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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(1,653 words)

Author(s): Jessica Marglin
The twin port cities of Rabat (Ar. Ribāṭ, Ribāṭ al-Fatḥ; Mor. Ar. r-Rbāṭ) and Salé (Ar. Salā; Mor. Ar. Slā), on Morocco’s Atlantic coast, lie on the southern and northern banks, respectively, of the Bou Regreg River (Ar. Wādī Abū Raqraq). The area around the Bou Regreg was populated in ancient times, and Muslim historians report that Jews and Christians were living in the region before the advent of Islam. In the twelfth century the Almohad sultan ʿAbd al-Muʾmin and his successors planned to make Rabat their capital city and began construction of extensive walls and an…


(232 words)

Author(s): Marzena Zawanowska
The term Rabbanites (Heb. rabbaniyyim; Ar. rabbāniyyūn) is a general term used in Jewish and Islamic sources from approximately the tenth century on to denote the adherents of mainstream rabbinical Judaism. As opposed to the Karaites (see Karaism), their most notable adversaries at the time, the Rabbanites accepted the binding authority of the Oral Law ( tora she-be-ʿal-pe), as canonized in the Talmud (Mishna and Gemara) and the Midrash, and in the writings of later rabbinic authorities, such as the geonim (see Gaon and Gaonate), and considered all th…

Rabbinical Emissaries (Sheluḥe de-Rabbanan, Shadarim)

(1,895 words)

Author(s): Matthias Lehmann
Rabbinical emissaries raised funds abroad for the Jewish communities of Palestine. They were most active between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries. In their heyday, Istanbul was the main center from which fundraising missions were organized and overseen. Rabbinical emissaries visited Jewish communities throughout the world; the Ottoman Empire, Western Europe, and North Africa were the most frequent and important destinations.Rabbinical emissaries collecting funds in support of the Jews in the Holy Land, known as sheluḥe de-rabbanan (acronym:  shadarim), were a com…

Raccah, Masʿūd Ḥayy b. Aaron

(396 words)

Author(s): Maurice Roumani
In the eighteenth century, under the Karamanli dynasty (1711–1835), the Community Council of Tripolitania consisted not only of a president and notables but also of rabbis and scholars. The latter were responsible for the education of the children and for the rabbinical court (Heb. bet din). The Tripolitanian community often looked to Palestine for teachers and rabbinic leadership, and that is how Rabbi Masʿūd Ḥayy ben Aaron Raccah came to settle in Tripoli. Born in Izmir, Turkey, in 1690, he studied under Ḥayyim ben Moses Abulafia and Isaac ben Judah ha-Ko…


(344 words)

Author(s): Phillip Ackerman-Lieberman
The Radhanites (Ar. al-Rādhāniyya) were Jewish merchants believed to have originated in the ninth century in the region of Rādhān, a district in southern Iraq. Their trade routes, which stretched from China to the Iberian Peninsula, as well as the commodities in which they traded, were recorded by the ninth-century Persian geographer Ibn Khurradādhbih (or Khurdādhbih) in his Kit āb al-Masālik wa al-Mamālik (ed. de Goeje, Leiden, 1889, pp. 153-155). According to this text, the Radhanites knew six languages and traded in slaves, silk, furs, and swords, as w…


(7 words)

Author(s): Norman A. Stillman
see Elisha ben Samuel (Rāghib)Norman A. Stillman


(5 words)

Author(s): Norman A. Stillman
see Dubrovnik (Ragusa)Norman A. Stillman

Raḥamim, Ezekiel Ezra

(199 words)

Author(s): Pinchas Giller
Ezekiel (Yehezkel) Ezra Raḥamim, known by the acronym Ya"AR, was born in Baghdad in 1876 and emigrated to Jerusalem in 1904. From childhood he distinguished himself as a prodigy in all facets of rabbinic studies, and by the age of fifteen he was considered one of the foremost sages of Baghdad. He was, as well, a confidant of Joseph Ḥayyim al-Ḥakam, the Ben Ish Ḥayy. Ben Raḥamim passed away in 1908 at a young age, leaving a wife and daughter, and providing for their needs precluded the publication of his works. Although he wrote many practical codes of law, only one, ʿ Aṣ e ha-Yaʿar (The Trees of t…

Rahbar, Samuel

(333 words)

Author(s): Haideh Sahim
Samuel (Shelomo) Rahbarwas born in 1929 into an educated family in Hamadan, Iran. Like most Iranian Jews in his time, he received his early education in the Alliance Israélite Universelle school system and then at the Pahlavi High School. Inspired by a brother who was a chemistry teacher, he entered the Faculty of Medicine at Tehran University, graduating in 1953. From then until 1960 he worked in Abadan and Tehran. In 1959 he returned to his alma mater, specializing in immunology, and in 1963, becoming the first Jewish member of Tehran University’s Faculty of Medicine, he was …


