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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Moati, Nine

(468 words)

Author(s): Nina Lichtenstein
Nine Moati was born in Paris in 1937 to Tunisian parents. In 1941, her family escaped the Vichy regime of France by fleeing to Tunisia. When the Germans occupied Tunis, her father joined the resistance but was arrested and deported. She went to France in 1956 to pursue her education, but soon returned to Tunisia to care for her dying mother. This seminal event inspired her first novel, the autobiographical Mon enfant ma mère (1974), relating the intimate experience of transmitting a unique Judeo-Tunisian heritage and essence from mother to daughter. Returning to Pari…

Moaṭṭi, David

(235 words)

Author(s): Yossef Charvit
David ben Samuel Moaṭṭi (Muʿaṭṭi; 1796–1876) was a teacher of religious subjects, head of the ʿEṣ Ḥayyim Seminary (yeshiva), a legal decisor ( poseq), author of responsa, and one of the leading religious judges ( dayyanim) in Algeria during the nineteenth century. As a member of the first generation of Algerian rabbinical scholars after the French occupation, he was forced to deal with its difficult consequences for the Jews of Algeria, such as the annulment of Jewish autonomy in 1841. Two of his works — Yede David, a reinterpretation of tractate Nazir of the Talmud (Algiers, 1856) and Qodsh…

Modaʽi, Ḥayyim

(381 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ben Naeh
Born apparently in Istanbul in 1720, Ḥayyim ben Elijah Moda‘i moved to the Holy Land during his childhood, where he lived in Safed. After having resided there for twenty-five  years, he left the town for Europe as a rabbinical emissary (Heb. shadar or meshullaḥ) in order to collect donations. After this journey he settled in Istanbul (1749), where he was appointed one of the city’s rabbis. At the same time he also served as a member of the Committee of Officials in Safed ( vaʿad peqide ṣefat). After the destruction of Safed by the earthquake of 1760, he once again traveled to Eur…

Modern Hebrew Literature by Sephardi/Mizraḥi Writers

(1,198 words)

Author(s): Lev Hakak
Literary historians once treated modern Hebrew literature written in the era before Palestine and then Israel became the center of modern Hebrew culture as exclusively an Ashkenazi phenomenon, and did not acknowledge the contribution of Sephardi/Mizraḥi authors. The scholarly focus on works by Ashkenazim defined the way the history of modern Hebrew literature and its canonized works was depicted. All this is now being reexamined. Hakak’s systematic study of the writings of the Jews of Iraq between 1735 and 1950, for instance, is an illustrative instance of th…

Modiano, Albert

(360 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Alberto Modiano, born in Istanbul in 1960, is an internationally known Turkish professional photographer, historian, and educator. Modiano had his first experience with photography at a very early age because his father was a representative of the Italian Bencini cameras. He began his photographic career in 1979 as an amateur while working as an accountant. After gaining some experience, he opened three galleries in Büyükada, joined İFSAK (the Istanbul Amateur Photography and Cinema Association), and became involved in its publishing and research activities betw…


(7 words)

Author(s): Avigdor Levy
see Romania (Ottoman) Avigdor Levy

Monastir (Bitola, Manastir)

(1,843 words)

Author(s): Yitzchak Kerem
Situated in Macedonia in the western Balkans on the Via Egnatia route from the Adriatic coast to Salonica, Monastir (Turk. Manastır) was an important Ottoman administrative, military, and commercial center. Jews first began to settle in the town in the thirteenth century. The Ottomans conquered the region in 1381 to 1382, and it remained part of their empire until 1913. In the early years of Ottoman rule, the Jewish community of Monastir was predominantly Romaniot.   After 1466, as part of the series of population transfers known as the sürgün implemented by Sultan Meḥmed II, many of t…

Monastir (Tunisia)

(420 words)

Author(s): Haim Saadoun
Monastir (Ar. al-Munastīr) is a small coastal town on the Gulf of Hammamet about 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) south of Sousse. Known in antiquity as Ruspina, Monastir, like many of the port towns on the Tunisian coast, was originally a Punic–Roman city upon whose ruins the medieval and modern cities were built. The Romanian Jewish traveler Benjamin II (J. J. Benjamin), who visited Tunisia in 1853 to 1854, mentioned Monastir as a having a Jewish community, but he did not visit the town. Under the French protectorate (1881–1956), Monastir remained a …

Money Changing

(8 words)

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

Money Lending

(8 words)

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

Monsonego, Aharon

(560 words)

Author(s): Joseph Tedghi
Born in Fez on February 9, 1929, Aharon Monsonego, the son of Rabbi father, began his education at the Em Habanim school, then attended the yeshiva of Meʾir Israel, who trained many generations of rabbis with the old shiṭa—a Sephardi study method perpetuated in Fez and of which he was probably one of the last masters. Monsonego also studied zealously with his father, who encouraged him to become one of the first students at the newly founded Aix-les-Bains Yeshiva in 1945. There he studied with leading Ashkenazi rabbis such as Ernest Weill and Chaim Chajkin. He received h…

Monsonego Family

(1,046 words)

