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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(523 words)

Author(s): D Gershon Lewental
The maʿamad (Heb. assembly; rendered in Latin characters by western Sephardi communities as mahamad) was an executive council that managed the secular affairs of many Jewish congregations in the Ottoman Empire and other parts of the Sephardi Diaspora. Usually made up of seven members (the so-called seven best men of the city; Heb. shivʿat ṭove ha-ʿir), although some councils were smaller, it functioned alongside the community’s spiritual leadership. Tax-paying members of the congregation elected aldermen (Heb. parnasim, sing. parnas) at public gatherings in a fairly democ…

Maarek, Henri

(269 words)

Author(s): Haim Saadoun
Henri Maarek was born in Tunis in 1893. His father, Messod(1861–1941), was one of the best and most talented modern Hebrew scholars of the Tunisian Haskala (Hebrew Enlightenment) and the editor of the Judeo-Arabic newspapers al-Bustān (1888–1906) and al-Naḥla (1892–1895). Maarek was educated at a kuttāb (Jewish elementary school), the Alliance Israélite Universelle school, and a yeshiva. Upon completing his education, he became a teacher in the Alliance school. Between 1930 and 1934, Maarek was a member of a committee charged with improving education in the Jewis…

Macias, Enrico (Gaston Ghrenassia)

(649 words)

Author(s): Sasha Goldstein-Sabbah
Enrico Macias (né Gaston Ghrenassia) is perhaps the best-known Jewish musician from North Africa. Born in Constantine, Algeria, on December 11, 1938 into a highly musical family, he began playing the guitar at a very young age. At fifteen, Macias played guitar in the famed orchestra of Raymond Leyris (known as Cheikh Raymond), in which his father, Sylvain Ghrenassia, was a violinist. He was not, however, encouraged to pursue music full-time, and instead became a teacher to young, primarily Muslim students in Aïn Frain.  In 1961 Raymond Leyris was brutally murdered, and in the …

Macnin (Maqnīn), Meʾir

(589 words)

Author(s): Daniel Schroeter
Born in Marrakesh in the 1760s, Meʾir ben Abraham Cohen Macnin (Maqnīn; Mor. Ar. goldfinch) settled in Essaouira (Mogador) in the 1770s or early 1780s. He soon rose to prominence in the port as a merchant and key intermediary for the governor of Essaouira. In the winter of 1799 to 1800, he set sail for England during an outbreak of bubonic plague, leaving behind his wife whom he had recently married. This was the beginning of a long sojourn in London, during which Macnin joined the elite Spanish and Portuguese Jews’ Congregation, also known as the Bevis Marks Synagogue, eve…


(7 words)

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

Maftirim Choir

(477 words)

Author(s): Pamela Dorn Sezgin
mThe term mafṭirim designates both a special repertoire of pizmonim (hymns), or paraliturgical sung poetry, from the Ottoman Turkish Jewish tradition, and the choir of male singers that performs them. The tradition of singing poems modeled on the court traditions of Ottoman music originated in Edirne (Adrianople) in the seventeenth century. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, it spread to Izmir, Istanbul, and other Ottoman cities. The genre of mafṭirim stems from medieval Spanish and Levantine Jewish sung poetry. Religious poems were collected and publishe…

Maggid Mesharim (Calcutta)

(211 words)

Author(s): Lital Levy
Maggid Mesharim (The Announcer of Truth), edited by Rabbi Shelomo Twena, was one of a number of newspapers in Judeo-Arabic and/or Hebrew published by Baghdadi Jews in India during the second half of the nineteenth century. It appeared weekly in Calcutta from 1890 to 1900. Like its predecessors, it carried local news of Jewish communities in India, announcements of births, deaths, and marriages, shipping news and schedules, and worldwide Jewish news. Twena’s reportage focused heavily, however, on the hardships of Jews in Baghdad, such as persecution by the Ottoman authoritie…

Maghāriyya, al- (The Cave Sect)

(703 words)

Author(s): Steven M. Wasserstrom
Al-Maghāriyya (The Cave Sect) is mentioned by the Karaite scholars Jacob al-Qirqisānī and Judah Hadassi, as well as by the Muslim writers al-Bīrūnī and al-Shahrastānī, deriving in part from works by Severus ibn al-Muqaffaʿ, David ibn Marwān al-Muqammiṣ, and Abū ʿĪsa al-Warrāq. Stroumsa observes that David ibn Marwān al-Muqammiṣ was interested in the sect in connection with Christian origins. However, the historical evidence for the al-Maghāriyya as an ancient sect is slim, consisting solely of al-Shahrastānī’s claim that they lived four hundred years before Arius (ca. …

Maghīli, Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd al-Karīm al-

(520 words)

Author(s): Mohamed Elmedlaoui
Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd al-Karīm al-Maghīlī (ca. 1440–ca. 1503) was a Muslim preacher,  activist, and jurist born and educated in Tlemcen. Moving to the fortified oasis town of Tamantit in the Touat region of west-central Algeria some 764 kilometers (475 miles) south of Tlemcen, he also journeyed throughout the Sahara and to West Africa as an adviser to local rulers. He wrote twenty-six works, most of them concerning Islamic theology and law. His Aḥkām Ahl al-Dhimma (Laws Relating to the People of the Dhimma) treats the subject of Jewish-Muslim relations; it may or may not have been ide…


(8 words)

Author(s): Daniel Schroeter
see Algeria;Morocco; Libya; Tunisia Daniel Schroeter

Magic and Divination

(2,287 words)

Author(s): Gideon Bohak
The magical practices of the Jews of Islam are a doubly neglected topic: On the one hand, the Jews of Islam (with the exception of a few enlightened luminaries like Maimonides) have generally been marginalized in the academic study of Jews and Judaism. On the other, the magical and divinatory beliefs and practices of the Jews of all times and places have not fared well in the modern study of Jewish history and culture, and even the few good surveys of Jewish magic (e.g., Trachtenberg 1939) completely ignore the magic of the Jews of Islam. This scholarly neglect stands in invers…


(391 words)

Author(s): Aviad Moreno
La Revista Maguén-Escudo, often abbreviated as Maguén, is a Jewish periodical founded in Caracas, Venezuela, in 1970. Although its name combines the Hebrew word magen (shield) and its Spanish equivalent, escudo, Maguén appears only in the Spanish language. It is the official publication of the Asociación Israelíta de Venezuela (AIV), the principal Sephardic organization in Venezuela, founded and led primarily by Jewish immigrants from the  former Spanish protectorate in Morocco, and the city of Tangier. Since June 1982, the AIV has published Maguén in association with the Cen…

Mahalla al-Kubra

(589 words)

Author(s): Brendan Goldman
A town in the Nile Delta prominently featured in documents from the Cairo Geniza, Mahalla al-Kubra (Ar. al-Maḥalla al-Kubrā) hosted a significant Jewish community until the late nineteenth century. The Jewish businesses and residents of al-Maḥalla were located in the Khōkhat al-Yahūd quarter (see Jewish Quarters). Its many silk weavers and dyers gave Mahalla al-Kubra a role in the silk industry at least as strong as that of the predominant Egyptian Jewish community in neighboring Fustat (Ar. Al-Fusṭāṭ). A query submitted to Maimonides mentions a partnership between owners of …

