Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World

Get access Subject: Jewish Studies
Executive Editor: Norman A. Stillman

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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(554 words)

Author(s): Marzena Zawanowska
The Hebrew term haʻataqa (transmission) was used from the eleventh century onward to denote the Karaite tradition of halakha (religious laws and practices), often coinciding with the Hebrew term sevel ha-yerusha (inherited tradition). In some ways this concept parallels the Rabbanite notion of received tradition (Oral Law; Heb. tora she-be-ʻal-pe). Scholars formerly translated sevel ha-yerusha as “burden of inheritance” or “endurance of tradition” (e.g., Poznański, 1914; Nemoy, 1963; Ankory, 1955), but it has since been demonstrated that it should …


(1,808 words)

Author(s): Laurence Loeb
The town of Habban (Ar. Ḥabbān; Coll. Ar. Ḥabbēn) was the easternmost and possibly the oldest Jewish community in South Yemen. It was once a trading town on an important incense route connecting Dhofar via the ancient port of Cana with highland Yemen. The area has long been politically unstable and was a tempting target for the nearby Awāliq chiefdom as well as strong pastoral tribes. Habban is located in what was once known as the Wahidi Sultanate on the western edge of the British-designated East Aden Protectorate. It is 275 kilometers (171 miles) east by no…

Ḥabshūsh family

(510 words)

Author(s): Alan Verskin
The Ḥabshūsh (Ḥibshūsh) family, based in Ṣan‘ā, produced several prominent merchants and rabbis who made important contributions to Yemenite Jewish literature and religious life in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The family name is probably derived from the Arabic noun ḥabash (Abyssinia) and might indicate that the family once had Abyssinian commercial contacts. Shalom ibn Yaḥyā Ḥabshūsh (1825–1905) was appointed head of the Ṣan‘ā yeshiva after the death of Yaḥyā Badīhī in 1887. As the yeshiva closed permanently during the Turkish siege of…

Ḥabshūsh, Ḥayyim

(815 words)

Author(s): Alan Verskin
Ḥayyim ben Yaḥyā (Yiḥye) Ḥabshūsh (Ḥibshūsh) al-Futayḥī was born in 1839 in Sanʿāʾ to a well-known Yemeni rabbinical family. His work as a coppersmith gave him an interest in the ancient Sabean copper inscriptions, which he initially collected for their magical properties. When the French orientalist Joseph Halévy went to Yemen in 1869 in search of these inscriptions, Ḥabshūsh offered to be his guide. His encounter with Halévy was transformational. Ḥabshūsh developed a lifelong fascination with European thought and the writing of history. He also came to believe that the fate of Yemeni…

Hadassi, Judah

(636 words)

Author(s): Daniel J. Lasker
Judah ben Elijah Hadassi ha-Avel (“the Mourner,” fl. 1148–1149) was the outstanding Karaite of twelfth-century Byzantium. Although he lived in a Christian country and very likely did not know Arabic, his major opus, Sefer Eshkol ha-Kofer (The Cluster of Henna, Song of Songs 1:14) serves as a summa of Karaite Judaism as it had developed under Islam from the proto-Karaite ʿAnan ben David to the demise of the Jerusalem Karaite community in 1099. It provides an overview of Karaite law, polemics, theology, heresiology, and much more. …
Date: 2015-09-03

Haddad de Paz, Charles

(285 words)

Author(s): Haim Saadoun
Charles Haddad de Paz was the  last president of the Tunisian Jewish community. Born in 1910, he studied at the Alliance Israélite Universelle school in Tunis and became a teacher there in 1928. He was also a lawyer and a member of the Chamber of Advocates. He was very active in Jewish communal institutions from the late 1930s, was elected vice-president of the Jewish Community Council in 1947, and was its president from 1951 to 1958, the year when the Tunisian government (following independence in 1956) decided to abolish the council. In 1958 Haddad left Tunisia for Marseilles. Ther…

Haddad, Ezra

(409 words)

