RAQQA (al-), city on the Euphrates in N.E. Syria, founded in 722 by the *Abbasid caliph al-Manṣūr. The Jews identified al-Raqqa with the Calneh of Genesis 10:10. According to the Arab geographer al-Muqaddasī (late 10th century) the city was an important commercial center during his lifetime. Throughout the period of caliphal rule there was a large Jewish community in al-Raqqa and its environs. The philosopher David *al-Mukammis was from this city. An 11th-century letter from a ḥaver (rabbi) to a rosh yeshivah in *Jerusalem is extant which states that he will go to Calneh the following day to pacify the community, where a dispute had arisen over the appointment of a successor to the deceased dayyan. The Jewish community of al-Raqqa also prospered during the period of the Crusades. In the latter half of the 12th century, the traveler *Benjamin of Tudela found about 700 Jews there. In 1191 the head of the Baghdad academy, Samuel b. 'Ali, addressed an iggeret ("letter") to al-Raqqa and other important communities in northern Babylonia and Syria. A letter from the last decade of that century, from a Jewish scholar in al-Raqqa to *Cairo, is extant; he sends greetings to *Maimonides and tells about his contacts with the Jews of *Aleppo. At the beginning of the 13th century Judah *Al-Ḥarizi visited the city and complained about the miserliness of the Jews living there, deriding them bitterly.
Al-Harizi, Juda b. Solomon, Tahkemoni, ed. by A. Kaminka (1899), 189, 367, 399, 411, 417, 453; Mann, Egypt, 1 (1920), 201, 245f.; Assaf, in: Tarbiz, 1 pt. 1 (1930), 102–30; 1 pt. 2 (1930), 43–84; 1 pt. 3 (1930), 15–80.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.