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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Ḥaver (Fellow of the Palestinian Yeshiva)

(584 words)

Author(s): Marina Rustow
The title ḥaver was granted to fellows (members) of the Palestinian yeshiva who in turn served as heads of their local Jewish communities. The full title was ḥaver ba-sanhedrin ha-gedola or ḥaver be-sanhedrin gedola (member of the Great Sanhedrin, i.e., the yeshiva; the Palestinian yeshiva referred to itself as the ḥavura). The title ḥaver (equivalent to the Babylonian alluf ) and the associated duties reflect the network of relationships the central yeshivot cultivated in the outlying Jewish communities. Ḥaverim who served as heads of the Palestinian Jewish communit…

Ḥaviv ha-Sephardi

(11 words)

Author(s): Norman A. Stillman
see Amatus Lusitanus (Amato Lusitano) Norman A. Stillman

Hayatizâde Mustafa Efendi

(12 words)

Author(s): Norman A. Stillman
see Abravanel, Moses ben Raphael Norman A. Stillman

Ḥayāt al-Rūḥ

(431 words)

Author(s): Vera B. Moreen
Ḥayāt al-rūḥ (The Life of the Soul) was Siman Ṭov Melammed’s most important contribution to Judeo-Persian literature. A learned dayyan ( judge), communal leader, poet, mystic, and philosopher, Melammed died in either 1800, 1823, or 1828. His works have not yet been thoroughly studied.              The exact date of composition of Ḥayāt al-rūḥ is unknown, but 1778 is suggested by the fact that the printed edition (Jerusalem, 1898) mentions that it was in manuscript form for 120 years.  Thus it may have been written while Melammed was living in Herat (Afghanistan), as suggested by his…

Hay (Hayya) Gaon

(838 words)

Author(s): Robert Brody
Hay (properly Hayye or Hayya) ben Sherira was one of the greatest of the geonim (heads) of the central rabbinic academies (yeshivot) and has been described as “the last of the geonim in time and the first in rank.” His death in 1038 has often been taken to mark the end of the gaonic period, which began about the middle of the sixth century C.E. Today we know that this is not strictly correct, for he was survived by at least one gaon of the academy of Sura, but he may well have been the last head of the Pumbedita academy to bear the title gaon. The circumstances of Hay's appointment as gaon were quite ex…

Ḥayk, Uzziel al-

(515 words)

Author(s): Jacques Taïeb
Uzziel al-Ḥayk, the son of David al-Ḥayk,  a renowned intellectual from a family of Grana rabbis, was born in Tunis in 1740 and died there around 1810. Well versed in Arabic language, Islamic law, rabbinic matters, and economic issues, he was involved in many legal decisions made by the Tunis rabbinic courts. These provide much information about daily life at that time, and on fundamental legal matters such as the right to own and acquire property and private assets (Ar. mulk). Al-Ḥayk wrote two major books in Hebrew that were published posthumously. Mishkenot ha-Roʿim (The Shepherds’ D…

Hayon, David (Bubi)

(234 words)

Author(s): Rifat Bali
David Hayon, known in the art milieu as Bubi, is a prominent Turkish Jewish painter. He was born on August 5, 1956 in Istanbul. He studied psychology and anthropology at Istanbul University and is a self-trained artist. He has participated in numerous collective exhibitions. Until 1970, he used the letters BDH as his signature, the acronym of Bubi David Hayon. After 1970, he signed his works simply as Bubi. Renowned in the world of modern art for his anarchistic style, Bubi is famous for his “ Cages” ( Kafesler), a unique artistic creation in which he makes use of unconventional ma…

Ḥayon, Nehemiah Ḥiyya ben Moses

(381 words)

Author(s): Matthias Lehmann
Nehemiah Ḥiyya b. Moses Ḥayon (Ḥayyūn) was an itinerant kabbalist whose neo-Sabbatean ideas generated one of the great rabbinical controversies of the eighteenth century. His family was originally from Sarajevo; Ḥayon, who was born around 1655, grew up in Nablus and Jerusalem. In the 1690s, he was for a short time rabbi of the Macedonian city of Skopje (Uskub) but then returned to Palestine. His extensive travels in subsequent years led him to Rosetta (Egypt), Izmir (Smyrna), Livorno (Leghorn), Venice, Prague, Berlin, and Amsterdam. He died around 1730.  It was in Amsterdam, where he …

