Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World

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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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Gabbay, Ezekiel (Baghdadli)

(344 words)

Author(s): Omer Turan
Ezekiel ben Joseph Nissim Menahem Gabbay, known by the sobriquet Baghdadli, was a prominent banker, Jewish communal leader, and philanthropist was born in Baghdad sometime in the second half of the eighteenth century. He was the sarrafbaşı (personal banker) of Sultan Mahmud II when he was executed in 1823. From 1806, when he became the leader of the Jewish community in Baghdad, Ezekiel did much to benefit his coreligionists. In 1811, as a reward for his help the previous year in suppressing the revolt of the Mamluk leader Küçük Süleyman Pasha and restoring order and the authority o…

Gabbay, Ezekiel II

(386 words)

Author(s): Omer Turan
Ezekiel Gabbay II (1825–1898) was descended from a family with roots in Baghdad and was the grandson of his namesake, Baghdadli Ezekiel Gabbay (d. ca. 1823), who had been banker to Sultan Mahmud II (r. 1808–1839). Ezekiel Gabbay II held several government offices during the reigns of Sultans Abdülaziz (r. 1861–1876) and Abdülhamid II (r. 1876-1909). He began in 1869 as an official at the Ministry of Public Instruction and subsequently became president of the Supreme Criminal Court. At the same time, he was also active in Jewish communal affairs and served as secretary of the counc…

Gabbay Family (Iraq)

(264 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ben Naeh
The  Gabbay family of merchants and Ottoman officials flourished from the late eighteenth century through the end of the nineteenth. The name Gabbay is found mostly in Iraq, but it also appears in Turkey and other countries. It is one of the most common surnames of Iraqi Jewry, attributed by family lore to Davidic descent. A number of well-known members of the family served in key roles in the Baghdad community.        Isaac ben David ben Joshua Gabbay was chief banker (Ar. ṣarrāf bāshī) and   nasi (Heb. head) of the Jewish community of Baghdad from 1745 until his death in 1773. His son Ezra al…

Gabbay, Moris

(638 words)

Author(s): Cengiz Sisman
Moris Gabbay, born into a Sephardic family in Istanbul in 1922, is a Turkish Jewish left-wing political activist, writer, and public intellectual. In his childhood and youth, he witnessed the transformation of the multi-ethnic and multi-religious Ottoman Empire into the Turkish Republic, a period during which non-Muslims were expected to give up their religious autonomy and linguistic traditions and become “new citizens” of a homogeneous nation-state. Gabbay received his religious and elementary school education in the Jewish Primary School, and then moved on …

Gabbay, Moses ben Shem Ṭov

(317 words)

Author(s): Yossef Charvit
Moses ben Shem Ṭov Gabbay, who died around 1443, was a rabbi and scholar in the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries. He was active in Spain and North Africa, and particularly, after 1391, in the western Algerian city of Honaine. Situated on the Mediterranean coast north of Tlemcen, Honaine was an important port during the Zayyanid (or ʿAbd al-Wadīd) dynasty in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The city’s Jewish community was an active element in its mercantile culture. Leaving Spain after the edict of 1391, Gabbay spent some time as rabbinical judge (Heb. dayyan) of the J…

Gabela

(1,237 words)

Author(s): Leah Bornstein-Makovetsky
The gabela (from Sp. gabela, It. gabella, Fr. gabelle, excise tax; a word thought by O.E.D. to be of Teut. origin, but perhaps ultimately from Ar./med. Jud.-Ar. qabāla, a lease) was a tax on meat and other food staples that Jewish communities in Christian Spain, Islamic lands, and the Ottoman Empire imposed on their members. In the Maghreb, it was often called sija or siza (from Sp. cisa, Mod. Sp. and Port. sisa). In Tripolitania, it was called khaba. Although the terms gabela and sija appear to have come in with Sephardi exiles, such taxes existed in the Islamic world well bef…

Gabes

(1,381 words)

Author(s): Haim Saadoun
Gabes (Ar. Qābis)is the last major port city in southern Tunisia before the Libyan frontier. It is situated on the Gulf of Gabes (the Little Syrte) 404 kilometers (251 miles) south of Tunis and 150 kilometers (93 miles) from Gafsa. The present city of Gabes is actually a conglomeration of four smaller towns: two ancient oases, Menzel and Djara; New Djara, dating from the era of the Arab conquest; and the port itself, El-Bihar. The development of the port area was a pet project of the French protectorate (1881–1956). Like Qayrawān, Gabes was an important Jewish center during the Midd…

Gafsa

(931 words)

Author(s): Haim Saadoun
Gafsa(Ar. Qafsa) is a small town on the site of Roman Capsa in southwestern Tunisia. It is situated to the north of the seasonal salt lake Chott el-Djerid on the eastern edge of the Sahara Desert, 360 kilometers (224 miles) southwest of Tunis. Gafsa derived its importance from its strategic location as a stopping place for merchants and caravans on the route between the Mediterranean ports and trans-Saharan trading posts and also from its date palm cultivation. The town’s fortifications were able to withstand attacks by Saharan tribes. Today, the area surrounding Gafsa…

Gagin (Gagine), Ḥayyim

(416 words)

Author(s): Jane Gerber
Ḥayyim Gagin was born in Fez, Morocco, around 1460 and died there after 1535. He was a leader of the city's indigenous Jews, or toshavim , and the author of ʿ Eṣ ayyim (Heb. Tree of Life), a chronicle and halakhic polemic describing their conflict over the correct mode of examining and slaughtering meat (Heb. sheḥiṭa) with the megorashim -the Sephardi newcomers who settled in Fez after the expulsion from Spain. The sheḥiṭa controversy began in 1523 and raged for many years in the Jewish quarter, pitting the two segments of the Jewish populace against each other. Ul…

