes, and accounts from the Cairo Geniza are either addressed to him or emanate directly from his hand, comprising the largest corpus of documentary sources from the Geniza concerning a single individual. Born around 1025 and descended from a leader ( nagid) of the Qayrawan community, Nahray migrated to Egypt around 1040, where he entered the patronage of his relative Barhūn b. Isḥaq Tahertī. At the center of a network of traders plying the Mediterranean …

Nahshon bar Zadok Gaon

(325 words)

Author(s): Phillip Ackerman-Lieberman
Nahshon bar Zadok was gaon of the academy of Sura for eight years in the second half of the ninth century. The precise chronology is in question, but his incumbency began between 865 and 871. His patronymic is also uncertain; it is given as Isaac in some versions of the Epistle of Sherira Gaon. Nahshon wrote many responsa, including one explaining the proper usages of magic. He also wrote commentaries on several tractates of the Talmud, as well as a monograph explaining difficult words therein, and has been misidentified as the author of Sefer Re'u Ma, a ninth-century work on ritual slaughter. A…

Nahum ben Jacob ha-Ma‘aravi

(310 words)

Author(s): Angel Saénz-Badillos
Nahum ben Jacob ha-Maʿaravi was a Hebrew poet and translator in the thirteenth century. Nothing is known about his life. His name suggests that he was born in the Maghreb. Apparently he traveled from one place to the other, probably spent some time in Castile, and finally established himself in Fez. As a poet, Nahum left his name in the acrosticon of some liturgical poems in the Sephardi style. They are, above all, strophic poems, dealing with such themes as Creation and penitence. Yonah David published thirteen poems attributed to Nahum in 1974. Two of them are particularly beautiful muwashs…

Nahum, Halfallah

(552 words)

Author(s): Maurice Roumani
Halfallah Nahum was born in 1879 into a prominent and well-to-do Jewish family in Tripoli, Libya. He received his primary and advanced technical-business education in Italian schools in Tripoli and in Manchester, England, where his uncle resided. In 1917, after renouncing the Dutch citizenship held for generations by his family, Halfallah became a naturalized Italian citizen and was elected the first president of the Jewish community of Tripoli, which had been reconstituted under the Italian colonial administration. Soon after, his leadership and the Com…

Nahum, Jan

(185 words)

Author(s): Romina Meric
Jan Nahum was born in Ankara in 1950. He attended Robert College, a renowned American school in Istanbul, and in 1973 received an M.Des. degree in automotive design from the Royal College of Art (RCA) in London. Since 1973, he has worked in various companies in the automotive industry and has sat on the executive boards of several companies. Nahum’s main areas of expertise include industrial engineering, industrial design, automotive strategic planning, and management. After working in numerous administrative positions at the Koç R&D Center (1975–1984; head of design,…


(7 words)

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

Naʼīm, Azizullah

(262 words)

Author(s): Orly R. Rahimiyan
ʽAzīzullāh ben Yūnā Naʼīm (1889–1946), a leader of the Iranian Jewish community at the beginning of the twentieth century, was born in Damāvand and died in Tehran. Also known as Rāb (Rabbi) Naʼīm, he led and inspired the first generation of young Zionists in Iran. By profession Naʼīm was a merchant. He was one of the founders of Ha-Histadrut ha-Ṣiyyonit, the first Zionist committee in Iran, in 1919, and became its second president. In December 1920, Naʼīm published in Tehran Tārikh-i Junbish-i Ṣiyonit (Pers. The History of the Zionist Movement), the first book on Zionism writ…

Najara, Israel ben Moses

(912 words)

Author(s): Shaul Regev
Israel ben Moses Najara, born in Safed in 1550, was a rabbi and scholar who was educated by his father, Moses Najara, and his grandfather, Rabbi Israel ben Me’ir di Curiel.  The family was of Iberian origin, probably from the Spanish town of Nájera.  In the Arabic-speaking Levant, the name was sometimes pronounced Najjāra, and in one poem, he actually says of himself in Aramaic Yisraʾel ʿavdakh hen ana naggara u-var naggara (Israel your servant I am indeed a carpenter the son of a carpenter) and in Hebrew naggar u-var naggar (see Mirsky, Sefunot 6, pp. 261-262).   In 1575, when Israe…


