ALEPPO (Ar. Ḥalab ; called by the Jews Aram-Ẓoba (Aram Ẓova )), second-largest city in Syria and the center of northern Syria. The Hebrew form of Aleppo (Ḥaleb) is, according to a legend quoted by the 12th-century traveler, *Pethahiah of Regensburg, derived from the tradition that Abraham pastured his sheep on the mountain of Aleppo and distributed their milk (ḥalav) to the poor on its slopes. According to Jewish tradition, mentioned by Rabbi Abraham Dayyan, the beginning of the community was in the era of Joab ben Ẓeruiah, the conqueror of the city in the time of King David, who also built the great synagogue. There are also other non-Jewish traditions which confirm the existence of the community in the Greek period. It would seem that the establishment of the Jewish community was in this period. Jewish settlement there has continued uninterruptedly since Roman times. The ancient section of the great synagogue was built in the form of a basilica with three stoae during the Byzantine period; an inscription on it dates from 834. The Jews lived in a separate quarter before the Muslim conquest in 636. They lived separately during the Muslim period in the northeastern area of the city. The most ancient synagogue, named Kanisat Mutakal, was built in the fourth century and was located in the Parafara quarter in the northeastern region of the city. It is the oldest Jewish building in the city. During the Muslim period the Jewish quarter was named Mahal al-Yahud. In the Seljuk period the Jewish quarter was spread over a large area of the walled city. On the south it bordered on the market street, on the west the castle, on the east the Dār Al-Bbatih food merchandise area, and on the north the wall and the Jewish gate (Bab al-Yahud). This latter gate was named from the end of the 12th century Bab al-Naṣr (Victory Gate). In the anarchic period (1023–79) it seems that there were also Jews who lived outside the Jewish quarter. A document from the 12th century deals with a Jewish building in the market street. There was also a synagogue located in a new suburb outside the walls.
*Saadiah Gaon was in Aleppo in 921 and it is said that he found Jewish scholars there. In the 11th century learned rabbis led a well-ordered community. R. Baruch b. Isaac was its leader at the end of the 11th century: fragments of his commentary on the Gemara as well as responsa have been found in the genizah. Apparently the rosh kehillot ("head of communities"), i.e., a leader common to the various communities of Jews (such as Babylonians, Palestinians, etc.), represented all Jews before the Muslim authorities. The leader of the community of Aleppo during the years 1015–29 was Jacob ben Joseph, who came to Aleppo from Fustat and served there as dayyan. He was also the dayyan responsible for the other communities in the region and received the title rosh kala from the Babylonian academy. He also had in Aleppo a bet midrash and had students from various countries. His successor in the 1030s was Jacob ben Isaac, who served as the dayyan of the Aleppo community. He died c. 1036. His successor as dayyan was Tamim ben Toviah. His grandson Tamim ben Toviah is known from another document dated 1189. A famous rabbi of the community, Barukh ben Isaac, served as dayyan in Aleppo from the 1180s. In the 1190s he headed a bet midrash and students gathered there around his son Joseph. Rabbi Barukh gave the proselyte Obadiah, who came to his bet midrash, a recommendation to the Jewish communities. Rabbi Barukh was known also as a significant halakhic posek, and as a Talmud parshan, too, and his commentaries were cited by scholars from Aleppo. He was busy also in public affairs.
The community seems to have had close contacts with Palestine, and heads of Palestinian yeshivot visited Aleppo. In the second half of the 12th century the great yeshivah of Baghdad was in contact with Aleppo. R. Zechariah b. Barachel, a disciple of the gaon*Samuel b. Ali of Baghdad, was appointed to head Aleppo's bet din. The scholars of Aleppo also exchanged letters with *Maimonides; R. *Joseph b. Aknin, Maimonides' disciple, lived in Aleppo at that time. We identify this scholar with the leader of the community in the 12th century, Joseph b. Judah Ibn Simeon. This scholar was a merchant who traveled to India and other lands and later returned to Aleppo, bought a big estate outside the city, and founded on it a bet midrash. He was also the court physician of Al-Malik Al-Tahir. Maimonides wrote that the Jews of Aleppo were very sociable, sat in taverns, and listened to music. In the castle of the city, ancient Jewish tombstones from the years 1148 and 1217–31 survived. With the inclusion of the town in Nūr al-Dīn's (Noureddin) kingdom in 1146, security improved. *Benjamin of Tudela estimated in 1173 the number of Jews in Aleppo as 5,000 (according to the best-preserved manuscript versions, but according to another manuscript the number was only 1,500). Community leaders such as R. Moses Alcostandini, R. Israel, and R. Shet appear in the letters of the Gaon *Samuel ben Ali. After *Saladin's death, Aleppo became the capital of an independent kingdom and until the middle of the 13th century the city enjoyed security and prosperity which the Jews shared. In 1217, Judah *Al-Ḥarizi visited Aleppo and reported that there were several Jewish scholars, physicians, and government officials active there at the time. He noted the names of R. Samuel, who was a scribe in the court, and the physician Eleazar. Among other persons cited by him were R. Azaryahu, a descendant of the exilarch; R Samuel b. Nissim (ḥakham Nasnot), who was the head of the local academy; R. Yeshuah; R. Yachun; Shemarya and his sons Muvkhar and Obadiah; R. Joseph, the son of Ḥisdai; R. Samuel, who was the king's scribe; and the physician Hananiah b. Bezalel. AlḤarizi died in Aleppo in December 1225. A famous scholar who lived in Aleppo during the 13th or 14th century was R. Judah *Al-Madari, who wrote commentaries on the Gemara. In 1014 Muslims plundered and destroyed Jewish and Christian houses. The great synagogue was under the authority of the Ereẓ Israel gaon, and the small synagogue was under the authority of Babylonian geonim. In the *Seljuk period only two synagogues survived in the city. In the *Ayyubid period the Muslim authorities converted synagogues into mosques. In the days of al-Malik al-Tahir the Jewish cemetery and the Jewish gate were destroyed. Muslims used Jewish tombstones to reconstruct the castle. Throughout the Muslim period the Jewish community in Aleppo had considerable autonomy and organized institutions.
