SHIRAZ , capital of the former province of Fars, S. *Iran. The existence of a Jewish community in Shiraz is attested by Persian and Arab geographers from the tenth century. The funeral of a great Sufi leader in Shiraz (981) was attended by Muslims, Christians, and Jews. Muqaddasī (tenth century) states that there was a smaller number of Jews than Christians in the province. *Benjamin of Tudela (c. 1162) described Shiraz as a large city, with a Jewish population of about 10,000. With the rise in 1288 of *Saʿd al-Dawla, the Jewish physician and vizier of Arghūn Khān, the Jews of Shiraz shared in the considerable freedom enjoyed by all the communities in *Persia, and likewise were affected by the persecution which swept over Mesopotamian and Persian Jewry after the death of Arghūn Khān. The persecutions of the Jews in Shiraz under the Safavids are detailed in the Judeo-Persian chronicles of *Babai ibn Luṭf and Babai ibn Farḥad. Coja Jacob Aaron, a Jewish banker and broker of the English East India Company of Basra, went to Shiraz during the Persian occupation of *Basra in 1777. According to David d'Beth Hillel, there lived in Shiraz 700 Jewish families (about 3,500 people) in 1827. And according to the account of Benjamin ii, 2,500 out of 3,000 Jews in Shiraz were forced to embrace *Islam in the middle of the 19th century. Later, most of the Jews returned to Judaism. In 1892, 1897, and 1910 there were severe pogroms in the Jewish quarter; many were killed and injured. During the 19th century, Christian missionary activities and the Bahai movement made inroads into the Jewish community which were countered by the establishment of an *Alliance Israélite Universelle school in 1909 (which closed in the 1960s). Toward the end of the 19th century, many Jews from Shiraz emigrated to Ereẓ Israel, including the families of Raḥamim Reuven *Melamed and Raphael Ḥayyim *Ha-cohen.
Approximately 12,000–15,000 Jews lived in Shiraz in 1948. According to the 1956 Iranian census, 8,304 Jews remained in Shiraz, which was then the second largest Jewish community in Iran. Approximately 2,000 Jews left for Israel between 1956 and 1968. Most were artisans and peddlers, but there were also merchants and moneylenders. About half the Jews received financial assistance until they left the city. Those who remained belonged to the middle classes, but in the 1960s Jews began to leave their ghetto. A yeshivah with 18 pupils, a teacher's seminary with 20 pupils, and schools were run by Oẓar ha-Torah and by ort. The former had 1,100 pupils in 1949 and 2,020 in 1961. In 1960 about 1,000 Jewish children attended government schools. The town had a branch of the Iranian Jewish Women's Association and the Young Peoples' Association, Kanun Javanan. In 1967 the community numbered 7,000 Jews. In the year 2000, 13 Jews were arrested and brought to the revolutionary court in Shiraz on false charges of spying for Israel. They were sentenced to from one to 12 years in prison. Eventually all of them were released at the beginning of 2003. There remained in Shiraz about 3,000 Jews in 2005.
I. Ben-Zvi, Meḥkarim u-Mekorot (1966), index. add bibliography: L.D. Loeb, Outcast: Jewish Life in Southern Iran (1977); A. Netzer, "Jews of Shiraz," in: Shofar (July 2001) 22ff. (in Persian); idem, "Jews of Shiraz," in: Padyavand: Judeo-Iranian and Jewish Studies (1997), 203–304 (in Persian).
[Walter Joseph Fischel and
Hayyim J. Cohen /
Amnon Netzer (2nd ed.)]
Ancient city and provincial capital in southwestern Iran.
Shiraz, the capital of Fars, probably dates back to Achemenid times (c. 550–330 b.c.e.). During the Sassanian dynasty (c. 226–642 c.e.), it developed into an important commercial center and military base, a position it has retained for more than 1,300 years. During the medieval period, two of Iran's greatest poets, Saʿdi and Hafez, lived in the city. Shiraz flourished in the late eighteenth century as the capital of the Zand dynasty (1750–1794).
During the nineteenth century Shiraz was an important center for the distribution of foreign trade, much of which passed through the Persian Gulf port of Bushehr (Bushire), about 125 miles west of the city. The development of ports in Khuzestan in the early twentieth century, and especially the building of the Trans-Iranian Railway, which bypassed both Shiraz and Bushehr, led to the decline of this trade. Beginning in the 1930s, however, modern industries were developed in Shiraz, initially textile factories, but increasingly more diversified manufacturing after 1965. Industrialization brought a major influx of rural migrants, and the city's population increased nearly sixfold in 40 years, from 179,000 in 1956 to 1,053,000 by 1996.
Fisher, W. B. "Physical Geography." In The Cambridge History of Iran, vol. 1, edited by W. B. Fisher. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1968.
updated by eric hooglund