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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Dönme (Ma'aminim, Minim, Shabbetaim)

(930 words)

Author(s): Marc Baer
The term Dönme (Turk. to turn; to convert, apostatize) is the usual designation for the adherents of the messianic mystic Shabbetay Ṣevi (1621–1676) who followed his example by converting to Islam. It was not a term of self-ascription and was first applied to them by Muslims in the Ottoman Empire. Members of the sect preferred to call themselves ma’aminim (Heb.) or mü’minler (Turk.), both of which mean “believers.” After Shabbetai Ṣevi was compelled to convert to Islam by Sultan Mehmed IV in Edirne (Adrianople) in 1666, taking the name Aziz Mehmed Efendi, most of…

Dor Deʿa School of San‘a

(439 words)

Author(s): Bat-Zion Eraqi Klorman
In the early 1890s, the more enlightened elements of Yemeni Jewry began pleading with Jewish organizations and leaders abroad to help them open a modern Jewish school in Sanʿa. In 1908, encouraged by the Ottoman government, some of them enrolled their children in the state modern school ( maktab rushdiyya), but this soon came to an end because of Muslim protests against Jewish children attending school with Muslim children. In 1910, at the request of the Jewish community’s leaders, the Ottoman government opened a maktab for Jews alone, the only such school in the entire empire.  The new sc…

Dosa ben Saʿadya Gaon

(313 words)

Author(s): Roni Shweka
Dosa ben Saʿadya was the gaon of the academy of Sura in Baghdad from 1012 until his death in 1018. He was the younger son of the great Saʿadya Gaon. In a letter written in 928, Saʿadya mentions his older son, She'erit, but not Dosa. Presumably he was born later, probably around 935, and thus was only a boy when his father died in 942. Dosa was at least seventy-five when he became head of the academy after the death of Samuel ben Ḥophni Gaon in 1012, but he had long held a privileged status in the academy and had been given half of the contributions it received. In 953, She'erit and Dosa compiled a list …

Dostluk Youth Club, Istanbul

(388 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
The Dostluk Yurdu Derneği (Friendship Home Society), also known as the Dostluk Youth Club and the Jewish Community Center, is a popular Jewish social club in Istanbul that was founded in December 1966 by Moiz Behar, Yuda Saygıbilen, Moşe Benmeleh, Morris Behar, David Eskenazi, Albert Behar, and Şapat Aviyente. Their purpose was to provide a venue where the Jews of Istanbul, particularly the young people, could socialize with one another and learn about their religion and culture. During its formative years, the main activities of the Dostluk Yurdu Derneği included commun…

Draa (Dar‘a)

(1,258 words)

Author(s): Yossef Chetrit
The Draa (Ar. Dar‘a; Mor. Ar. Dra‘) is the region around the Draa River in southern Morocco, which rises on the southern slopes of the High Atlas and flows into the Atlantic Ocean. It was home to some of the oldest Jewish communities in Morocco. According to some sources, the Jewish communities of the Draa Valley were the only ones in North Africa to exist as autonomous powers before the Arab conquest. Local Jewish chronicles, dating from a much later period, recount that there was a Jewish kingdom of the Draa, and that its capital city was Tamgrut (Tamgrout). These facts have no…

Dragomans (Tercuman; Translators)

(1,394 words)

Author(s): D Gershon Lewental
The influx of European Jews into the Ottoman Empire following the expulsion from Spain provided the state with a valuable source of loyal citizens who spoke useful foreign languages and had personal or commercial ties to both Christian courts and Jewish communities in their countries of origin. Many Jews exploited their talents to achieve important positions in the Ottoman court, particularly in its international relations, often starting their careers as   dragomans (translators/interpreters, from Trk. tercuman, itself borrowed from Ar. root t-r-j-m,to translate). Aware of …

Dubrovnik (Ragusa)

(622 words)

Author(s): Benjamin Ravid
A major port on the eastern Dalmatian shore of the Adriatic in present-day Croatia, Dubrovnik, formerly known as Ragusa, was an autonomous city-state mostly under a Venetian or Ottoman protectorate. In view of its geographical location, Ragusa became a significant factor in Adriatic commerce and assumed a very important role in the transit trade between East and West. Imported goods, including spices and luxury items, such as silk and perfumes from the East, as well as local Balkan products, were exchanged for finished products from the West, and the city came in time to rival Venice. Indi…

Dunash (Abū Sahl) ben Tamīm

(1,170 words)