Ḥayyim Ben Abraham ha-Kohen

(247 words)

Author(s): Pinchas Giller
Ḥayyim ha-Kohen of Aram Ṣoba (Aleppo) was born in Egypt in 1585, with an ancestry that traced back to Spain by way of Baghdad and Jerusalem. He moved to Safed, where he encountered Hayyim Vital at the height of the latter’s influence. A letter from Shlumiel of Dreznis, the earliest chronicler of the Safed renaissance, notes the powerful rabbi/disciple relationship of the two scholars. Ḥayyim ha-Kohen subsequently relocated to Aleppo and presided over the rabbinical court there until 1653. While seeing to the publication of his works in Livorno, he initiated Nathan Neta Hanover into th…

Ḥayyim, Samuel

(673 words)

Author(s): D Gershon Lewental
Samuel ben Moses Ḥayyim (ca. 1760–ca. 1842) was a rabbinical jurist ( dayyan) and teacher in Istanbul, and a chief rabbi ( haham başi) of the Ottoman Empire. One of the city’s most learned scholars, Ḥayyim studied in a yeshiva where his teachers were Rabbis Elijah Palombo (b. 1762), Menahem Ashkenazi, and Raphael Jacob Asa. He spent most of his life in Balat, the Jewish quarter in the Fatih district of Istanbul, where he headed his own seminary. As early as 1798, he was recognized as an authority on the laws of divorce ( giṭṭin), and in consequence he supervised many such cases in the bet din headed…

Ḥayyūj, Judah (Abū Zakariyyā Yaḥyā) ben David al-Fāsi

(2,022 words)

Author(s): José Martínez Delgado
1. Life Judah Ḥayyūj (Abū Zakariyyā Yaḥyā) ben David al-Fāsi established the triliteralism of the Hebrew verb and was one of the few scholars who appears to have approached the Bible with the sole intention of making a morphological analysis of verbal forms in the search for a valid methodology. He was also the first Jewish author from al-Andalus to write in Arabic. The nisba al-Fāsi indicates that Judah Ḥayyūj was from Fez in Morocco, a city he left for Cordova, possibly because as a writer he was attracted by the cultural movement fostered by Ḥasday ibn Shaprūṭ and the splendor of the m…

Ḥayyun, Gedaliah

(306 words)

Author(s): Pinchas Giller
Born in Istanbul, Gedaliah Ḥayyun settled in Jerusalem’s Old City in 1736 at the age of forty with the aim of pursuing his studies in Kabbala. He was a student of Ḥayyim Alfandari, (see Alfandari Family) who initiated him into the mysteries of the Lurianic system of Kabbala, which dominated his theology, and he was influenced halakhically by Judah Rosanes (see Rosanes (Rosales) Family), the chief rabbi of Istanbul. His halakhic opinions are cited by Ḥayyim Joseph David Azulay and others of the period. Ḥayyun briefly returned to Istanbul to organize a committee of support for th…

Hazan, Aron de Yosef

(295 words)

Author(s): Julia Phillips Cohen
Aron de Yosef Hazan (1848–1931) was a Sephardi journalist, teacher, translator, and community activist in Izmir (Smyrna). He came from a long line of scholars and rabbis. His grandfather, Hayyim David Hazan, was chief rabbi in Jerusalem. His brother, Elijah Bekhor Hazzan, became chief rabbi of Alexandria. After receiving a traditional Jewish education, Hazan attended a school in Izmir founded by Jacques Mizrahi, where he studied Turkish, French, and Italian. Upon completing his studies, he taught Turkish at the Alliance Israélite Universelle school and later at the local T…

Haza, Ofra

(537 words)

Author(s): Amy Horowitz
Ofra Haza (1957–2000) was an Israeli singer who rose from poverty to international acclaim. Born in the Shkhunat ha-Tikva neighborhood of Tel Aviv, to traditional parents who had immigrated from Yemen to Mandatory Palestine in 1944, she grew up at the height of the struggle against ethnic discrimination on the part of Israeli Jews from the Islamic world. Haza began performing at neighborhood events as a child and at twelve was invited by the activist/producer Bezalel Aloni into his Hatikva Quarter Theater Workshop. In 1973, Haza’s Gaʿaguʿim (Longing) won first place in Israel’s h…