Gagin, Ḥayyim Abraham Moses

(371 words)

Author(s): Pinchas Giller
Ḥayyim Abraham Gagin (known as Rav Aga"n , 1787–1848), was the scion of an illustrious North African family, based in Fez, that traced its origins to the Spanish expulsion. His mother was the daughter of David Majar, the prayer leader of the Bet El kabbalists. Upon the death of his first wife, Gagin married the daughter of Abraham Shalom Ḥasid, who was known as Doda (Aunt) Rivka in 1828. Gagin became the head of the yeshiva in 1827 and also served as the head of the Tiferet Yisra’el academy. In 1842 Gagin was appointed rishon le-ṣiyyon ("first of Zion ," the title of Sephardi head of the rabb…

Gagin, Shalom Moses Ḥayy

(319 words)

Author(s): Pinchas Giller
Shalom Moses Ḥayy Gagin (1833-1883) was the son of Ḥayyim Abraham Gagin and his second wife, Doda Rivka, the daughter of Abraham Shalom Sharʿabi. He was called Shalom Moses after Shalom Sharʿabi and his grandfather Moses Majar, and subsequent Ḥayy was added to his name; thus he is known by the acronym SaMaḤ¤, which was incorporated into the titles of his books. The substantial library he inherited from his father was available to Aryeh Leib Frumkin when compiling Sefer Even Shmu' el Kolel Toledot Ḥakhmey Yerushalayim (Vilna, 1874). Gagin's father died when he was fifteen, and his m…

Galante, Abraham (Avram)

(960 words)

Author(s): Cengiz Sisman
Abraham (Avram) Galante (usually with Gallicized spelling: Galanté), the scion of a distinguished Sephardi family in Bodrum, Ottoman Turkey, was a historian of Jewish and Eastern peoples, a linguist, journalist, educator, and social activist, and an exponent of the Ottoman Jewish Haskala. Born in 1873, Galante never married and devoted his entire life to intellectual and political pursuits. He was proficient in Turkish, Judeo-Spanish, Hebrew, Persian, Arabic, German, French, English, Greek, and Armenian. He died in Istanbul in 1961. Galante received his primary education…

Gallipoli (Gelibolu)

(657 words)

Author(s): Omer Turan
Gallipoli (Turk. Gelibolu) is a port town on the southern coast of the Gallipoli peninsula in European Turkey at the Marmara end of the Dardanelles (Turk. Çanakkale Boğazı). It was the principal naval base and arsenal of the Ottoman Empire until the sixteenth century. The twelfth-century Spanish traveler Benjamin of Tudela, who visited the city under Byzantine rule, reports that it had a Jewish community of about two hundred souls ( Itinerary, ed. M. N. Adler, p. 24). Thirteenth- and fourteenth-century sources mention Romaniots residing in the city. The Ottomans oc…

Ganj-nāma

(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…

Gaon and Gaonate

(5,467 words)

Author(s): Marina Rustow
The geonim (Heb. geʾonim; sing. gaʾon) were the heads of the yeshivot (academies of higher learning) in Iraq, Palestine, Syria, and Egypt between the sixth and thirteenth centuries. The office of gaon combined religious, legal, and political functions. Its incumbents had followers all over the Islamic world and in Christian Europe, and their works laid the fou…

Gaon, Moses David

(365 words)

Author(s): Walker Robins
Born in 1889 in Travnik (then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, now in Bosnia), Moshe David Gaon came to prominence as an educator, writer, and Ladino specialist after his emigration to Palestine in 1909. Prior to making ʿ aliya, Gaon studied at the University of Vienna and worked in elementary education in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Smyrna (Izmir) in the Ottoman Empire. After settling in Jerusalem, Gaon continued to teach Hebrew and served as an elementary school administrator.  In addition to his work in education, Gaon was a prolific writer and e…

Gaon, Nessim

(621 words)

Author(s): Walker Robins
Nessim David Gaon is a prominent international businessman, philanthropist, and advocate for Sephardic Jewry. Born in 1922 in Khartoum, Sudan, Gaon quickly established himself as a leader in the Sudanese Jewish community as well as a successful businessman. From 1947 to 1957 he served as vice-president and treasurer of the Sudan Jewish community while building up the export firm he had begun with his brother, Albert. Exporting oilseeds, grain, and other produce, the brothers’ firm became one of Sudan’s leading export companies. Its success allowed the Gaons t…

Garfinkle, Bouena Sarfatty

(489 words)

Author(s): Judith Cohen
Bouena Sarfatty Garfinkle (1916–1997), born in Salonica, was a Greek partisan during World War II. Her memoirs and collections of songs, proverbs, and verses are valuable documents on Jewish life in Salonica. She and her husband immigrated to Canada in 1947. Bouena Sarfatty Garfinkle (November 15, 1916–July 23, 1997) was born in Thessaloniki (Salonica), Greece, to Simcha Halewa…

Garish, Aaron

(571 words)

Author(s): Naḥem Ilan
Rabbi  Aaron Garish lived in Aleppo at the beginning of the sixteenth century. Since he is mentioned once by the cognomen al-Ṣafadī, it would appear that one of his ancestors was born or lived in Safed, Palestine. Other considerations, however, support the hypothesis that his family emigrated from the Christian West (perhaps Spain). Garish wrote several liturgical poems (Heb. piyyuṭim ), but his reputation is based mainly on his commentary on the Pentateuch, Meṣaḥ Aharon ("Aaron's Forehead"- see Ex. 28:38), written in Judeo-Arabic and containing many expressions in th…
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