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Anisimov Family

(1,255 words)

Author(s): Dan D.Y. Shapira
The Anisimov family was a family of Dagestani Mountain Jews active at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century. The “elder” of the family was R. Sherbet b. Nissim (mid-19th cent.–early 20th cent.), the rabbi of Temir-Khan-Shura, and thus one of the two chief rabbis of the Jews in Dagestan. R. Sherbet was the first Mountain Jew to study at the Volozhin Yeshiva (Etz Chaim Yeshiva) and he encouraged his son Eliyahu (see below) to pursue a modern education.In the late 1880s, R. Sherbet, R. Yehezkel/Hyzgyl Mishaelov/Mushailov, and a group of other Mountain …

Halévy, Joseph

(505 words)

Author(s): Dan D.Y. Shapira
Joseph Halévy, born in 1827 in Edirne (Adrianople), was an Ottoman/French Jewish educator, orientalist, and traveler. In his early years Halévy was a teacher in Jewish schools in Edirne and later in Bucharest (where one of his students was the great scholar Moses Gaster) and a Hebrew journalist. In 1867, thanks to his proficiency in oriental languages, the Alliance Israélite Universelle appointed him to travel to Abyssinia (Ethiopia) to ascertain and report on the situation of the Falasha/Beta-Israel. This Judaic religious minority, targeted by Christian mis…

Caucasus (Mountain Jews)

(1,618 words)

Author(s): Dan D.Y. Shapira
The Mountain Jews are an Iranian-speaking community that took shape in the eastern and northern Caucasus after the areas in which they lived were annexed by Russia from Qajar Iran in 1812 and 1813.  The name “Mountain Jews” derives from an official Russian designation (Rus. gorskije jevrei) intended to differentiate the community from the empire’s Russian (Ashkenazi) and Georgian Jews. The modern designations in Israel are yehudim harariyim and yehude ha-har, both of which are nineteenth-century Hebrew renderings of the Russian term that are regarded as academic a…

Aṛak'el of Tabriz

(260 words)

Author(s): Dan D.Y. Shapira
Aṛakʿel of Tabriz (Davrižecʿi Aṛakʿel), who was born in Tabrīz in the 1590s and died in Etchmiadzin in 1670, was an Armenian vardapet (priest) and historian. His Patmutʿiwn Aṛakʿel Vardapeti Dawrizhetsʿwoy (Arm. The History of Vardapet Aṛakʿel Davrižecʿi), published in Amsterdam in 1669, recounts the social, political, and economic history of the main khanates of Armenia during the Ṣafavid era, covering the period between 1602 and 1662.The much later second and third editions (Etchmiadzin, 1884 and 1896) include a new chapter, placed between chapters 55 and 56…

Avshalumov, Hizqil

(349 words)

Author(s): Dan D.Y. Shapira
Hizqil (Yeḥezqel) Avshalumov was a Soviet author and editor in Dagestan, who wrote in Judeo-Tātī (Juhūrī) and Russian. He was probably the most important promoter of the de-Judaizing (“Tatizing”) of  the Mountain Jews of the Caucasus region in the late Soviet era.  The son of a Jewish farmer, Avshalumov was born in 1913 in Nügdi, Dagestan, and began writing for the Judeo-Tātī newspaper Zahmetkash (The Worker) in the 1930s. In 1940 he published his first novel in Judeo-Tātī, Besguni Djovonho (The Victory of the Young), and edited a collection of Judeo-Tātī folktales that included fab…


(633 words)

Author(s): Dan D.Y. Shapira
The name “Armenia” designates, variously, a large historical country in eastern Anatolia and Transcaucasia, an early Islamic administrative unit in Transcaucasia, and the tiny modern Republic of Armenia.The history of Jews in Armenia presents many problems, but associations with Jews date to very early times. Mount Ararat, mentioned in the Bible as Noah’s landfall (Gen. 8:4), is situated in a part of historical Armenia that is now in Turkey; its biblical name derives from the ancient (pre-Armenian) state of Urartu. Jews from the Israelite …

Khwāja Bukhārāʾī

(195 words)