Author(s): Lital Levy
Ezra Ḥaddād (1900?-1972) was a prominent Baghdadi Jewish educator, author, journalist, and translator. He received both a traditional education at the Midrash Talmud Torah and a modern one at the Al-Taʿāwwun school (later renamed after Rachel Shaḥmon), where he studied Turkish, Persian, and French. Beginning in 1922 he taught Arabic, English, and history in the Talmud Torah school. From 1923 (or 1924) to 1928, he was headmaster of the  Al-Waṭanīyya Jewish secondary school; from 1928 to 1933 he was vice-headmaster of the Shammash school. He again served as headmas…

Haddad, Hubert Abraham

(847 words)

Author(s): Dinah Assouline Stillman
Hubert Abraham Haddad, a noted poet, novelist, essayist, and playwright, as well as an art historian and painter, was born in Tunis on March 10, 1947 and accompanied his parents into exile in France at the age of five. One of his novels, Le Camp du bandit mauresque (The Camp of the Moorish Bandit, 2005), describes their drab existence in the poor neighborhoods of Paris and its suburbs and his search for identity. Years later, speaking in an interview of his Judeo-Berber heritage and his Tunisian-French identity, he said: “There can only be h…

Haddad, Sarit

(307 words)

Author(s): Amy Horowitz
Sarit Haddad (Sarah Hodedtov) is an Israeli singer born in 1978, the youngest of the eight children of a Caucasian-Jewish family originally from Azerbaijan. Haddad showed an early interest in music, releasing her first album (with estimated sales of over 50,000 copies) when she was sixteen. While subsequent albums (in 1996 and 1997) brought her increasing popularity among fans of Mizraḥi music, it was a duet of “Tipex” in 1997 with Kobi Oz  that introduced her to the Israeli mainstream. In 1997, Haddad toured for one month in Jordan under an alias, performing mater…


(7 words)

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

Hagège, Daniel

(396 words)

Author(s): Yosef Tobi
Born in Tunis on July 15, 1892,  Daniel Hagège (Ḥajjāj) completed his schooling in 1904 and began working in a printing house with Ya‛aqov Ha-Kohen on the weekly al-Shams and the daily al-Ṣabāḥ . On October 21, 1910, he was appointed chief editor of the weekly Ḥayāt al-Janna. On August 1, 1913, he founded a magazine called   al-Nuzha al-tūnisiyya. In 1914, he published an important book entitled Anwār Tūnis (Flowers of Tunis) that included the article “Sabab taqwīn ḥarb Urupa” (Causes of the Development of the European War), the story “al-‛Ishq wa-al-ḥubb mā fihi…

Hagiz, Moses

(584 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ben Naeh
Moses ben Israel Jacob Ḥagiz (Ḥagis) was a halakhic scholar, rabbinical emissary ( shadar), kabbalist, and vigorous opponent of the Sabbatean heresy. He was born in Jerusalem in 1672 into a family of North African origin and was the son of  Israel Jacob ben Samuel Ḥagiz (1620–1674), one of the leading rabbis of Jerusalem. Due to his father’s untimely death, however, he was educated by his maternal grandfather, Moses ben Jonathan Galante the Younger (1620–1689). Ḥagiz married the daughter of the scholar-physician Raphael Mordecai Malkhi and was…

Haham Başı (Chief Rabbi)

(2,556 words)

Author(s): Avigdor Levy
Haham başı, also spelled hahambaşı, has been the title of a government-appointed chief rabbi in the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey since 1835. The title, of Ottoman Turkish provenance, combines haham, the Turkish form of Hebrew ḥakham (wise man, sage), used by Sephardi Jews as a title for their rabbis, and Turkish baş (head, chief) in the qualifying relationship construct başı. The Hebrew counterpart of haham başı is ḥakham bashi. The Christian communities in the Ottoman Empire were under the religious and civil leadership of their ecclesiastical heads, the patri…

Hahamhane Nizamnamesi (General Regulations of the Rabbinate)

(783 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
In July 1863, in furtherance of the Ottoman Tanzimat reforms, Fuad Pasha, the grand vizier, ordered the acting chief rabbi of Istanbul, Yakir Geron, to embark on a process of restructuring the Jewish community and the rabbinate. Geron organized a committee for this purpose. Led by the influential philanthropist Abraham de Camondo and consisting of fourteen regional representatives from Istanbul, the committee selected twelve lay administrators and four rabbis to formulate a reform statute. Their proposals were presented to Sultan Abdüleziz in …

