Posts Tagged Jewish history

REVIEW: This Noble House: Jewish Descendants of King David in the Medieval Islamic East

51smmUiqxAL._SS500_This Noble House: Jewish Descendants of King David in the Medieval Islamic East

Arnold E. Franklin

320 pages | 6 x 9 | 5 illus.

Cloth Sep 2012 | ISBN 978-0-8122-4409-0 | $65.00s | £42.50

Reviewed by Geoffrey Herman

In the 11th century, the Jewish community of Palestine was shaken by a scandal. According to a fragmentary letter found in the Cairo Geniza penned shortly after the incident, a certain individual had passed himself off as a nasi, one descending from the family of King David. He had “acquired for himself a good reputation and had in his possession a genealogy (a list of his ancestors)”. With these he had achieved a position of power and many submitted to his authority. After two years it became known that his lineage was inaccurate. And yet, as the author of the letter bemoans, even after it became known that his lineage was fictitious, “they were not ashamed or embarrassed to honour him, saying that he was (nevertheless) a sage”. He was not, however, allowed to maintain his position for long and “those who fear God” forcibly removed him from the city of Tiberias, exiling him to the “Lands of Edom.” Read the rest of this entry »


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REVIEW: Jewish Culture and Society in North Africa

9780253355096_300W[1]Jewish Culture and Society in North Africa.

Edited by Emily Benichou Gottreich and Daniel J. Schroeter. Bloomington

Indiana University Press, 2011. pp. 372.

Reviewed by Aomar Boum


There are few classic edited works on Jewish-Muslim relations, Jewish Culture and Society in North Africa could be one not only because of its clarity, depth and resourcefulness but also scientific contribution to the field of North African historiography. It not only rethinks moments of North African Jewish history and questions of historiography, but does it both through the eyes of Western scholars and local North African historians. This approach puts this edited volume in a unique position compared to previous works written mostly from the perspectives of scholars who no longer reside in Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. Equally important, unlike other academic conferences on Jewish-Muslim relations generally held in France, Israel or the United States, the fact that Moroccan, Algerian and Tunisian scholars, largely historians, could attend and present academic talks on the Jews of their homeland in a North African context is an important token that gives meanings to the book. Therefore Jewish Culture and Society in North Africa breaks a few taboos by allowing Israeli, North American and North African scholars to sit around the same table cognizant of the Arab Israeli conflict but still able to have an academic conversation based on mutual respect.

Each article in this collection raises new questions, revises old categories and challenges longstanding views. However, most of the themes largely revolve around social, political, cultural, linguistic and economic contexts of Jewish-Muslim encounters. The collection is divided into a number of sections including Read the rest of this entry »

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