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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Ephraim ben Shemariah

(791 words)

Author(s): Elinoar Bareket
Ephraim ben Shemariah (Abū Kathīr Ephraim ben Shemariah [Maḥfūẓ] ha-Melammed ha-ʿAzzati (al-Muʿallim al-Gazī), ca. 975–1055, was the undisputed leader of the Jerusalemite congregation in Fustat and of the entire Jewish community of Fustat for nearly fifty years, from approximately 1007 until his death in the year 1055, when he was around eighty years old. As his name indicates, his family originated in Palestine. Ephraim made his living in the perfume and medicine trade (his epithet, al-ʿAṭṭār in Arabic and ha-Bosman in Hebrew, means “the perfumer”); he was also a property…


(469 words)

Author(s): Moshe Bar-Asher
The town of Erfoud (Ar. Arfūd) in the Tafilalet region of Morocco is located about 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Ksar es-Souk and about 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) north of Rissani. Although Jews had lived in the vicinity for centuries, the Jewish community was founded by several hundred Jews from other towns in the region, especially El Mâadid (al-Mʿādid), who settled there when the French protectorate government set about developing Erfoud. By 1931, there were 1,172 Jewish residents in a popul…

Escapa, Joseph

(619 words)

Author(s): Jacob Barnai
Joseph Escapa (d. 1661 or 1662) was born in Salonica around 1560 according to some accounts, and around 1570 according to others. He was educated in Salonica, possibly by his father, Rabbi Saul Escapa, and became an influential rabbi already at a young age. Sometime during the 1620s, Escapa settled in Istanbul, along with many Jews who left Salonica in the early seventeenth century for economic reasons. In Istanbul, he was closely associated with the leading rabbis there, among them Joseph ben Moses Ṭrani (Mahariṭ, d. 1639) and the young Ḥayyim Benveniste (d. 1673), who was still in…

Esim, Janet and Jak

(209 words)

Author(s): Rifat Bali
Jak Esim was born on August 6, 1958 in Istanbul. He graduated from the Şişli High School and then took private music lessons. His wife, Janet Esim, was born on September 19, 1965 in Ankara and is a graduate of  the Tevfik Fikret Lycée. She began a career in music after marry Jak, and the couple are known professionally as the Janet & Jak Esim Ensemble.A compiler, researcher, and interpreter of Sephardic music, Jak Esim has collected fifteen hundred Sephardic songs and has produced thirteen albums, nine of which also feature Janet. Their album Sefardim 1, produced in Germany in 1992, was a…

Eskenazi, Rina

(226 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Sara Rina Eskenazi (b. 1950) is a Turkish academic and writer. She was born in Istanbul in 1950, but she and her family moved to Ankara when she was six. She completed her primary school education and started high school in Ankara. When she was fifteen, the family moved back to Istanbul, where Eskenazi attended the renowned American College for Girls, now known as Robert College. After graduating in 1970, Eskenazi enrolled in the Business Administration Faculty of Boğaziçi (Bosporus) University, where she obtained her B.A. degree in 1975.            Over the next few years Eskenazi…

Essaouira (Mogador)

(2,286 words)

Author(s): Daniel Schroeter
Essaouira (Cl. Ar. al-Ṣuwayra; Mor. Ar. Ṣwīra; Port. Mogador), a city located on the southwestern Atlantic coast of Morocco, was the most important seaport of Morocco from the last decades of the eighteenth to the end of the nineteenth century. It was home to one the largest Jewish communities in Morocco in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. 1. Jewish Merchants in the Town’s Early Development Jews were closely connected to the early development of Essaouira, which was founded in 1764 by Sultan Sīdī Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd Allāh as the port for the southern capital of Marrakesh…

Esther and Mordechai - Tomb of

(400 words)

Author(s): Dalia Yasharpour
The biblical book of Esther culminates in the successful intervention of Queen Esther and her cousin Mordechai to save their people from the destruction planned for them by the wicked vizier Haman, but gives no report on the death of either of them. To this day, a tradition persists that Esther and Mordechai are buried in a tomb located at the center of Hamadan (ancient Ecbatana) in western Iran.Benjamin of Tudela in the mid-twelfth century mentions that Esther and Mordechai were buried in Hamadan and that their tomb was “in front of a certain synagogue,” but th…

Etz Ahayim Synagogue, Bursa

(144 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Etz Ahayim (Heb. ʿEṣ ha-Ḥayyim), a Romaniot synagogue no longer in existence, was one of the three synagogues in Bursa. It was the first Jewish house of worship ever built in the Ottoman state. Construction began after permission was granted by the second sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Orhan Bey, in the mid-fourteenth century. Structurally the synagogue resembled a mosque and had Ottoman architectural features. Etz Ahayim continued in active use until the early fifteenth century. The remains of the building were destroyed by a fire that broke out in 1940.      The other two synagogues…