Jewish Communities in Exotic Places

by Ken Blady

ISBN 0-76576-1122 (hardcover)
422 pages, published March 2000 by Jason Aronson Publishers, Inc.

This comprehensive, richly-documented book explores the development of Jewish communities outside the mainstream Ashkenazic and Sephardic regions. The book shows how Jews are a worldwide people who have lived in numerous parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa.

"Blady... presents the histories, economies, and religious life of 17 Jewish communities in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. After describing the community's arrival in its host country, he focuses on the relationship between Jewish life and the country's culture.... This useful, informative introduction to Jewish life outside of Europe and North America will appeal to readers interested in Jewish history and sociology." - Naomi E. Hafter, Broward County Public Library (Fort Lauderdale, FL), in Library Journal

"A history buff, Blady could probably explain all of civilization in half an hour... Jews in exotic lands have long held a fascination for him, ever since he can remember... Beyond Ashkenazim and Sephardim, there are many more distinctions among Jews, Blady said. While the Ashkenazim are those who came from Roman lands after the destruction of the Second Temple, settling in Western and Central Europe, Jews of Eastern origin can be divided into several ethnographic groupings. Among them are the Romaniote Jews. Originally Greek-speaking, the Romaniotes were Jews driven into Roman lands after the destruction of the Second Temple and Bar Kochba revolt, and lived under Byzantine rule. And the group known as Mizrachi, or Eastern, Jews can be further broken down into two groups, Blady said..." - Alexandra J. Wall, in Jewish Bulletin of Northern California (June 23, 2000)

List of Illustrations -- Foreword -- Preface -- Acknowledgments -- Introduction

Part 1: From the Land of Frankincense and Myrrh
The Jews of North Yemen
The Jews of Habban, South Yemen

Part 2: Pariahs among Ayatollahs
The Jews of Persia
The Djedid al-Islam (New Muslims) of Meshed

Part 3: Lost in the Land of Assyria
The Mountain Jews of Kurdistan

Part 4: On the Russian Riviera
The Krimchaks of the Crimea

Part 5: From the Land of the Golden Fleece
The Ebraeli of Georgia

Part 6: Samson Warriors, Bar Kochba's Heirs
The Mountain Jews of Daghestan

Part 7: The People with the Blue-Stained Fingers
The Tadjiki Jews of Bukhara

Part 8: A Remedy for the Evil Eye
The Jews of Afghanistan

Part 9: Jewish Untouchables?
The Bene Israel of Bombay
The Malabaris and Paradesis of Cochin

Part 10: The "Blue-Turbaned Muslims"
The Jews of Kaifeng, China

Part 11: Mellah, Medinah, Marabouts, and Mahia
The Judeo-Berbers of the Atlas Mountains of Morocco

Part 12: Cave Rabbis? Cave Synagogues?
The Jews of Libya: Merchants and Cavern Dwellers

Part 13: From the Land of the Lotus Eaters
The Jews of Jerba, Tunisia

Part 14: The Queen of Sheba's Lost Children
The Beta Israel of Ethiopia

Appendix A: Ethno-geographic Breakdown of Four Major Jewish Groups
Appendix B: Jewish Communities on the African and Asian Jewish Periphery

Ken Blady is an educator, writer, and translator who was born in Paris, France, and grew up in Hasidic Crown Heights, New York, where he attended yeshivas and a rabbinical seminary. He has a Bachelor's degree in History and a Master's degree in Counseling. He is also the author of "The Jewish Boxers' Hall of Fame." He lectures extensively on a variety of Jewish themes.


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