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The Forced Conversion of Jewish Orphans in Yemen under Imam Yahyā

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Chapter Summary

The Ottoman takeover of Sanaa in 1872 initiated a process which led to Jewish migration out of Yemen, primarily to the city of Jerusalem at first, and then later to other parts of the Ottoman Sanjak of Jerusalem, Palestine, and Israel successively. The Jews of Yemen tried to avoid the conversion of orphans in two main ways. International Jewish organizations also began to take greater interest in Yemeni Jews. The Joint Foreign Committee, a joint committee of The Board of Deputies of British Jews and The Anglo-Jewish Association, made inquires with the British government regarding the status of Jews in Yemen. This chapter argues that the implementation of the Orphans' Decree should be understood in terms of Imam Yaḥyā's expansion of power and legitimacy, and not as part of a systematic policy of Jewish persecution.

Keywords: Anglo-Jewish Association; Imam Yaḥyā'; Israel; Jerusalem; Jewish migration; Jewish orphans; Jews of Yemen; Ottoman Sanjak; Sanaa



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