Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World

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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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Shaʻare ha-Mizraḥ (Puerta del Oriente), Izmir

(461 words)

Author(s): Olga Borovaya
Shaʿare Mizraḥ/Las Puertas de Oriente (The Gates of the Orient) was the first Ladino newspaper  in the Ottoman Empire. It was published in Izmir from 1845 to 1846 by Rafael Uziel ‎(1816-1881)‎, a local merchant of Italian descent.   His first attempt at founding a Ladino periodical failed: La Buena Esperansa  expected to appear in Izmir in 1842, never saw light. According to Uziel, Sha’arei Mizrah had a circulation of one hundred copies. In addition to Izmir, this bi-weekly was distributed in other cities, and its subscritption was advertised in The Jewish Chronicle of London. The paper …
Date: 2015-09-03

Shaʿar Ha-Shamayyim Synagogue, Izmir

(189 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
The Shaʿar ha-Shamayim (Gates of Heaven) Synagogue is one of the four functioning synagogues in Izmir. Built during the years 1964 to 1965, it is located in a densely populated part of the city, the Alsancak district. It is currently the most active synagogue in Izmir and has the largest congregation. The need to build a synagogue in Alsancak emerged in 1945 when many Jews began to move there from other parts of the city, such as Güzelyali and Karataş. Prior to the dedication of Shaʿar ha-Shamayim, two other buildings in Alsancak were used as synagogues to fulfill the religious nee…

Shabazi, Shalom

(1,209 words)

Author(s): Yosef Tobi
Born in 1619 in Najd al-Walīd near Taʿizz in southern Yemen, Shalom Shabazī was  Yemen’s greatest Jewish poet and is popularly referred to as Mori Sālim(Rabbi or Master). Many members of his family (the Mashta) were scholars and poets, including his father,  Joseph ben Avigad, who was also a leader of the local Jewish community, and Joseph ben Israel (see below). By profession, Shabazī was a weaver, and he lived in poverty in his youth. He studied with local rabbis, including his relative Israel Safra, but also spent time in Sanʿa, wher…

Shabbetay, Hezekiah

(388 words)

Author(s): Yaron Harel
The rabbinical scholar and jurist Hezekiah ben Gabriel Joshua Shabbetay was born in Salonica in 1862. Some years later, his family emigrated to Jerusalem. Over the years he was sent abroad on several missions as a rabbinical emissary ( meshullaḥ or shadar) to collect contributions for the academies of Jerusalem and Hebron. Between 1900 and 1904, he served as chief rabbi of Jaffa. He then became chief rabbi of Tripoli (Libya), but in 1908 was appointed chief rabbi of the Jewish community of Aleppo. He was selected for this post because he seemed well suited to deal with …

Shabbetay Ṣevi

(3,363 words)

Author(s): Jacob Barnai
Shabbetay Ṣevi (Sabbatai Ṣevi, Shabbetay Tzvi, 1626–1676) was born in Izmir (Smyrna) on August 1, 1626, which coincided with the ninth of Av, the fast-day in remembrance of the destruction of the Temple, and also, according to tradition, the day on which the messiah will be born. Shabbetay’s father had moved with his family to Izmir from Greece. The family was apparently Romaniot by origin. Shabbetay had two brothers, Elijah and Joseph. Izmir, a flourishing city in Hellenistic times (traditionally held to be Homer’s birthplace), was reduced to a small town under the…

Shabbetay (Shabbati), Ḥayyim

(327 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ben Naeh
Ḥayyim ben Moses Shabbetay(Shabbati) was a noted rabbi of Salonica from the mid-sixteenth to the mid-seventeenth century. Born around 1555, Shabbetay (known also by the Hebrew acronym Maharḥash) was the pupil of Aaron ben Joseph Sasson (1550 or 1555–1626) and of Solomon ben Abraham ha-Kohen (Maharshakh, d. 1602). By the last decade of the sixteenth century, Shabbetay had already achieved recognition as one of the leading rabbinical scholars in Salonica. In 1615, he succeeded Samuel Florentin as marbiṣ tora (teacher of Torah study), i.e., rabbi, of the Qahal Qadosh Shalom; succeede…

Shabīb ben Jacob

(416 words)