Maḥḍar al Shuhūd fῑ Radd al-Yahūd

(428 words)

Author(s): Daniel Tsadik
Maḥḍar al-Shuhūd f Radd al-Yahūd (Ar. The Court forRefuting the Jews) is a polemic against Judaism written by Ḥājj Bābā Qazvīnī Yazdī in the city of Yazd during the month of Ramaḍān 1797. The author's father, Muḥammad Ismāʿīl, was a Jewish convert to Islam. The author, apparently not a Muslim from birth, organized meetings (Ar. majālis) with Jews in addition to writing Maḥḍar al-Shuhūd. The book is a major source of anti-Jewish contentions rooted in early Sunnī and Shīʿī writings. It criticizes the concept of the Oral Law, but its main target is the Hebrew Bible. It uses the Hebrew Bibl…

Mahdiyya, al-

(520 words)

Author(s): Norman A. Stillman
Al-Mahdiyya is a coastal city in present-day Tunisia, 200 kilometers (124 miles) south of Tunis, founded by the first Fatimid caliph, ʿUbayd Allāh al-Mahdī (r. 909–934), to be his capital in place of Qayrawan. The establishment of a capital on the coast represented a singular break with Islamic tradition, which since the time of the conquests in the seventh century was to build new urban administrative centers inland away from the Byzantine Sea (as the Mediterranean was called). Al-Mahdiyya did not replace Qayrawan …

Maḥmūd, Shah

(297 words)

Author(s): Vera B. Moreen
Maḥmūd Shah was a Ghilzāy Afghan chieftain who invaded Iran in 1722, and besieged Isfahan, the capital, for seven months (March–October 1722).  The city was subjected to terrible famine and suffering that caused the death of approximately eighty thousand people,  many of starvation. The effect of the siege on the city’s Jewish community is described briefly but movingly in Kitāb-i Sar-Guzasht-i Kāshān dar Bāb-i ʿIbrī va Goyimi-yi Sānī (The Book of Events in Kashan Concerning the Jews; Their Second Conversion), the Judeo-Persian chronicle of Bābāī ibn Far…

Maimon ben Joseph ha-Dayyan

(1,142 words)

Author(s): Judit Targarona
Maimon (Ar. Maymūn) ben Joseph ha-Dayyan (ca. 1110–ca. 1166), the father of Moses Maimonides, was a disciple of  Joseph ha-Levi ben Meʾir ibn Migash, with whom he studied in Lucena. Maimon served as a rabbi and jurist in Cordova until the Almohad conquest. He was a scion of an important Sephardi family of al-Andalus documented as far back as the beginning of the tenth century. Almost all of his forebears were judges (Heb. dayyanim) and communal leaders: The sources trace the family line back for seven generations from Maimon’s father, Joseph the sage. Joseph’s father was Isaac ha-dayyan, Is…

Maimonides, Abraham ben Moses

(1,322 words)

Author(s): Joaquín Lomba
Abraham (Abū ʾl-Munā Ibrāhīm) ben Moses ben Maymon (1186–1237), the only son of Moses Maimonides, was born in Fustat, Egypt. As a child he was meek and humble, with excellent virtues—sharp intelligence and a kind nature. His father devoted loving care to his education, and he was clearly a person of enormous erudition in both Jewish and secular, scientific literature. In 1204, at the age of only seventeen or eighteen, he was appointed leader (Ar. raʾīs al-yahūd; Heb. nagid ) of the Jewish community in Egypt upon the death of his father. In part, perhaps, because of his you…

Maimonides, David ben Abraham

(280 words)

Author(s): Paul Fenton
David ben Abraham Maimonides (1222–1300) was the leader of Egyptian Jewry and a grandson of Moses Maimonides. Following the demise of his father in 1237, David was appointed head of Egyptian Jewry (Heb. nagid; Ar. raʾīs al-Yahūd) at a tender age. Deposed, possibly because of his youth, and restored in 1225, he remained in office for several decades. An able communal leader and scholar, possibly also a physician, he was reputedly the author of a collection of Judeo-Arabic sermons on the weekly portions of the Torah, as well as a Ju…

Maimonides, Joshua ben Abraham

(261 words)

Author(s): Elinoar Bareket
Joshua ben Abraham Maimonides (Maymūnī) was the third son of Abraham ben David Maimonides. He inherited the office of nagid in Egypt either directly from his father or from his older brother Moses. According to the sixteenth-century Jewish chronicler Joseph Sambari, he was born in 1310 and died in 1355. Very little is known about his personal life other than the fact that he was a renowned and respected scholar. A letter to him from Hebron in the Cairo Geniza offers condolences on the death of his older brother Obadiah and laments the unfortunate state of the Hebron commu…

Maimonides, Moses

(3,626 words)

Author(s): Joel L. Kraemer
Moses ben Maimon, generally referred to as Maimonides or by the Hebrew acronym Rambam, was born in Cordova in 1137/38. He was the son of the scholar Maimon ben Joseph, and the scion of an illustrious succession of sages which he traced back seven generations (Kraemer, p. 421). A popular tradition relates that he was a descendant of R. Judah ha-Nasi, redactor of the Mishna, thereby having his genealogy go back to King David. Maimonides, however, makes no mention of this in his writings, and we may regard it as legendary. N…

Maimonides, Obadiah ben Abraham

(390 words)

Author(s): Paul Fenton
Obadiah ben Abraham Maimonides (1228–1265), one of the three known grandchildren of Moses Maimonides, was a pietistic mystic who lived in Cairo. Very little is known about him, the only substantial account having been written in the seventeenth century by the Egyptian Jewish chronicler Joseph Sambari. More is known about his elder brother David (1222–1300), who succeeded their father, Abraham, as head of Egyptian Jewry (Heb. nagid; Ar. raʾīs al-yahūd). Although mentioned together with David in a letter found in the Cairo Geniza as one of “the two great luminaries, the two ta…


(8 words)

Author(s): Norman A. Stillman
see Polemics (general) Norman A. Stillman

Majlis (Iran), Jews in

(1,367 words)

Author(s): Orly R. Rahimiyan
Iran’s first constitution was enacted in 1906 and a Majlis (parliament) was established. The constitution gave the Jewish, Armenian, and Zoroastrian religious minorities civil rights almost equal to those of Muslims.Each of the minority groups was given the right to elect a representative to the Majlis. Under the 1906 constitution, a Jew could only be elected to parliament as a representative of the Jewish community. They voted in elections to the Majlis as members of an ethnic group and not as individuals. There was, however, a slate of ca…

Majlisῑ, Muḥammad Bāqir, al-

(579 words)

