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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(6 words)

Author(s): Norman A. Stillman
see Kohen and HacohenNorman A. Stillman

Cohen-Hadria, Elie

(414 words)

Author(s): Haim Saadoun
Elie Cohen-Hadria was born in Tunis in 1898, but in 1921 was granted French citizenship because his mother, although born in Algeria, was a French citizen. He was educated in France and studied medicine in Lyons, specializing in the treatment of skin diseases. In 1924 he returned to Tunisia where, in addition to practicing medicine, he joined the Freemasons and became politically active. Elected secretary-general of the Tunisian Fédération Socialiste (SFIO), he served the party from the 1920s until Tunisian independence in 1956. He was also a columnist for the journal Tunis Socialiste.…

Cohen-Hadria, Victor

(361 words)

Author(s): Haim Saadoun
Victor Cohen-Hadria was born in Tunis in 1891. His father, a native Tunisian who worked as a bank clerk and later as an olive oil merchant, died in 1901. His mother was a French citizen born in Algeria. Cohen-Hadria was educated at the Lycée Carnot in Tunis and then went to France to study law in Aix-en-Provence. After graduation he was employed as a clerk in an attorney’s office, and worked nights at a newspaper to help support his family.Cohen-Hadria became a famous lawyer and very early in his career was made a judge ( juge de paix). He also taught at the Centre d’études de droit de Tunis, mai…

Cohen, Nissim Claude

(440 words)

Author(s): Raphael Cohen
Nissim Claude Cohen (1941–2010) was born in Egypt, but his family emigrated to France in 1957. As a organic chemist, he headed research teams at Ciba-Geigy and Roussel-Uclaf (now Sanofi-Aventis) in Paris and later at Ciba-Geigy (now Novartis) in Basel, Switzerland, where he was head of molecular modeling. His teams were responsible for many patents. He settled in Jerusalem in 1996 and founded the high-tech company Syntex Ltd.Nissim Claude Cohen, the great-grandson of Ḥakham Zaki Cohen, was born March 18, 1941 in Cairo, where he attended the Lycée Français up to…

Cohen-Scali Saguès, Julie

(309 words)

Author(s): Joy Land
Julie Cohen-Scali Saguès, born in Oran, Algeria, in 1876, held a brevet élémentaire (teaching certification granted after three years of normal school) and brevet supérieur (certification granted after four years of normal school). From 1900 to 1904, she taught in the Alliance Israélite Universelle School for Girls in Tunis. In 1904 she was appointed principal of the AIU school in Fez, the following year she became the principal of the school in Tangier, and in 1911 she returned to the school where she had begun her career as the first…

Cohen-Tannoudji Family

(567 words)

Author(s): Denis Cohen-Tannoudji
According to many sources, bearers of the name Cohen-Tannoudji (also rendered Tanoudji, Tanugi, and Tenoudji) are all members of a single family. The name, which means “Tangier Kohen,” probably came into use with the twelfth-century Almohad conquests. At the end of the twelfth century, a Cohen family left Tangier for Sicily (see Palermo and Sicily) and joined the North African Jews there; the Latinized last name Tannugius was registered in Palermo in 1358. Expelled from Sicily by the edict of January 1493, the Cohen-Tanoudjis found a refuge in Tunis before being kicked out by Charles V i…

Cohen, Zaki

(306 words)

Author(s): Lital Levy
Born in Aleppo in 1829, Zaki Cohen (Zākī Kūhīn) was rabbi of the Beirut Jewish community. Around 1874, he founded Tiferet Yisrael (The Glory of Israel), also known in Arabic as al-Madrasa al-Waṭaniyya al-Isrāʾīliyya (The National Jewish School). Beirut’s first modern Jewish school, anteceding the Alliance Israélite Universelle school by four years, it was probably intended to be an alternative to Christian missionary schools. Tiferet Yisrael catered to the children of upper-class Jewish families, who came as boarders from neighboring count…

