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Jewelry Smithing

(1,599 words)

Author(s): Ester Muchawsky-Schnapper
Jews were gold- and silversmiths (Ar. ṣā'igh; Pers. zargar) in Muslim countries from pre-Islamic times until the mid-twentieth century, passing on their craftsmanship down the generations. The roots of the profession harken back to the biblical era, and the Bible refers to gold- and silversmiths both as individuals and as guilds (Exod. 37—39:1–31; Neh. 3:8:31–32). Passages in the Mishna and Talmud further mention Jewish silver- and goldsmiths. A major center of Jewish artisanry flourished from the fourth century B.C.E. in Alexandria, where the sections in the synagogue rese…