Page 17 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 27

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F
ischel
— L
iterary
H
eritage
of
P
ersian
J
ews
11
Amnon and Tamar in Jerusalem in 1908. It became immediately
such a popular book among Oriental Jews that a second edition
was printed in 1912. The crown and glory of Simon Chacham's
literary activities was, however, his translation of the Bible into
the Judeo-Persian dialect of the Bucharian Jews, into Tajiki.
With this monumental achievement, Simon Chacham entered
the ranks of the great Jewish Bible translators. What Sa'adya Gaon
accomplished for the Arabic speaking Jews, what Moses Men­
delssohn did for the German speaking Jews, and what Joseph
b. Tavus did for the Persian speaking Jews, Simon Chacham
created for the Tajiki speaking Jews of Buchara and Central Asia.
Revival of Judeo-Persian Literature in Jerusalem
Judeo-Persian literature experienced an unforeseen development
in the second half of the 19th century, not in Persia but in Jeru­
salem. This was precipitated by a wave of immigration into
Palestine of Persian speaking Jews from Buchara, Turkestan,
Afghanistan and Persia. Paralleling the “Hovevei Zion" movement
from Russia, a great number of Persian speaking Jews, imbued
with a passionate love for Zion, poured in a continuous stream
into the Holy Land. They came from Tehran and Shiraz, from
Hamadan, Yezd and Isfahan, from Kashan and Meshhed, from
Herat and Kabul, from Buchara and Samarqand and from many
other Jewish centers in the Middle East. They settled in Tiberias
and Safed, in Haifa and Jaffa (Tel Aviv); but the bulk went to
Jerusalem and established a colony of Persian speaking Jews.
This Jewish-Persian colony in Jerusalem not only opened a new
chapter in the history of the urban colonization of that city, but
inaugurated a new and spectacular epoch in the history of Judeo-
Persian literary activities. Its leaders, not content with having
realized their long hoped-for return to the Holy Land, were eager
to help their brethren who still remained in the lands of their
origin. They were zealous to cement stronger ties between “Zion
and Iran,” between Jerusalem and the “Remnants of Israel,” in
the remote Persian speaking Oriental diaspora.
With this objective in mind, the leaders embarked on a unique
and exciting enterprise, with far-reaching results for the cultural
level of each of the Persian speaking groups. This undertaking
was the establishment in Jerusalem of a publishing center, a print­
ing press for Judeo-Persian literature, purposing to perpetuate the
literary legacy Persian Jews had brought with them in the form
of manuscripts. These works were to be printed and disseminated
among all Persian speaking Jews in Palestine and abroad, partly
as a token of gratitude for having reached the land of their hopes,