(447 words)

Author(s): Daniel Tsadik
Najāsat (Ar./Pers. impurity) is an Islamic legal concept that classifies certain items and classes of people as impure. In Imāmῑ (Twelver) Shīʿīsm, “infidels” (non-Muslims) are usually held to be agents of impurity, and the definition of infidel sometimes includes the kitāb , a person who belongs to a People of the Book. Shīʿī ʿ ulamāʾ (religious scholars) have sometimes explicitly held Jews to be impure. Qurʾān 9:30 ascribes to the Jews the belief that ʿUzayr (usually identified with the biblical prophet Ezra) was the son of God, a conviction that would tra…

Names and Naming Practices - Introduction - Middle Ages

(2,054 words)

Author(s): Phillip Ackerman-Lieberman
Jewish names and naming patterns can be used as tools for describing Jewish demographic, economic, social, and cultural history. The formation of Jewish names in the medieval Islamic world followed many Islamic naming patterns. Individuals had both personal names and family names. The personal name (Ar. ism) was often supplemented or replaced in common parlance with a by-name (Ar. kunya). The ism was also often followed by a patronymic, which generally was constructed of ben/bar/ibn (“son of”) for a male or bat/bint (“daughter of”) for a female, followed by the father’s name. At times a n…

Names and Naming Practices - Iran

(1,805 words)

Author(s): Esther Shkalim
The names of Iranian Jews reflect their beliefs, customs, way of life, national/cultural identity, family relationships, and the history of the Jewish community in Persia. The first part of this article deals with the given names of Iranian Jews, and the second with the development of surnames (family names).                                                            1. Given names Iranian Jewish given names derived from both Jewish tradition and the Iranian cultural environment. Throughout the long history of the community, onomastic choices dire…

Names and Naming Practices - Kurdistan

(1,200 words)

Author(s): Yona Sabar
1. Typology of Kurdish Jewish Names Some Kurdish Jewish proper names were borrowings from local and neighboring ethnic groups, such as Dárweš, Xodéda (Persian-Kurdish), Xā́tun (Turkish), Ḥábib, Ná'im, Ṣabrī́ya, and Zakī́ya (Arabic). Arabic names, especially for females, became more common in recent times, probably due to the greater frequency of contacts with the Arabic-speaking Jews of Mosul and Baghdad. However, the majority of Kurdish Jews had Hebrew names, which, as in other Near Eastern Jewish co…
Date: 2014-09-03

Names and Naming Practices - Ottoman Empire and Turkish Republic

(4,393 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ben Naeh
The Jewish denominations within the Ottoman Empire—Romaniots, Mustaʿribūn, Sephardim, Ashkenazim, and Karaites—all had their own distinctive naming practices, but the differences between them were more pronounced in the earlier period, from the fifteenth to the sixteenth century, than later. Starting in the seventeenth century, Italian (and later some French) Jews, collectively known as francos , began to settle in the empire. Their naming practices were not much different from those of Jews already living in the empire, but their family names, as …

Names and Naming Practices - Yemen

(2,206 words)

Author(s): Aharon Gaimani
The Jewish communities of Yemen did not have fixed rules for the selection of names. Commonly, the names for boys were picked by the father, while the names of girls were chosen by the mother, and occasionally the midwife or a female relative, such as a grandmother or an aunt. It was customary to name children after relatives or in harmony with events on the religious calendar around the time of birth. Thus, a girl born during or close to Sukkot was sometimes named Tiranja ( etrog), whereas a girl born close to Hanukka might be named Nissim (miracles). Raḥamim (mercy) was a popul…
Date: 2014-09-03

Naqqāsh, Samīr

(569 words)

Author(s): Nancy E. Berg
Samīr Naqqāsh (1938–2004) was an Iraqi-born Israeli writer of short stories, novellas, novels, and plays. He depicted his family in Baghdad as very comfortable if not wealthy. He was a passionate reader from a young age. Naqqāsh considered his family’s move to Israel in 1951 to have been the great tragedy of his life, and blamed the premature death of his father on the harsh conditions in the transit camp (Heb. maʿabara) where they were settled. A younger brother also died following the move, shortly after taking a fall of uncertain causes. Unhappy, Naqqāsh fled to…

