Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World

Get access Subject: Jewish Studies
Executive Editor: Norman A. Stillman

Help us improve our service

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. 

Subscriptions: see brill.com

Chabat, Alain

(574 words)

Author(s): Dinah Assouline Stillman
The French actor, comedian, and film-maker Alain Chabatwas born in 1958 in Oran, Algeria. His family settled in France in 1963 and lived in Massy, a suburb of Paris. Following a tumultuous passage in diverse French schools, Chabat began his career as a humorist-journalist on France-Inter and Radio Monte Carlo (RMC) from 1980 to 1984. He then moved to the new French cable TV channel Canal+ as a comic weather man. With three other comedians, he founded the famous Les Nuls (The Zeros) program on the same channel, called Objectif: Nuls, followed by Nulle Part Ailleurs (Nowhere Else), and fina…


(896 words)

Author(s): Albert Kaganovitch
Chala (Tajik: half-finished, incomplete) was a derogatory designation in Bukhara for Jews converted to Islam by force (and their descendants). Since the Chala often secretly practiced Jewish rites and maintained links with the Jewish community, they are somewhat comparable to the Jadīd-i Islām of Mashhad, the Marranos of Spain, and other anusim. Forced conversions occurred throughout the period of Muslim domination of Central Asia despite the Jews' status as ahl al-dhimma (Ar. protected people), but were more numerous in periods of heightened religious fanaticism.…

Chana (Ciana) Synagogue

(158 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
The Chana (Çana, Ciana) Synagogue in theBalat quarter of Istanbulwas used in Byzantine times by Romaniot Jews from the Macedonian town of Tzyana. Some architects believe that the building was originally planned as a han, or commercial building, before becoming a synagogue. In 1663, Sephardi Jews took over the synagogue. Until 1908, it served also as the seat of a bet din (rabbinical court). For some time, the basement was used as a Jewish community prison. The synagogue building housed numerous Jewish refugees during the Turkish War of Independence (1919–…

Charity and Social Services in the Ottoman Empire

(1,812 words)

Author(s): Dina Danon
Ottoman Jewish communities continued the charitable practices of the medieval period, but incorporated new mechanisms, such as benevolent societies, introduced by Iberian Jews. In the last century of Ottoman rule, Jewish communities adopted the modern approach of seeking to eradicate poverty rather than simply provide relief.The Jewish communities of the Ottoman Empire developed and sustained robust networks and institutions for the purposes of charitable assistance. Their charitable activities were largely a communal affair administered b…

Charity, Charitable Institutions and Societies in the Medieval Period

(1,616 words)

Author(s): Mark R. Cohen
The fundamental constellation of Jewish ideas about poverty—that the poor are to be viewed with compassion, assisted, and not oppressed—is firmly rooted in the Bible. The classic poor are the orphan, the widow, and the stranger. Charity, called righteousness (ṣ edaqa) in the Bible, a word often paired with the term mishpaṭ in the sense of  (social) justice, is a duty ( miṣva) commanded by God. Biblical charity is agricultural and almost entirely a private matter. Farmers, for instance, were supposed to leave some of their crops in the field at harvest time to be gathered by the needy.In the…

Chemla Family

(370 words)

Author(s): Uri M. Kupferschmidt
The Chemla family can be traced back to Monastir in nineteenth-century Tunisia. Clement Chemla (b. ca. 1875) and his older brothers David (b. ca. 1861) and Victor (b. ca.1864) were cloth peddlers. Toward the end of the century they opened a fashion store in Tunis. The Galleries Chemla soon grew into one of the first local department stores. In 1905, Clement left for Cairo. With the family’s Tunisian experience, he apparently foresaw wider business opportunities in Egypt. Clement was followed by his brothers, as well as by some other relatives and a few empl…

Chemla, Jacob

(427 words)

Author(s): Yosef Tobi
Jacob Chemla(1858–1938) was an outstanding literary figure in modern Judeo-Arabic who became famous in Tunis for his lucid style and fine writing. He was the editor of al-Fajr (1912–1915), generally regarded as the best journal published in Tunis, and also regularly wrote articles for two other periodicals published in Tunis, al-Ḥurriya (1888; 1908–1914) and al-Tamaddun (1921–1925). At various times he was also the manager or editor of other Tunisian newspapers: Musharriḥ al-Aṣdār (1886), al-Bustān (1888–1906), al-Ḥaqīqa (1895–1896), al-Istiwā’ (1909–1911), and al-Waṭan (1…

Cherchell (Sharshāl)

(459 words)

Author(s): Richard Ayoun
The Algerian city of Cherchell(Ar. Sharshāl) is situated on the Mediterranean coast about 95 kilometers (153 miles) west of Algiers. There was a Phoenician trading post called Iol on the site in the fifth century B.C.E. Iol was subsequently controlled by the Carthaginians. The Berber Massyli tribal confederation annexed the area after the Roman defeat of Carthage in the Second Punic War and made Iol the capital of the kings of Mauritania. When the last Mauritanian king, Juba II, was placed on the…

Chetrit, Joseph

(388 words)

Author(s): Alma Heckman
Joseph Chetrit, born in Casablanca sometime in the 1960s, is a real estate magnate who owns some of the highest-profile properties in the United States. He and his family are famously private and reclusive, making it difficult to obtain precise biographical information about them, but they are known to have been active in textiles and shipping in Morocco.In 1990, Joseph Chetrit was cited for violating U.S. customs law, while in the mid-1990s, his father and one of his brothers were arrested for smuggling. The  family turned to real estate, and soon ac…

Chetrit, Sami Shalom

(294 words)

