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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Sar Shalom ben Moses ha-Levi

(843 words)

Author(s): Marina Rustow
Abū Zikrī Sar Shalom (Yaḥyā) ben Moses ha-Levi served as raʾīs al-yahūd (nagid) in Fustat around 1170 to 1171 and again from around 1173 to 1195. Like his predecessors in office Maṣliaḥ (1127–1139), Samuel ben Hananiah (1140–1159), and his brother Nethanel ha-Levi ben Moses (1159–ca. 1169), he bore the title gaon. Before his appointment to the headship of the Jews, Sar Shalom held the post of av bet din (chief judge) in the branch of the Palestinian yeshiva in Damascus. According to the twelfth-century traveler Benjamin of Tudela, the gaon of the yeshiva was Sar Shalom’s brother Azariah.…

Sarug, Israel

(481 words)

Author(s): Pinchas Giller
Israel Sarug (d. 1610) was born into a prominent Egyptian rabbinic family. His activities in the first few decades of his life are uncertain. It may be that he became acquainted with Isaac Luria in Egypt and followed him to Safed, but it is also possible that he arrived in Safed only after Luria’s death to study with his surviving disciples. What is clear is that in 1594 he went to Italy, where he had an influence on Pico della Mirandola and other Neoplatonists. One of his most illustrious students was Naphtali Ṣevi Bacharach, whose voluminous ʿ Emeq ha-Melekh (Valley of the King) set forth …

Sasportas, Jacob

(570 words)

Author(s): Matthias Lehmann
Jacob Sasportas (ca. 1610–1698), born in Oran, Algeria, was one of the most outspoken opponents of the messianic movement around Shabbetay Ṣevi and his prophet, Nathan of Gaza. He is best known for his Ṣiṣat Novel Ṣevi (Heb. The Fading Flower  of Glorious Beauty [Ṣevi] - Isa. 28:1), an invaluable collection of letters and documents about the Sabbatean movement. An abridged version, Kiṣṣur Ṣiṣat Novel Ṣevi, was printed in Amsterdam in 1737 and again in Altona in 1757, but the full work was only published by Isaiah Tishby in 1954. Sasportas was by all accounts a divisive character invo…

Sasson, Aaron Ben Joseph

(352 words)

Author(s): D Gershon Lewental
Aaron ben Joseph Sasson(1550 or 1556–1626) was a  rabbinical scholar and author in the Ottoman Empire. A native of Salonica, he studied in the yeshivot of that city and became an outstanding student of Mordechai Maṭalon (d. 1580). Counted as one of Salonica’s foremost scholars, Sasson was a respected teacher and rabbi, as well as an adjudicator ( poseq) of questions of religious law. Petitions reached him from cities near and far, and his opinions were cited by many of Salonica’s rabbis, particularly Solomon ben Isaac ha-Levi(le-Vet ha-Levi, 1532–1600), his father-in-law. The …

Sassoon Family

(1,509 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ben Naeh
The Sassoons (Sasons, Sassons) are a prominent Jewish family of Baghdadiorigin whose commercial and financial networks dominated trade in India and the Far East at the height of the British colonial period. Members of the family engaged in philanthropic and scholarly enterprises throughout the Jewish world. The Sassoons were typical of the Jewish notable families that prospered in business and finance in the late Ottoman period cities likeIstanbul (the Zonana, Aciman/Adjiman, Camondo/Kamondo, and Gabbai families), Izmir (Smyrna), Damascus, and Acre (Akko, the Farḥi family), a…

Şaül, Linet

(142 words)

Author(s): Rifat Bali
Linet Şaül is a Turkish Jewish opera singer (soprano). She was born in 1970 in Istanbul. She graduated in 1995 from the Hartt School of Music at the University of Hartford in the United States and later studied with the Italian baritone Licinio Montefusco. Since 1998 she has been performing at the Izmir State Opera. Some of her roles include Don Giovanni (Zerlina), Faust (Siébel), Fidelio (Marzelline), Barber of Seville (Rosina), and Carmen (Frasquita). She has given concerts in Turkey, Italy, South Africa, and Uruguay. In 1995 she was a finalist in the Internationa…


(9 words)

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

Sāzmān-i Bānovān-i Yahudī-yi Irānī (Iranian Jewish Women’s Organization)

(322 words)

Author(s): Nahid Pirnazar
Sāzmān-i Bānovān-i Yahudī-yi Irānī, the Iranian Jewish Women’s Organization (IJWO), was founded in Los Angeles in 1976 as a successor to Sāzmān-i Bānovān-i Yahud-i Iran (SBYI; The Jewish Ladies’ Organization of Iran), which was founded in Tehran in 1947. The SBYI was established in response to the need to ameliorate health and educational conditions for Jewish women and children. Although it still exists in Iran in name, its apogee was between 1947 and 1978. Its organizational activities included the establishment o…

Scali, David ha-Kohen

(556 words)

Author(s): Yossef Charvit
David ben Moses ha-Kohen Scali (Sqalī) was born during the Ten Days of Repentance in 1861 in Debdou, Morocco, a city whose description as a city of priests ( kohanim) he linked to its origin in the Spanish city of Seville. He died in Oran, Algeria, in 1949. Scali ascribed great importance to his priestly ancestry and diligently detailed his descent from the priestly families of ancient Israel. As did members of other families in the Sephardi diaspora, Scali indicated his priestly status by attaching the word kohen (priest) to his surname (e.g., Kohen-al-Ḥaddād, Kohen-Ṭawīl, Kohen-…

Scemama, Georges

(242 words)