Nasi, David

(313 words)

Author(s): Vera B. Moreen
In the period from 1721 to 1731, Iran was invaded by Afghans and Russians, and the Ṣafavid dynasty collapsed. During this turbulent decade the Jewish community of Kashan was internally divided and headed by weak leaders, foremost among them was David Nasi. In 1729, Ṭahmāsp Khān, fighting against the Afghans and attempting to install Ṭahmāsp II on the Ṣafavid throne, demanded money from the Jews of Kashan. They were willing to pay at first, but when the amount kept increasing, David Nasi and the other communal leaders declared that they would rather convert to Shīʿī Islam. Despite some …

Nasi, Gad

(273 words)

Author(s): Cengiz Sisman
Gad Nasi, born into a Sephardic family in Istanbul in 1937, is a psychiatrist, author, researcher, and public activist who now lives in Israel. Nasi graduated from Galatasaray High School and then from the Faculty of Medicine at Istanbul University. He began writing for local magazines while he was in high school and also translated popular articles from French and English into Turkish. During his university studies, he served as director of Şalom , the newspaper of the Jewish community of Turkey, and as a correspondent for various foreign publications. He also direc…

Nasi, Gracia Mendes

(1,145 words)

Author(s): Marianna D. Birnbaum
Gracia Nasi (Gracia Mendes, 1510?-1569) was the mother-in-law and business partner of Joseph Nasi, and a trader, banker, philanthropist, stateswoman and patron of Jewish activities in her own right. She was born Beatrix Luna (Beatrice de la Luna) in Lisbon to a family of wealthy Spanish Jews who had moved to Portugal after the expulsion in 1492, and there converted and lived as New Christians. At the age of eighteen, Gracia married Francisco Mendes, a relative and fellow converso with whom she had a daughter, Reyna. The Mendeses were a merchant family that traded in spices and m…
Date: 2015-09-03

Nasi, Joseph

(960 words)

Author(s): Marianna D. Birnbaum
Joseph Nasi(João Nasi, Nassi, Mykas, Zuan Miques, Juan Sixs) (ca. 1520–1579), the nephew, son-in-law, and business partner of Gracia Nasi, was a powerful banker and trader. For his services as an adviser to two Ottoman sultans, he was awarded the duchy of Naxos in the Cyclades archipelago. The son of a respected physician, Joseph Nasi was one of the most important traders in the Ottoman Empire. Born into a family of conversos, he and his younger brother Bernardo(Samuel, 1524?–159?) joined his uncle Diogo Mendes and his widowed aunt Gracia Na…
Date: 2015-09-03

Nataf, Elie

(427 words)

Author(s): Habib Kazdaghli
Elie Nataf, born in Tunis on February 14, 1888, came from a family of Jewish qāʿid s (community heads) and other communal leaders on his father’s side, and from the Borgel dynasty of rabbis on the side of his mother, Maïa Borgel. His father, Ange Nataf, was a civil servant in the central Finance department, one of the few Jews who worked in the Protectorate administration. His maternal uncle, Moïse Borgel, was the president of the  Jewish community. After graduating the Lycée Carnot in Tunis, Nataf attended law school at the University of Aix-en-Provence. Upon completing his law degree,  he o…

Nathan ben Abraham

(540 words)

Author(s): Elinoar Bareket
Abū Sahl Nathan ben Abraham ben Saul, a scion of a gaonic family on his mother’s side, was born in Palestine in the last quarter of the tenth century. He went to Qayrawan around 1011 in connection with an inheritance left by his father, but remained there to study under Ḥushiel ben Ḥananel. In Qayrawan, and later in Fustat, he engaged in commerce and made many important friends. His wife was the daughter of Mevorakh ben Eli, one of Fustat’s wealthier citizens. Around age forty, he returned to Palestine, where he was warmly received by the gaon, Solomon ben Judah. Nathan demanded to be appointed av b…

Nathan ben Hananiah

(495 words)

