KERMANSHAH (called Qirmisin by Arab geographers), city located in the west of *Iran close to the border of *Iraq, on a commercial route between the two countries. The earliest mention of the city as a dwelling place of the Jews occurs in *Nathan ha-Bavli's report from the 10th century. Surprisingly, the Jewish community of Kermanshah is not mentioned in the chronicle of *Bābāi ben Lutf though it is almost certain that Jews lived in the city during the Safavid period (1501–1736). Rabbi *David de-Beth Hillel (around 1827) reports that there were 300 Jewish families living among 80,000 Muslim inhabitants. Most of the Jews were poor. *Benjamin II (about 1850) counted 40 Jewish families in Kermanshah. Rabbi Castleman reported in 1860 that there were few Jews in Kermanshah, and that "they are not God fearing people." According to Neumark, in 1884 there were 250 Jewish families. He says, "Muslims hate the Jews." Several Jewish families in Kermanshah embraced the Christian or Bahai faith in the last half of the 19th and the first half of the 20th centuries. In March 1909 there was a terrible pogrom against the Jews which resulted in killing, wounding, and looting of their property.
An important figure of Kermanshah was Shmuel Haim (1891?–1931), who became editor in chief of a Judeo-Persian weekly paper, Ha-Ḥaim (established in June 1922) and was president of the Iranian Zionist Organization and the Jewish representative in the Majles (1923–26). In 1926 he was accused of having joined a group of officers to overthrow the Shah (Reza Shah). He was tried in a military court and put to death on December 15, 1931, although the charge against him was never proved. In 1948 the Jews of Kermanshah numbered 2,864 persons, including a few Jewish families from Iraq, living among 80,000 Muslims They had five synagogues, one bath-house, and one school (Alliance) that had opened in 1904 and went up to ninth grade. According to a report, at the end of the 20th century about 20 Jewish families lived in Kermanshah.
Bulletin de l'Alliance Israélite Universelle, Paris; J.J. Benjamin II, Eight Years in Asia and Africa from 1846 to 1855 (1863); A. Ben-Jacob, Yehudei Bavel (1965), index; Y.F. Castle-man, Massa'ot Shali'aḥ Ẓefat be-Arzẓot ha-Mizraḥ (1942); A. Cohen, Ha-Kehillah ha-Yehudit be-Kermanshah (1992); David d'Beth Hillel, Unknown Jews in Unknown Lands (1824–1832), ed. by W.J. Fischel (1973); H. Levy, History of the Jews of Iran, 3 (1960); A. Netzer, "Yahudiyānei Iran dar avāset-e qarn-e bistom," in: Shofar, a Jewish monthly in Persian published in Long Island; E. Neumark, Massa be-Ereẓ ha-Kedem, ed. by A. Ya ' ari (1947).
[Amnon Netzer (2nd ed.)]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.