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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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 …
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