Author(s): Daniel Tsadik
Muḥammad Bāqir al-Majlisῑ (d. 1699/1700) was one of the most important scholars of Imāmῑ (Twelver) Shīʿīsm in premodern Iran in sociopolitical matters as well as religious sciences. He mastered various fields of Islamic studies but was best known as an expert on ḥad th (Islamic traditions). Under his auspices, numerous Shīʿī ḥad ths were collected and compiled in Persian and Arabic books; the most famous and voluminous of these is Biḥār al-Anwār (Ar. Oceans of Lights), which in its modern edition runs to 110 volumes. One scholar maintains that this book explains …


(912 words)

Author(s): Jonathan P. Decter
Málaga (Ar. Mālaqa) is a port city on the Mediterranean coast of southern Iberia between Algeciras and Almería, positioned at the base of Mount Gibralfaro (Ar. jabal fāruh). The city was noted by medieval geographers for its international mercantile activity, the architectural beauty of its buildings, baths, and marketplaces, and the agricultural productivity of its environs. Its strategic location gave it a significant role in the political development of al-Andalus. Muslim historians note that Hispano-Jews in Málaga were mobilized into the militia during the conques…

Malchi (Malkhi) Esperanza

(280 words)

Author(s): Leah Bornstein-Makovetsky
Esperanza Malchi (Malkhi) was the third Jewish kira ( kiera, kyra), a Greek honorific title meaning lady, given to the women who attended to matters outside the palace for the queen mother ( valide sultan) and other influential women in the Ottoman royal harem. As a personal agent for Safiye, the consort of Murad III (r. 1574–1595) and the mother of Mehmed III (r. 1595–1603), Malchi played a part in the correspondence between Safiye and Queen Elizabeth I of England. At least once, in 1599, she addressed a letter in Italian to Elizabeth, dealing with the exchange of g…

Maleḥ, Jacques

(316 words)

Author(s): Ovadia Yeroushalmy
Jacques Maleḥ (Elmaleḥ) was a banker, writer, and journalist, born in Cairo in 1906. He began his literary career with a book entitled Chimères, published in Paris in 1927, and in 1935 published the novel Deux cœurs et dieux. He was a member of the Essayistes literary circle in Cairo, founded by Elian J. Finbert (1899–1976), who in the course of time became a noted author in France. In July 1931 Maleḥ took over as chief editor of the weekly L’Aurore in place of Lucien Sciuto (1858–1947), its owner and editor, who was experiencing economic and personal difficulties. Maleḥ obtained support from B’…

Malik al-Ramlī     

(638 words)

Author(s): Fred Astren
Malik al-Ramlī was the leader of a nonrabbinic Jewish movement in the mid-ninth century. Most of what is known about him comes from the tenth-century Karaite Jacob al-Qirqisānī, who states that Malik lived in Ramle in Palestine, as is indicated by his name. His followers were known in al-Qirqisānī’s time as al-Ramliyya or al-Malikiyya. He is treated in al-Qirqisānī’s heresiography in the same section as Abū ʿImrān al-Tiflīsī, and it is noted that neither “composed a book on the Law,” an observation that marks them in contrast to other nonrabbinic leaders, esp…

Malka, Solomon

(516 words)

Author(s): Naḥem Ilan
  Solomon Malka was born in Asfelou, in the Tafilalet region of Morocco, on August 14, 1878, and studied in his youth at a yeshiva in his hometown. In 1896, he married Hannah Assouline (1882–1952) from Tinghir, and two years later the couple immigrated to Palestine. Malka studied in Tiberias and Safed, was ordained as a rabbi, and served as a dayyan (rabbinical judge) in Tiberias. At the suggestion of Elijah Bekhor Ḥazzan, the chief rabbi of Alexandria, he set out in 1906 for Omdurman in what was then the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. In 1908, he brought his wife and two…


(458 words)

Author(s): Emily Gottreich
Specifically Jewish residential quarters, whether established by law or by custom, were found in towns and cities in many parts of the Islamic world. Depending on the locality, the Jewish quarter was designated as ḥārat al-yahūd, qāʿat al-yahūd, qāʿa, or maḥalla. The name used in Morocco since the fifteenth century is mallāḥ. Though often conflated with the European ghetto, the mallāḥ (Mor. Ar. mellāḥ) has a sufficiently distinct origin, morphology, and history to be considered an exclusively Moroccan institution. The term is derived from the salt marsh area in Fez where the first s…

Malul, Nissim Jacob

(598 words)

Author(s): Amy Jacobson
Nissim Jacob Malul (1892–1959) was born in Safed and studied at the American College in Tanta, Egypt and the Egyptian University, Cairo. An advocate of understanding and cooperation between Jews and Arabs in Palestine, he wrote for Arabic newspapers in Palestine, Egypt, and Lebanon, and worked for the Zionist Office in Jaffa. Nissim Jacob Malul was born in Safed in 1892 to a family of Tunisian descent. In 1900 his family moved to Egypt, where his father, R. Moses Ḥayyim, was appointed rabbi by the Jewish communities of Tanta and Cairo. Malul comp…

Mamālik al-Imām

(258 words)

Author(s): Daniel Tsadik
Mamālik al-imām (Ar. property/slaves of the imām) is a juridical concept in Shīʿī ḥad th, familiar to some eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Muslim legal scholars ( ulamāʾ), whereby the People of the Book are regarded as property or slaves of the Imām. This meant that if a member of a dhimm (see Dhimma) community killed or wounded someone, the dhimm community was not required to pay the blood money for the victim, and instead it would be taken from the perpetrator's property. If the perpetrator had no property, the indemnity for the felony would be claimed from the Imām, since dhimm s wer…

Maman, Joseph

(332 words)

Author(s): Vera B. Moreen
Joseph Maman (1741–1825), the great spiritual leader of Bukharan Jewry, was born in Tetouan, Morocco. He went to Palestine in 1770 and settled in Safed. In 1792, he was sent as a rabbinical emissary (Heb. shaliaḥ de-rabbanan or shadar) to Iran to collect charitable funds. While there he spent a few months in Mashhad, where he met and developed cordial relations with  Siman Ṭov Melammed (d. 1800, 1823, or 1828),according the town’s learned spiritual leader. According to some sources, Maman learned about the deplorable religious state of the Jews of Bukhara …


(9 words)

Author(s): Norman A. Stillman
see Monastir (Bitola, Manastir) Norman A. Stillman


(8 words)

Author(s): Norman A. Stillman
see Great Britain Norman A. Stillman

Mandel, Irvin

(127 words)

Author(s): Rifat Bali
Irvin Mandel, an Ashkenazi Jew, was born on November 20, 1956 in Istanbul. He holds a B.A. from the Higher Education Hospitality and Tourism Management program of the Glion Institute in Montreux, Switzerland, and is a partner in a tourism company. In addition, since 1992 he has drawn the “Mozotros Family” cartoon strip in Şalom, the only newspaper of the Turkish Jewish community. Mozotros is a Judeo-Spanish expression that means “our people.” The comic strip is a satirical depiction of the daily life of the  Jews of Istanbul. Mandel published his collected cartoons in five albums called Moz…

