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(726 words)

Author(s): David Yeroushalmi
Ganj-nāma (Pers. The Book of Treasure), a versified book of wisdom and ethical counsel, was composed in 1536 by the Judeo-Persian poet ‘Imrānī  (b. 1454 in Isfahan; d. after 1536 in Kashan) and was his last major work. Together with the poet’s other long composition, Fatḥ-nāma (Pers. The Book of Conquest), Ganj-nāma was cherished and widely circulated in the Persian-speaking communities of Iran in premodern times. ‘Imrānī’s Ganj-nāma is a versified commentary on tractate ’Avot of the Mishna, also known as Pirqe Avot (Heb. The Ethics of the Fathers), the only mishnaic treatis…


(895 words)

Author(s): David Yeroushalmi
‘Imrānī, the name, or most likely the takhallu (Pers. nom de plume), of the second most famous poet of Persian Jewry in premodern times, was born in 1454 in Isfahan and in his mid- or late twenties moved to Kashan, where he pursued his literary career until his death, sometime after 1536. ‘Imrānī  was inspired by his predecessor Shāhīn (fl. 14th century), the first and most prominent poet of Persian-speaking Jewry. Together they are the two most admired and influential Judeo-Persian poets. In his pioneering study on Shāhīn and ‘Imrānī, Wilhelm Bacher reached some inaccurate conclusi…

Melamed, Ezra Zion

(617 words)

Author(s): David Yeroushalmi
Ezra Zion Melamed (1903–1994) was a talmudic scholar, philologist, educator, and rabbi. Born in the Jewish community of Shiraz, he was taken to Ottoman Palestine by his father, Rabbi Raḥamim Melammed ha-Kohen, at the age of two. He grew up in one of the first new neighborhoods built outside and west of the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, where many of the neighbors were hard-pressed, struggling Jews from Iran. Melamed received his early education from his learned father, and later attended a religious elementary school, completing his high school studies in a r…

Melammed ha-Kohen, Raḥamim

(494 words)

Author(s): David Yeroushalmi
Raḥamim Melammed ha-Kohen (1864–1932) was an Iranian rabbi, communal leader, and author of numerous works in Hebrew and Judeo-Persian. Born into a family of rabbis and teachers in Shiraz, he was recognized as an exceptionally talented student and preacher already in his youth. Married in 1882, he performed a variety of rabbinic, educational, and congregational tasks in his native community. He emigrated with his family to Ottoman Palestine in January 1907, and, like the majority of Jews of Iranian extraction who arrived there between the 1880s and 1920s, he settled in Jerusalem. Melamm…

Melammed, Siman Ṭov

(530 words)

Author(s): David Yeroushalmi
Siman Ṭov Melammed (d. 1800, 1823, or 1828), also known by the pen name Ṭuvya, was a Jewish poet, thinker, and rabbi in Iran and Afghanistan. The information concerning his background, life, and dates of birth and death is scanty and at times conflicting. Born in Yazd in the first half of the eighteenth century, he moved to Herat (Afghanistan), where he served as a revered teacher, rabbi, and communal judge and evidently wrote his major philosophical work, Ḥayāt al-Rūḥ (Jud.-Pers. The Life of the Soul), published in Jerusalem in 1898. Sometime before 1793, probably spurre…

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…


(11,432 words)

Author(s): Vera B. Moreen | David Yeroushalmi | David Menashri
1. 634-1500 The social and cultural history of the Jews in medieval Iran (Persia) mis over a millennium long (ca. 636–1736) and accounts only for about a third of this community’s ancient sojourn in Iran, commonly believed to have begun in 586 B.C.E., when Nebuchadnezzar’s destruction of the First Temple in Jerusalem brought about the exile of most of the Jews of Judea to Babylonia. The scarcity of sound historical information does not permit a full account of the medieval period, which is considered …