Author(s): Dan D.Y. Shapira
Khwāja Bukhārāʾī, a Jewish author from Bukhara, wrote Dāniyal-nāma (Pers. The Book of Daniel) , a Judeo-Persian narrative based on the biblical Book of Daniel, in 1606. It was reedited/rewritten by Benjamin ben Mishael (Aminā; 1672/73–after 1732/33) in 1704 as a masnavī (Pers. narrative poem in rhymed couplets). Dāniyal-nāma has affinities with both the additions to Daniel of the Christian Bible and the Qiṣṣa-yi Dāniʾel . Nothing is known about the life of Khwāja Bukhārāʾī.Dan D.Y. ShapiraBibliographyLevy, R. “Dānial-Nāma: A Judeo-Persian Apocalypse,” in Jewish Studies in Memo…

Juhūrī (Judeo-Tat or Judeo-Tātī)

(664 words)

Author(s): Dan D.Y. Shapira
Juhūrī, also known as Judeo-Tat or Judeo-Tātī (called zuhūn tātī, zuhūn juhūrī by native speakers), is a Southwest Iranian literary language derived from a spoken form of New Persian and heavily influenced by Āzerī Turkic, then by Russian, and now also by Israeli Hebrew. It was traditionally spoken by the Mountain Jews (Turk. dağ-çufut; Russ. gorskie yevrei; Heb. yehudim harariyim / qavqaziyim) of the eastern and northern Caucasus. Juhūrī does not form a dialectal unity with neighboring Tātī dialects spoken in the past by the Muslim population. The Tātī M…
Date: 2014-09-03

Qiṣṣa-yi Dāniʾel

(193 words)

Author(s): Dan D.Y. Shapira
Qiṣṣa-yi Dāniʾel (Pers. The Story of Daniel), known in Hebrew (though unattested before the nineteenth century) as Maʿase Dan’iel, is a Judeo-Persian apocalyptic text based on the Book of Daniel, possibly going back to an Aramaic Vorlage. It was edited and translated by Zotenberg (1869), from whose text a Hebrew translation was made by A. Kaplan. It was also translated in part by Darmesteter (1887) and now by Shapira (1999). The manuscript, currently kept in Paris, was produced in Lār before 1600, but the language is more archaic than that used by …


(127 words)

Author(s): Dan D.Y. Shapira
Dāniyal-nāma (Pers. The Book of Daniel) is a Judeo-Persian narrative based on the biblical Book of Daniel. It was written or edited in 1606 by Khwāja Bukhārāʾī, a Jewish author apparently from Bukhara. A century later in 1704, Dāniyal-nāma was reedited/rewritten as a masnavī (Pers. narrative poem in rhymed couplets) by Benjamin ben Mishael (Aminā; 1672/3–after 1732/33). Dāniyal-nāma has affinities with both the Additions to Daniel of the Septuagint and Qiṣṣa-yi Dāni’el .Dan D.Y. ShapiraBibliographyLevy, R. “Dānial-Nāma: A Judeo-Persian Apocalypse,” in Jewish Studies …


(1,814 words)

Author(s): Dan D.Y. Shapira
Krymchak (Crim. Tat. in the Crimean style) is a term coined in the nineteenth century to designate the Turkic-speaking Rabbanite Jews of the Crimea. It was meant to distinguish them from theKaraite majority of the Crimean Jews, on the one hand, and from Russian-Polish Ashkenazim, on the other. The first Karaite and Rabbanite Jews came to the Crimea from Iran, Central Asia, Egypt, and Constantinople. Manuscripts from the Crimea include numerous Jewish works copied or written in Iran, sometimes in Persian and Judeo-Persian. It …

Firkovich / Firkowicz, Abraham

(965 words)

Author(s): Dan D.Y. Shapira
Abraham Firkovich (Firkowicz) was born in 1787 into a Karaite family in Lutsk (Łuck), Volhynia. In 1818, after serving for some while as the city’s ḥazzan (Karaite rabbi), he left for the flourishing port-city of Eupatoria (Yevpatoria, Trk. Gözleve) in Crimea. There and, especially, in Odessa, he became involved with the Haskala (Heb. [Jewish] Enlightenment) movement.Firkovich collected rare books and manuscripts and was active in the publication of works of Karaite interest. In 1830 he visited Jerusalem and Hebron, where he collected many Karaite and Rabbanite …