AMRAN, town in Yemen, about ten hours' walk northwest of San'a, with a large Jewish community in a separate walled quarter. Jacob Sappir visited it in 1859 and brought out a first account (Massa Teiman, 174–80). There were about 100 Jewish families in Amran at the time, led by the rabbi and president Slayman al-Tanimi, who had reversed the previously gloomy spiritual situation. There were two synagogues and the majority of Jews made good livings as tailors, farmers, blacksmiths, and silversmiths. Many of them had fled from San'a because of its unstable political situation. The Muslims of Amran were considered anti-Jewish. In 1900 most of the houses in the Jewish quarter were very severely damaged in a big flood (sayl) and about 40 Jews were killed (Koraḥ, p. 62). Abraham *Arusi wrote a special poem to commemorate this event (Gamlieli, 1978, 435–38). B. Stevenson, who studied Amran in 1978–79, collected important data about the Jews there. According to local tradition the Jews came to Amran about 300 years earlier from nearby villages seeking the protection of the sheikh. They were allowed to settle in Amran in return for scattering the ashes from the public baths on his fields. A few Jews were rich landholders, and many rented stalls or owned shops in the market. As opposed to other places they were not remembered as skilled artisans or craftsmen. When they left for Israel (1948–51) there were 500–600 people living in 121 houses. The houses and the farmland of the Jews (100 acres) and the synagogues were sold for very low prices. Most of these were changed architecturally, so there is very little evidence in the town of Jewish existence there.
J. Sappir, Massa Teiman (ed. A. Ya'ari; 1945); S.D. Goitein, From the Land of Sheba (1947), 15–33; A. Koraḥ, Sa'arat Teiman, (1953); N.B. Gamlieli, Ḥadrei Teiman, (1978); T.B. Stevenson, Social Change in a Highlands Town (1985).
[Yosef Tobi (2nd ed.)]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.