Author(s): Michael G. Wechsler
Nathan ben Hananiah (also attested as ben Ḥanina) flourished in Qayrawan between 820 and 870, during all or most of which period he and Judah ben Saul served as the heads ( rabbanan) of the bet midrash there and as dayyanim for the Jewish community of North Africa generally. Nathan corresponded with the Jewish authorities in Iraq in connection both with halakhic matters and the collection of donations (Heb. ḥoq or rashut) for the Babylonian yeshivot (see Yeshivot in Babylonia/Iraq). The period of Nathan’s gaonic correspondence was approximately forty years, as indi…
Date: 2015-09-03

Nathan ha-Bavlī

(446 words)

Author(s): Eve Krakowski
Nathan ben Isaac ha-Kohen ha-Bavli is the otherwise unknown author of a brief but very important historical text concerning the Babylonian academies and the exilarchate. The work, entitled Akhbār Baghdād (A Chronicle of Baghdad), was apparently written in Judeo-Arabic in North Africa in the mid-tenth century, but the sobriquet ha-Bavli indicates that Nathan came from Babylonia (Iraq). His account has been preserved in an undated Hebrew translation published by A. Neubauer. Fragments of the Judeo-Arabic original found in the Cairo Geniza were subsequently published by I. Friedlan…

Naṭronay bar Ḥavivay

(244 words)

Author(s): Phillip Ackerman-Lieberman
Naṭronay bar Ḥavivay, whose patronymic is also recorded as Zavinay in some texts of the Epistle (Heb. Iggeret) of Sherira Gaon, was Exilarch in Babyloniafrom 771 to 773. He was named to this post by Malka, the gaon of Pumbedita, during a dispute with the incumbent exilarch, Zakkay ben Aḥunay, possibly related to Zakkay’s genealogy. The Pumbeditan and Suran academies, however, supported Zakkay, and upon Malka’s death in 773, Naṭronay was exiled to “the West,” probably Spain. There Naṭronay is reported to have dictated the Talmud from memory, leading t…

Naṭronay bar Hilay Gaon

(379 words)

Author(s): Phillip Ackerman-Lieberman
Naṭronay bar Hilay was gaon of the Sura academy in the ninth century. The dating and duration of his reign are disputed by the early sources; he seems to have ascended to the gaonate between 853 and 859 and remained in office from five to ten years. A prolific writer of responsa, many of which have been preserved, Naṭronay maintained connections between the Sura academy and all parts of the Diaspora. One of his responsa, sent to the community of Lucena in Spain, includes a list of the hundred rabbinically ordained blessings to be recited daily; this responsum was the nucleus for the prayerbook of…

Naṭronay bar Nehemiah

(164 words)

Author(s): Phillip Ackerman-Lieberman
Naṭronay bar Nehemiah, also known as Mar Yanuqa, married into the family of the exilarch, and served as gaon of the yeshiva of Pumbedita from 719 until his death sometime before 739. His harsh treatment of the yeshiva’s students led many of them to move to the Sura academy. A few of his responsa survive, including some concerning heretical sects. While lenient in allowing the repentant followers of the false messiah Severus (Sāwīrā), also called Serenus, to return to the Rabbanite fold, Naṭronay was less welcoming of other penitents who had rejected biblical and talmudic ordinances. Philli…

Navaro, Leyla

(311 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Leyla Navaro, born in Istanbul in 1943, is an influential Turkish psychologist and writer. She graduated from Istanbul University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, and subsequently attended Boğaziçi (Bosporus) University, where she earned a master’s degree in psychological counseling. Her graduate studies focused on personal growth and development, and individual potential. Additionally, her clinical work emphasized gender-sensitive and group therapies.             Navaro is the founder of Nirengi, an organization that provides psychological counseling an…

Navon, Albert

(318 words)

Author(s): Joy Land
Albert Haim Navon, an educator employed by the Alliance Israélite Universelle (AIU) in North Africa, the Ottoman Empire, and France, rose to become the principal of the AIU teacher-training school for boys in Paris, the Ecole Normale Israélite Universelle (ENIO Auteuil), a post in which he continued for more than twenty years, starting in 1911. Born in Edirne (Adrianople) in 1864, Navon obtained his brevet de capacité (basic teaching certificate) from the AIU’s normal school in Paris, originally located on the rue des Rosiers. He began teaching in Tunis in 188…

