Page 16 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 27

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10
J
e w i s h
B
o o k
A
n n u a l
gium, a scroll of torment and despair in “Galut Ishmael”, in
“Galut Iran.”
Literary Activities of the ]ews of Buchara
In Buchara, where the Jews were not subjected to the persecution
their brethren endured in Safavid Persia, there appeared Jewish
poets and translators who began to create Jewish literature and
poetry in their own particular Tajiki dialect. The most outstand­
ing was Yusuf Yahudi (d. 1755), an exponent of Biblical narrative
expounded by the earlier Persian-Jewish poets, Shahin and Imrani.
He wrote Mukhammas, an ode in praise and glory of Moses, Haft
Braderan (The Seven Brothers), based on the Midrash of the
martyrdom of the seven brothers and their mother; and bilingual
and trilingual hymns honoring biblical heroes. He wrote also a
commentary (Tafsir) to Megillat Antiochus and translated many
of the Semiroth of Israel Najara into the dialect of the Bucharian
Jews, incorporated now into the Judeo-Persian song-books used
until today.
Inspired by him, a school of Jewish poets in Buchara emerged,
among them Benjamin ben Mishal, known also as Amina, who
published Megillat Ester in Judeo-Persian translation in metric
form and translated some poems of Solomon ibn Gabirol, such
as Azharoth and Jigdal into Judeo-Persian.
In 1793 a great cultural and religious revival was inaugurated by
the arrival of Rabbi Joseph Maman al-Maghrebi (“the Messenger
from Zion”) . A native of Tetuan, Morocco, who had settled in
Safed, he came as official emissary (shaliah) of that community
to Buchara. During his 61-year stay, he became their spiritual
leader and effected a radical transformation in the religious life
of Bucharian Jewry. He established Jewish schools in Buchara,
introduced the Sephardic rite, and imported books from abroad,
especially from Shklov, Russia. Under his leadership the Bucharian
Jews forsook their isolation, re-established their contact with other
Jewish communities, and integrated their religious life into the
totality of the Jewish people.
One of the most outstanding Bucharian Jewish scholars who can
be credited with a major share in the promotion of Judeo-Persian
literature was Simon Chacham, who, born in Buchara in 1843,
moved in 1890 to Jerusalem, joining the rapidly increasing colony
of Bucharian Jews, and it was there that he began his activities
as author, translator, editor and publisher of Judeo-Persian works.
Among his many and impressive accomplishments was his trans­
lation into the dialect of the Bucharian Jews of the biblical novel
Ahavat Zion by Abraham Mapu, which appeared under the title