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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Pahlavi Dynasty and Islamic Republic

(8 words)

Author(s): Norman A. Stillman
see Iran/PersiaNorman A. Stillman


(407 words)

Author(s): Shalva Weil
In the first half of the twentieth century, approximately a thousand Jews lived in pre-state Pakistan’s major urban centers: Karachi, Peshawar, Quetta, and Lahore. The majority were members of the Bene Israel community of Maharashtra who had come to Pakistan with the British as railroad workers or as soldiers. They spoke Marathi, Urdu, and English; prayers were conducted in Hebrew. The rest were Jewish traders of Middle Eastern, Iranian, or Afghan origin.The Magen Shalom synagogue in Karachi was inaugurated in 1893, and in 1916 a Hebrew school was opened on its premise…

Palermo and Sicily

(2,268 words)

Author(s): Nadia Zeldes
Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean, was conquered from the Byzantines by the Aghlabid dynasty of Ifrīqiya (medieval Tunisia) during the ninth and tenth centuries, and it remained under Muslim rule until the end of the eleventh century. The dynasties that ruled Ifrīqiya also ruled Sicily, at least nominally. As a political unit in this period, Sicily included Malta, Gozo, and Pantelleria, as well as the nearby smaller islands.Jewish settlement in Sicily and Palermo preceded the Muslim conquest. The earliest testimony about Sicilian Jews under Muslim r…


(20,326 words)

Author(s): Ruth Lamdan | Yoram Erder | Joseph Drory
1. The first Muslim Period (634-1099)In general historiography, the period under discussion is called the first Muslim period, whereas in the context of Jewish history it is referred to as the gaonic period. The present survey will begin with a general overview and briefly clarify the significance of the gaonic period for the Jews of Palestine, the Land of Israel (Heb. Ereṣ Yisraʾel) . Interface between Islamic and Gaonic Periods       The first Muslim period extended from the Arab conquest of Byzantine Palestine (634–641) to the Crusader conquest (1099). Islami…
Date: 2015-09-03

Pallache Family (Moroccan Branch)

(1,016 words)

Author(s): Mercedes García-Arenal
The Pallaches were a Sephardi family perhaps descended from the Bene Palyāj mentioned by the twelfth-century chronicler Abraham Ibn Da’ud as “the greatest of the families of Cordoba.” The family name had numerous variants, among them Palacios, Palacio, de Palatio, al-Palas, and Palaggi. Following the expulsions from Iberia, members of the family went both to North Africa and to the Ottoman Empire. Several members of the family served the Saʿdian sultans of Morocco as merchants, diplomatic envoys, translators, and personal secretaries from around 1608 till the en…

Pallache Family (Turkish Branch)

(1,463 words)

Author(s): D Gershon Lewental
The Pallache (Palaggi, Palache, Palacci) family originated in the Iberian Peninsula and had branches in many places along the Mediterranean littoral. It produced several leading rabbinical scholars in the Ottoman city of Izmir (Smyrna) during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Two of them, Ḥayyim ben Jacob and his son Abraham, served as chief rabbi ( haham başı) and became the focus of a fierce dispute that engulfed the town’s Jewish community, while a third, Solomon ben Abraham, contributed to its decline.Ḥayyim ben Jacob Pallache(January 28, 1788– February 10, 1…

Pallache, Ḥayyim

(426 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ben Naeh
Ḥayyim ben Jacob Pallache (Palache, Palaggi), known by the Hebrew acronyms Ḥabif and Maharḥaf, was a chief rabbi of the Ottoman city of Izmir (Smyrna). Born in Izmir in 1788, he was educated by his father, who was a well-known rabbi and kabbalist, as well as by his grandfather Joseph Raphael ben Ḥayyim Ḥazzan (Ḥazzan, 1741–1820), who was also a chief rabbi of Izmir. Ḥayyim Pallache was already a rabbi in 1813, when he was but twenty-five years old; by the time he reached forty in 1828, he had been appointed head of the Bet Yaʿaqov rabbinical seminary. Ten years later, he became the head …

Pallache, Samuel b. Isaac I

(9 words)

Author(s): Norman A. Stillman
see Pallache FamilyNorman A. Stillman


(525 words)

Author(s): Margalit Bejarano
Panama, a republic in Central America, is unique in the ethnic composition of its Jewish community: the oldest communal organization was founded by Sephardim of Portuguese descent from the Caribbean islands; the largest group is made up of  Jews from the Middle East; Ashkenazim are a small minority in a community dominated by Sephardim and Mizraḥim. Jews were not allowed to settle in Panama under Spanish colonial rule, but there were some crypto-Jews among the merchants who used the Isthmus of Panama as a transit route between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. After th…

Papo, Eliezer

(364 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ben Naeh
Eliezer ben Isaac Papo, born in Sarajevo in 1785, was the rabbi of the small Jewish community in Silistre and one of the best-known Jewish scholars in the Balkans in the early nineteenth century. His fame derived primarily from his Peleʾ Yoʿeṣ (Wonderful Counselor), an important work on morals and ethics ( musar) published in his lifetime (Istanbul, 1825) and many times thereafter down to the present. In addition to the numerous Hebrew editions, it has appeared in Judeo-Spanish, Judeo-Arabic, and Yiddish, as well as in abridged translations in En…

