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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(6 words)

Author(s): Phillip Ackerman-Lieberman
see Solal Phillip Ackerman-Lieberman

Sholal (Solal), Isaac ha-Kohen

(470 words)

Author(s): Abraham David
Isaac ha-Kohen Sholal (d. 1524) was the last Egyptian nagid. Although of Spanish ancestry, his direct forebears lived in Tlemcen from the early fifteenth century and perhaps even earlier. Sholal himself resided in Egypt in the latter half of the fifteenth century, where he engaged in the grain trade and other pursuits. In 1502, he inherited the office of nagid from his uncle/brother-in-law Jonathan (Nathan) Sholal, and he served in this capacity until the Ottoman conquest in 1517, which saw the termination of the nagidate. Various sources indicate that Sholal, during his tenure…

Sholal (Solal), Nathan (Jonathan) ha-Kohen

(304 words)

Author(s): Abraham David
Nathan (Jonathan) ha-Kohen Sholal ben Ḥayyim(1437–1502) was one of the last incumbents of the office of nagid (pl. negidim) in Egypt. Born in Tlemcen into a family of Talmud scholars, Sholal emigrated to Italy and from there to Palestine, settling in Jerusalem before 1471. Heavy taxation and oppression by the high-handed community elders led many Jews to leave Jerusalem. One of them was Nathan Sholal, who went to Egypt sometime around or after 1481. Around 1484 he was appointed nagid of the Jewish community in Egypt, recognized as such by…


(6 words)

Author(s): Phillip Ackerman-Lieberman
see Solal Phillip Ackerman-Lieberman

Shumla (Shumen)

(461 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Shumla (Ott. Turk. Shumla and Shumnu; Bulg. Shumen, renamed Kolarovgrad from 1950 to 1965), is an ancient city in northeastern Bulgaria. Conquered by Sultan Murad I (r. ca. 1360–1389) in 1388, Shumla was destroyed completely in 1444 and a new town with the same name was constructed in its present location. Because of its close proximity to Russia, the city was frequently attacked by the Russians and thus had to be fortified. Beginning in the eighteenth century, the Ottomans transformed Shumla into a military center, which created many jobs and attracted migrants from other are…

Sidi Bel Abbès

(646 words)

Author(s): Richard Ayoun
Sidi Bel-Abbès (Ar. Sīdī Bil-ʿAbbās), located at an altitude of 470 meters (1,542 feet), is a city in northwestern Algeria, on the Mekerra River, in the center of the vast plain between Jebel Tessala in the north and the Daya Mountains in the south. Initially the site of a French military outpost during the conquest of Algeria, the town of Sidi Bel-Abbès was established in 1849 and remained an important base for the Foreign Legion. Jews from Oran, Tlemcen, and Mascara began to settle there in 1851. There was also a sizable migration of Jews from Morocco, especially fro…

Sidi Rahhal

(9 words)

Author(s): Norman A. Stillman
see Atlas Mountains Norman A. Stillman


(1,062 words)

Author(s): Kirsten Schulze
The Jews of the Lebanese town of Sidon (Ar. Ṣaydā) believed that their community dated back to the first arrival of Israelites in the area in 1000 B.C.E. and their synagogue to the period of the Second Temple. By the beginning of the common era there were many Jews living in Sidon, and the city had been beautified by Herod (Josephus, Jewish Wars 1:422; see also Acts 12:20). Their numbers were so considerable that the local pagans were afraid to attack them in 66, when the Jews in other Greco-Syrian towns were massacred ( Jewish Wars 2:479). Although there is little information in the source…

Sifre Miṣvot

(4,810 words)

Author(s): Judith Olszowy-Schlanger | Y. Zvi Stampfer
1.  Rabbanite Sifre Miṣvot Works in the genre known as books of precepts (Heb. sifre miṣvot) in medieval Hebrew and Judeo-Arabic literature enumerate the precepts of the Torah and sort them according to various methods and diverse categories. Jewish poets in Palestine in late Antiquity began to develop this genre for liturgical purposes. During the Islamic period, it developed further in the parallel channels of liturgy and monograph. Medieval precept books were monographs that dealt with juridical questions b…


(579 words)

Author(s): Phillip Ackerman-Lieberman
Sijilmasa (Ar. Sijilmāsa) was a town in the Mahgreb near the present-day Moroccan town of Rissani in the Tafilalet oasis, approximately 300 kilometers (190 miles) southeast of Fez, along the chain of North African Jewish settlements in the border region between the settled country and the Sahara. The chain of settlements lay along a caravan route which probably dated to antiquity, and medieval sources such as the geographer al-Bakrī report that Sijilmasa was founded by Berbers in the mid-eighth …

Silistre (Silistria)

(480 words)

Author(s): Aksel Erbahar
Silistre (Silistra, Silistria) is an ancient border town in northeastern Bulgaria. After the Ottoman conquest of the region in 1396, Silistre was transformed into a military and trade center. Due to its proximity to the Russian border, it regularly suffered attacks from this direction, particularly in the eighteenth century and afterward. In 1829 Silistre was briefly occupied by the Russians. During the Crimean War (1853–1856), the town was again besieged by the Russians in 1854. The Turkish defense of Silistre was one of the war’s famous events; the excep…