Author(s): Michael G. Wechsler
Shabīb ben Jacob was a resident of Qayrawān, Ifrīqiya (Tunisia), in the latter half of the ninth century, and is one of five named individuals attested by documents from the Cairo Geniza as spiritual-halakhic authorities (i.e., bearers of the title rav and rabbana) of Qayrawān’s Jewish community in that century (the others being Nathan ben Ḥananiah/Ḥanina, Judah ben Saul, Ḥonay, and Samuel). Shabīb is mentioned by Sherira Gaon as the recipient of a responsum written in 870 by Amram ben Sheshna Gaon (Lewin, p. 70, l. 1) and is also the a…
Date: 2015-09-03

Shacarē Ṣiyyon Society (Mogador/Essaouira)

(11 words)

Author(s): Norman A. Stillman
see Essaouira (Mogador) Norman A. Stillman

Shāhīn-i Shīrāzī, Mowlānā

(369 words)

Author(s): Vera B. Moreen
Mowlānā Shāhīn-i Shīrāzī (Our Master the Royal Falcon of Shiraz) was the earliest and most accomplished poet of the Judeo-Persian literary tradition. His name is most likely a takhalluṣ (Ar. pen name). In a panegyric dedicated to the Īl-khānid ruler Abū Saʿīd (1316–1335), Shāhīn reveals that he lived during the reign of this monarch. Thus he may have been a near-contemporary of Ḥafiż (d. 1389), Iran’s greatest lyrical poet, who also hailed from Shiraz. There is some doubt, however, about whether Shāhīn was originally from Shiraz. The seventeenth-century Judeo-Persian chronicler Bābāī…

Shāhzada va Ṣūfī

(381 words)

Author(s): Dalia Yasharpour
Ancient Sanskrit stories of the life of Prince Siddhārtha described how he abandoned his life as a prince to eventually become Gautama Buddha. As the stories circulated over the course of centuries and were rendered in many different languages, the figure of a wise man who guided the prince’s spiritual development became a prominent element. The basic framework of the stories was constant—a prince, with the guidance of a wise man, chooses a life of enlightenment and piety over worldly wealth and power—but the various…

Shalom Gamliel (Salīm Saʿīd al-Jamal)

(332 words)

Author(s): Mark Wagner
Shalom Gamliel (Salīm Saʿīd al-Jamal) was born in the city of Sanʿa in Yemen in 1907. By profession he was a merchant selling luxury goods, including perfume and alcohol, to the city’s Muslim elite, but his close ties with Yemen’s ruling family, the house of Ḥamīd al-Dīn, combined with his knowledge of formal Arabic and Yemen’s Islamic legal system, enabled him to act as a mediator in disputes involving Jews and Muslims. In effect, if not in intent, Gamliel was a Jewish lawyer working within the shariʿ a system. Like *Sālim Manṣūra (Shalom Mantzura) and Ṣāliḥ *al-Ẓāhirī (Zadok Yit…

Shalom, Isaac

(460 words)

Author(s): Sarina Roffé
Born in 1886 in Aleppo, Syria, Isaac Shalom immigrated to Manhattan's Lower East Side in 1910, starting as a textile peddler like many of his fellow countrymen. A successful salesman, he soon became a supplier to other Syrian Jewish immigrants. At the end of World War I, when immigration to the United States reopened, he was able to send for his family. He married Alice Chabot and founded I. Shalom & Co., which soon became the leading manufacturer of men's and women's handkerchiefs and accessories. As New York's Syrian Jewish community prospered, moving across the river from Manh…

Shami, Yitzḥaq

(741 words)

Author(s): Rachel Simon
Born in Hebron, Yitzḥaq Shami (1888–1949) was the son of Eliyahu Sarwi, a textile merchant from Damascus who was known as ash-Shami (“the Damascene”).  As a adult he adopted his father’s sobriquet as his literary and legal surname. Shami grew up bilingual, speaking Arabic with his father and Ladino (see Judeo-Spanish) with his mother, a native of Hebron who belonged to the Sephardic Castel family. He became familiar with the daily life of the Arab villagers and Bedouins of the Hebron region because of his father’s b…

Shammas, Maurice

(353 words)

