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The Alliance Israélite Universelle and the Zionist Movement in Yemen: The Missions of Yom Tov Semah and Shmuel Yavnieli

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Chapter Summary

Momentum from the first wave of Yemeni Jewish migration, which began in 1881, ensured a migratory stream throughout the beginning of the twentieth century which was slow but continuous. As a result, the two major Jewish organizations of the day, the Alliance Israélite Universelle (AIU) and the World Zionist Organization (WZO), sent emissaries to Yemen at the beginning of the twentieth century. Several things about Yemeni Jewish life at the beginning of the twentieth century have become clear through a close reading of the missions of Yom Tov Semah and Shmuel Yavnieli. Both Semah and Yavnieli described the Sanaa community as urban and relatively sophisticated, but in need of further modern education along European lines. This chapter takes a closer look at the migration inspired by Shmuel Yavnieli. Surely, new ideas of ethno-religious Judaism, although still nascent, provided some sentimental connection to the idea of an ancient homeland.

Keywords: Alliance Israélite Universelle (AIU); ethno-religious Judaism; European; Sanaa community; Shmuel Yavnieli; World Zionist Organization (WZO); Yemen; Yemeni Jewish migration; Yom Tov Semah



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