Syrian Jewry in Transition, 1840-1880 (Littman Library of Jewish Civilization)

Syrian Jewry in Transition, 1840-1880 (Littman Library of Jewish Civilization)

By: Yaron Harel (author)Hardback

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This pioneering study offers a comprehensive account of Syria's key Jewish communities at an important juncture in their history that also throws light on the broader effects of modernization in the Ottoman empire. The Ottoman reforms of the mid-nineteenth century accelerated the process of opening up Syria up to European travellers and traders, and gave Syria's Jews access to European Jewish communities. The resulting influx of Western ideas led to a decline in the traditional economy, with serious consequences for the Jewish occupational structure. It also allowed for the introduction of Western education, through schools run by the Alliance Israelite Universelle, influenced the structure and the administration of Jewish society in Syria, and changed the balance of the relationship between Muslims, Christians, and Jews. Initially Syria's Jewish communities flourished economically and politically in these new circumstances, but there was a developing recognition that their future lay overseas. After the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, the bankruptcy of the Ottoman empire in 1875, and the suspension of the Ottoman constitution in 1878, this feeling intensified. A process of decline set in that ultimately culminated in large-scale Jewish emigration, first to Egypt and then to the West. From that point on, the future for Syrian Jews lay in the West, not the East. Detailed and compelling, this book covers Jewish community life, the legal status of Jews in Syria, their relationship with their Muslim and Christian neighbours, and their links with the West. It draws on a wide range of archival material in six languages, including Jewish, Christian Arab, and Muslim Arab sources, Ottoman and European documents, consular reports, travel accounts, and reports from the contemporary press and by emissaries to Syria of the Alliance Israelite Universelle. Rabbinic sources, including the archive of the chief rabbinate in Istanbul, are particularly important in opening a window onto Syrian Jewish life and concerns. Together these sources bring to light an enormous amount of material and provide a broad, multifaceted perspective on the Syrian Jewish community. The Hebrew edition of the book was the winner of the Ben Zvi Award for Research in Oriental Jewry in 2004. `For the first time in the historiography of the Jews of Muslim countries we are presented with a rich picture, well written and riveting, of the history of important Jewish communities in the period of the Tanzimat.' From the award citation

About Author

Yaron Harel is Professor of Jewish History at Bar-Ilan University. His contribution to the field of oriental Jewish history, especially in Syria, been recognized in a series of awards, including the Aminoah Prize (2000), the Ben-Zvi Prize for Research in Oriental Jewry (2004), and the Zalman Shazar Prize for Research in Jewish History (2009), He is also the author of The Books of Aleppo: The Rabbinic Literature of the Scholars of Aleppo (1997) and of the volume Syria (2009) in the series Jewish Communities in the East in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, and co-editor, with Yom Tov Assis and Miriam Frenkel, of Aleppo Studies - The Jews of Aleppo: Their History and Culture, Volume 1 (2009).


List of Abbreviations List of Illustrations Note on Transliteration and Conventions Used in the Text Part I The Seeds of Change Introduction 1 First Signs of Westernization Part II Internal Jewish Life 2 The Jewish Population of Syria 3 The Jews in the Local Economy 4 Leadership and Communal Administration 5 Education-Traditional and Modern Part III The Legal Status Of The Jews 6 Equality before the Law 7 The Reaya and the Machinery of the Ottoman State Part IV Muslims, Christians, Jews 8 Majority-Minority Relations 9 Interminority Relations Part V Turning to the West 10 `Ships of Fire' 11 `The Princes of Israel' Conclusion: The Anatomy of Separation Glossary Bibliography Index

Product Details

  • ISBN13: 9781904113652
  • Format: Hardback
  • Number Of Pages: 320
  • ID: 9781904113652
  • weight: 612
  • ISBN10: 1904113656
  • translations: Hebrew
  • language of text: English

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