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Aljama, Spain

ALJAMA (derived from the Arabic al-Jamāʿa, an assembly or congregation), self-governing Jewish or Moorish community in medieval Spain. In the Iberian Peninsula the term refers to the legal institutional framework in which the Jews lived in a locality. It was the kehillah as perceived in Jewish jurisdiction and recognized by the authorities. The appellation also denotes the quarter inhabited by Jews or Moors. Other forms of the word are aliama and alcama; in Aragonese documents it sometimes appears as yema while in Portuguese the word is Alfama. The term was also used regularly in Sicily, and sometimes in south Italy, to designate the Jewish community. It was declined as a Latin noun, and still appears in Spanish dictionaries.


I. de las Cacigas, in: Sefarad, 6 (1946), 91–93. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: D. Romano, in: Sefarad, 39 (1979), 347–54; Y. Assis, The Golden Age of Aragonese Jewry (1997), 67–73.

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.