Author(s): Lev Hakak
Sami Shalom Chetritwas born in Ksar es-Souk (now Er Rachidia), Morocco, in 1960 and immigrated to Israel with his family in 1963. He received a Ph.D. in political science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 2001 after writing a dissertation about the political history of Mizraḥi Jews in Israel. He was for a time the principal of a school for underprivileged children and has taught in universities in Israel and the United States.Chetrit’s work, both political and poetic, focuses on issues of identity, integration, and protest. His writings about Jewish ethnic t…

Chief Rabbi

(8 words)

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

Chimènes, Myriam Voley Da Costa

(355 words)

Author(s): Joy Land
Myriam Voley (Woley) Da Costa Chimènes was born in the Sephardi community of Bordeaux in southwestern France in 1862. Her husband, Moyse-Gaston Chimènes, a member of the same community, was employed by the Compagnie Génèrale Transatlantique. Among her diplomas was the brevet supérieur (teaching certificate awarded after four years of study at a normal school). She served as principal of the Alliance Israélite Universelle School for Girls in Tunis from 1887 until her dismissal from the AIU school system in 1894.During her years as principal, Chimènes focused on preparing her…


(617 words)

Author(s): Leah Bornstein-Makovetsky
Chios (Turk. Sakız) is a Greek island in the Aegean Sea located off the southwestern coast of Anatolia near Izmir (Smyrna). Jews first settled there in the Hellenistic period. Spanish exiles began to arrive after 1492, and by the time the Ottomans captured the island from the Genoese in 1566, most of the Jews in Chios were Sephardim. In the seventeenth century, there were two congregations on the island, one Sephardi and the other Romaniot. The two groups were recognized by the Ottoman government, which treated the Sephardim and Romaniots as separate communities for t…

Chocrón, Isaac

(706 words)

Author(s): Saul Sosnowski
Isaac Chocrón (1930–2011), the son of Sephardic immigrants from Morocco, was a prolific Venezuelan playwright, novelist, critic, and director of theatrical companies and cultural centers. A five-volume collection of his plays was published between 1981 and 1992.Isaac Chocrón Serfaty was a prolific playwright, novelist, and critic. Born in Maracay, Venezuela, to parents who had emigrated from Morocco, he attended a Catholic elementary school in Venezuela and a military high school in the United States, then earned university degree…

Chouraqui, André

(1,178 words)

Author(s): Aubrey L. Glazer
A self-proclaimed “man of three worlds” (Algeria, Paris, Jerusalem), Natan André Chouraqui was, in his own eyes, more scribe and linguist than politician or theologian. Yet the profound political and theological influence of his life work remains a clarion call for a return to harmony amidst the three Abrahamic faiths. André (Natan) Chouraqui was born in Aïn Témouchent, Algeria, on August 11, 1917. The Chouraqui family traced its lineage back to the Balearic Islands, and then to Suraka, Spain, where the name Chouraqui seems to have originated (from Ar. sharq, east). Immersed in Sc…

Chouraqui, Saʿadya

(548 words)

Author(s): Yossef Charvit
Saʿadya ben Elijah Chouraqui (Shuraqi; 1603–1704) was a prominent rabbinical scholar in seventeenth-century North Africa. He is especially noted for his struggle against Sabbateanism and his attempt to rehabilitate messianism some twenty-six years (1691) after Shabbetay Ṣevi (1626–1676) declared himself the messiah. A native of Tlemcen, Chouraqui was a theologian, philosopher, Bible commentator, poet, and mathematician.His numerous students called him the “Great Tamarisk” (Heb. ha-eshel ha-gadol), a medieval expression designating an important scholar. Jacob…

Christian Missionaries and Missionary Schools

(1,064 words)

Author(s): Walker Robins
Due to the strict prohibitions against proselytizing to Muslims, Christian missionaries in Islamic lands focused their efforts on Jews (and also on indigenous Christians in some areas). Aside from some briefs spurts in earlier eras, Christian missionary activity was mostly a phenomenon of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. A notable exception took place in the decades following the expulsions from Spain and Portugal in the late fifteenth century, when Jesuit and Franciscan missionaries sought to con…

Christian Missionary Schools in the Ottoman Empire

(742 words)

Author(s): Cengiz Sisman
Private and organized missionary activities in the Ottoman Empire date back to as early as the sixteenth century. They gained momentum when the Jesuits reorganized, and English and American Protestant churches joined the missionary activities in the empire in the nineteenth century. The main purpose of the missionaries was to revive “pure” Christianity among the “corrupt” Eastern Christian denominations—Greek, Armenian, and Bulgarian Orthodox, Jacobites, Nestorians, Copts, and Maronites—and to disseminate Christianity to non-Christians, especially Jews. Since pro…

Chronicle of the Carmelites

(225 words)

Author(s): Vera B. Moreen
The Chronicle of the Carmelites is an anonymous account of Carmelite and other Christian missionary activities in Iran between 1588 and 1722, including the fall of the Ṣafavid dynasty. The Carmelites (and also the Augustinians and the Capuchins) were tolerated by the Ṣafavids in the hope of establishing commercial and diplomatic ties with important European powers. The Chronicle is primarily concerned with the Carmelites’ promotion of Catholicism in Persia, especially among Armenians, and their diplomatic representation of the papacy at the Ṣafavid co…

Cicurel Family

(476 words)

Author(s): Uri M. Kupferschmidt
Moreno Cicurel (ca. 1820–1919), an Italian subject, migrated from Izmir to Cairo around 1860 and initially worked in a textile store. In the years that followed, he and his sons attained great economic influence and respect. In 1882 Cicurel bought a textile and clothing store called Au Petit Bazar in the Muski commercial quarter. It became the springboard for a large department store (1910) on the modern Avenue Boulaq (which later became 26th of July Street). His three sons, Salomon, Joseph, and Salvator, turned it into the largest and most luxurious department store in C…
▲   Back to top   ▲