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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Folktales/Folk Literature

(1,725 words)

Author(s): David Rotman
The folktales of the Jews who resided in Islamic countries during the Middle Ages are an important, and even foundational, layer in the cultural sphere known as the Jewish literature of the Middle Ages. The claim that the literature created during the Jewish Middle Ages must be treated as a distinct and separate corpus in the history of Jewish literature was raised only in the last quarter of the twentieth century. Although accepted by most scholars, very few studies offer an encompassing and tho…

Fonseca, Daniel de

(709 words)

Author(s): D Gershon Lewental
Daniel ben Abraham de Fonseca (ca. 1668–ca. 1740) was a Jewish physician of Iberian origin who achieved prominence for his involvement in Ottoman diplomacy. Born into a marrano family in the Portuguese city of Porto, Fonseca grew up as a Christian after his grandfather and uncle were burned at the stake and his father fled the country. Although he was baptized and joined the priesthood, he practiced the Jewish faith secretly and eventually went to France, where he studied medicine in Bordeaux and Paris. Sometime between 1680 and 1702, he arrived Istanbul, where he reverted to Judais…

Food and Drink - Medieval Period

(3,746 words)

Author(s): David Freidenreich
"Of the good things of this world the Muslims enjoy most sex; the Christians, money, the Persians, status; and the Jews, food.” So runs an Arabic maxim, perhaps from the early Islamic era, that S. D. Goitein quotes in the introduction to his indispensable discussion of evidence regarding food and drink from the Cairo Geniza ( Mediterranean Society 4.227). While the degree of interest of medieval religious communities in food, sex, or the like is beyond empirical verification, there can be no doubt that food was accorded great significance among Jews i…

Food and Drink - Modern Period - Algeria

(2,097 words)

Author(s): Jennifer Davis
The foods and foodways of Jewish Algeria have recently experienced something of a publishing vogue. While historians, filmmakers, and politicians grapple with the consequences of French empire and the 1954–62 war in Algeria, cookbook authors turn instead to the quotidian register of these dramatic events. Intensely personal, these cookbooks-qua-memoirs rely on sensual memories to evoke the vanished world of Algerian Jewry and the ingredients that shaped its distinctive cuisine. Such memoirs make…

Food and Drink - Modern Period - Egypt

(2,184 words)

Author(s): Racheline Barda
Egyptian Jewish cuisine was fundamentally shaped by the peregrinations of the Jews in that part of the world. It kept the imprint of local culinary traditions, while maintaining an overall Mediterranean flavor within the framework of Jewish dietary laws and the richness of Sephardic ritual.There was a continuous Jewish presence in Egypt for over twenty-five centuries. However, during Egypt’s “cosmopolitan moment” (Naguib, p. 37) between the 1840s and the 1950s, and unlike other Jewish communities in Arab lands, Egyptian Jewry grew mainly …
Date: 2018-09-12

Food and Drink - Modern Period - Iran

(2,924 words)

Author(s): Esther Shkalim
Iranian Jewry’s traditional cuisine – sources and influencesTraditional Iranian Jewish cuisine reflects a long history of beliefs, traditions, and customs. As one version of Iranian cuisine, it has incorporated influences from other societies with which Persian culture had contact. Iran is a large country of considerable geographical, climatic, anthropological, and social diversity. Its population consists of tribes and communities belonging to different faiths and ethnicities, and possessing a variety…

Food and Drink - Modern Period - Lebanon

(3,057 words)

Author(s): Isaac Choua
Community OriginsAlthough the presence of Jews in Lebanon dates back to biblical times, many Jews from other parts of the diaspora migrated to Lebanon over the course of the centuries, and the country’s occupation by Arabs, Ottomans, and later the French enriched Lebanese cuisine with many culinary traditions, with a large intersection between Jewish and other Lebanese foods. Within the Lebanese Jewish community itself, the very nature of living within a close-knit community for so many years nat…

Food and Drink - Modern Period - Libya

(3,240 words)

Author(s): Vivienne Roumani-Denn
A Different Mediterranean CuisineLibyan Jewish cuisine is in general a typical cuisine of the southern and eastern Mediterranean; indeed, a list of the spices typical of Libyan Jewish cooking – coriander, cumin, caraway, cinnamon, mastic, pepper, saffron, and garlic – corresponds to most of the spices used in a medieval Arab cookbook. Jewish cooking in Libya differed in important ways from the cooking of the Libyan Arab population, primarily because of the observance of the laws of Kashrut. It also…

Food and Drink - Modern Period - Morocco and the Moroccan Diaspora

(2,207 words)

Author(s): Jennifer Davis
The Jewish communities of Morocco bear the historical influence of Arab, Berber, Iberian, and French cultures, amalgamating key techniques and ingredients to create one of the most influential cuisines in the Mediterranean world. Local ingredients include bitter greens, legumes, couscous (Mor. Ar. siksu), fresh and saltwater fish ( ḥūt al-wad and ḥūt l-bḥer), olives ( zitūn), almonds ( lūz), cane sugar ( sokkaṛ), oranges ( lečīn) and lemons (līmūn, ḥameḍ), and a wide range of livestock animals for meat, including chicken, mutton, and beef. Abundant local herbs an…