Mandel, Nil Molinas

(180 words)

Author(s): Rifat Bali
Nil Molinas Mandel was born in Istanbul on December 1, 1955 and received her medical training at the Cerrahpaşa Medical Faculty of Istanbul University. Following a year working in the Cardiology Institute at Istanbul University, she undertook a four-year residency in internal medicine at the Cerrahpaşa Medical Faculty. She then spent two years at the Malatya State Hospital before returning to the Cerrahpaşa Medical Faculty in 1987 as an associate professor in its Department of Internal Medicine. She became a full professor in 1994. Her vis…

Mangūbī, Shabbetay Elijah

(9 words)

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

Mani, Elijah ben Sulayman

(378 words)

Author(s): Pinchas Giller
Elijah ben Sulayman Mani (1818–1899, known as the Re'em) was one of Baghdad’s most prominent rabbis. His career was emblematic of the movement of Baghdad’s rabbinic elite to the land of Israel in the nineteenth century. He was educated by Rabbi Abdullah Somekh, and fell under the influence of Rabbi Joseph Ḥayyim al-Ḥakam, the Ben Ish Ḥayy, who encouraged him to emigrate to Jerusalem. Among the duties Mani took up on arriving in Israel in 1856 was the management of Joseph Ḥayyim’s estate. He truly flourished in Hebron, however, and after the death of Moses Pereira in 1865 became it…


(477 words)

Author(s): Omer Turan
Manisa (Ott. Turk. Maghnisa; ancient Magnesia) is a city in western Anatolia situated south of the Gediz River on the northeastern slopes of the Manisa Dağı, which separates it from Izmir. The Ottoman Turks conquered it in 1313. Under Ottoman rule, the city became an important political and economic center where Ottoman princes gained experience in governance. After the expulsion from Spain in 1492, small groups of Sephardi Jews began to arrive in Manisa via the Balkans. The Ottoman census of 1531 registered approximately five hundred Jews in Manisa, and in 157…

Mani, Sulayman Menahem

(272 words)

Author(s): Pinchas Giller
Sulayman Menahem Mani (1850–1924), the eldest son of Elijah Mani, was born in Baghdad but was brought to Palestine when his father settled there in 1856. He was a student of Rabbi Solomon Eliezrov, the son-in-law of Rabbi Moses Pereira, and he married Pereira’s daughter, Rina. In 1901, he published his father’s book Siaḥ Yiṣḥaq. Upon his father’s death in 1899, he became head of the rabbinical court in Hebron, while Ḥayyim Hezekiah Medini, the author of the Sede Ḥemed, succeeded his father as chief rabbi of Hebron. After Medini’s death, Sulayman in turn became chief rabbi …

Mann, Elijah Salim

(214 words)

Author(s): Yaron Harel
Elijah Salim Mann was born in Beirut around 1872, and passed away there in 1969. As a young man he taught Arabic in the Alliance Israélite Universelle school and wrote two textbooks for students of Arabic: Bākūra al-Manhaj al-Qawīm (1899) and Kitāb al-Manhaj al-Qawīm (1900). In 1902, he founded the first press in Beirut and printed the first official regulations of the local Jewish community. For a short time in 1911, he published a newspaper named Al-Riwāyāt al-ʿAṣriyya (The New Stories). In 1921, Mann began publishing Al-ʿĀlam al-Isrāʾīlī (The Jewish World), a Zionist-oriented w…

Manuscripts and manuscript collections

(4,967 words)

Author(s): Benjamin Richler
No Hebrew manuscripts have survived from the period between the first century B.C.E., when the latest of the scrolls found at Qumran (the Dead Sea Scrolls) were written, and the ninth century C.E. A few fragments of scrolls as well as a small number of documents and letters written on leather, parchment, or papyrus during the first centuries of the common era have been discovered in the Holy Land and in Egypt, but no complete scrolls or substantial parts of manuscripts. Hebrew books during this p…


(210 words)

Author(s): Eveline Kamstra
1. Al-Andalus 2. Morocco 3. Algeria 4. Tunisia 5. Egypt 6. Egypt in the Medieval Period 7. Turkey 8. Arabian Peninsula 9. Iran 10. Yemen 11. Exodus of Jews from the Islamic world 12. Afghanistan 13. Alliance Israélite Universelle Network A B 14. Long Distance Trade 15. Uzbekistan 16. The Ottoman Empire Eveline Kamstra

Maqāma (- āt) (poetic form)

(17 words)

Author(s): Norman A. Stillman
see Music, al-Ḥarīzī, Judah ben Solomon (c. 1166-1225) Norman A. Stillman

Maqām (musical genre)

(882 words)

Author(s): Mark Kligman
A maqām is a mode or scale in Arabic music. Sephardi/Mizraḥi communities from the Mediterranean, particularly the Levant, make systematic creative use of various forms of the maqām in their liturgical and paraliturgical music. The term maqām (pl. maqāmāt) can refer to either a simple or a very complex set of phenomena. In its simplest form, it may refer to a specific scale. Defined in greater depth, maqām may refer to a specific scale with a tonic (keynote), alternative directional notes, accidentals, a specific ambitus (range of notes), a specific tetrachordal…

Marciano, Eliahou Raphael

(543 words)

Author(s): Shalom Bar-Asher
Eliahou Raphael ben Meʾir Mordechai Marciano, (born in Debdou, Morocco, in 1944), is a rabbi and scholar, an Israel Defense Forces army chaplain, and an educator at the Torah ve-Ṣiyyon Society, established by Rabbi Paul Roitman (1920–2007) to promote educational and social activities among Israelis of North African and Middle Eastern heritage. As a scholar, Marciano is best known for his Bene Melakhim (The Sons of Kings; 1989), a bibliographical history of Hebrew book printing between 1516 and 1889 in Morocco’s nine largest Jewish communities, including Tangier and …

Marcus, David

(444 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Dr. David Marcus was an influential Ashkenazi leader in Istanbul. Born in Novgorod, Russia, in 1870, he began his religious studies at the yeshiva in Lomza, Poland. After finishing high school, Marcus attended the University of Bonn in Germany, where he studied psychology, pedagogy, and philosophy, and obtained his doctorate in 1901. His impressive research and studies at the University of Bonn quickly drew the attention of the Jewish community in Germany. In 1900, the Ashkenazi community in Istanbul offered Marcus the position of headmaster of the Jewish Goldschmit Lycée in Galat…


(384 words)

Author(s): Onur Yildirim
The town of Mardin in southeastern Anatolia, situated on the heights overlooking the northern Syrian plain, was conquered by the Safavids in 1507 and then by the Ottomans in 1517. It was designated as a sanjak in the province of Diyarbakır in 1534. At that time, there were more Christians and Jews in Mardin than Muslims. The Christian population included Armenians, Nestorians, Chaldeans, Syrian Catholics, and Jacobites. The historic monastery of Dayr al-Zafarān (Tūr ‘Abdin) in Mardin, built in 493, served as the seat of the Jacobite patriarchate from …

