YARĪM, town in the central mountains of *Yemen, about 60 miles (100 km.) south of *San'a on the way to Ta'izz, built on a 2,400 m high plateau and dominated by the massif of nearby Mount Sumarrah, which rises to about 3,000 m. Yarīm is rich in historical sites, including Ḥimyari. In antiquity, the Yarīm area was the core of the state of Ḥimyar, which ruled over much of southern *Arabia from about 115 B.C.E. to 575 C.E. The Ḥimyari capital was Ẓafar, about 10 miles (15 km.) south of Yarīm. In the geonic period there existed in Yarīm an important community which contributed to the Babylonian academies. One of the last geonim complained to two inhabitants of Yarīm that their townspeople had stopped sending contributions to the academy and demanded that what was legally owing to the academies be sent to him. There is no further record of Jews in Yarīm until the 18th century, when the traveler *Niebuhr makes a parenthetical reference to them. He writes that when, in 1763, the grave of one of his fellow travelers, who had been buried in Yarīm, was desecrated, the Jews were forced to see to his reburial, since they had to perform all lowly tasks. During the last generation before the emigration to Israel, the 100-family Jewish community dwelt in a separate neighborhood, with four synagogues. Their leader was R. Ḥayyim Qāfiḥ, whose father Mussa Qāfiḥ functioned as the regional governor under the Ottoman Turks, entitled to judge Jews as well as Muslims. Some of the Jews were wholesale traders, but most of them were craftsmen: weavers, ironsmiths, cobblers, potters, and carpenters.
D. Goitein, in: Tarbiz, 31 (1961/62), 361; C. Niebuhr, Travels through Arabia…, 1 (17992), index; Y. Tobi, "The Jewish Community in Yemen," in Y. Tobi, Moreshet Yehudei Teiman (1977), 101–2.
[Yosef Tobi (2nd ed.)]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.