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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(9 words)

Author(s): Norman A. Stillman
see ; Aden; Bahrain (Bahrayn); Hadramawt;Hijaz; YemenNorman A. Stillman

Arabic Elements in Palestinian Yiddish

(642 words)

Author(s): Assouline Dalit
Yiddish-speaking Ashkenazim from Eastern Europe began to settle in Ottoman Palestine in the late eighteenth century, mainly in the holy cities of Jerusalem, Safed, Tiberias, and Hebron, which already had small Yiddish-speaking populations. The ensuing contact of these communities with Arabic resulted in salient lexical interference, documented by Mordecai Kosover in Arabic Elements in Palestinian Yiddish, a book based on his fieldwork in Jerusalem between the years 1927 and 1937 (the transcriptions in this article are his). According to Kosover, many Arabic loanwords re…

Arabic Literature (Modern), Jewish Writers in

(3,107 words)

Author(s): Sasson Somekh
For nearly fifteen centuries Judeo-Arabic was one of the most important languages used by the Jewish communities in the Middle East and North Africa. It was similar to the Arabic of the Muslims among whom the Jews lived, but differed in several respects, primarily the use by the Jews of Hebrew and Aramaic lexical elements. Written Judeo-Arabic differed even more because it used Hebrew rather than Arabic script. Hebrew script is used in nearly all Jewish Arabic texts, ranging from the casual to the most prestigious, from private correspondence to the works of Mai…

Aṛak'el of Tabriz

(260 words)

Author(s): Dan D.Y. Shapira
Aṛakʿel of Tabriz (Davrižecʿi Aṛakʿel), who was born in Tabrīz in the 1590s and died in Etchmiadzin in 1670, was an Armenian vardapet (priest) and historian. His Patmutʿiwn Aṛakʿel Vardapeti Dawrizhetsʿwoy (Arm. The History of Vardapet Aṛakʿel Davrižecʿi), published in Amsterdam in 1669, recounts the social, political, and economic history of the main khanates of Armenia during the Ṣafavid era, covering the period between 1602 and 1662.The much later second and third editions (Etchmiadzin, 1884 and 1896) include a new chapter, placed between chapters 55 and 56…


(3 words)

Author(s): Daniel Schroeter
see SousDaniel Schroeter

Arbib family

(340 words)

Author(s): Rachel Simon
The Arbib family of Libya included wealthy communal leaders, public figures, entrepreneurs, industrialists, merchants, owners of real estate, publishers, and journalists, mainly in Tripoli, Zawiya, Tajura, Benghazi, and Barce, many of whom became Italian or British citizens under Ottoman rule (ending 1911). The Arbibs were active in introducing modern industry to Libya. In 1881, the family was the first to use a hydraulic press for processing esparto, a grass used in cordage, paper manufacture, and shoes. Eugenio Arbib (1847–1915) owned one of the four companies that pr…

Arbib, Lillo

(674 words)

Author(s): Maurice Roumani
Lillo Arbib was born in Tripoli on April 14, 1911. His father, Simon Arbib, who was employed as first secretary in the Greek embassy in Tripoli, died in the cholera epidemic of 1910 before Lillo was born.After elementary studies in the Italian school in Tripoli, Lillo continued his education in Italy, first in Florence and later in the Oriental Institute of Naples, where he studied Oriental civilizations and Semitics. Already demonstrating a talent for leadership, he was elected chairman of the Jewish Student Association.Upon his return to Tripoli in 1929, he became the secretary of Dr. Al…


(547 words)

Author(s): Yona Sabar
Arbil (Irbil, Arbel, Arwil, Hawler), in northeastern Iraq, is a very ancient city known in the classical era as Arbela. The modern city is situated mostly on a massive circular mound rising nearly 30 meters (98 feet) above the surrounding plain. The mound represents the accumulation of at least four thousand years of continuous urban settlement. A Jewish community seems to have existed in place since late Second Temple times. In the modern period the Jewish community in Arbil numbered two hundred families in 1827, eighty-one hundred people in 1847, four hundred i…


(436 words)

Author(s): Vera B. Moreen
Ardashīr-nāma (The Book of Ardashīr/Ahasuerus) by Mowlānā Shāhīn-i Shīrāzī (Jud./Pers. Our Master, the Royal Falcon of Shiraz), the “father” of Judeo-Persian belles-lettres (fl. 14th century), is a versification of the biblical Book of Esther recast as a Persian epic romance that resembles the works of the classical Persian poet Niżāmī (d. 1209). It is a masnavī (epic in rhymed couplets) numbering nine thousand distichs written in the complex hazaj-i musaddas-i akhrab-i maqbuż-i maḥzūf meter. To date only the pen name of the poet has come to light. Shāhīn apparently…

Arditti, Nadia

(263 words)

Author(s): Rifat Bali
Nadia Arditti (née Cavaliero) was born in 1948 in Istanbul. She was educated in Lausanne, Switzerland, and lived in Geneva for many years. Since 1992 her life’s passion has been sculpting in bronze. She started out making figures of women, and gradually expanded to angels, her work expressing the desire for independence common to many modern Turkish women. Her style is semi-figurative, drawing on Art Nouveau with a surrealistic flavor. Her works are found in private collections in Turkey, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Spain,…

Arditti, Raphael (Rodolphe)

(612 words)

