TABRIZ, capital of the Third Province, N.W. *Iran. A Jewish community existed in Tabriz in the Middle Ages. Samauʾal b. Yahya al-Maghribī, 12th-century author of Ifhām al-Yahūd, mentions Tabriz, together with Salmas (Shahpur) and Khoi, as a place where the followers of the pseudo-messiah David *Alroy continued to adhere to his movement. From the time of Hulagu Khan, Tabriz became the capital of the realm of the Ilkhan dynasty. There the Jewish physician *Sa ʿ d al-Dawla was appointed vizier of the Il-khan ruler Arghūn, exercising considerable power until his assassination in 1291; and the vizier, historian, and physician *Rashid al-Din served three rulers until his tragic death in 1318. As attested by Hebrew manuscripts written by scholars in Tabriz and the vicinity, the Jewish community consisted of both Karaites and Rabbanites. The *Karaite physician Nafis b. Daud at-Tabrizi moved in 1354 from Tabriz to *Cairo, where he was converted to Islam. In the 16th century the Yemenite traveler *Zechariah al-Ḍāhiri visited Tabriz and described in his Sefer ha-Musar the deteriorating conditions of Jewish life there.
The wave of persecutions which swept over the whole of *Persia under the Safavid rulers *ʿ Abbas I and ʿ Abbas II severely affected the Jews of Tabriz also, as indicated by the Armenian historian Akel and the Judeo-Persian chroniclers *Babai ibn Lutf and Babai ibn Farḥad. However, the Jewish community survived these persecutions, since between 1711 and 1713 R. Judah b. Amram Diwan, an emissary from Hebron, included Tabriz among his visits to Jewish communities in Persia. Between 1790 and 1797, Jews in Tabriz were accused of a blood libel and massacred. When *David d'Beth Hillel visited Persia in 1828, the Jewish community in Tabriz had already ceased to exist.
Fischel, Islam, passim; idem, in: PAAJR, 22 (1953), 1–21; Mann, Texts, 1 (1931), 477–549. ADD BIBLIOGRAPHY: H. Levy, The History of the Jews of Iran (in Persian), 3 (1960), 540–2; A. Netzer, "The Fate of the Jewish Community of Tabriz," in: Studies in Islamic History and Civilization in Honor of Professor David Ayalon (1986), 411–19.
[Walter Joseph Fischel /
Amnon Netzer (2nd ed.)]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.