Cohn, Tobias (Tuviyyah Cohen)

(711 words)

Author(s): D Gershon Lewental
Tobias ben Moses Cohn (Ṭuviyya Cohen) (1652–1729) was a noted physician who served five successive Ottoman sultans. He was born in 1652 in Metz into a family of physicians from Poland (his grandfather Eleazar Cohn had gone to Poland from Palestine around the turn of the seventeenth century; his father, Moses Cohn, fled westward in 1648 to escape the Chmielnicki [Khmelnytsky] uprising). Orphaned at an early age, Cohn received a traditional upbringing in Metz and then was educated at a seminary in Cracow. He began his medical studies at the University of Frankfurt-an-der-Oder in 1678, …


(384 words)

Author(s): Ron Duncan-Hart
Mordechai Ricardo and other Sephardic Jews from neighboring Caribbean islands helped finance Colombia’s War of Independence led by Simón Bolívar. One of the first acts of the newly independent government in 1819 was to grant the rights of residence and religious freedom to Jews. The first Jews were mostly Sephardim who came to Columbia from Curaçao, among them the Senior, Correa, and Salas families. As early as 1832, Abraham Isaac Senior established a Jewish cemetery and organized a minyan. Soon afterwards, Rabbi Moisés De Sola arrived as the first religious leader. In 1854, David Perei…

Comité Algérien d'Études Sociales

(310 words)

Author(s): David Cohen
The Comité Algérien d’Etudes Sociales (Algerian Committee for Social Studies) was founded during World War I to defend Jewish interests. Organized by a group of Jewish intellectuals led by Dr. Henri Aboulker, it came into being when the Jewish Consistory proved unable to defend its coreligionists against the resurgence of antisemitism in Algeria, especially in the army, and the French authorities adopted a passive attitude. The committee was active between 1915 and 1921.            From 1922 to 1930, the situation was relatively calm, but when antisemitism resurfac…

Comité d'Aide et d'Assistance

(180 words)

Author(s): David Cohen
The Comité d’Aide et d’Assistance (CAA), originally called Comité d’Études d’Aide et d’Assistance, was a charitable organization founded in Algiers in 1947 by Aïzer Cherki (1882–1993) to help Moroccan Jews transiting through Algeria on their way to Israel. Jews in need would jam into the offices of the Jewish Consistory of Algiers at 11 rue Bab-el-Oued, in the lower casbah. Faced with this difficult situation, Aïzer Cherki showed both administrative skill and a legendary degree of humanity. He obtained funding, equipment, and supplies from Alge…

Comité de Recrutement de la Main-d'Oeuvre Juive

(328 words)

Author(s): Haim Saadoun
The Comité de Recrutement de la Main-d’Oeuvre Juive (Committee for the Recruitment of Jewish Manpower) was established by the Jewish leadership in Tunisia during the German occupation (November 1942–May 1943). Since it was responsible for all aspects of recruiting and organizing a labor force in accordance with German demands, its function was somewhat parallel to that of the Judenrat in Central and Eastern Europe. The members of the committee were Paul Ghez, Léon Moatti, George Krief, and Victor Bismut. The committee had a secretariat, a recruiting office (which…

Commenda (‛Isqa)

(418 words)

Author(s): Phillip Ackerman-Lieberman
The commenda (Aram. ʿ isqa) was a profit-sharing arrangement designed to circumvent the prohibition of lending funds to a co-religionist at interest. It facilitated financial partnerships by allowing an investor to place funds with an active partner, often for the purpose of long-distance trade. Such agreements enabled Jewish merchants to participate actively in both the Mediterranean trade and the India trade, because a single investor could have an interest in multiple cargoes being shipped at the same time, and a…

Commerce and Economy in the Medieval Period

(2,238 words)