Navon, Ephraim Ben Aaron

(216 words)

Author(s): Leah Bornstein-Makovetsky
Ephraim ben Aaron Navon (1677–1735) was a rabbi, dayyan, and author. Born in Istanbul, he moved to Jerusalem with his father-in-law, Judah Ergas, around 1700. He returned to Istanbul as an emissary (Heb. meshullaḥ or shadar) of the Jerusalem community in 1720 but chose to remain there. Three years later, he was appointed dayyan in the bet din (rabbinical court) of Judah Rosanes and became one of the leading rabbis of the Istanbul community. Navon was a founder of the Committee of Officials for Jerusalem in Istanbul. His legal work Maḥane Efrayim (The Camp of Ephraim; Istanbul, 1738) c…

Navon family

(801 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ben Naeh
The Navon family, of Spanish origin, settled in the Ottoman Empire from the Iberian peninsula after the expulsion in 1492 and 1497. It included several important rabbis, scholars, and public figures in Istanbul and Jerusalem during the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries. Ephraim ben Aaron Navon (ca. 1677–1735) was a rabbi in Istanbul and Jerusalem. Born in Istanbul, he moved to Jerusalem around the beginning of the eighteenth century, but in 1720 left as a rabbinical emissary ( shadar or meshullaḥ) to the cities of Turkey. When this mission was concluded in 172…

Navon, Yitzhak

(568 words)

Author(s): Zion Zohar
Yitzhak Navon, the fifth president of the State of Israel (1978–1983), was born in Jerusalem on April 9, 1921. His father, a descendant of Jews who were expelled from Spain in the fifteenth century, came to Jerusalem from Turkey in 1870; his mother, a descendant of Morocco’s renowned Ibn ʿAṭṭār family, arrived there in 1884. The polyglot Navon studied Hebrew literature and Islamic studies at the Hebrew University. Navon served as secretary to Moshe Sharett during his tenure as foreign minister of Israel and as chief of staff to Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion. H…

Navpaktos (İnebahtı, Lepanto)

(930 words)

Author(s): Yitzchak Kerem
Navpaktos (Tur. İnebahtı; It. Lepanto) is a Greek port town on the northern coast of the Gulf of Corinth about 215 kilometers (134 miles) southeast of Athens and about 15 kilometers (9 miles) southwest of Patras. A Romaniot community existed in Byzantine times, and after the arrival of the Sephardim, its synagogue was known as Qahal Qadosh Grego or Qahal Qadosh Toshavim. Benjamin of Tudela found about a hundred Jews in Navpaktos around 1170. For most of the fourteenth century the Jews enjoyed economic prosperity. The town was taken over by the Albanians in…

Naydāvūd, Murtażā Khān

(674 words)

Author(s): Houman Sarshar
Murtażā Khān Naydāvūd (Morteza Neydavood), born in 1900, was a composer and master tār player. The son of master tombak (chalice drum) player Bālā Khān, Murtażā Khān was one of twentieth-century Iran’s most renowned masters of Persian classical music. A pupil of two of the most towering figures in Persian classical music, Āqā Ḥusaynqulī (1853–1916) and Ghulām-Ḥusayn Darvīsh (Darvīsh Khān, 1872–1926), Naydāvūd began studying the tār at the age of six and, remarkably, reached the status of ustād (master) before the age of twenty. Other than his technical and compositional contrib…


(618 words)

Author(s): Richard Ayoun
Nédroma (Ar. Nadrūma) is a city in western Algeria in the Trara mountain range at the base of Mount Filaoussene, about 60 kilometers (37 miles) northwest of Tlemcen and 17 kilometers (11 miles) from the coast. According to a local Muslim legend, the exiled Joshua son of Nun came to the region of Nédroma; with Berber help he drove out his enemies, and later died there. The tomb of Sidi Youchaa (Joshua), on the coast several kilometers from the town, was an important pilgrimage destination for Muslims and Jews, but the Jews associated the site with the second-century Palestinian tanna, Rabbi Sime…