Author(s): Habib Kazdaghli
Georges Scemama was born into a Jewish family in Tunis around 1905. He held Tunisian citizenship and worked as a clerk. In the early 1930s he was active in the Union of Business Employees. He was also a member of the underground leadership of the Communist Party from 1933 to 1936, and in June 1936 became a member of its secretariat. He represented Tunisia at the Congress of the French Communist Party in Arles from December 25 to 27, 1937, and was elected secretary of the Tunisian Communist Party at the Ariana Congress  in Tunis on May 20–2…

Scemmama, Nessim

(674 words)

Author(s): Richard Parks
Nessim Scemmama (Nissim Samama, Shamama) was born in 1805 into a very humble family in the ḥāra (Jewish quarter) of Tunis. Ambitious by nature, Scemmama opened a fabric shop in the ḥāra, the proceeds from which supported him and his extended family, including his three wives (see Polygyny). Scemmama’s life took a dramatic turn when one of his clients, the general Maḥmūd ibn Muḥammad ibn ʿAyyād, impressed by his industriousness, invited him to join his retinue. As the general’s servant, Scemmama had access to the court of the bey, where he impressed everyone he met with his ha…

Scialom, Sedat

(267 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Sedat Sami Scialom (1939—2008), a well-known Turkish businessman, was president of the Grafika Maya Reklam Ajansi, a major advertising agency founded by his father. Scialom graduated from the Lycée Saint Michel in Şişli, Istanbul in 1957 and from the Faculty of Economics of Istanbul University in 1961. He then went to Belgium for his higher education, graduating from the École Supérieure Technique de Publicité in 1963.             While studying in Brussels, Scialom worked at Bodden et Dechy, an advertising agency, as a client representative. Later, he moved t…

Science (Medieval)

(2,932 words)

Author(s): Robert Morrison
The scientific work of Jews in the Islamic world represents an important part of the history of science in Jewish civilization. To begin with, there are reports, though difficult to verify, that a Jewish physician in Syria, Māsarjawayh, translated a Syriac text on medicine into Arabic in 684. Then, the best-known astrologer of the Abbasid Caliphate, Māshāʾallāh (d. ca. 810–815), was Jewish, and was among those responsible for ascertaining the most propitious time for the founding of Baghdad. Of Māshāʾallāh’s writings in Arabic, only excerpts and cita…

Sciuto, Lucien

(935 words)

Author(s): D Gershon Lewental
Lucien Sciuto (1868–1947) was a journalist, poet, and writer who was active in the last years of the Ottoman Empire and afterwards in Egypt. Born into a religious family in Salonica in 1868, he received his primary education at the Alliance Israélite Universelle (AIU) school there, continuing his studies independently after leaving school at the age of fourteen. He began his literary career in 1884 with Poèmes misanthropiques, and another volume of poetry in French that included the satirical “l’Or.” In 1894, he published Paternité (Paris, 1894), which included a poem dedicated…


(10 words)

Author(s): Norman A. Stillman
see United States of America Norman A. Stillman

Sebag, Paul

(369 words)

Author(s): Haim Saadoun
Paul Sebag was a Communist activist, sociologist, and historian of Tunisia. Born into a bourgeois family in Tunis in 1919, he was educated in Paris. On his return to Tunis, he joined the Communist Party in 1936 and was one of its leaders from 1939 to 1943. He was arrested at the beginning of 1941 and sentenced to life at hard labor but was released in late 1942. After the liberation of Tunisia from German occupation in May 1943, he became a member of the editorial board of the underground communist newspaper L’Avenir Social. Sebag was professor of philosophy at the prestigious Lycée Carn…

Seder Eliyahu

(472 words)

Author(s): Moshe Lavee
Seder Eliyahu is a semi-midrashic work that differs from the majority of midrashic compilations in style, structure, language, and thematic emphasis. It consists of a series of teachings in homiletic style that incorporate midrashic materials, stories, and parables attributed in some cases to prominent tannaim, and presents itself as the work of a narrator who speaks at times in the first person. Unlike most midrashic works, Seder Eliyahu is not structured as an anthological or collective compil…

Sefer Josippon

(889 words)

Author(s): Naḥem Ilan
The Book of Josippon, or Sefer Josippon, is an account of Jewish history during the Second Temple period. Since the Middle Ages it has been considered a central source in the study of Jewish antiquity. It was widely distributed in several versions that vary in language and length. Scholars have tried to determine which version was the original Josippon. The lack of satisfying explanations, combined with the book’s importance and complexity, resulted in  David Flusser’s comprehensive research, published in two volumes in 1979 and 1981. Flusser determined that the shor…

Sefer Maṭʿame Binyamin

(493 words)

Author(s): David Yeroushalmi
Sefer Maṭʿame Binyamin (The Book of Benjamin’s Delicacies), a Judeo-Persian homiletic commentary to the Pentateuch, was written by Benjamin ben Elijah of Kashan, a preacher active in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Little is known about the author. From the available Judeo-Persian manuscripts, it appears that he was a poet as well as a preacher in the Jewish community of Kashan, where he completed Maṭʿame Binyamin in 1823. Sefer Maṭʿame Binyamin is structured as a homiletic and didactic commentary on the weekly Torah portions (Heb. parashot). The complete work, comprisi…


(2,036 words)

Author(s): Norman A. Stillman
1.   General Description and History  Sefrou is a large town in north-central Morocco that had over thirty thousand inhabitants at the end of the twentieth century. It is located at an altitude of 850 meters (2,790 feet) in the foothills of the Middle Atlas just above the Sais plain only 30 kilometers (18 miles) south of Fez. The town is situated in a green, picturesque setting surrounded by gardens and fruit orchards (most notably cherry) that give it an oasislike aspect. The area is watered by seve…
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