10565 The Jews of Yemen: History, Culture, Society 1

Credits: 6 advanced credits in Modern History of the Jewish People or in History of the Middle East

Prerequisites: 36 credits, including one course in Middle Eastern Studies or in Modern History or in Modern History of the Jewish People. Students must also fulfill all English requirements and take bibliographic instruction in the Library.

Authors: Bat-Zion Klorman-Eraqi, Yosef Tobi, Yaron Tsur, Ran Segev

Jews lived in Yemen at least from the 2nd century until the mid-20th century, when most emigrated to Israel. The course focuses on major aspects of Yemeni society, both Jewish and Muslim, especially during the 19th and 20th centuries. It examines the political, economic and cultural aspects of life of the Jewish community within a society that was not directly influenced by western colonialism. From this point of view, the Jewish community in Yemen differed from Jewish communities in other Muslim countries.

The course deals with the unique culture of Yemeni Jews which preserved ancient Jewish cultural values, embraced various characteristics of the Muslim environment, and was consistent with leading trends in Jewish thought and literature which reached them from other Jewish centers. The wave of emigration to Palestine, which began at the end of the 19th century and reached its peak after the establishment of the State of Israel, is examined against the background of worldwide political changes of the period and Yemen’s changing economic and social reality.

Topics: Yemen – the country and the Zaydi imamate; The Zaydi sect and the Imams – basis for their attitude toward the Jews; Settlement, society and economy; Cultural and family life; Messianism and the messianic movements; Changes during Ottoman rule 1872-1918; Emigration to Palestine up to the end of World War II; Emigration to Israel between World War II and the end of the 20th century; Yemeni Jews in Israel.

1Students may write a seminar paper in this course although it is not required. Students who wish to write a seminar paper must participate in the final tutorial session and have a grade of over 85 in the course.