Pariente-Elmaleh, Messody

(616 words)

Author(s): Frances Malino
Messody Pariente was born in 1877 in Tetouan into an aristocratic Jewish family. Her uncle Shemtob (Semtob) Pariente played an important part in extending the influence of the Alliance Israélite Universelle in Turkey. After attending the local Alliance school, Messody left Tetouan for Paris to train as an Alliance teacher. Returning to North Africa in 1895, she became an assistant teacher in the Alliance schools in Tangier and Tetouan (1897–1902) and married Amran Elmaleh (born in Tangier in 1879), a fellow teacher. In 1903 Messody and her husband left for Beirut. T…

Pariente, Shemtob

(280 words)

Author(s): Joy Land
Shemtob (Semtob, S.T.; J.) Pariente (1849–1907) was an educator in the Alliance Israélite Universelle (AIU) network and director of colonies for the Jewish Colonization Association in Asia Minor and Syria. Born in Tetouan, Morocco, he trained at the École Normale Israélite Orientale in Paris and received the diplôme de capacité (basic teaching certificate for primary schools) in 1870. That same year he became director of the school in Choumla, and in 1873 of the school in Roustchouk (Ruschuk, modern Rousse), both in Bulgaria. In 1877 he served…


(4 words)

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


(1,546 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ayalon
The Hebrew term parnas (pl. parnasim), which first appears in rabbinic sources (BT Sanhedrin 82a), denotes leadership status. In medieval Europe, the parnas was the head of the community, elected for a fixed period that, depending on locality, could be as brief as a month or as much as several years. In the eastern Mediterranean and the Arab world, the parnasim were lay leaders of the community who functioned alongside the rabbis. Their position was therefore similar in many ways to that of “the seven good men of the city” ( shivʿa ṭove ha-ʿir) in the Talmud (BT Megilla 26a–27a). Parnasim are …

Partnership, commercial/industrial

(596 words)

Author(s): Phillip Ackerman-Lieberman
Commercial and industrial partnerships (Ar. shirka; Med. Heb. shutafut) were the primary form of economic cooperation in the lands of medieval Islam. Classical Islamic and Jewish legal sources and documents from the Cairo Geniza reveal the breadth of the partnership arrangements employed throughout the Middle Ages. Partnerships had many economic functions. In addition to being a vehicle for craft production in which both partners would contribute investment capital as well as physical effort, partnership bypassed the traditional prohibition on granting…

Passi, David

(322 words)

Author(s): Benjamin Arbel
David Passi was a Jewish businessman, presumably of Portuguese origin, who was active as a secret agent and political councilor in the eastern Mediterranean between the late 1560s and the mid-1590s. In 1569 he was in Ragusa, wherefrom he sent intelligence to Venice concerning Ottoman political and military intentions. During the war between Venice and the Ottomans (1571–1573) he acted as a Venetian agent in Ragusa, providing intelligence on Ottoman affairs.After the conclusion of the war, Passi must have spent several years in Venice before moving on to Istanbul. …

Patras (Balya Badra)

(5 words)

Author(s): Avigdor Levy
see MoreaAvigdor Levy


(821 words)

Author(s): Thomas Park
In the Islamic world, Jews who made their living by peddling sold both to Jews and to Muslims. In dealing with the latter, the Jewish peddler (known as a dewwās in Morocco, ṭawwāf in Libya, and dore-gard in Iran) relied upon the protection of local Muslim notables who would be dishonored if the peddler was harmed. Jewish peddlers had certain advantages over Muslim competitors intrinsic to their lowly status in the Islamic world. Their presence in Muslim homes posed little threat to family honor, because an affair or elopement with a Muslim woman was unthin…

Peraḥya, Aaron Ben Ḥayyim Abraham ha-Kohen

(173 words)

Author(s): Leah Bornstein-Makovetsky
Aaron ben Ḥayyim Abraham ha-Kohen Peraḥya(1627?–1697) was born in Salonica into a well-known family of Italian origin. He studied with Rabbis Asher ben Ardut ha-Kohen, Ḥasday ha-Kohen Peraḥya, and Ḥayyim Shabbetay. In 1689, he succeeded Elijah Covo (see Covo Family) as chief rabbi of Salonica. Aaron was the author of Paraḥ Maṭṭe Aharon (Aaron’s Staff Blossomed; 2 vols., Amsterdam 1703), a collection of responsa; Pirḥe Kehunna (Flowers of Priesthood; Amsterdam, 1709), a commentary on tractates Bava Qamma, Bava Meṣiʽa, Ketubbot, Giṭṭin, ʽAvoda Zara, and Qiddush…

Perahya, Eli (Elie)

(187 words)

Author(s): Rifat Bali
Eli Perahya was a leader of the Turkish Jewish community, a writer, and a Judeo-Spanish poet. He was born in Istanbul in 1913 and was educated at the Saint Joseph French Lycée. A retired accountant and financial professional, he has worked since an early age in the social  institutions of the Turkish Jewish community. From 1957 to 1983, he was a member of the lay council of the Turkish chief rabbinate and in 1983 was elected its vice president. From 1974 to 1976 he was president of the Society to Protect the Poor (Fakirleri Koruma Derneği), a successor to the B'nai B'rith Lodge of Constantinop…
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