Marnia (Maghnia)

(386 words)

Author(s): Richard Ayoun
Marnia (Maghnia) is a city in northwestern Algeria located 13 kilometers (8 miles) east of the Moroccan border, at an altitude of 365 meters (1,198 feet), in a vast plain irrigated by the diverted canals of the Tafna River. There seem to have been Jews there in Roman times (when the city was called Numerus Syrorum, Syrorum, or Syr). The  modern Jewish community began after the town of Lalla Maghnia (named for an eighteenth-century Muslim female saint) grew up around a redoubt built by French troops in 1844. The community fell within the jurisdiction of the Oran Consistory, but oral traditi…


(2,315 words)

Author(s): Emily Gottreich
The city of Marrakesh(Ar. Marrākush) is located in the Hawz plains in south central Morocco at the foot of the snow-capped Atlas Mountain range north of the pre-Saharan oases. The etymology of the word “Marrakesh” is likely Berber, and provides the basis of the name of the country as a whole in many European languages (Morocco, Maroc, Marruecos). The city is also known as “the red” for the mud brick of its buildings and impressive ramparts, the latter extending approximately seven miles in length a…


(6,923 words)

Author(s): Esther Juhasz | Judith Olszowy-Schlanger | Sasha Goldstein-Sabbah | Leah R. Baer | Melanie Lewey | Et al.
1. Medieval Period The institution of marriage in the Jewish communities of the medieval Islamic world followed the basic rules and customs prescribed in the Talmud. These were often blended with local customs and conditions, depending on place and time. The main sources on Jewish marriage in medieval Middle Eastern and North African communities, in addition to the rabbinic literature, are the actual marriage and betrothal contracts preserved in the Cairo Geniza.       Marriage involves a change in the personal status of a man and a woman from bachelorhood to matrimony tha…


(7 words)

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


(708 words)

Author(s): Richard Ayoun | Valérie Assan
Mascara (Ar. Muʿaskar) is a town located in northwestern Algeria about 96 kilometers (60 miles) southeast of Oran on the southern slope of the Beni Chougran range of the Atlas Mountains. According to oral tradition, the Jewish community of Mascara was founded by fugitives from Spain and Portugal in 1492, but the growth of the Jewish population probably dates from the eighteenth century, when the city was the capital of the Western beylik under Turkish rule until Spain retook Oran in 1792. Jacob Hayyim Ben Na'im, from Fez, became rabbi and dayyan in Mascara in 1760. In 1832 the Algeria…


(561 words)

Author(s): Haideh Sahim
Mashhad is the capital of the province of Khurasan and the second-largest city in Iran. Its full original name was Mashhad-i Riḍā (the Place of Riḍā’s Martyrdom), indicating that it is the locality where the eighth Shīʿī imam, 'Alī b. Mūsā al-Riḍā, was supposedly poisoned in 818 by al-Ma'mūn (r. 813–833), the Abbasid caliph. 'Alī’s shrine is the most important center of pilgrimage in Iran, and Khurasan is one of the country’s wealthiest provinces. Mashhad gained in importance after the Mongol destruction of Ṭūs and many other major cities in 1220. Gohars…

Mashiaḥ ben ha-Mullah Rafa’el

(294 words)

Author(s): Vera B. Moreen
Mashiaḥ ben ha-Mullah Rafa’el was the author of the twelfth chapter of the Judeo-Persian chronicle Kitāb-i Sar-Guzasht-i Kāshān dar Bāb-i ʿIbrī va Goyimi-yi Sānī (The Book of Events in Kashan Concerning the Jews; Their Second Conversion) by Bābāī ben Farhād. The chronicle recounts a number of events between 1721 and 1731 during which time the Jews of Iran, along with the rest of the population, suffered greatly from the downfall of the Ṣafavid dynasty and the Afghan and Russian invasions. It details in particular the forced conversion of the Jews of Kashan to Shīʿī Islam for a …

Maṣliaḥ ben Solomon ha-Kohen

(299 words)

Author(s): Arnold Franklin
Maṣliaḥ ben Solomon ha-Kohen was a scion of a family of priestly geonim that controlled the yeshiva of Palestine over the course of several turbulent generations. His grandfather Elijah ben Solomon ha-Kohen was the head of the yeshiva from 1062 to 1083, a period during which it moved from Jerusalem to Tyre, possibly in connection with the Seljuk conquest of Palestine in the 1070s. Some three decades later, Maṣliaḥ’s father held the post of gaon as well, the yeshiva at that point having relocated to Damascus. By 1127, Maṣliaḥ, living in Fustat, had assumed the title of gaon along with that of raʾ…

Masliah (Mazliyah, Matzliyah), Nissim

(484 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Nissim Masliah (Mazliyah) was born in 1877 in Manisa, Turkey. After graduating from the Alliance Israélite Universelle school there, he studied law and practiced as an attorney in Salonica. He was also a member of the Commercial Tribunal of Salonica and professor of administrative law and capitulations at the Salonica police academy, and, in addition, an informal legal adviser to Hüseyin Hilmi Pasha, the inspector general of Macedonia. Reputedly a member and secretary of the Committee of Union a…


(7 words)

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

Matalon, Ronit

(479 words)

Author(s): Stanley Nash
Ronit Matalon (b. 1959), the sabra daughter of Egyptian parents, is Israel’s most prominent younger mizraḥi fiction writer and essayist. Her extraordinarily successful first novel Zeh ʿim ha-Panim Elenu (1995; in English, The One Facing Us, 1998), set both in North Africa and Israel, delicately probed her reflections on her family’s complex of identities. More broadly, by incorporating whole chapters from Jacqueline Kahanoff’s essays aggrandizing “Levantinism” in its most positive multi-ethnic sense, Matalon affirmed but also critiqued mizraḥi perspectives of generations…

Matan Baseter Barinyurt (Social Aid Society)

(337 words)

Author(s): Naim Güleryüz
Matan Baseter Barinyurt, a social aid society of the Turkish Jewish community, sponsors the Barinyurt shelterin Istanbul. The Matan Baseter society was founded in Edirne in the early twentieth century. Migrants from Edirne reestablished it in Istanbul in 1928 under the auspices of the Galata-Pera Congregation. In this early manifestation, the society provided charity in secret to those in need, the confidentiality of its philanthropy intended to obviate any discomfiture to recipients. In 1949 Daniel Behar reorganized Matan Baseter to coordinate its activities with Bikur Holim, …


(428 words)

Author(s): Haim Saadoun
Matmata (Ar.-Berb. Māṭmāṭa), is the name of a Berber tribe and a mountainous region in southeastern Tunisia. It is also the name of a mountain town in the region that is distinguished by its underground (troglodyte) dwelling caves. The architecture of each house is the same: a large sunken courtyard in the center, surrounded by rooms opening into it (a Matmatan hotel of this type in nearby Tataouine was made famous as Luke Skywalker’s home in the motion picture Star Wars). The village of Matmata is situated in the hills at the eastern edge of the Sahara desert. After they o…