Food and Drink - Modern Period - Syria and Syrian Diaspora

(1,963 words)

Author(s): Sarina Roffé
Syrian Jewish cuisine reflects Jewish traditions, the surrounding Levantine culture, and the varied historical roots of Syrian Jewry. The cuisine of the native Mustaʿarabim (Arabized Jews), the foundational element of Syrian Jewish cookery, was heavily influenced by the general foodways of the region. Sephardi influences were introduced after the expulsions from Spain in 1492 and from Portugal and Sicily in 1497. An additional culinary component was introduced by the Francos (Jews mainly from Livorno, but also from Ve…

Food and Drink - Modern Period - Tunisia and the Tunisian Diaspora

(2,209 words)

Author(s): Jennifer Davis
For nearly two millennia, Jewish communities have dotted the North African coastline that constitutes present-day Tunisia. Medieval manuscripts refer to Jewish quarters and markets established in Tunis/Carthage, but also in the urban centers of Jerba, Sousse, Mahdia, Monastir, Gabes, Bizerte, and Sfax. Periodic European persecutions spurred Jews from the Iberian or Italian peninsulas to take up residence in North Africa’s port cities throughout the early modern era, and these European migrations…

Food and Drink - Modern Period - Yemen

(2,906 words)

Author(s): Ari Ariel
There are few sources detailing Jewish foodways in Yemen. European travelers sometimes mentioned food in their journals but rarely described prepared dishes, instead indicating what foodstuffs or agricultural products were available in the markets. Since Yemen has a less arid climate than the rest of Arabia because of its mountainous backbone and its location in the path of two monsoon systems, agriculture is possible in most areas. Coffee and qat have long been two of the most important crops. …

Food and Drink - Ottoman Empire

(2,760 words)

Author(s): Paula Daccarett
Jews in the Ottoman Empire shared eating and drinking customs with the surrounding non-Jewish population, with some modifications to accommodate dietary laws. As the empire ruled over vast lands in three continents, it is impossible to speak of one Ottoman-Jewish culinary tradition that reflected practices throughout the Empire; the every-day menu of Jews in Egypt was quite different from that of Jews living in Turkey or Greece.To date, the academic study of Ottoman Jewish food has not been undertaken in any meaningful, sustained way. Most information on the s…

Food and Drink - Wine and Alcoholic Beverages

(5,631 words)

Author(s): Walker Robins
Jewish production, trade, and consumption of alcohol in the Middle East and North Africa predates Islam by many centuries. By at least the sixteenth century, the spread of distillation techniques resulted in liquor, particularly brandies and fruit spirits, becoming an important beverage among Sephardi and Mizraḥi Jews. Despite intermittent repression by Muslim authorities in the medieval and modern periods, alcohol remained a central feature of Jewish religious, social, and economic life throughout the region up until the upheavals of the mid-twentieth century.1. Religious I…


(4 words)

Author(s): Norman A. Stillman
see ToshavimNorman A. Stillman

Forced Conversion

(5 words)

Author(s): Norman A. Stillman
see ConversionNorman A. Stillman

Foucauld, Charles de

(865 words)

Author(s): Steven Uran
Viscount Charles Eugène de Foucauld de Ponbriand (1858–1916) was a French army officer who became an explorer, scholar, monk, and missionary, achieving renown for his studies of Morocco and Tuareg culture. He was born in Strasbourg, France, on September 15, 1858, into an old French aristocratic family. Studies at a Jesuit school in Paris prepared him for the entrance examination of the Saint-Cyr military academy, where he was admitted in 1876. One of his classmates was Philippe Pétain, later to gain notoriety as commander of a French army at Verdun in World War I and a…

Foum Zguid

(5 words)

Author(s): Daniel Schroeter
see Tata RegionDaniel Schroeter


(4,023 words)

Author(s): Steven Uran
Jews originating in Islamic lands, together with their descendants, constitute the majority of contemporary French Jewry. Mass migration to France from North Africa in the second half of the twentieth century doubled the post-Holocaust French Jewish population, making it the largest in Europe and the third-largest in the world after Israel and the United States. This migration, which brought profound changes to the lives of the immigrants and transformed the face of French Jewry, was part of the drastic decline…

Franco (Franko), Milasli Gad

(542 words)

Author(s): Rifat Bali
Milasli Gad Franco, a prominent Turkish lawyer, journalist, and author, was born in 1881 in Milas, a small town near Izmir. After finishing his primary education in Milas, he went to Rhodes, where he graduated from a Turkish lycée. On his return to Milas, he taught Turkish and French in the local Jewish school from 1901 to 1902. At the same time he began his career as a journalist, writing for Turkish newspapers in Izmir. In 1902 he moved to Izmir and became the editor of the Judeo-Spanish paper El Nouvellista/Le Nouvelliste . Franco was an enthusiastic supporter of the Committee of Union and…
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