Oriental Jews

Oriental Jews

Hebrew plural  Bene Ha-Mizraḥ (“Sons of the East”)  

      the approximately 1,500,000 Diaspora Jews who lived for several centuries in North Africa and the Middle East and whose ancestors did not reside in either Germany or Spain. They are thus distinguished from the two other major groups of Diaspora Jews—the Ashkenazim (Ashkenazi) (German rite) and the Sephardim (Sephardi) (Spanish rite).

      In the Arab lands of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, and Syria, Oriental Jews speak Arabic as their native tongue. In Iran, Afghanistan, and Bukhara (Uzbekistan) they speak Farsi (Persian), whereas in Kurdistan (a region including parts of modern Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Armenia) their language is a variant of ancient Aramaic.

      Some Oriental Jews migrated to India, other parts of Central Asia, and China. In some Oriental Jewish communities (notably those of Yemen and Iran), polygyny has been practiced. Following the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, practically all the Yemenite, Iraqi, and Libyan Jews and major parts of the other Oriental Jewish communities migrated to Israel.

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Universalium. 2010.

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