Author(s): Phillip Ackerman-Lieberman
At the time of the Islamic conquests, most Jews lived in Babylonia and pursued occupations related to agriculture. There were, however, a number of important Jewish urban settlements—for example, Damascus and Alexandria—in which Jews would have been involved in crafts production; as well as Jewish communities in trading centers—such as Medina (see Hijaz) and Tyre, which supported Jewish endeavors in both local and long-distance trade. Yet investment in land, farming, and sharecropping were the primary sources of income for Jews in the early …

Comtino, Rabbi Mordecai ben Eliezer

(584 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ayalon
Mordecai ben Eliezer Comtino (1402–1482) was a rabbi, philologist, philosopher, astronomer, and mathematician. Born in Constantinople, he studied under Hanoch Saporta, a distinguished Catalonian rabbi, and was greatly influenced by Sephardic culture and tradition even though he himself was a Romaniot or perhaps even of French origin. He left Constantinople in the early 1450s on the pretext of a plague epidemic and settled for a while in Edirne (Adrianople). He returned to the new Ottoman capital sometime after the conquest (May 29, 1453), and remained there until his death.In his t…

Conegliano (Conian), Israel

(557 words)

Author(s): D Gershon Lewental
Israel ben Joseph Conegliano (Conian) was born in Padua around 1650 and died in Istanbul around 1717. He was a Jewish physician and diplomat in Padua, Venice, and the Ottoman Empire. Conegliano graduated from the medical school in his hometown on June 8, 1673, thereafter practicing in Venice for a couple of years before relocating to Istanbul in 1675. There he soon became the personal physician to the grand vizier, Karam Mustafa Pasha (in office, 1676–1683), and also treated Sultan Mehmed IV (r. 1648–1687). On October 10, 1682, the Venetian bailo (ambassador) appointed Conegliano as …

Confino, Albert

(399 words)

Author(s): Joy Land
Albert Confino (1866–1958) was a teacher, principal, and school inspector in the Alliance Israélite Universelle (AIU) educational network. Born in Carnabat (Karnabat), Bulgaria, Confino was sent along with his brothers to attend the Alliance school in Edirne (Adrianople), in Ottoman Turkey. The principal, Abraham Cazès (1854–1924), was the younger brother of the prominent AIU educator David Cazès (1850–1913). From Edirne Confino went to the Springer Institute in Paris, a Jewish boarding school sometimes used for future AIU teachers. His studies, begun in 188…

Conforte, David

(440 words)

Author(s): Leah Bornstein-Makovetsky
David Conforte (1618–ca. 1677) was born into a scholarly Sephardic family in Salonica. His teacher, Asher Zevulun, was a disciple of Conforte’s grandfather, also named David Conforte. The younger Conforte studied Torah and Kabbala in Salonica, and in 1644 moved to Jerusalem to continue his education in a bet midrash. He also spent a year in Cairo, where he studied in the bet midrash of Abraham Skandari, and some time in Gaza, learning with Rabbi Moses Najara. In 1648, he returned to Salonica, but he went back to Jerusalem in 1652 to found his own academy. In 1671 he m…

Conseil des Communautés Israélites du Maroc (CCIM)

(435 words)

Author(s): Yaron Tsur
The Conseil des Communautés Israélites du Maroc (CCIM), founded in 1947, was an umbrella organization that brought together the heads of the Jewish communities of Moroccoand filled the function of a central organization for Moroccan Jewry. It was established during the French protectorate (1912–1956) within the framework of the reforms carried out after World War II by the colonial administration. In the immediate postwar years the younger generation of Jewish leaders were calling for changes in the communal organizatio…


(1,992 words)

Author(s): Yossef Charvit
The city of Constantine (Ar. Qustanṭīna) is located on the coastal ridge of the Atlas Mountains in northeastern Algeria about 531 kilometers (330 miles) east of Algiers. It is the capital of Constantine Province. This ancient city, 80 kilometers (50 miles) inland from the Mediterranean, stands on a plateau 650 meters (2,133 feet) above sea level; the plateau descends into ravines as deep as 300 meters (984 feet), and the Rhummel River runs through the easternmost one. Thanks to its location at a ma…
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