Nehama, Joseph

(1,314 words)

Author(s): D Gershon Lewental
Joseph ben David Nehama (Néhama) (March 17, 1881 – October 29, 1971) was an educator, historian, and public figure whose name is closely associated with the Jewish community of Salonica. He was born on March 17, 1881 into a prestigious family that had been settled in Salonica for many generations. One of his relatives, Judah ben Jacob Nehama (1824–1899), a leading nineteenth-century reformer, was headmaster of an Alliance Israélite Universelle (AIU) school. Nehama began his own seventy-year association with the AIU as a child. Following his education in a traditiona…

Nehemiah bar Kohen Ṣedeq Gaon

(295 words)

Author(s): Phillip Ackerman-Lieberman
Nehemiah bar Kohen Ṣedeq Gaon served as gaon of the academy of Pumbedita from 960 to 968. He was apparently of priestly descent. Nehemiah led an emerging faction against Aaron Sarjado after the latter, a member of the merchant class rather than the scion of a gaonic family, was appointed gaon of the academy of Pumbedita in 943. The immediate cause of Nehemiah’s secession was Aaron’s decision to appoint Sherira ben Hananiah and not Nehemiah to the post of av bet din ("president of the court" -- the second-highest rank in the yeshiva hierarchy) following the death of the incumbent av bet din, Amra…

Nehūrāy, Ayyūb Loqmān

(391 words)

Author(s): Orly R. Rahimiyan
Ayyūb Loqmān Nehūrāy was born in Kashan in 1882 and died in Tehran in 1952. He was the Jewish representative in the Majlis, the Iranian parliament, from the second through the thirteenth session (1909–1943), with the exception of the fifth Majlis (1924–1926), when Shemu’el Haïm was elected as Jewish representative. Nehūrāy’s father was Ḥakīm Ayyūb, the son of Nūr Maḥmūd, one of Nāṣir al-Dīn Shāh’s (r. 1848–1896) physicians. Nehūrāy earned his medical degree at Dār al-Funūn, the first polytechnic school in Iran, and then opened a clinic in Tehran. …

Nesry, Carlos de

(367 words)

Author(s): Mitchell Serels
Carlos de Nesry, the son of Rabbi Yaḥya Nezry (Berb. Nizrī), was a lawyer in the Court of Appeals of Tangier. In 1940, he served as a member of the Jewish Community Council of Tangier. An eloquent speaker, writer, and journalist, he changed the spelling of his surname and added the “de” to Hispanicize his image. Nesry was often seen wearing a cape and moved among the café set. He circulated a petition in Tangier asking the Nobel Committee to award him the prize in literature.  Nesry interpreted the life of the Jews of Tangie…

Nethanel ben Mevorakh

(188 words)

Author(s): Phillip Ackerman-Lieberman
Nicknamed Abu al-Barakāt, Nethanel ben Mevorakh was the middle son of Mevorakh ben Saʿadya, who served as ra'īs (or colloquially rayyis) al-yahūd (Ar. head of the Jewish community, i.e. nagid) of Fustat from ca. 1078 to 1082 and from 1094 to 1111. Nethanel seems to have been born around 1095. Unlike his father and his brother Moses, Nethanel did not ascend to the headship. On the other hand, he was an active participant in the culture of the political and economic elite of his community, and may well have served the Fatimid court, as perhaps is indicated by allusions to him in Geniza documents t…

Nethanel ben Moses ha-Levi

(380 words)

Author(s): Elinoar Bareket
Nethanel ben Moses ha-Levi was a physician at the Fatimid court, a renowned scholar, and a communal leader in twelfth-century Egypt. The Cairo Geniza has preserved a fascinating letter that Nethanel wrote to his friends as a youth. In it he complains that his father, Moses, then the “Sixth in the Society of Scholars” (i.e., the yeshiva) and a physician in the government hospital, had paid him 25 dinars, a large amount by any standard, to stay home and study rather than go out with his friends. The investment paid off: Nethanel became a famous physician and received an appointment to the …

Nethanel Fayyūmī

(530 words)