Ḥazzan, Elijah Bekhor

(1,268 words)

Author(s): Zvi Zohar
Elijah Bekhor Ḥazzan, one of the foremost Sephardic halakhists and religious thinkers of his time, was born in Izmir (Smyrna) around 1846 and died in Alexandria on June 20, 1908. The son of Joseph Ḥazzan,  he accompanied his grandfather Ḥayyim David to Jerusalem in 1855. In addition to the excellent rabbinic education provided by his grandfather,  who was chief rabbi of Jerusalem from 1861 to 1869, Elijah also learned Arabic, French, Italian, and Spanish. Taking great interest in events in the world at large as well as in its Jewish communities, he w…

Ḥazzan, Elijah Isaac

(455 words)

Author(s): Zvi Zohar
Born in Iraq, Elijah Isaac Ḥazzan became rabbi and principal of the community school in the town of Ḥilla around 1885. He introduced the study of modern literary Arabic and modernized the school’s administration. In 1906 he left Ḥilla and went to Hong Kong to serve as rabbi and cantor of the  Ohel Leah synagogue of the Iraqi Jewish community there. From then on he was known as Ḥazzan (i.e., cantor) rather than Shammash, the surname with which he was born. When the Ohel Rachel synagogue of the Iraqi Jewish community in Shanghai was completed in 1920, he was commissioned to serve there. …

Ḥazzan family

(1,029 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ben Naeh
The Ḥazzans (Ḥazan) were a Sephardi rabbinical family first mentioned in seventeenth-century Izmir (Smyrna). Several members of the family served as rabbis in communities of the Ottoman Empire from the late eighteenth century to the early twentieth century.  Joseph ben Elijah Ḥazzan (d. after 1694) was a pupil of Joseph di Ṭrani (Mahariṭ; d. 1638) in Istanbul. After some time in Izmir, he settled in Jerusalem. He was the author of several works, including ʿEn Yosef (The Face of Joseph; Izmir, 1675), a collection of homilies on the weekly Torah portions,and ʿEn Yehosef (The Face of Jeho…

Ḥazzan, Solomon

(543 words)

Author(s): Naḥem Ilan
Solomon Ḥazzan was born in 1799, either in Safed or Algeria, and died in Malta in 1855/56. Little is known about his life. For some time he was the principal of the Talmud Torah in Bulaq, on the outskirts of Cairo. After the death of Rabbi Jedidiah Israel in 1831, he became chief rabbi of Alexandria, serving from 1832 until 1855 or 1856, when he fell ill. He set out for Malta to recuperate, but died en route and was buried in Malta. Around 1850, Ḥazzan acted to restore the Eliahou Hannabi synagogue in Alexandria. His books were published in 1893, shortly after the death of his wife, Sarah, by their son Da…

Ḥebra (Israʾel)

(407 words)

Author(s): Orly R. Rahimiyan
The Iranian Constitutional Revolution of 1906 and the process of modernization it introduced provided the momentum that impelled educated young Jews in Tehran to work together to further their interests. Under the leadership of an older man, the intellectual Yequtiel Kāshānī, and his assistant, Ayyūb Loqmān Nehūrāy (1882–1952), an association of young people was organized on the eve of the Constitutional Revolution. Using as its name the familiar Hebrew/Aramaic term Ḥebra Qadisha (holy association or sacred society), the organization remained active until the bomb…

Hebrew Poetry in the Medieval Islamic World

(3,638 words)

Author(s): Raymond Scheindlin
Jews acquired familiarity with Arabic poetry as the regions they inhabited became Arabized. In 772, an exilarch’s son belonged to a circle of Arabic poets in Basra; in the early tenth century, one of the exilarchs composed Arabic poems in honor of the caliph. A ninth- and tenth-century Karaite author complains that Jews have adopted Arab social patterns, including practices associated with poetry. Throughout the period, cultivated Jews were familiar with Arabic poetry, though evidence of Jews composing poetry in Arabic is only occasional. But by the tenth century, Jews in Islam…
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