Silva, Hezekiah da

(382 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ben Naeh
Hezekiah ben David da Silva was a noted rabbi and scholar in the second half of the seventeenth century. Born in Livorno (Leghorn) in 1656, da Silva migrated to Palestine at the age of twenty (1676). According to Ḥayyim Joseph David Azulay (Ḥida, 1724–1806), da Silva was the pupil of Judah Sharaf and Moses ben Jonathan Galante the Younger (1620–1689). He studied at the Bet Yaʿaqov Yeshiva in Jerusalem and was one of its most important scholars. In 1688, he went to Western Europe as a rabbinical emissary ( shadar or meshullaḥ). It was during his stay in Amsterdam (1690) that the well-k…

Siman-Tov, Mullah Jacob

(176 words)

Author(s): Ben Zion Yehoshua-Raz
Mullah Jacob Siman-Ṭov, a member of one of the more distinguished Jewish families of Mashhad in Afghanistan, was born in Herat in 1850 and in his maturity became its chief rabbi. As the community’s spiritual leader and teacher, he advocated love of Zion and abandoning the bitter life of exile in favor of returning to the Land of Israel. In 1922, at the age of seventy-two, he left Herat by donkey for Palestine and settled in Jerusalem. He died there six years later, aged seventy-eight, and was buried on the Mount of Olives. His example persuaded many other Afghan Jews to follow, and the Jer…

Sionit, Mojdeh

(255 words)

Author(s): Haideh Sahim
Born in Tehran, Iran, in 1975, Mojdeh Sionit received her primary and secondary education in that city. In 1996 she earned a B.A. in English Translation from Āzād University (The Free University of Tehran). From 1994 to 1998 she also attended the National Language Institute of Iran, where she received a Certificate in French Language and Literature. Her first book, a collection of short stories in Persian, Qahrimān-i Sīyāh (The Black Hero),was published in 1994.  From 1990 to 2001 Sionit wrote a column entitled “ Dramas in Real Life” in ‘Ittila‘āt, one of Iran’s two major daily newsp…


(8 words)

Author(s): Norman A. Stillman
see Philippeville (Skikda) Norman A. Stillman

Skopje (Üsküb)

(978 words)

Author(s): Yitzchak Kerem
Skopje (Turk. Üsküb), today the capital of the Republic of Macedonia, is a city on the banks of the Vardar River at a major Balkan crossroads of the north-south route between Athens and Belgrade. Its Jewish community may have originated in Roman times, when the city was known as Scupi. The community consisted of Romaniot Greek-speaking Jews during the Byzantine period (up to 1282) and afterwards under Serbian rule (ca. 1282–1392). The Bet Aharon synagogue was built in 1366. Skopje became Ottoman in 1392 and over the next two centuries developed into one of the most importan…

Slama, Béatrice

(530 words)

Author(s): Habib Kazdaghli
Béatrice Slama (née Saada) was born in Tunis in 1923 to a wealthy Livornese family from the southern Tunisian town of Gabès. After earning her high school diploma from Lycée Armand Fallières in Tunis in 1941, she joined the Communist Party to fight Nazism and the German occupation of Tunisia. After the war, she was one of the founders of the Union of Young Women in Tunisia, a feminist organization with ties to the Communist Party. She led the Union of Young Women from 1944 to 1948. In an article entitled “ La Déchirure,” she proudly described her experiences as a Communist during the w…

Slama, Ivan

(695 words)

Author(s): Habib Kazdaghli
Ivan Slama was born in Tunis on April 17, 1913. He studied medicine in Paris in the 1930s before and during the period of the Popular Front. A member of the Communist youth in Tunis, he participated in the student Communist movement in Paris. During the Spanish Civil War, he joined a convoy of food and medical supplies chartered by the newspaper Ce Soir.  Upon his return to Tunis as a doctor in late 1940, Slama joined the Tunisian Communist Party. During the Vichy period (1940–1942), a house in Khereddine, a northern suburb of Tunis, was rented in his name as a hideout for Velio Spanio, a Communis…

Slavery, Slave Trade

(2,658 words)

Author(s): Phillip Ackerman-Lieberman | Onur Yildirim
1. Medieval Period Gaonic responsa and Cairo Geniza documents alike allude to the fact that Jews living in Islamic lands in the medieval period owned slaves and engaged in the slave trade. Male and female slaves were identified by different terms— ṣabī or ghulām (Ar. boy) for males, and jāriya or waṣīfa (Ar. maid) for females—and were generally assigned different functions in the household economy. The concentration of Jewish economic life in crafts and trade rather than agricultural production meant that male slaves were often entrusted with du…

Slouschz, Nahum

(842 words)

Author(s): Daniel Schroeter
Nahum Slouschz(ca.1872-1966), Hebraicist and explorer, was the first to write in-depth studies on the history, ethnography and archeology of the Jewish communities of North Africa. He was born near Vilna, grew up in Odessa, and became actively involved in Zionism and the Hebrew renaissance movement on which he wrote extensively. He spent time in Palestine in the 1890s, returned to Russia, and then went to study classical and French literature in Geneva.  He continued his studies in Semitics and …
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