Mawwāl (Muwwāl, Mawāliya)

(560 words)

Author(s): Amnon Shiloah
According to the famous Iraqi poet and musician Ṣafī al-Dīn al-Ḥillī (1278–1349), the Arabic verse form known variously as mawwāl (Middle East), muwwāl (North Africa), and mawāliya is a connecting isthmus between classical and colloquial forms—it is in classical meter and lends itself to compositions in both inflected and uninflected language. Al-Ḥilli cites a legend about the term’s origin: short songs invented in Iraq during the Abbasid period were picked up by mawālī (non-Arab clients) who sung them to their masters with the refrain: O mawālīya (holders of power). Pierre Cachia i…

Mawzaʿ, Expulsion of

(1,071 words)

Author(s): Yosef Tobi
Mawzaʿ is a small town located in the western arid strip of Yemen along the coast of the Red Sea (Tihāma) about 97 kilometers (63 miles) southwest of Taʿizz. It is connected with the tragic incident in the history of the Jews of Yemen known as the Expulsion of Mawzaʿ ( Galut Mawza‘), which took place in 1679, when Jews from villages and towns in many parts of the country were sent there in anticipation of being expelled from Yemen. The background of the incident actually goes back to 1538. On the advice of the doctors of the main religious schools in Yemen, the Shīʿī Zaydīs and the Sunnī Shāfiʿīs, Imām S…

Maymran (Mimran, Maimoran) Family

(373 words)

Author(s): Nicole Serfaty
The Maimran family originated in Spain, but settled in Meknes after the expulsion in 1492. Joseph Maimran and his son Abraham both served as adviser to the Alawid sultan Moulay Ismāʿīl (r. 1672–1727) and shaykh-al-yahūd (government-recognized head of the Jewish community; see nagid). The few sources that mention Joseph Maimran confirm that he had influence with the sultan, as can be seen from Germain Mouette’s Histoire des conquestes de Moulay Archy (Paris, 1683), or from a letter sent by Baron de Saint-Amans to  Louis XIV on June 26, 1682. On behalf of the sultan, Joseph rees…


(755 words)

Author(s): Haideh Sahim
Mazandaran (Pers. Māzandarān) is an Iranian province, formerly known as Ṭabaristān, located east of Gīlān on the southeastern coast of the Caspian Sea, with Sari as its capital. Not much is known of the Jews in the area in the pre-Islamic period. The earliest reference to Jews comes from Iskandar Beg Munshī’s ʽĀlamārā-yi Ἁbbāsi, which mentions that Shāh ʿAbbās I (r. 1587–1629) relocated a large number of non-Muslim captives from Georgia to Mazandaran and Faraḥabad in 1616 or 1617. In his Kitāb-i Anūsī , Bābāī ben Luṭf mentions Faraḥabad as a city built by the transferred Jews, but Moreen bel…

Meʿam Loʿez

(623 words)

Author(s): Matthias Lehmann
Meʿam Loʿez (Heb. From a people of strange speech; see Psalm 114:1) is a multivolume comprehensive commentary on the Pentateuch and other books of the Bible in Judeo-Spanish. The concept originated with Jacob Culi, who was only able to complete the first volume, on Genesis, published in Istanbul in 1730, and part of Exodus before his death in 1732. It was continued by a dozen other authors in the following century and a half. Culi’s unfinished commentary on Exodus was completed by Isaac Magriso (1746), who also did the volumes on Leviticus (1753), and Numbers (1764). The Meʿam Loʿez, conside…


(510 words)

Author(s): Richard Ayoun
The Algerian city of Médéa (Ar. al-Madiya; Coll. Ar. Lamdiya), known in antiquity as Lambdia, is located 88 kilometers (55 miles) south of Algiers, at an altitude of 920 meters (3,018 feet) on the Tell Atlas, on a plateau dominating the north between the Blida Atlas and the Titteri Mountains. Jews may have lived in the area in ancient times, but the state of Médéa’s Jewish community, if any, during and after the Islamic conquest is unknown. The community was revived in the fifteenth century by Jewish settlers from Spain. When the French invaded Algeria in 1830, there were several hun…


(336 words)

Author(s): Haim Saadoun
Built on the site of the ancient Phoenician city of Gightis, Medenine (Ar. Madanīn) is a city in southeastern Tunisia about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the sea. During the late Ottoman period, Medenine was an important market town for the Ouerghemma, a confederation of the three main Berber tribes in the region. Traders came from Algeria and Libya to deal in goods like dates, olives, and grain. The town is well known for its numerous ghurfas (granaries) so typical of Berbers in southern Tunisia. Jews owned some of the ghurfas and used them as warehouses. The Jewish community of Medenine …

Medina, Cefi (Jeffi)

(211 words)

Author(s): Rifat Bali
Cefi (Jeffi) Medina was born on July 22, 1950 in Istanbul. He studied economics at Strasbourg University(France), and then attended and graduated from Istanbul University. In 1974 he began work as a television producer at Manavizyon, a sister company of the Manajans Thompson Advertising Company. In 1978 he was appointed president of Manavizyon, and in 1987, president of Manajans Thompson. In 1993 he left both companies and, together with Yavuz Turgul, established the Medina Turgul Advertising Agency. In 1995 it entered into a joint venture agreement with the DDB Worldwide Communica…

Medina, Samuel ben Moses de

(563 words)

Author(s): Samuel Morell
Samuel de Medina (1505/6–1589), a major halakhic authority known by the acronym Maharashdam, was born and lived in Salonica. There are indications that his family came from Portugal, but the name connects it, perhaps at some earlier time, with Medina del Campo in Castile. De Medina had no recollection of his father, who died in his early childhood, and he was raised, and later supported, by his older brother. De Medina had as his masters two great scholars. One was Levi ibn Ḥabib, who departed for Jerusalem in 1522/23, when De Medina was only seventeen. The other was  Joseph Taitatzak (Taita…

Megillat Aḥimaʿaṣ

(603 words)

Author(s): Elinoar Bareket
Megillat Aḥimaʿaṣ  (The Scroll of Ahimaaz) was written by Ahimaaz ben Paltiel, a Jew who lived in the southern Italian city of Capua in the eleventh century. By his own account, it was written over a period of four months in the year 1054. The work recounts the history of his family down to his own time, starting with the Roman destruction of the Second Temple and the exile of Palestinian Jews to Italy in the first century C.E. Ahimaaz almost certainly had other goals as an author beyond the historical. He obviously enjoyed writing and found it a source of amusement. His chronicle is written in…

Megillat Evyatar (Scroll of Abiathar)

(717 words)

Author(s): Elinoar Bareket
Megillat Evyatar (Scroll of Abiathar) was written by Abiathar Gaon ben Elijah ha-Kohen in 1094. It mirrors the turmoil and internal conflict in the Jewish communities of the eastern portion of the Mediterranean basin at the end of the eleventh century. In particular, it contains direct reverberations of the disasters that befell the Jewish community in Palestine, and especially in Jerusalem, in the wake of a series of political and military vicissitudes that included the Seljuk invasion and the events leading up to the First Crusade. Abiathar was apparently born in the fourth dec…

