KAWKABĀN, important mountain stronghold during the Ottoman occupation of the lower regions of *Yemen, northwest of San'a. Kawkabān is about one hour's walk from Shibām. Although the exact date of the city's origin is not precisely known, the existing ruins and artifacts of the city give us a clue to its ancient existence from the Himyari period. Recorded history goes back 950 years and speaks of Kawkabān as a depository for grain. Kawkabān is known from the description of Jacob *Saphir, who stayed in these places in 1858 during his travels. The Jewish quarter of Kawkabān, in which some 60 families lived during the last generation before the emigration from there to Israel, was considerably distant from the Arab town; one had to descend into a wadi and climb a slope on the opposite side in order to reach the Jewish section. There was one synagogue. Most of the Jews made their living in pottery; others were shoemakers and tailors, especially of leather jackets.
J. Saphir, Even Sappir (1864), 77–8; C. Rathjens and H. Wissmann, Landeskundliche Ergebnisse (1934), 94, 134; C. Rathjens, Jewish Domestic Architecture in Sana, Yemen (1957), 64–7.
[Yosef Tobi (2nd ed.)]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.