(1,164 words)

Author(s): Miriam Frenkel
Ramla (Ramleh; Ar. al-Ramla), a town near Jerusalem built by the Umayyads in the eighth century, was the capital of the province of Palestine. Its Jewish community was affiliated with the Yeshiva of Palestine, but a faction attempted to establish connections with Babylonian yeshivot. Ramla was a pilgrimage station and a center of book copying.Ramla (also Ramleh; Ar. al-Ramla), a town 40km/25mi west-northwest of Jerusalem, was founded at the beginning of the eighth century by Sulaymān (d. 717), brother of the Umayyad caliph al-Walīd (r. 705–715), wh…

Raphael Hayyim Moses

(8 words)

Author(s): Norman A. Stillman
see Ben Nāʾīm FamilyNorman A. Stillman

Rashīd al-Dīn Ṭabīb

(664 words)

Author(s): Vera B. Moreen
Rashīd al-Dīn Ṭabīb (Physician) Faḍl Allāh ibn ʿImād al-Dawla, Abūʿl Khayr ibn Ghālī (ca. 1247–1318), was one of medieval Iran’s greatest statesmen and historians. Although once much debated by medieval and modern scholars, it is now accepted that Rashīd al-Dīn was born a Jew in Hamadan. A controversial figure in his lifetime, he was a physician from a family of apothecaries. Nothing is known of the early part of his life and career; he first served at the Īlkhānid court as the physician of Abāqā (r. 1265–1282). Around the age of thirty, and for reasons that were probab…

Rassemblement Mondial du Judaïsme Marocain

(14 words)

Author(s): Norman A. Stillman
see Zionism in the Maghreb to be combinedNorman A. Stillman

Ratti-Menton, Benoît Ulysse-Laurent-François, Count de

(10 words)

Author(s): Norman A. Stillman
see Damascus Affair (1840)Norman A. Stillman

Rav Akçesi (Rabbi's Tax)

(608 words)

Author(s): Avigdor Levy
The rav akçesi (rabbi’s tax) , also known as cizye-i rav and maktu, was an annual tax levied on Jewish communities in the Ottoman Empire in return for official recognition of the principle of Jewish autonomy and the Jews’ right to elect their own rabbis and religious judges. The first Ottoman record of the payment of this tax is dated July 4, 1480, when it was paid by Moses Capsali, who had been appointed chief rabbi of Istanbul by Sultan Mehmed II shortly after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople (1453). At the time the tax was listed as cizye-i rav (the Heb. term rav for rabbi, used by Roman…

Rav ha-Kolel

(8 words)

Author(s): Norman A. Stillman
see Hakham Bashi (Chief Rabbi)Norman A. Stillman

Rav ve-Metropolit

(8 words)

Author(s): Norman A. Stillman
See Hakham Bashi (Chief Rabbi)Norman A. Stillman

Razim, Sefer ha-

(306 words)

Author(s): Vera B. Moreen
Sefer ha-Razim (Heb. The Book of Secrets) is a collection of spells, incantations, angelology, and magical remedies intended to be used for such purposes as acquiring power over humans, spirits, and nature. The texts included in the collection originated in the fourth and fifth centuries C.E. Scholars continue to debate whether Sefer ha-Razim is an actual book; in its present form it is a scholarly compilation by Mordecai Margulies. Some of its contents come from Sefer Raziʾel ha-Malakh (Heb. The Book of the Angel Raziʾel), a conjuring book compiled in the thirteenth cen…

Razon, Norma

(283 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Norma Razon, born in Istanbul in 1946, is a renowned Turkish child psychologist and pedagogical expert. She graduated from the Lycée Notre Dame de Sion in Harbiye, Istanbul, in 1964, and then enrolled in the Pedagogy Department of Istanbul University, graduating in 1968. She continued doing pedagogical research at the university, obtaining her doctorate and later her professorship in 1972 and 1988, respectively, and was a member of the faculty of Istanbul University until 1997.            In addition to lecturing at Istanbul University, Razon participated in seminars …

Recanati Family

(2,172 words)