Haïm, Shemu’el

(476 words)

Author(s): Orly R. Rahimiyan
Popularly known as "Mister Haïm" or "Monsieur Haïm," Shemu'el Haim was a modernist communal leader of Iranian Jewry at the beginning of the twentieth century. He was also a journalist, a Zionist, and a member of the Majlis, the Iranian parliament. Shemu'el Haïm was born in Kirmanshah in 1891 and was educated in the school of the Alliance Israélite Universelle, where he acquired a thorough command of English and French. In 1914 Haïm entered the customs service in Kirmanshah. While working there he became a political consultant to the British embassy, but his connec…

Haïm, Soleiman

(385 words)

Author(s): Orly R. Rahimiyan
Soleiman Haïm, born in the Jewish quarter of Tehran in 1886, was an Iranian Jewish scholar, lexicographer, playwright, and the editor of a series of bilingual dictionaries that earned him  the nickname ustād-i kalām (Pers. master of words). He died in Tehran in 1970. Haïm grew up in stark economic conditions. His early education was in a traditional Jewish elementary school (Pers. maktabkhāneh) . In 1906 he entered the American College of Tehran (a secondary school run by Presbyterian missionaries), and he began teaching English there in 1915.  He was brie…

Ha-ʿIvri ha-Tzair (Egypt)

(666 words)

Author(s): Ruth Kimche
Ha-‘Ivri ha-Tzair  (Heb. Ha-ʿIvri ha-Ṣa’ir - The Young Hebrew), the first pioneer youth movement in Egypt, was an affiliate of ha-Shomer ha-Tzair (The Young Guard), a worldwide Socialist Zionist movement. Five veteran leaders of the Maccabi scout movement established Ha-ʿIvri ha-Tzair  in 1932, on the initiative of Mordechai Albagli, who had become acquainted with the kibbutz enterprise while visiting Palestine. Another of the five, Aaron Liscovitch, had learned about the movement from members of ha-Shomer ha-Tzair in Tunis with whom he corresponded, and he …

Hājjī Riżā

(207 words)

Author(s): Vera B. Moreen
Ḥājjī Riżā was a minor official during the reign of Shah ʿAbbās I (1571–1629), one of the most important monarchs of the Ṣafavid dynasty in Iran. As such, he is symbolic of a number of other such officials who took it upon themselves, not necessarily with court approval, to persecute Jews. According to the Judeo-Persian chronicle Kitāb-i Anusī (The Book of a Forced Convert) by Bābāī ibn Luṭf , sometime in 1625 a wave of persecutions struck the Jewish community of Isfahan. It had formerly paid a yearly jizya (see Taxation; Dhimma) of forty tūmāns, but Ḥājjī Riżā, one of the stewards of th…

Ḥakak, Balfour

(293 words)

Author(s): Ori Kritz
Balfour Medad Ḥakak, writer, poet, and editor, was born in Baghdad in 1948. Israel became his home in 1950. Fifteen years later he won the International Bible Contest. After receiving an M.A. in Bible Studies from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (1977), he began working in the Curriculum Department of the Ministry of Education and Culture. He edited numerous books and the teachers’ magazine Ḥinnukh ʿal ha-Pereq (Education in Action, 1986–99). Since 2005 he has been chair of the Hebrew Writers Association. Ḥakak published his first poem, Be-Qarov (Soon), at age fifteen in Maʿariv la-No…

Ḥakak, Herzl

(305 words)

Author(s): Ori Kritz
Herzl Eldad Ḥakak, poet and writer, was born in Baghdad, Iraq in 1948. His family immigrated to Israel in 1950. In 1965, at seventeen, Ḥakak won first prize in the National Bible Contest and second prize in the International Bible Contest. He earned an M.A. in Bible Studies in 1977 from the Hebrew University. After teaching high school for fifteen years, he went to work for the Israel Postal Authority and became the editor of its journal, Ḥadashot ha-Do’ar (Postal News). Among his other social, cultural and political activities, he was president of the Hebrew Writers Asso…

Ḥakak, Lev

(351 words)