Megillat Zuṭṭa

(437 words)

Author(s): Elinoar Bareket
In the period after the death of  the nagid (Ar. rāʾis al-yahūd) Samuel ben Hananiah, an individual called Zuṭṭa (Aram. Little Man), whose real name was Yaḥya, although he also referred to himself as Sar Shalom (Prince of Peace), exploited the chaotic situation attendant on the conquest of Fatimid Egypt by Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn the Ayyubid (Saladin) to claim the leadership of Egyptian Jewry. The only source for this complicated series of events is a work entitled Megillat Zuṭṭa (Heb. The Scroll of Zuṭṭa). Since its author, Abraham ben Hillel, was one of Zuṭṭa’s opponents, there i…


(7 words)

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

Mehdī, Āghā Jān Mullāh

(220 words)

Author(s): Orly R. Rahimiyan
Āghā Jān Mullāh Mehdī [Mashiaḥ], the head of the Jewish community of Mashhad, Iran, in the 1830s, was nicknamed Vāqʿ nigār (Pers. one who keeps an eye on/records/takes advantage of contemporary events) because of his ability to use his connections with the British. A well-established merchant in Khurasan who accumulated great wealth, Mehdī regularly provided the British with information about events in Iran, Afghanistan, and Bukhārā. During the British-Afghan war (1831–1839), he often accompanied the supply caravans of the British army. In 1839, when the Jews of Mashhad were for…

Meimon, Robert

(359 words)

Author(s): Habib Kazdaghli
Tunisian Communist and labor activist Robert Meimon was born in Tunis on November 11, 1916. A bank employee from the 1930s until his retirement, he was active in the union of bank employees and a member of the Tunisian Communist Party, and was elected to its Central Committee at the Congress of Ariana (May 20–21, 1939). After the dissolution of the Communist Party, he became a member of its underground leadership. He was arrested as a suspected Communist on November 28, 1941, and sent to an internment camp in Kef (northwestern Tunisia). Denounc…


(2,215 words)

Author(s): Roy Mittelman
The city of Meknes (Ar. Miknās) is situated in north-central Morocco 145 kilometers (90 miles) east of Rabat. Lying on the caravan route that joined Algeria and lands farther east with the plains of northern Morocco, Meknes has at times been described as a border town between Arabs and Berbers. Archaeological evidence, including a Hebrew epitaph dating from the third century and the remains of a synagogue at nearby Volubilis, suggest that Jews have been present in the Meknes area since late Antiquity, while traditions situate their arrival in the years following …

Melamed, Ezra Zion

(617 words)

Author(s): David Yeroushalmi
Ezra Zion Melamed (1903–1994) was a talmudic scholar, philologist, educator, and rabbi. Born in the Jewish community of Shiraz, he was taken to Ottoman Palestine by his father, Rabbi Raḥamim Melammed ha-Kohen, at the age of two. He grew up in one of the first new neighborhoods built outside and west of the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, where many of the neighbors were hard-pressed, struggling Jews from Iran. Melamed received his early education from his learned father, and later attended a religious elementary school, completing his high school studies in a r…

Melammed ha-Kohen, Raḥamim

(494 words)

Author(s): David Yeroushalmi
Raḥamim Melammed ha-Kohen (1864–1932) was an Iranian rabbi, communal leader, and author of numerous works in Hebrew and Judeo-Persian. Born into a family of rabbis and teachers in Shiraz, he was recognized as an exceptionally talented student and preacher already in his youth. Married in 1882, he performed a variety of rabbinic, educational, and congregational tasks in his native community. He emigrated with his family to Ottoman Palestine in January 1907, and, like the majority of Jews of Iranian extraction who arrived there between the 1880s and 1920s, he settled in Jerusalem. Melamm…

Melammed, Siman Ṭov

(530 words)

Author(s): David Yeroushalmi
Siman Ṭov Melammed (d. 1800, 1823, or 1828), also known by the pen name Ṭuvya, was a Jewish poet, thinker, and rabbi in Iran and Afghanistan. The information concerning his background, life, and dates of birth and death is scanty and at times conflicting. Born in Yazd in the first half of the eighteenth century, he moved to Herat (Afghanistan), where he served as a revered teacher, rabbi, and communal judge and evidently wrote his major philosophical work, Ḥayāt al-Rūḥ (Jud.-Pers. The Life of the Soul), published in Jerusalem in 1898. Sometime before 1793, probably spurre…


(772 words)

Author(s): Rica Amran | Sasha Goldstein-Sabbah
Melilla (Mod. Ar. Mlīlya; Berb. Tamlilt, the white one; Med. Ar. Malīla) is a port city on the northwestern coast of Africa, today under Spanish sovereignty, but claimed by Morocco. It was probably founded by the Phoenicians under the name of Rusadir, alluding to a nearby cape. In the centuries that followed it was under Punic, Roman, and Visigothic rule and finally was incorporated into the Idrisid kingdom of Fez. It came under Fatimid suzerainty in the early tenth century, but in 930 it was taken by the Umayyad caliph of al-Andalus ,ʿAbd al-Raḥmān III, who fortified it and put it und…

Meliṣa, Sefer ha-

(250 words)

Author(s): Vera B. Moreen
Sefer ha-Meliṣa (Heb. The Book of Rhetoric) is one of the only two surviving Hebrew-Persian lexicons (the other was penned by Moses Shīrvānī). Comprising some eighteen thousand entries, it translates Hebrew words gathered from the Bible, Talmud, and midrashim  into Hebrew and comments on them in Persian (and occasionally in Turkish); it also translates numerous Aramaic, Syriac, and Greek words. The lexicon is of enduring importance to linguists because the words are translated into the old Persian dialect of  Khwārizm, but it has not yet been critically studied. Because it…


(6 words)

Author(s): Phillip Ackerman-Lieberman
see Mallāḥ Phillip Ackerman-Lieberman

Memmi, Albert

(668 words)

Author(s): Julie Strongson-Aldape
Albert Memmi, one of the best-known North African Jewish writers of the twentieth century, was born on December 15, 1920 in a poor Jewish neighborhood of Tunis, to a father of Italian-Jewish descent and a mother of Berber-Jewish origins. As the son of an artisan, Memmi experienced a sense of alienation from the richer Jewish community which surrounded him. In his first and perhaps most famous work, the autobiographical La statue de sel ( Pillar of Salt), published in 1952 with an introduction by Albert Camus, Memmi explains this feeling of difference as one of the many layers o…

Menasce Family

(676 words)

Author(s): Adam Guerin
The Menasce family, of Sephardi origin, was one of the wealthiest and most powerful Egyptian Jewish families in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The first members of the family to settle in Egypt came there from Palestine and Morocco. The earliest mention of the family in Cairo dates to the eighteenth century. Jacob de Menasce (1807–1887) began his career as a money-changer (Ar. ṣarrāf) and banker in Cairo’s Jewish quarter; later, in partnership with Jacob Cattaoui (Qaṭṭāwī), he opened the international banking and trading house of  J. L. Menasce et fils, with branches thr…