Author(s): D Gershon Lewental
Since the late nineteenth century, the Recanati family has consisted of journalists, Zionist activists, and financiers who flourished in the Ottoman Empire, Greece, and Israel. The family traces its origins to central Italy—Tuscany, the city of Livorno on the western coast, and the eastern Marche—and counts among its ancestors the late-thirteenth-century rabbinical scholar and kabbalist Menahem ben Benjamin Recanati. Members of the family in Salonica entered various fields of business and made the Recanatis one of the leading families of the Jewish elite. …

Reinette l’Oranaise

(7 words)

Author(s): Norman A. Stillman
see Daoud, Reinette SultanaNorman A. Stillman

Rejwan, Nissim

(288 words)

Author(s): Lital Levy
Born in Baghdad in 1924, Nissim Rejwan is an author, journalist, and political commentator. He began writing for the Iraq Times while managing the Al-Rabita Bookshop in Baghdad. In 1951 he emigrated to Israel, where he joined the staff of the Jerusalem Post. He continued there until 1996. From 1957 to 1959 he also worked as a news editor for the Arabic section of the Israel Broadcasting Authority, and again as a features editor from 1976 to 1989; from 1959 to 1966 he was editor of the Tel Aviv Arabic daily al-Yawm. Over the years he studied at the Hebrew University and later at Tel Av…


(304 words)

Author(s): Richard Ayoun
Relizane (Ar. Ghalīzān; Berb. Ighil Izan) is a city and province in northwestern Algeria located on the plain of the Mina wadi, on the western side of the Ouarsenis Mountains. It was founded by the French near the site of the old Roman town of Mina following their conquest of Algeria. Jews settled in Relizane in 1857, and as the town was in the department of Oran, they were under the jurisdiction of the Oran Jewish consistory. The Jewish population grew from 25 in 1877 to 280 in 1881, 472 in 189…

Renacimiento de Israel (Tangier)

(302 words)

Author(s): Daniel Schroeter
The Renacimento de Israel (Renaissance of Israel) was a bimonthly Spanish-language review published in Tangier but printed in Algeciras, Spain. The paper described itself on its masthead as Defensor de los intereses politicos y nacionales de la colectividad Israelite de Marruecos (Defender of the political and national interests of the Jewish collectivity in Morocco).  It was founded in 1924 by Asher Perl (known as “Rabbi Asher”), who was born in Poland around 1868 or 1869, lived in Palestine for time, and settled in Algeciras after traveling widely in N…

Renassia, Daniel

(554 words)

Author(s): Yossef Charvit
Daniel ben Joseph Renassia (Ghenasiyya; 1904–1987) was a rabbi and teacher in Constantine and Israel in the twentieth century. As the successor of his father, Joseph ben David Renassia (1879–1962), he continued his educational work. This was evident, first and foremost, in his concern for teaching Judaism and Jewish culture during a period in which French cultural influences were quite dominant. It was also apparent in his translations of liturgical books and prayers into French, and his promotion of instruction in the Hebrew language. Renassia was principal of the Or Torah religiou…

Renassia, Joseph

(1,157 words)

Author(s): Yossef Charvit
Joseph ben David Renassia (Ghenasiyya, 1879–1962) was a writer, educator, legal decisor (Heb. poseq), and rabbinical judge ( dayyan) in Algeria. As chief rabbi of Constantine, he was an architect of the city’s Jewish educational system. He also headed a school for Torah study ( bet midrash), was a leading local supporter of the Alliance Israélite Universelle, and was one of the heads of the ʿEṣ Ḥayyim yeshiva. His powerful influence was felt across the Jewish communities of Algeria and throughout the eastern Maghreb.Renassia’s religious writings, a total of 137 texts, touch upo…

Resh Kalla

(334 words)

Author(s): Phillip Ackerman-Lieberman
Resh kalla (head of a row) was an Aramaic title bestowed upon leading members of the academies in Babylonia (see Yeshivot in Babylonia/Iraq) and prominent figures in the Diaspora communities. It was often substituted with its Arabic equivalent, raʼs al-kull, the Hebraicized form rosh kalla, or with the Hebrew term alluf (chief). The title derives from the circumstance that scholars in the Babylonian academies were organized in rows, with each row assigned a “head” who sat in the first row. The post was based largely on inheritance but also upon scholarly a…


(5,094 words)

Author(s): Y. Zvi Stampfer
The responsa literature (Heb. she’elot u-teshuvot, questions and answers) has been an important Jewish literary genre since the eighth century. As its name indicates, the responsa literature is a vast collection of queries sent by individuals or communities to important individuals or groups that had religious authority, and the responses the latter sent back. The questions dealt with every facet of Jewish life: law, philosophy, language, interpretation of the Bible, interpretation of the Talmud, and more. The roots of this literary genre lie in ancient times; the earliest known r…
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