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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Shar'abi, Hezekiah Isaac Mizraḥi

(219 words)

Author(s): Pinchas Giller
Hezekiah Isaac Mizraḥi Sharʿabi (d. 1808), referred to by his acronym Ḥay be-Shemesh (lit. alive in the sun) was the only son of the legendary Yemenite kabbalist Shalom Sharʿabi and served as the fourth head of the Bet El yeshiva in Jerusalem. Although he was clearly an accomplished kabbalist, his main area of distinction was as a rabbinical judge (Heb. dayyan) on the court of Rav Mordechai ha-Levi, author of the Ma’amar Mordekhay (Mordechai's Composition) on the code of Jewish law. He composed the Me'ira Dakhya ("Pure Enlightening"; Constantinople, 1807) and two introductions t…

Sharʿabi, Shalom

(1,014 words)

Author(s): Yosef Tobi
The great kabbalist Shalom Sharʿabi was born in Sharʿab, Yemen, in 1720, was raised in Sanʿa, and died in Jerusalem in 1777. Known by the acronyms Rashash and Hashemesh (Shalom Mizraḥi Sharʿabi), Sharʿabi stands third in the hierarchy of  the Lurianic Kabbala after  Isaac Luria (the Ari) and the latter’s disciple Ḥayyim Vital, and he was thought to be a reincarnation of Luria. He probably acquired his erudition in Jewish scholarship, and especially in Kabbala, while still in Yemen. Although he is well known from authentic documentation, …

Sharḥ (pl. Shurūḥ)

(10 words)

Author(s): Norman A. Stillman
see Bible Translations Norman A. Stillman

Sha‘shū‘a, Salīm

(483 words)

Author(s): Reuven Snir
The Iraqi poet, writer, journalist, and jurist Salīm Murād Sha‘shū‘a was born in 1926 in Baghdad, where he was educated at the Alliance Israélite Universelle school, the Shammash School, and the Law College. He began writing and publishing poetry while practicing law as an attorney. In 1948, he started up   al-Murūj (The Valleys), an Arabic literary and social journal, but managed to publish only one issue. In 1950, he was imprisoned on the charge of spreading Zionist propaganda. The following year he emigrated to Israel. The poetry Sha‘shū‘a wrote in his new home was permeated with Zionist…

Shas Party

(1,115 words)

Author(s): Avi Picard
A political and social movement in Israel, Shas grew from a local party participating in Jerusalem municipal elections in 1983 to a national party running candidates for the Knesset in 1984. Its emergence and success were made possible by the neglect of the Sephardi/Mizraḥi ultra-Orthodox (Heb. ḥaredi) community by the primary ultra-Orthodox party, Agudat Yisrael. The supreme authority of Shas is vested in its religious leadership. At first this was provided by a rabbinical council under the presidency of Ovadia Yosef, but in time he became the sole leader of the movement,…

Shā’ūl, Anwar  

(1,277 words)

Author(s): Reuven Snir
Anwar Shāʾūl(1904–1984) was an Iraqi poet, short story writer, playwright, journalist, lexicographer, and translator. His grandfather on his mother’s side was Hermann Rosenfeld, an Austrian tailor who settled in Baghdad in 1850 and became active in Jewish communal affairs, especially as a forceful advocate of the Alliance Israélite Universelle. On his father’s side, he was related to the distinguished Sassoon family, one member of which, Sheikh Sassoon ben Ṣāliḥ (1750–1830), was the nasi (head) of the Jewish community in Baghdad for almost forty years. Shāʾūl was born in Hilla …

Shaul, Moshe

(283 words)

Author(s): D Gershon Lewental
Moshe Shaul (b. 1929) is a journalist whose career has been devoted to the preservation and propagation of the Judeo-Spanish cultural heritage. Born in Izmir (Smyrna) in 1929, he immigrated to Israel in 1949, where he joined the Ladino department of Kol Israel(Voice of Israel) broadcasting in 1954. In 1959, he graduated from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem with degrees in sociology and political science. From 1977 to 1994, Shaul headed the Ladino department at Kol Israel. In 1979, he founded Aki Yerushalaim: Revista Kulturala Djudeo-Espanyola as a supplement to his broadcast…