Author(s): Afaf Mbarek
Rodolphe Raphael Arditti, a rabbi born in Shumen, Bulgarian on May 10, 1873, and became a naturalized French citizen in 1906. In Shumen, where he attended Alliance Israélite Universelle (AIU) school. In 1892 he was sent to the École Normale Israélite Orientale de Paris, created by the AIU to train teachers for its network of schools. He stayed only one year in this school and then from 1893 he entered the Séminaire Israélite in Paris, from where he graduated as a rabbi.In 1898 he joined the AIU schools as a teacher, first in Egypt, then in Tunis where, as a Hebrew teacher, …


(631 words)

Author(s): Adriana M. Brodsky
Most of the immigration of Sephardi and Mizraḥi  Jews to Argentina took place between the end of the nineteenth century and the 1930s, although small numbers continued to arrive until the 1960s. Jews from Morocco came first, followed by Syrian Jews, and Jews from the Ottoman Empire; much smaller numbers arrived from Jerusalem, Bulgaria, Italy, and Samarqand. In contrast with the Ashkenazim, whose immigration was often facilitated by organizational and philanthropic supporters, their immigration was ind…

Argov, Zohar

(355 words)

Author(s): Amy Horowitz
Israeli singer Zohar Argov, born Zohar Orkabi in 1955, was the eldest of the ten children of  Yemenite immigrant parents and was raised in the Rishon Le-Ṣiyyon neighborhood of Shikkunei ha-Mizraḥ. Argov’s vocal talent was recognized in early childhood, and he performed at synagogue and neighborhood celebrations. Exempt from mandatory military service due to financial hardship, his lack of army experience, combined with his Middle Eastern heritage, branded him as an outsider to mainstream Israeli…

Arié, Gabriel

(495 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Gabriel Arié was born into a Sephardi family in Samokov, a small town in Ottoman Bulgaria, in 1863. His family were Spanish refugees who had settled in Vienna before immigrating to Bulgaria in the late eighteenth century. After receiving a traditional Jewish education, Arié studied at the Alliance Israélite Universelle school in Samokov and then in Istanbul. In 1878, he enrolled in the teacher-training program at the Ecole Normale Israélite Orientale (ENIO) in Paris. While attending ENIO, Arié established good…

Ariyas, Abraham

(331 words)

Author(s): Pamela Dorn Sezgin
Rabbi Abraham Ariyas (Arias) was a poet and musician in nineteenth-century Izmir (Smyrna). He was a contemporary of the Jewish composer Shem Ṭov Shikar, and a colleague of Rabbi Abraham Pallache (1809–1899). According to early-twentieth-century historians of the Sephardic world, he wrote eighty pizmonim (hymns) and piyyuṭim (paraliturgical religious poems), including sections of the mafṭirim tradition of Ottoman Turkey. Abraham Ariyas, not to be confused with his relative Behor Arias, chief rabbi of Izmir in 1915, was admired not only by Jews but by music-minded…


(633 words)

Author(s): Dan D.Y. Shapira
The name “Armenia” designates, variously, a large historical country in eastern Anatolia and Transcaucasia, an early Islamic administrative unit in Transcaucasia, and the tiny modern Republic of Armenia.The history of Jews in Armenia presents many problems, but associations with Jews date to very early times. Mount Ararat, mentioned in the Bible as Noah’s landfall (Gen. 8:4), is situated in a part of historical Armenia that is now in Turkey; its biblical name derives from the ancient (pre-Armenian) state of Urartu. Jews from the Israelite …

Art of Islamic Lands

(5,556 words)

Author(s): Vivian Mann
The Jewish presence in the Near East, even beyond the borders of ancient Israel, preceded the coming of Islamic rule by hundreds, even more than a thousand years. As a result, the earliest known examples of Israelite visual arts in what became the Dār al-Islām (Ar. Abode of Islam), like the carved ivories from Arslan Tash (ninth–eighth century B.C.E.), are rooted in ancient Near Eastern artistic traditions. The Roman conquest of Judea resulted in the building of Roman cities and the importation of classical art, particularly in ancient Is…
Date: 2022-09-20


(525 words)

Author(s): Amnon Shiloah
The poetic genre known as ʿ arūbī (coll. Ar. ʿarōbī) is popular throughout the Maghreb. Its language is dialectal but somehow refined and affected. Text and melody are closely combined in a creative process that derives its components from a traditional formulary stock but allows a margin of freedom to the performer. The melody is more or less stable, whereas the texts usually change and therefore must obey the accents of the melody. A scientific approach to this type of creativity has to consider the im…

Arzila (Aṣīla)

(558 words)

Author(s): Jose Alberto Tavim
Arzila (Ar. Aṣīla), a town on the Atlantic coast of Morocco about 50 kilometers (31 miles) southwest of Tangier, was conquered by Portugal’s monarch Dom Afonso V in 1471. A number of Portuguese Jews participated in the conquest, among them Master Abraham, chief rabbi of Portugal and royal physician. This did not prevent the Portuguese from enslaving 250 local Jews, a number that reveals the importance of the town’s Jewish community at the end of the fifteenth century. They were liberated, however, thanks to the intervention of Dom Isaac Abravanel.After the expulsion from Spain in 1492…

Asad al-Yahūdī

(427 words)

Author(s): Amir Mazor
Asad (or: Usayda) al-Yahūdī (“the Jew”) was a prominent physician in Mamluk Egypt and Syria during the second half of the thirteenth century and the first half of the fourteenth. The only contemporaneous historian to mention Asad was his associate Khalīl ibn Aybak al-Ṣafadī (1297–1363), who included entries on him in his biographical dictionaries.As an erudite physician, Asad was knowledgeable in the rational sciences, especially metaphysics and physics. He worked as a general physician and ophthalmologist but was most famous as a gifted surgeon w…
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