Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World

Get access Subject: Jewish Studies
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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Author(s): Norman A. Stillman
see MzabNorman A. StillmanBibliography750


(595 words)

Author(s): Maurice Roumani
Gharian is a town in northwestern Libya about 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Tripoli in the Nafusa Mountains. It is considered to constitute a single unit with the nearby towns of Tighrinna and Banu Abbas. All three towns had Jewish inhabitants, but most of them lived in Tighrinna, just south of Gharian, which was referred to variously as ḥārat al-yahūd (the Jewish Quarter) and arḍ al-yahūd (Jewish Land). Gharian town had the smallest Jewish population of the three settlements. According to the 1944 census there were ninety Jews in Gharian, 343 in Tighrinn…

Ghez, Mathilde

(214 words)

Author(s): Haim Saadoun
Mathilde Ghez (Guez) was born in 1918 in Sousse, Tunisia. Her father was a clerk in the town court. In 1936 she married Maurice Ghez, the brother of Victor Ghez, the leader of the Jewish community of Sfax and a successful olive oil merchant. She then moved to Sfax, where her two children were born. During the Nazi occupation of Sfax from November 1942 to April 1943, Ghez assisted Dr. Sperber, a Hungarian Jewish physician who had immigrated to Tunisia in the 1930s. She was the translator to the Germans during this period and had the responsibility of preparing the Yellow Star …

Ghez, Paul

(321 words)

Author(s): Haim Saadoun
Paul Ghez was born in Sousse, Tunisia, in 1898. At the age of eighteen, he was wounded while serving as a volunteer in a French artillery unit during World War I. After studying law in France, he became a lawyer and joined the group around La Justice , a newspaper that supported the assimilation of Tunisian Jews into French culture. He was also a member of the Jewish council and head of the veteran’s organization Les Anciens Combattants. Ghez volunteered again for the French army during World War II. From 1942 to 1943, when Tunisia was occupied by the Nazis, he was the chairman of the Comité de Recr…


(590 words)

Author(s): Hadas Hirsch
The Arabic word  ghiyār literally means “differentiation” and in Islamic usage refers to practices visibly differentiating non-Muslims from Muslims.The Muslim social vision, from its beginnings, enabled members of other revealed religions (essentially Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians) to live in  Muslim territories under the status of dhimma , a term denoting protection. This was granted in return for acknowledgment of the dominance of Islam and payment of the jizya tax as expressed in Qur’an 9:29. At the time of the conquests, the distinctive costume of the Arabs was sufficie…

Ghrenassia, Sylvain

(256 words)

Author(s): Sasha Goldstein-Sabbah
Sylvain Ghrenassia, born in Constantine on February 2, 1914, was a prominent violinist in colonial Algeria. Although primarily known for his skill in performing mālūf music, he was also accomplished in the hawzī, zjūb, and maḥjūz styles of Andalusian music. Many of the pieces he played were originally composed for the oud ( ʿūd), but he adapted them to the violin, as did other musicians in his day. Ghrenassia was a member of the famous orchestra of Raymond Leyris (Cheikh Raymond) in Constantine. When Leyris was assassinated, Ghrenassia took over as its leader.Ghrenassia and his family…

Ghriba Synagogues

(540 words)

Author(s): Norman A. Stillman
Ghrība (Coll. Ar. wondrous, unique) is the name given to seven supposedly ancient synagogues in Libya, Tunisia, and Algeria which are considered to be holy places and have become pilgrimage sites. The most famous of the Ghrība synagogues is the one in the village of Dighet near Hara Seghira on the island of Jerba. The others are located in Yefren and Mʿanin (actually between Mʿanin and al-Qsir) in the Jebel Nafusa region of Libya, in Le Kef in southern Tunisia and Ariana on the northeastern coast, and in Bône (Būna) and Biskra in Algeria. Many of the Ghrība shrines are in places that …

Giado Concentration Camp

(387 words)

Author(s): Rachel Simon
On February 7, 1942, following the second British retreat from Libya to Egypt during World War II, Benito Mussolini, the leader of Italy, ordered the Jews living in Cyrenaica to be moved out of the war zone to prevent them from collaborating with the British. Between May and late October 1942, some twenty-six hundred were transferred in convoys of eight to ten trucks, traveling for five days, to an internment camp at Giado, an isolated military post enclosed by barbed-wire fences on the high plateau 235 kilometers (146 miles) south of Tripoli. Italians administer…


(2,776 words)

Author(s): Lorraine Madway
1.    Demographic ProfileGibraltar is a self-governing British overseas territory with about twenty-nine thousand inhabitants, of whom some six hundred, or slightly more than 2 percent of the population, are Jews. Located at the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula where the Strait of Gibraltar meets the Mediterranean, Gibraltar covers about 6.8 square kilometers (2.5 square miles). It is one of the most densely populated territories in the world, yet it is also one of the most stable. The Jewish…


(733 words)

Author(s): Haideh Sahim
Gilan (Pers. Gīlān) is a province of Iran located on the southwestern shore of the Caspian Sea, with Rasht as its capital. It is the most densely populated province after Tehran. There are indications that Jews lived in a number of cities in Gilan in the past, but it is not known when Jews first settled there. The earliest reference to Jews comes from the mid-fifteenth century, specifically to a community near present-day Lāhījān. In the late Middle Ages, Jews from Gilan settled in Oguz, Russian Azerbaijan. From the fifteenth to the early sixteenth century, Rasht was ruled by Amīra Dubbāj…


(497 words)

Author(s): Arturo Prats
Girona (Ar. Jarunda; Sp. Gerona) was one of the most important medieval cities in the northeastern part of the Iberian Peninsula, strategically situated on the route between Iberia and Provence. Because of its location, it was frequently besieged and changed hands a number of times. The first testimonies of a Jewish community are from the ninth and tenth centuries. In the thirteenth century, under Christian rule, the aljama of Girona became the second-most-important Jewish community in Catalonia…

Glaser, Eduard

(753 words)

Author(s): Aviva Klein-Franke
The explorer and Arabist Eduard Glaser, the most important scholar to have studied Yemen in the 19th century, was born into a Jewish merchant family in the Bohemian town of Rust on March 15, 1855. He studied the sciences and Arabic in Prague and Vienna. At the suggestion of his teacher of Sabean, David Heinrich Müller, and with a stipend from the Academy of Sciences of Vienna, he decided to go to Yemen to copy Sabean inscriptions. He was delayed for two years, but was finally able to go thanks to financial support from the Alliance Israélite Univ…