Shawwāṭ, Frajī

(480 words)

Author(s): Ephraim Hazan
Frajī (Farajī) Shawwāṭ was born in Fez in the second half of the sixteenth century. Like a number of other Moroccan rabbis, he migrated to Beja in Tunisia. He holds a unique place among the poets of Tunisia and certainly was that country’s finest Hebrew poet. His poetry was loved and distributed widely in Tunisia and throughout North Africa. The great majority of Shawwāṭ’s piyyuṭim (liturgical poems) deal with the theme of exile and redemption, a subject so central to his thought that poems on other topics make up only a sixth part of his oeuvre, and even th…

Shaykh al-ʿAfrīt (Rosio, Israel)

(290 words)

Author(s): Jacques Taïeb
Shaykh al-ʿAfrīt (Maestro Little Devil) was born in 1897 in Tunis and died on July 26, 1939 in Ariana, near the capital city and was buried in the Borgel Cemetery in Tunis. Born Israël Rosio Issirene to a Moroccan father and a Libyan mother, he was abandoned at a young age by his father, who returned to Morocco. He earned his nickname for his powerful voice and his mischievous wit. He was one of the leading Arabic singers in Tunis in the interwar period; he performed at Aḥmad Bey’s palace (r. 1929–1942) every Tuesday. He is said to have had a repertory of 480 songs. His…

Shayk al-yahud

(8 words)

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

Sheetrit, Meir

(704 words)

Author(s): Avi Picard
Meir Sheetrit was born in 1948 in the town of Ksar es-Souk (now Errachidia) in Morocco. His family immigrated to Israel in 1957 and was sent to the development town of Netivot adjacent to the Gaza Strip. They later moved to Yavne, another development town, in the Central Coastal Plain, where they lived in a maʿabara (transit camp). Sheetrit went to a public religious school and later studied at a religious youth village, graduating from high school at the age of sixteen. Due to his young age he was able to earn a degree in microbiology from Bar-Ilan…

Shemariah ben Elhanan

(828 words)

Author(s): Marina Rustow
Abū ʾl-Khayr Shemariah ben Elhanan was the leader of the Jews of Fustat from the 990s until his death in December 1011. He first became known to scholarship as one of the four captives in Abraham ibn Daʾud’s Book of Tradition (Heb. Sefer ha-Qabbala), three of whom established new centers of Torah study in Egypt, al-Andalus, and Ifrīqiya. According to Ibn Daʾud’s account, Shemariah was ransomed in Alexandria and later settled in Fustat, but in fact he was born there into a family of leaders of the local Babylonian Jewish community. Ibn Daʾud paints Shemariah as a link binding the Iraqi yeshivot…

Sherira Gaon

(505 words)

Author(s): Phillip Ackerman-Lieberman
Sherira Gaon (ca.906–1006) was a jurist descended from an exilarchic family who served as gaon of the Pumbedita yeshiva from 968 to 1004. Directly prior to his appointment, the Pumbedita academy had been substantially weakened by a schism that led to the short-lived founding of a breakaway faction by Nehemiah bar Kohen Ṣedeq. In addition, throughout this period, the Babylonian academies (see Yeshivot in Babylonia/Iraq) were losing much of their influence in the Jewish communities to the west thanks to the rise of houses of study (Heb. batte midrash) there. With the flow of financial …

Shiʽa and the Jews

(2,472 words)

Author(s): Vera B. Moreen
1. Historical Overview Jewish-Shīʽī interaction through history is still not well known despite significant advances in researching the subject. Scholars generally note that Shīʽī Muslims have tended to hold more severe attitudes than Sunnīs toward Jews and Judaism, but on closer investigation a considerable area of Judeo-Shīʽī “symbiosis” emerges. It sheds light on Jewish-Shīʽī relations especially during the first two centuries of Islam, the formative period of Shīʽism, supporting the view of tho…