Author(s): Joseph Tedghi
The Monsonego family (originally spelled and pronounced Monsonyego) belonged to the intellectual aristocracy of Moroccan Jewry for generations. Originally from Spain, probably the Aragonese town of Monzón (Monson, Montisson), the family settled in Fez after the 1492 expulsion. The first mention of a Rabbi Monsonego dates to the early eighteenth century. The members of the family in the following generations comprised a distinguished lineage of religious leaders, scholars, and poets. Ephraim ben Abraham Monsonego (1710–1790) was ordained by Rabbi Jacob Aben Ṣur (16…

Monsonego, Yedidya

(1,058 words)

Author(s): Joseph Tedghi
A scion of the Monsonego rabbinical dynasty, Yedidya ben Aharon ben Yehoshua Monsonego was born in Fez in 1907. He studied with Rabbis Shalom Azulay and Joseph Kohen before entering Meʾir Israel’s famous yeshiva. Even as a youth he showed remarkable intellectual ability. After completing his education, he worked as a ritual slaughterer (Heb. shoḥet), kashrut examiner ( bodeq), and scribe ( sofer) at the Fez   bet din. In June 1938, he was named dayyan and chief rabbi of Ouezzane (Wazzan), 200 kilometers (124 miles) north of Fez ,which had a sizable Jewish community of …

Montagu, Lady Mary Wortley

(703 words)

Author(s): Maurits H. van den Boogert
Lady Mary Wortley Montagu ( née Pierrepont, 1689–1762), the daughter of an English aristocrat, was the author of a series of letters which, although they do not deal exclusively with the Ottoman Empire, are known as the “ Turkish [Embassy] Letters.” They instantly became famous, particularly because of their first-hand descriptions of female Ottoman high society. Lady Mary wrote the letters during and after her stay in Istanbul, where she had accompanied her husband, Edward Wortley-Montagu, the British ambassador to the sultan’s court from 1716 to 1718. During her lif…

Montefiore, Moses

(923 words)

Author(s): Tudor Parfitt
The Sephardi financier, philanthropist, and Jewish communal leader Moses Montefioree, perhaps the most famous British Jew of the nineteenth century, was born in 1784 in Livorno during a visit there by his parents, who were Livornese-born residents of London. He was raised in the British capital, and later became one of London’s twelve “Jew brokers.” In 1812 he married Judith Cohen and thus became brother-in-law and later stockbroker to Nathan Mayer Rothschild. Montefiore retired from his business activities in 1824 and devoted the rest of his long life to commun…

Morad, Aryeh

(322 words)

Author(s): Orly R. Rahimiyan
Aryeh Morad was an Iranian Jewish businessman and communal leader. Born in Kashan in 1900, he moved to Tehran at the age of thirteen in order to join his older brother's businesses, after which he opened his own. The Morad family owned Īrāna , the largest tile-manufacturing company in Iran. In addition to serving as head of the Anjumān-i Kalīmīan (Jewish Association), Morad was the Jewish representative to the thirteenth through the twentieth sessions of Iran’s parliament, the Majlis (February 1944 - October 1963), with the exception of the nineteenth session…

Morali, Isaac

(829 words)

Author(s): Yossef Charvit
Rabbi Isaac Morali (Morʿali, Marʿeli), born in Algiers in 1867, was a noted scholar and rabbinical figure. He was a member of the second generation of Algerian rabbinic thinkers whose defining motif revolved around efforts to cope with the forces of change in the period from the late 1870s to the Second World War. Their work paved the way for observant Jews from the periphery to the center of Algeria’s cultural and communal existence, despite the deep penetration of the processes of secularizati…

Morali, Jacob

(433 words)

Author(s): Yossef Charvit
Jacob ben Zerahiah Morali (also Morʿali or Marʿeli, d. 1806) was a rabbi and jurist ( dayyan) and one of the most prominent spiritual leaders in the city of Algiers at the end of the eighteenth century and the start of the nineteenth. His rabbinic responsibilities hurled him into the midst of the social and spiritual tumult Algerian Jewry was undergoing at the time. The lines between the  religious leadership and secular leadership (Ar. muqaddam ) were blurred, nepotism and injustice were rampant, and the polarization of the community forced rabbis to identify themselv…


(2,736 words)

Author(s): Yitzchak Kerem
The Peloponnesus region of southern Greece was known as the Morea in medieval and early modern times. The area was under Byzantine rule until 1204, when Frankish knights of the Fourth Crusade, diverted to the Morea, captured Modon and its environs. Most of the area was Byzantine again from 1262 to around 1460. In the early fifteenth century the southern part of the Morea came under Venetian rule. The  Ottomans launched several military campaigns to conquer the Morea in the fourteenth century but did not a…

Moreh, Esther

(410 words)

Author(s): Haideh Sahim
Esther Moreh (née Moradoff) was born on March 5, 1930, to an Iranian family in London, England, that returned to Iran when she was two. She first engaged in Zionist activities at the age of twelve when she became a member of the Ḥalutz Youth Organization. In 1947, at seventeen, she joined her mother and eight other Jewish women in Tehran in founding the Sāzmān-i Bānovān-i Yahūd-i Īrān (Iranian Jewish Women’s Organization), which became the country’s most active Jewish organization after Anjuman-…
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