Mendes, Alvaro

(15 words)

Author(s): Norman A. Stillman
see Ben Yaʿesh (also Ibn Yaʿish or Abenæs), Solomon Norman A. Stillman


(565 words)

Author(s): Arturo Prats
Merida is one of the most ancient Jewish settlements in Spain. The city is located in the region of Extremadura in the southwest of the Iberian Peninsula, near the frontier with Portugal. It is a very ancient city, and its foundation dates from the Roman period. Eliyahu Ashtor asserts that Merida was "the most important [Jewish] community of all the western provinces of the peninsula." In Abraham Ibn Da'ud's Sefer ha-Qabbala , it is mentioned as the final destination of a group of exiled "noble Jews from Jerusalem" after the destruction of the Temple by Titus. Acco…

Mesas (Meshash), Joseph

(863 words)

Author(s): Zvi Zohar
Joseph Mesas (Meshash), the scion of a distinguished Sephardi rabbinical family and the son of Rabbi Ḥayyim Mesas, was born in 1892 in Meknes. In 1912 he participated in the establishment of a new institution for rabbinical training in Meknes, founded on the initiative of Rabbi Zeʾev Wolf Halperin, who was also the founder of the Em Habanim educational organization. In 1924 Mesas accepted a position as rabbi of Tlemcen  in Algeria. He returned to Meknes in the spring of 1940 and was appointed dayyan, a post he retained until 1964, when he made aliya and was elected chief rabbi of Haifa, in whic…

Meshullam of Volterra

(682 words)

Author(s): Abraham David | Alessandra Veronese
Meshullam  ben Menahem (Emanuele) da Volterra (Buonaventura) was born sometime before 1443 and died after 1507. A scion of a wealthy Tuscan Jewish family, he lived in Volterra and appears to have conducted a moneylending business there and in Florence for some twenty years. In 1461, he operated a pawnshop in the town of Arezzo in partnership with his father, his brother Lazzaro, and Buonaventura son of Abramo of Siena.  In addition to moneylending, Meshullam was a merchant dealing in precious stones, wine, oil, grain, wool, and cloth. He traveled extensively in connectio…

Mesopotamian Zionist Committee (Baghdad)

(314 words)

Author(s): Reuven Snir
The Mesopotamian Zionist Committee (Heb. ha-Aguda ha-Ṣiyyonit le-Aram Naharayim; Ar. al-Jamʿiyya al-Ṣahyūniyya li-Bilād al-Rāfidayn) was founded in Baghdad on March 5, 1921, with the assistance of the Jewish Agency. The head of the committee, Aaron Sasson ben Eliahu Nahum (1877–1962), known as ha-more (Heb. the teacher), is considered to have been the first Iraqi Jewish exponent of political Zionism. The committee took over the club and library of the Jewish Literary Society (Ar. al-Jamiʿiyya al-Adabiyya al-Isrāʾīliyya) and pressed the Zionist cause in Iraq. Zion…


(9,438 words)

Author(s): Bat-Zion Eraqi Klorman | Michael G. Wechsler
1. Messianic movements in the Medieval period By the advent of Islam in the early seventh century, the messianic idea was already firmly established as a central tenet of Judaism in its broadest (i.e., pan-sectarian) sense—as famously dogmatized and concisely expressed in Maimonides’s Thirteen Principles (or Fundamentals) ( thalātha ʿashrata qāʿida) of faith, the twelfth of which is “Believing and affirming the coming of [the Messiah], and not [thinking] that he is tardy—but rather, ‘should he tarry, you shall wait for him expectantly’ (Habbaku…
Date: 2015-09-03

Messika, Ḥabiba

(546 words)

Author(s): Yosef Tobi
Ḥabība Messika (Messica) was born into a family of Jewish musicians in Tunisia in 1899. She studied voice and the piano with her aunt Layla Sfez. At the age of twenty she embarked on her performing career as a wedding singer. Later she was attracted to the theater. Her teacher in this area was Muḥammad Bourgiba, and thanks to him she played leading roles in famous comedies and world-famous dramas. It is sometimes said that she was more talented as an actress than as a singer. In her time she was seen as an ideal woman not only for her talent and beauty bu…

Mevasser (Calcutta)

(135 words)

Author(s): Lital Levy
The Mevasser (Herald) was a weekly newspaper in Judeo-Arabic published by the Baghdadi Jewish community in Calcutta on the Hebrew press of Ezekiel ben Sulaymān Hanin from 1873 to 1878. It was one of a number of newspapers in Judeo-Arabic and/or Hebrew printed by Baghdadi Jews in India during the second half of the nineteenth century. It carried local news of Jewish communities in India, announcements of births, deaths, and marriages, shipping news, and worldwide Jewish news translated and reprinted from other Jewish newspapers. Lital Levy Bibliography Avishur, Yiṣḥaq. “Baghdadi Ju…

Mevorakh ben Sa‘adya

(959 words)

Author(s): Marina Rustow
One of the five sons of Saʿadya ben Mevorakh, Abū 'l-Faḍl Mevorakh ben Saʿadya was born around 1040 and began his rise to prominence over the course of the late 1050s under the gaonate of Daniel ben Azariah (r. 1051–1062), even before his older brother Judah ben Saʿadya became nagid (head of the Jews in the Fatimid empire). By the time Judah attained that office, between 1062 and 1064, Mevorakh was already styled rayyis (leader or chief), a title acknowledging him either as physician or a government official or both. He seems to have enjoyed even more respect than his brother as a scholar, halakh…


(582 words)

Author(s): Evelyn Dean-Olmsted
Sephardim and Mizraḥim make up more than half of Mexico’s nearly forty thousand Jews. In Mexico City, where over 98 percent of the country’s Jews reside, the four major Jewish subgroups maintain separate organizations—including synagogues, schools, and community centers—based on place of ancestral origin. Three of these organizations represent Sephardi and Mizraḥi Jews: the Comunidad Sefaradí for descendants of Judeo-Spanish speakers from Turkey, Greece, and the Balkans; the Comunidad Maguén David for descendants of Jews from Aleppo; and the   Alianza Monte Sinai for those …

Meyuḥas Family

(535 words)

Author(s): Pinchas Giller
The Meyuḥas family left Spain in 1492 during the expulsion and arrived in Jerusalem in 1510. Their earliest affiliation was with the Yoḥanan ben Zakkay Synagogue in the Old City. Other members of the family settled in Greece, Turkey, and elsewhere in the Ottoman Empire. The brothers Abraham ben Samuel Meyuḥas (d. 1767) and Raphael ben Samuel Meyuḥas (1695–1771) both studied in the Bet Yaʿaqov Yeshiva. Raphael subsequently became its head. Abraham was a noted kabbalist whose commentaries and conclusions were incorporated into the final recensions of the Lurianic canon (…
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