Author(s): Ori Kritz
Lev Ḥakak, critic, editor, poet, and prose writer, was born in Baghdad, Iraq, in 1944. He lived in Israel from 1951 to 1971, during which time he obtained a B.A. in Hebrew literature and political science (1967) and an LL.B. (1971) from the Hebrew University. He subsequently earned a Ph.D. in modern Hebrew literature at UCLA (1974) , where he is teaching Hebrew language and literature. Although admitted to the state bar of California (1980), he does not practice law. Ḥakak’s most significant contributions in creative and critical writing were about Iraqi Jewry. He was one o…


(9 words)

Author(s): Norman A. Stillman
see Judeo-Spanish - Haketia Norman A. Stillman

Hakham Bashi

(11 words)

Author(s): Norman A. Stillman
see Haham Başı (Chief Rabbi) Norman A. Stillman

Ḥakham, Joseph Ḥayyim ben Elijah al- (Ben Ish Ḥayy)

(1,295 words)

Author(s): Zvi Zohar
Joseph Ḥayyim ben Elijah al-Ḥakham, also known as the Ben Ish Ḥayy, was Iraq’s greatest rabbinic scholar since the gaonic period. Born in 1835, he was came from a distinguished family. His father, Elijah, was a scholar; and his grandfather Moses Ḥayyim  (b. 1750) served as chief rabbi of Baghdad for fifty-two years, from 1787 to 1839. Joseph showed extraordinary promise from an early age, and his brothers made him a silent partner in their business to provide him with a steady income so that he could devote hi…


(681 words)

Author(s): Orly R. Rahimiyan
The term ḥakīm (Ar./Pers. physician) was used by both Jews and Muslims in Iran to designate Jewish physicians. The profession of ḥakīm was highly respected in Iran. As elsewhere in the Islamic world, the practice of medicine provided an entrée to the royal court. Few Jews made their living from medicine, and most of those who did were autodidacts or learned their skills from family members. The profession and its associated high social status were usually passed down from father to son. Jewish physicians generally s…

Ḥākim bi-Amr Allāh, al-

(443 words)

Author(s): Elinoar Bareket
The Fatimid caliph al-Ḥākim bi-Amr Allāh succeeded his father, al-ʿAzīz, in 996 as a boy of eleven. Extremely pious, he was, even as a child, given to strange behavior. He began to strictly enforce the dress code ( ghiyā r) for dhimmīs (see Dhimma) in 1004. The following year, he banned the production of wine, and in 1009 he ordered Christians to wear a large cross and Jews a bell around their necks when in the public baths. He began to persecute Christians more directly in 1009/1010, destroying the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. but was less severe with the Jews…

Ḥakīm Yazghel Ḥaqnaẓͅar

(327 words)

Author(s): Orly R. Rahimiyan
Ḥakīm Yazghel, known as Ḥakīm Ḥaqnaẓͅar (Ar. True-sighted), was the court physician of the Qājār rulers Muḥammad Shāh (r. 1834–1848) and Nāṣir al-Dīn Shāh (r. 1848–1896). He had a close relationship with Nāṣir al-Dīn Shāh’s mother and with Jayrān, one of the shah’s wives. His grandfather, also a physician, came to Tehran from Khunsār in 1821. Haqnaẓͅar was the founder of the Ḥakīm synagogue in Tehran’s Jewish quarter.  He had three brothers who were also court physicians. One of them, Ḥakīm Mūsa (d. 1881), also served Muḥammad Shāh and Nāṣir al-Dīn Shāh. Haqnaẓͅar excelled …

Hakko, Vitali

(282 words)

Author(s): Romina Meric
Vitali Hakko was born in Istanbul in 1913. He attended the school of the French (Jesuit) Frères until the age of ten, but in 1923, following the proclamation of the Turkish Republic, had to drop out because of his family’s financial troubles. At the age of thirteen, he began working in Mahmutpaşa, one of the busiest bazaars of the time, to contribute to his family’s income. In 1934, Hakko founded a modest hat store called Şen Şapka (Merry Hat) and officially entered the fashion industry. In 1938, he expanded his business and began selling scarves. That same ye…

Ha-Kohen ben Al-Mudarram

(387 words)

