Books about Syrian Jews

A brief history: Jews have lived in Syria for thousands of years. They comprise two main lines of descent: the more indigenous Arabic-speaking Musta'arabi Jews and the Ladino-speaking Sephardic Jews whose ancestors lived in Spain and Portugal before the 16th century. A small number of Ashkenazic Jews intermarried with them, resulting in Syrian Jews with surnames like Goldenberg, Ashkenazi, Askenazi, and Eskenazi. There were even migrations of Italian Jews and Kurdish Jews to Syria and they, too, intermarried with Syrian Jews. Populous Syrian Jewish communities were located in the cities of Damascus, Aleppo, and Qamishli. Only the community in Damascus survives today, and in very small numbers at that.
        The Syrian Jewish diaspora: A significant number of Syrian Jews live in Brooklyn, New York, U.S.A. and in nearby Monmouth County, New Jersey. Other Syrian Jews live in other countries, including Israel, Panama, Brazil, and Argentina.
        Syrian Jewish cuisine: Syrian Jews cook with ingredients like eggplant, zucchini, grape leaves, rice, lemon, garlic, onions, tomatoes, squash, chicken, eggs, bulgur wheat, chickpeas, and fava beans. Their dishes include tabbouleh, yaprak, kibbeh, atayef, and dfeena.

Aromas of Aleppo: The Legendary Cuisine of Syrian Jews, by Poopa Dweck

Like mainstream Middle Eastern cuisines, Aleppian Jewish dishes are alive with flavor and healthful ingredients -- featuring whole grains, vegetables, legumes, and olive oil -- but with their own distinct cultural influences. In this book you'll find more than 180 recipes for main courses, soups, salads, tea, pastries, and other great dishes.

"The intriguing recipes inspired me to head for my kitchen, but the story kept me in my chair, riveted." - The New York Times
" enticing to read through as to cook from." - San Francisco Chronicle
"...a wonderful collection of delicious recipes." - Claudia Roden, Jewish cooking expert
"...stunning cookbook..." - Tamar Fox, Jewniverse

Aleppo - City of Scholars, by Rabbi David Sutton

Known since Biblical times as Aram Soba, the city of Aleppo, Syria was a scholarly and spiritual center for Judaism for thousands of years. Hated, persecuted, and finally driven out of its ancestral home, this Jewish community still lives on in thriving communities in Israel and other countries. Richly illustrated with hundreds of photos, including views of one of the oldest synagogues in the world, the vibrant heritage of Syrian Jewry comes alive in this magnificent history of Aleppo and its sages. This beautiful volume contains biographical information on several centuries of rabbis of Aleppo and Damascus - 600 of them - their ideals and teachings and their beloved pizmonim.

Let Jasmine Rain Down: Song and Remembrance among Syrian Jews, by Kay Kaufman Shelemay

When Jews left Aleppo, Syria, in the early 20th century and established communities abroad, they carried with them a repertory of songs (pizmonim) with sacred Hebrew texts set to melodies borrowed from the popular Middle Eastern Arab musical tradition. Shelemay's book tells the story of the pizmonim as they have continued to be composed, performed, and transformed through the present day.

A Global Community: The Jews from Aleppo, Syria, by Walter P. Zenner

From Aleppo to America: Stories, by Robert Chira

The Damascus Affair: 'Ritual Murder', Politics, and the Jews in 1840, by Jonathan Frankel

Alien at Home: Divine Intervention: The Life of Elie Sutton, by Bahia Abrams

Jews lived in Syria for at least 2500 years but fled the country in the wake of anti-Jewish violence in 1948. Elie's father, Selim Menashé Sutton, understood the looming threat to his family years before that, and made plans to evacuate each of his seven sons to foreign countries. Elie eventually resettled in Shanghai, China but lost contact with his relatives back in Syria, though he eventually reconnects with the Syrian Jewish community.

Branching Out from Sepharad: A Global Journey of Selected Rabbinic Families with Biographies and Genealogies, by my mother's genetic cousin Sarina Missry Roffé, is a 420-page exploration of the history of Syrian Jews since the Sephardic expulsion from Spain in 1492. She has much information on the Syrian Jews who settled in Brooklyn, New York including their professions, philanthropic activities, cultural and religious traditions, naming practices, and educational beliefs. Many individuals are profiled in biographies and there are also family trees.

Disclosure: Compensated Affiliate/Sub-Affiliate