Dor Deʿa

views updated


Jewish educational reform movement.

The Dor Deʿa (Hebrew; Generation of Knowledge) was a Jewish enlightenment movement founded by Hayyim Habshush (?1899) and Rabbi Yihye ben Solomon Qafih (18501932) in Sanʿa, Yemen, in the late nineteenth century. The two men were inspired in part by their personal contacts with the European Jewish scholars, Joseph Halévy and later Edouard Glaser, who explored Yemen.

Dor Deʿa aimed at reforming Jewish education by purging it of Cabalistic elements (a mystical interpretation of Scriptures) and by introducing a small amount of modern secular subjects and vocational training. From 1910 to 1915, Rabbi Qafih operated a modern school that included the Turkish language as well as Hebrew and Arabic. He was encouraged by the Alliance Israélite Universelle, whose support he had sought. The movement faced strong opposition from conservative elements led by Rabbi Isaac Yiyha (?1932), supported by the imam of Yemen. The community remained split into opposing factions, which called each other derisively the Daradeʿa (a mocking Arabic plural derived from Dor Deʿa) and the Iggeshim (the crooked ones) until their mass emigration to Israel.

See also Alliance IsraÉlite Universelle (AIU); Qafih, Yihye ben Solomon.


Ahroni, Reuben. Yemenite Jewry: Origins, Culture, and Literature. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1968.

norman stillman