Author(s): Aurora Salvatierra Ossorio
Ha-Kohen ben al-Mudarram was an Andalusian Hebrew poet and grammarian. According to Moses ibn Ezra in his work on the art of poetry, Kitāb al-Muḥāḍara wa ʾl-Mudhākara (p. 58), Ben al-Mudarram was a scholar related to the first generation of Hebrew authors of the tenth century. He was specifically included in a second group that sprang up within the first group and that followed and overtook the prose writers, poets, and other writers who came before them. He is mentioned after Isaac ibn Qapron, disciple of Menaḥem ibn Sa…

Ha-Kohen Ha-Itmari, Elijah ben Solomon Abraham

(396 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ben Naeh
Elijah ben Solomon Abraham ha-Kohen, known as ha-Itmari because of the fame of his Midrash ha-Itmari(Constantinople, 1695), was a scion of a rabbinical family in Izmir (Smyrna). His brother Isaac moved to the Holy Land and died there at an early age. Elijah was active as a rabbi, kabbalist, and exegete in the last quarter of the seventeenth century and the first quarter of the eighteenth. Especially noted as a preacher, he had a strong tendency toward kabbalistic Hasidism, and his homilies on the commandment of charity ( ṣedaqa) reveal a great sensitivity to social injustice. He ap…

Halali, Salim

(361 words)

Author(s): Samuel Reuben Thomas
The musician Salim (Shlomo, Simon) Halali, a celebrated bandleader, singer, and percussionist in post-independence Morocco, was born on July 30, 1920 in Annaba, Algeria and claimed to be a descendant of the Chaouia Berber tribe. He began his career in 1930s Paris, quickly becoming a sought-after singer of Spanish-inflected music. To avoid Nazi deportation during the World War II occupation, Halali obtained a certificate of conversion to Islam from the rector of the Paris mosque, Kaddour Benghrabit. While in France, Halali released a recording as bandleader,   Halali en Arabe , that p…

Haleva, Izak

(288 words)

Author(s): Rifat Sonsino
Born in 1940 in Istanbul,  Isak Haleva graduated from the Jewish High School in Galata and continued with his rabbinic studies at the Porat Yosef Yeshiva in Jerusalem, where he was ordained as a rabbi. Among his teachers there were Ovadia Yosef and Shimon Baadani. After serving in the Turkish army from 1961 to 1963 as a reserve officer in Manisa and Kayser, Haleva was appointed to the chief rabbinate, serving as a member of its bet din, and later on, for seven years, as deputy to the ailing chief rabbi, David Asseo. Over the years from 1963 to 2002, Haleva also taught courses in Hebrew and in…


(8 words)

Author(s): Norman A. Stillman
see also Levi Norman A. Stillman

Ha-Levi, Abraham

(229 words)

Author(s): Leah Bornstein-Makovetsky
Abraham ha-Levi (d. 1837), also known as Hezekiah and Nissim, was the first chief rabbi ( haham başı) of the Ottoman Empire. He became a  dayyan in the Jewish court in the Balat district of Istanbul in 1820, and later served as its chief judge ( av bet din). In 1834 he was a dayyan in the court of the Istanbul community ( bet din issur ve-heter). In January 1835, Sultan Maḥmūd II issued an imperial decree ( ferman) appointing Halevi the empire’s first chief rabbi. He served in this office only a short time, possibly because of blindness, and was replaced in September of…

Halevī, Menaḥem Shemu’el

(508 words)

Author(s): Orly R. Rahimiyan
Menaḥem Shemu’el Halevi was born in 1884 in Hamadan. He was educated at the local religious maktab (Heb. ḥeder) and then at the traditional primary school of the Alliance Israélite Universelle when it opened in 1900. He was subsequently employed at the Alliance school for twelve years, first as a teacher, later as its vice-principal (1907) and principal (1910). His education and communal activism soon made him the Jewish community’s civil leader and representative to the municipality of Hamadan as well as its chief rabbi. Halevi fought zealously against assimilation and conversi…

Ha-Levi, Ṣemaḥ

(392 words)