Shikar, Shem Ṭov (Hoca Santo)

(262 words)

Author(s): Pamela Dorn Sezgin
Shem Ṭov Shikar (b. ca. 1840) was perhaps the most famous composer of Jewish liturgical song from Izmir (Smyrna). He was also known as Hoca Santo (Turk. hoca, teacher or master; Jud.-Sp. santo, equivalent to Shem Ṭov), Şikẩr Efendi, Şemtov Şikẩr, and Izmirli (Turk. from Izmir) Hoca Santo.  About 150 compositions in the maqām system of classical Turkish music are attributed to Shikar, but few of these works were published. Apart from an opus transcribed by Isaac Algazi, most of these works existed in oral traditionby the late twentieth century. They were lovingly preserved by Sh…

Shīna, Salmān

(372 words)

Author(s): Orit Bashkin
Salmān Shīna(1899–1978) was an Iraqi lawyer, member of parliament, and journalist. Educated at the Alliance Israélite Universelle school in Baghdad (established 1864), Shīna served as a translator for the Ottoman forces during World War I. He was captured by the British in 1917 and spent over a year in India as a prisoner of war. Years later, in the independent Iraqi state and in Israel, Shīna, unlike many Arab nationalists of the time, would recall the positive role the Ottoman Empire had played with respect to Middle Eastern Jewry. In Iraq, Shīna became the secretary of a pro-Zion…

Shindukh Family

(858 words)

Author(s): Zvi Zohar
The Shindukh family were communal leaders, rabbinic scholars, and kabbalists in Baghdad from the eighteenth to the twentieth century. The etymology of the family name is unclear; in (rather obscure) literary Arabic, shindakh means “gratuity,” while shundukh/shundakh means either “tall and powerful,” “lion,” or “repast upon completion of a journey or building.” As a Jewish surname, Shindukh first appears in seventeenth-century Baghdad. (There is an Iraqi Arab tribe named al-Shandūkh [pl. al-Shanādikha], and it is not unknown for Je…


(1,417 words)

Author(s): Haideh Sahim
Situated at the foot of the Zagros Mountains, Shiraz (Pers. Shīrāz) is the capital of the Iranian province of Fars. References in the Bible and the Apocrypha suggest the possibility that Jews were present in the Achaemenid capitals, Persepolis and Pasargadae, both situated near present-day Shiraz. During the early Islamic period, when Shiraz became a provincial capital, the Jews of Fars were more numerous than any other minority except the Zoroastrians. This may have been because at that time Shiraz was the hub of several important trade routes, and the Jews were engaged in inter…

Shirot ve-Tishbaḥot (Dönme Hymns)

(1,716 words)

Author(s): Hadar Feldman Samet
Shirot ve Tishbahot (Heb. Songs and Praises) is the common term used to refer to devotional songs of the Sabbatean Ma’aminim (Heb. Believers/Faithful) – known as the Dönme (Turk. Turncoats) – the disciples of the Jewish messianic pretender Shabbetay Ṣevi (1626–1676). In the years after the latter’s conversion to Islam in 1666, his adherents also embraced Islam and created clandestine messianic communities of converts. Devotional singing was a dominant practice of the Ma’aminim and their song cor…

Shīrvānī, Moses (Mūsā) ben Aaron ben Sheʾerit

(195 words)

Author(s): Vera B. Moreen
Moses (Mūsā) ben Aaron ben Sheʾerit Shīrvānī compiled a Hebrew/Aramaic–Persian dictionary in 1459 in Shirvan (today in Azerbaijan). Shīrvānī’s dictionary is known as the Agron (Heb. glossary, lexicon), a title undoubtedly derived from Saʿadya Gaon’s (d. 942) famous double-dictionary of the same name. Intended as an aid to Bible study, the Agron includes vocabulary from the Bible and is largely organized according to Hebrew roots and nouns. It is known only from manuscripts, but all of the existing ones are incomplete, covering only the entries from the letter yod (tenth in the Hebr…
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