Author(s): Deborah Starr
Maurice Shammās, also known as Abū Farīd, is an Arabic poet, journalist, and dramatist who began his career in Egypt before settling in Israel. Shammās was born in 1930 to a Karaite family (see Karaism) in Cairo and was raised in the city’s old Jewish quarter, the Ḥārat al-Yahūd. His family spoke Arabic, as was common among members of the Karaite community of the ḥāra, and he was educated in Arabic-speaking schools. As a young man, he worked as a journalist for al-Shams, an Arabic Jewish weekly, and for   al-Kalīm,the biweekly Arabic newspaper of the Karaite community. As he describe…

Shamosh, Amnon

(585 words)

Author(s): Ori Kritz
Amnon Shamosh, celebrated Israeli author and poet, was born in Aleppo, Syria, in 1929. He was brought to prestate Israel at age eight and in 1947 was a founding member of Kibbutz Maʿayan Baruch, where he still lives. Shamosh graduated from Beit Berl Teachers College and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he studied linguistics and Hebrew and English literature. He taught at a regional high school and served as its principal from 1965 to 1967. He traveled to Europe and North Africa for the kibbutz movement to recruit ʿ olim (immigrants) and worked with UNESCO as a special envoy…

Shams (Cairo), al-

(282 words)

Author(s): Lital Levy
Al–Shams (The Sun), published in Cairo from 1934 to 1948, was the last Arabic-language Jewish newspaper in Egypt. It was owned, edited, and largely written by Sa‘d (Sa‘adiya) Ya‘qūb Malkī, who previously had edited the Arabic edition of Israël ( Isrā’īl) and saw himself as continuing its mission with al–Shams. Seeking to attract both Jewish and non-Jewish readers, al-Shams promoted a reformist program that encompassed Egyptian Jewry, the Egyptian nation as a whole, and a broadly defined “East.” The paper’s content consisted of news of Egypt’s Jewish co…

Shanghai, China

(1,430 words)

Author(s): Maisie Meyer
Shanghai, the largest city and principal port of China, at the confluence of the Whangpoo (Huangpu) River (a branch of the Yangtze) and Woosung (Suzhou) Creek,  attracted Jews, among other foreigners, after it was opened to foreign trade by the Treaty of Nanking in 1842 following the First Opium War. The city came to have a considerable community of Baghdadi Jews (in this context “Baghdadi” encompasses Arabic-speaking Jews from Baghdad, Basra, and other parts of the Ottoman Empire and from Cairo…


(378 words)

Author(s): Ari Ariel
The region of Sharʿab occupies a highland plateau lying approximately 40 kilometers (25 miles) to the northwest of the city of Taʿizz in the north-central part of Taʿizz province in southern Yemen, Sharʿab is today one of Yemen’s most densely populated areas. It is made up of two districts: Sharʿab as-Salam and Sharʿab ar-Rawna. According to the 2004 Yemeni census, the former has a population of 146,650, and the latter has 186,955 inhabitants. Prior to the mid-twentieth century, the Sharʿab region was heavily populated by Jews. According to some estimates there were …

Sharʿabi, Abraham Shalom

(242 words)

Author(s): Pinchas Giller
Raphael Abraham Shalom Sharʿabi (1775–1827), known as the RA"Sh and as Rav Abraham Shalom Ḥasid (Heb. the saint) because of his piety, was the grandson of the influential kabbalist Shalom Sharʿabi and the son of Hezekiah Isaac Mizraḥi Sharʿabi. Abraham Shalom headed the Bet El yeshiva from 1808 until his death and was one of the first major redactors of the linguistic mysteries of the Bet El system of Kabbala. His Divre Shalom, a theoretical work that details the practices of the Bet El community, is still one of the most useful volumes in the library of that tradit…

Sharabi, Boaz

(563 words)

Author(s): Amy Horowitz
Yemeni Israeli singer, songwriter, and drummer Boaz Sharabi was born in the Kerem Ha-Temanim neighborhood of Tel Aviv on May 28, 1947, one of the ten children of parents who had emigrated from Yemen. A prolific artist on the Israeli popular music scene for over forty years, he has collaborated with some of Israel’s top composers and written for mainstream singers and films across the ethnic spectrum. Sharabi began playing drums as a child and performed with the Karmon dance troupe during the 1960s. In 1971, he recorded an English-language version of his composition Pamela. The song was b…
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