Author(s): Yosef Tobi
Ṣemaḥ ben Nathan ha-Levi, a distinguished scholar and the author of books in both Hebrew and Judeo-Arabic, was born in Tunis in 1868 and died there in 1928. His respected family originally came from Gibraltar after having lived for a long while in Austria. His father was a cousin of the millionaire R. Nathan Ha-Levi, one of whose daughters married Joseph Valensi, who was the Austrian vice-consul in Tunis and the father of both the Zionist leader Alfred Valensi, and  the well-known lawyer Theodor…

Halevy, Bezalel Saadi

(440 words)

Author(s): Olga Borovaya
Bezalel Saadi Halevy (Ashkenazi) (1819–1903) was a publisher, journalist, and musician in Salonica . He inherited his press from a long line of printers in his family, the first of whom came to Salonica from Holland in 1731. Halevy published religious and secular texts, including his own poems and songs composed for holidays, weddings, and special occasions. Though his formal education was limited to a few weeks of traditional schooling, Halevy was a passionate supporter of modern …
Date: 2015-09-03

Halévy, Joseph

(514 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…

Halevy, Samuel Saadi

(563 words)

Author(s): Olga Borovaya
Samuel Saadi Halevy (Sam Lévy), born in Salonica in 1870, was known to most educated Sephardim in his time as the editor-in-chief of La Epoka (1875–1911) and Le Journal de Salonique (1895–1911), both founded by his father Bezalel Saadi Halevy. A passionate advocate of Ladino as the legitimate language of Eastern Sephardim, Lévy took pride in contributing to its development by publishing La Epoka. He was opposed to Zionism and encouraged Sephardim to become useful members of the societies in which they lived. Lévy was educated in Salonica at the Alliance Israélite Universelle s…
Date: 2015-09-03

Ḥalfon ha-Levi ben Manasseh

(631 words)

Author(s): Elinoar Bareket
Ḥalfon ha-Levi ben Manasseh (Abū Saʿid Ḥalfon ha-Levi ben Manasseh Ibn al-Qaṭāʾif) was the most important and prominent rabbinical court clerk (Heb. sofer bet din) in Fustat during the first half of the twelfth century. The Cairo Geniza contains numerous documents and letters in his handwriting and bearing his signature, dating from the years 1100 to 1138. These include at least 255 acts of the rabbinical court recorded in his hand and preserved in full or in fragmentary form, but it is likely that the total number of …

Halimi, Gisèle

(752 words)

Author(s): Jessica Hammerman
Gisèle Halimi (b. 1927) is a French lawyer, author, and activist. Born to observant Jewish parents in La Goulette, Tunisia, she grew up fearing God and with the understanding that her life was driven by fate. In her first memoir, translated into English as Milk for the Orange Tree, Halimi recalled that her parents urged her “not to ask questions” because “God decides” (p. 27). Her early rebellion against God’s authority began a life in which she constantly questioned the status quo, and as a teenager she became concerned about women’s rights,…

Ḥalimi, Sidi Fredj

(417 words)

Author(s): Yossef Charvit
Rabbi  Sidi Fredj ben Abraham Ḥalimi was born in Constantine in 1876 and died there in 1957. He was a dayyan (judge) of the rabbinical court of Constantine during the last generation of the Algerian Jewish community prior to the mass exodus (see Bet Din and Dayyanim). His fellow judges were Simeon Doukhan (Dukhan, 1875–1948) and Joseph ben David Renassia (1879–1962). Ḥalimi possessed a clear talmudic orientation. He became a dayyan at the tender age of eighteen and was head of the rabbinical court in Constantine by the time he turned thirty. He was respected by the community’s o…

Ḥaliwa, Solomon

(567 words)

Author(s): Yossef Chetrit
Solomon Ḥaliwa was born in Meknes, Morocco, and died there toward the end of the eighteenth century when he was around sixty years old. The three qinot (elegies) he wrote on the death of the famous Hebrew poet David ben Aharon Hassin (1728-1792), who also lived in Meknes, indicate that Ḥaliwa was the younger of the two. They show that Haliwa admired Ḥassin’s work and used it as a model but was more innovative. Although Ḥaliwa wrote hundreds of poems, addressing a great diversity of themes and displaying a unique richness of language, his writings did not spread across…


(2,007 words)

