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Kurdistan Amadiya

Amadiya is a town in the mountains of Kurdistan, N.E. of Mosul; birthplace of David Alroy. Benjamin of Tudela in the 12th century estimated the number of Jews in Amadiya at approximately 2,000 (another manuscript gives the figure as 25,000). He claimed that they were descendants of Israelites from the Assyrian captivity, exiled by Shalmaneser, and that they spoke Aramaic. Other sources mention 1,000 Jewish families there.

Amadiya maintained its leading position among the Jewish communities in Kurdistan, as attested by letters and documents from the 16th century and later. These show the influence exercised by the rabbis of Amadiya throughout Kurdistan and Azerbaijan. There were two synagogues in Amadiya; the inscription on the upper synagogue, dated about 1250, is still legible. The Jewish traveler David d’Beth Hillel, who visited Amadiya around 1828, found wealthy merchants, workmen, and cattle owners among the 200 Jewish families there, who still spoke Aramaic. In 1933, there were some 1,820 Jews in Amadiya; since then all have emigrated.


Mann, Texts, 1 (1931), 477–549; S. Assaf, Be-Oholei Yaʿakov (1943), 116–44; Fischel, in: Sinai, 7 (1940), 167–77; idem, in: jsos, 6 (1944), 195–226; E. Brauer, Yehudei Kurdistan (1947); J.J. Rivlin, Shirat Yehudei ha-Targum (1959); A. Ben-Jacob, Kehillot Yehudei Kurdistan (1961), 71–81; Benayahu, in: Sefunot, 9 (1965), 111–17.

[Walter Joseph Fischel]

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.