Jews of Iran and Rabbinical Literature: Preliminary Notes

By Daniel Tsadik

Association for Jewish Studies (AJS), Fall 2010

Estimates of the number of Jews in Iran, one of the oldest Jewish diasporas and today's largest Jewish community under Islam, range from 17,000 to 30,000 souls. This community usually does not receive much scholarly attention. To be sure, compared to some other Jewish diasporas in the Middle East, there is not much data on the Jews of Iran from past centuries, making it difficult to depict certain aspects of their life. Further, Iran seems to be perceived as anomalous with Persian, not Arabic, as its major language and Shi'ite, not "mainstream" or "Orthodox" Sunni Islam, as its majority religion from the sixteenth century onward. These facts, consequently, may have caused scholars to regard the Jews of Iran as too remote, isolated, and difficult to decipher. Be this as it may, one may contend that the so-called remoteness of Iran's Jewry poses questions, some of which have broader significance. For instance, if it was indeed segregated, how did such a Jewish community persevere and preserve its Jewish identity? Were Iran's Jews indeed so distant and isolated? Were there relations between Iranian Jewry and other major centers of Jewish life? In other words, the Jewish community in Iran may serve as an important case study of the survival of Jewish life ostensibly distant from centers of Jewish wisdom.

Topic: Persian Jews, History, Jewish Text

Name of Publication: AJS Perspectives: The Magazine of the Association for Jewish Studies

Editor: Bunzl, Matti , Havrelock, Rachel

Volume/Issue: Fall 2010

Page Number(s): 14-16

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Genre: Article

Coverage: Iran

Language: English

Copyright Holder: Publisher

Copyright Information: Download for personal use, freely distribute link

Bibliographic Information:
Tsadik, Daniel. Jews of Iran and Rabbinical Literature: Preliminary Notes. AJS Perspectives: The Magazine of the Association for Jewish Studies. Association for Jewish Studies (AJS). Fall 2010: 14-16.


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