Author(s): Haideh Sahim
Hamadan (Pers. Hamadhān; Ar. and archaic Pers. Hamadhān; ancient Agbatana or Ekbatana) is a city in western Iran situated on the eastern slope of the Alvand massif, and the capital of a province by the same name. One of the oldest cities in Iran and the capital of the ancient Medes, its name appears in inscriptions as Hamgmatāna, meaning “place of gathering.” An ancient Pahlavi text attributes the building of the city to the Jewish queen Shūshāndukht, the daughter of an exilarch, who became the wife of the Sasanian king Yazdigird I (r. 399–420 c.e.) and the mother of Bahrām Gūr (420–438). The Bi…

Ḥamawī Family

(628 words)

Author(s): Yaron Harel
The roots of the Ḥamawī family lead to the city of Ḥama, situated midway between Damascus and Aleppo. Some members of the family left Ḥama and settled in Aleppo. Many members of the family were famous rabbinical scholars. Abraham Shalom Ḥay ben Raphael Ḥamawī was born and raised in Aleppo in the mid-nineteenth century; the date of his death is unknown. After studying in the yeshiva, he left Aleppo and journeyed across North Africa, Western Europe, Baghdad, India, and Palestine. Wherever he wandered he sought libraries and ancient m…

Hamdānī , Rabīʽ Mushfiq

(314 words)

Author(s): Orly R. Rahimiyan
Rabīʽ Mushfiq Hamadānī was born in 1912 in Hamadan and attended both the Alliance Israélite Universelle school and the elite Dār el-Funūn school. He translated two works of philosophy into Persian before the age of twenty. Hamadānī studied to be a French high-school teacher and completed his higher education in two years of philosophical and cultural studies, during which time he also served in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Not long after, he was appointed head of the Pars news agency. Hamadānī’s journalistic career began at the Iranian newspapers Mehr and Mehrgān. On the eve of th…

Ha-Mevasser, Istanbul, 1909-11

(614 words)

Author(s): D Gershon Lewental
Ha-Mevasser (The Herald [of Good Tidings]), a Hebrew weekly published in Istanbul from December 21, 1909 to December 3, 1911,  was founded by a group of Zionist leaders that included Vladimir (Ze’ev) Jabotinsky, Victor Jacobson, and Nahum Sokolow. The paper was managed and edited by Sami Hochberg with the assistance of Aharon Ḥermoni, who largely set the editorial tone. During its two-year life, Ha-Mevasser was Istanbul’s only entirely-Hebrew periodical. The scarcity of printers of Hebrew in Istanbul at the time rendered printing an expensive venture, and indeed Ha-Mevasser suffer…

Hamon, Aaron

(385 words)

Author(s): Cengiz Sisman
Aaron ben Isaac Hamon, who lived in Istanbul and Edirne (Adrianople) in the first half of the eighteenth century, was a poet, composer, and physician. He was a descendant of the famous Hamon family, which produced many court physicians and diplomats in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Unlike his forefathers, Aaron was more famous as a musician, and in the world of Turkish music he was better known as Yahudi Harun (Aaron the Jew). He was one of many renowned composers produced by Ottoman Jewry from the seventeenth century…

Hamon Family

(374 words)

Author(s): Cengiz Sisman
The Hamons were the most prominent Ottoman Jewish family of physician-diplomats. The family was originally from Spain, where Isaac Hamon had been a physician at the court of ʿAbd Allāh (Boabdil), the last Nasrid amīr of Granada (r. 1482–1484, 1487–1492), but they settled in Turkey after the 1492 expulsion. As was true for many other Jewish families, medicine was the hereditary profession of the Hamons. This was an era when marranos and professing Jews who had studied at the universities of Christian Europe were bringing their expertise to the Ottoman …

Hamon, Joseph

(246 words)

Author(s): Cengiz Sisman
Joseph Hamon (d. 1517/18), born and raised in Granada, was the founder of the Hamon family in the Ottoman Empire. He settled in Istanbul after the 1492 expulsion, and as a son of the famous Andalusian court physician Isaac Hamon, he became a physician at the imperial court (see Court Jews). It is unknown where he received his medical education, but various sources suggest that he studied medicine either in al-Andalus or Christian Europe. Sultan Bayazid II (r. 1481–1512) is said to have urged him to embrace Islam, but it appears that he preferred to remain Jewish. Some Italian sources accuse…
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