Author(s): Marzena Zawanowska
Nethanel (al-)Fayyūmī(Nethanel ben al-Fayyūmī) (d. ca. 1165) was a scholar and philosopher who lived in Yemen, apparently in Sanʽa, where he served as head of the Jewish community. The attributive name ( nisba) Fayyūmī indicates that his family might have originally come from Egypt. Some scholars (Adler and Kaufmann) identify him with Nethanel ben Moses ha-Levi, the gaon of Fustat, whereas others ( Mann) with the son or, more plausibly, the father of Jacob ben Nethanel al-Fayyumi ( Gottheil and Levine), to whom Maimonides wrote his famous Iggeret Teman (Epistle to Yemen). Nethanel …

Nethanel (Hibat Allāh) ben Jeshua al-Maqdisī

(194 words)

Author(s): Marina Rustow
Nethanel-Hibat Allāh ben Jeshua al-Maqdisī was a Jerusalemite who fled to Fustat after the Seljuk conquest of 1073. From a Cairo Geniza document it appears that he was a master weaver. While in Fustat, he was a junior partner in a textile venture with a certain Ṣedaqa he-Ḥaver ben Muvḥar according to a deed dated 1086. In the schism of 1038 to 1042, Nethanel supported Nathan ben Abraham in his challenge to the gaonate of Solomon ben Judah. Nathan’s court met in Nethanel’s home, drawing up a deed there in 1040 that Nathan signed as rosh yeshivat geʾon yaʿaqov (head of the yeshiva of the Pride…

Neṭīra Family

(412 words)

Author(s): Phillip Ackerman-Lieberman
The  Neṭīra family was an influential family of banker notables (Ar. jahā bidha; sing. jahbadh) in Baghdad roughly contemporaneous with Saʿadya Gaon, from the end of the ninth century. Neṭīra and his sons, Sahl and Isḥāq, successfully appealed to the Abbasid caliph on a number of occasions on behalf of various gaonic figures and against the exilarch. Nathan the Babylonian (see Nathan ha-Bavlī) reports that Neṭīra personally appealed to al-Muʿtaḍid on behalf of Kohen Ṣedeq Gaon of Pumbedita in the latter’s conflict with the exilarch ʿUqba, who had diverted income ordi…

Netzer, Amnon

(1,265 words)

Author(s): Nahid Pirnazar
Amnon Netzer (1934–2008) was a pioneering scholar of Iranian Jewish history and culture, and of Judeo-Persian language and literature, who introduced Iranian Jewish literature to the world and made significant research contributions in Iranian Jewish history. His broad knowledge and rigorous investigative methodology served as a bridge connecting the pre-Islamic Iranian Jewish heritage to the modern period. Amnon Netzer (1934-2008) was one of the leading scholars of Iranian and Judeo-Iranian studies and by far the most published scholar in the latter …

Neve Shalom Synagogue, Istanbul

(546 words)

Author(s): Rifat Sonsino
The largest and the most modern Sephardic synagogue in Istanbul, Neve Shalom (Oasis of Peace), is located in the Beyoğlu district, near the Galata Tower, and within walking distance of the Tunnel Square. In 1938, to make room for the synagogue, the reception hall of a Jewish primary school was converted into a house of worship. In 1948, the board of trustees of the temple decided to build a proper synagogue on the site. The following year, when all the preparations were completed, two Jewish architects, Elyo Ventura and Bernard Motola, both graduates of the Istanbul Technical University, …

Nevu’at ha-Yeled

(369 words)

Author(s): Daniel Tsadik
Nevu’at ha-Yeled (Heb. The Prophecy of the Child) is a vague medieval Aramaic text whose historical background and original intent are unclear. Its storyline puts five prophecies in the mouth of a child named Naḥman. Jews usually interpreted Naḥman’s unintelligible words as referring to past, present, and future events. One such exegete was the Sephardi kabbalist Abraham ben Eliezer ha-Levῑ, known as ha-Zaken (ca. 1459/60–1529/30), who wandered the Levant following the expulsion from Spain and wrote a commentary to the Nevu’at ha-Yeled. He construed some of Naḥman’s sayings …

New York

(11 words)

Author(s): Norman A. Stillman
see United States of America Norman A. Stillman
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