Author(s): Michael G. Wechsler
Dunash (from Ber.-Ar. dhū nās, master of men, trans. by Heb. adonim) ben Tamim ibn Ya‘qūb al-Isrā’īlī, also known by the kunya Abū Sahl and the nisba  "al-Shaflajī", flourished in the first half of the tenth century as one of the preeminent scholars and jurists ( dayyanim), in Qayrawān (Tunisia). The earliest attested date-point for Dunash’s life is ca. 895, as deduced from his statement in the introduction to his commentary on Sefer Yeṣira that he had read letters sent to Qayrawān by Saʿadya ben Joseph before the latter’s departure for Babylon, which took place in 915, if not…

Dunash ben Labraṭ ha-Levi

(1,664 words)

Author(s): José Martínez Delgado
1. Life Dunash ben Labraṭ was a central figure in the flowering of Hebrew culture in al-Andalus. Very little is known about his life. According to Moses ibn Ezra’s ars poetica, Kitāb al-Muḥāḍara wa 'l-Mudhākara, he was born in Baghdad and raised in Fez (Abumalhan ed., 31r). The names Dunash and Labraṭ seem to be Berber in origin, for which reason it is thought that his family was living in Fez when he was born, sometime between 920 and 925. His Hebrew name, Adonim, meaning “Lords,” translates Dunash as if it were a Romance word (cf. Sp. dueños). He received a thorough Arabic and Jewish educ…

Duran, Simon ben Ṣemaḥ

(1,096 words)

Author(s): Samuel Morell
Simon ben Ṣemaḥ Duran(1361–1444), known by the acronym Rashbaṣ, was an important halakhic authority. Born in Majorca into a wealthy scholarly family, he was related through his paternal grandmother to Gersonides, and through him to Naḥmanides. He was a physician by profession, learned in rabbinic studies, sympathetic to Kabbala, and accomplished in philosophy, mathematics and the natural sciences. Duran’s wife, herself a direct descendant of Naḥmanides, was from Teruel, in Aragon. Duran lived th…

Duran, Solomon b. Simon

(597 words)

Author(s): Samuel Morell
The noted halakhic authority Solomon ben Simon Duran (Rashbash) was born in Algiers in 1400 and lived there until his death in 1467. He was the son of Simon ben Ṣemaḥ Duran and succeeded him as chief rabbi of Algiers. In that capacity he was the leading rabbinic authority for all the communities of Algeria. Rashbash studied at his father’s yeshiva in Algiers and also learned medicine and science from his father. At an exceptionally young age he was accorded the high honor of membership on the rabbinic court, and even before his father’s death in 144…

Duwayk, Avraham Ezra

(16 words)

Author(s): Norman A. Stillman
see Duwayk (Dweck, Dwek, Duek, Douek, Doweck, Dowek) Family Norman A. Stillman

Duwayk (Douek, Dweck), Ḥayyim Saul

(553 words)

Author(s): Pinchas Giller
Ḥayyim Saul Duwayk (1858–1933), known as the Rav Sadeh, was the most influential sage of the Aleppo wing of Bet El Kabbala. In his youth, he was influenced by Nissim Harari Raful, author of ‘Alei Nahar, an early explication of Shalom Sharʿabi’s prayer intentions ( kavvanot). Early in his career, Duwayk contacted Sasson Bakher Moshe, the incumbent head of Bet El in Jerusalem. At the age of thirty-two he moved to Jerusalem, cementing relations between the two communities. Renowned for his emotional intensity at the time of prayer and the bea…

Duwayk (Dweck, Dwek, Duek, Douek, Doweck, Dowek) Family

(834 words)

Author(s): Yaron Harel
The Duwayk family (the name comes from Ar. meaning either a cockerel or long-necked earthenware jug) traces its origin to a line of priests (Heb. kohanim) who served in the ancient Temple in Jerusalem and is extremely well known among Jews from Aleppo. Over the course of many generations, members of the family, including rabbis and community leaders, have settled all over the world, particularly in Israel, the United States, Lebanon, India (Calcutta), Egypt, England, Italy, France, South and Central America.  Jacob Duwayk-haKohen, son of Saul and Qamar, was born around 1830 in  Aleppo. …

Duwayk, Jacob Saul

(16 words)

Author(s): Norman A. Stillman
see Duwayk (Dweck, Dwek, Duek, Douek, Doweck, Dowek) Family Norman A. Stillman

Duwayk, Shaul

(15 words)

Author(s): Norman A. Stillman
see Duwayk (Dweck, Dwek, Duek, Douek, Doweck, Dowek) Family Norman A. Stillman