The Mongol conquest (1260) led to the slaughter of Jews, but the central synagogue, untouched by the invaders, offered asylum to many. The same year, the Mamluks defeated the Mongols and ruled over Syria until the beginning of the 16th century. Aleppo, their stronghold in northern Syria, contained a large garrison which brought further prosperity to the community. There were several wealthy merchants, officials, craftsmen, and outstanding scholars among the Aleppo Jews. The rich community maintained educational institutions and scholars. The growth of Muslim intolerance under rulers from Cairo and Damascus and the periodical publication of discriminatory laws against non-Muslims had their effect on the life of the community. In 1327, the synagogue was turned into a mosque with the approval of the sultan of Cairo and its name became the Al-Hayyat ("Snake") mosque. In the 13th century a group of *Karaites lived in Aleppo, but they disappeared in the following centuries. The end of the 14th century saw a power struggle between opposing factions of the leaders of the Mamluks and heavy taxes were imposed on the civilian population. In 1400, Tamerlane captured Aleppo with much bloodshed and destruction. Many Jews were killed and enslaved. The community gradually overcame this disaster and in the second half of the 15th century Aleppo Jews again traded with India and scholars resumed their learned activities. In the Mamluk period (1260–1517) the Jews lived in the old quarter and were active as merchants. Between 1375 and 1399 R. David, the son of Joshua, the nagid of Egypt, settled in Aleppo. The nasi of the community c. 1471 was Joseph b. Zadka b. Yishai b. Yoshiyahu. R. Obadiah of *Bertinoro pointed out in 1488 that the Jews of Aleppo had a good income. According to a census, 233 Jewish families lived there during 1570–90, but the real number was probably higher.
At the beginning of the 16th century exiles from Spain started to arrive in Aleppo, among them outstanding rabbis. They established a separate community although sharing the general institutions with the musta'arbim (Orientals). The Jewish population increased markedly; the great synagogue (called, "the Yellow") could no longer accommodate all the congregation and in the second half of the 15th century an additional (eastern) wing was added where the Sephardim prayed. The leaders of the Musta'arab congregation were members of the Dayyan family until the 19th century – in the 16th century: Moses and Saadiah Dayyan; in the 17th: Mordecai, Nathan, and Joseph Dayyan; in the 18th: Nathan, Mordecai (d. 1733), Samuel (d. 1722), Joseph, and Mordecai (d. 1774) Dayyan. The communal leader of the Musta'arab congregation during the 16th century was the sheikh al-yahud. The spiritual and intellectual leadership of the community gradually passed to the Sephardim, and important rabbis include R. Solomon Atartoros in the middle of the 16th century and after him R. Abraham b. Asher of Safed, R. Moses Chalaz, R. Eliezer b. Yoḥai, and R. Moses Halevi Ibn Alkabaz, R. Samuel b. Abraham *Laniado, his son, R. Abraham (who officiated until 1623), and his grandson, R. Solomon. In the 16th century disputes broke out between the Musta'arab and the Sephardi congregations, but later the relations between them improved and they lived peacefully. The leader of the community in the beginning of the 18th century was Samuel Rigwan. Other famous rabbis in the 18th century were Joseph Abadi, Samuel Deweik Hacohen (d. 1732), Samuel Pinto (d. 1714), Mordecai Asban, Judah Kazin, Zadka Hutzin, Gabriel Hacohen, Yeshayah Dabah, Michael Harari, David Laniado, Ḥayyim Ataya, Elijah Laniado, Isaac Antibi, Yeshayah Ataya, Ezrz Zaig, and Isaac Beracha. Famous scholars in the city in the same time period were the brothers Joseph (d. 1736) and Yom Tov Safsaya. From the end of the 17th century an academy (yeshivah) operated in Aleppo. In 1730 R. Eliya Silvera founded a Midrash Silvera and the first head of this institution was R. Yeshayah Dabah (d. 1772). R. Samuel Pinto was head of a bet midrash in the first half of the 18th century. Many of the above scholars wrote books on rabbinic subjects, most of them printed in Italy. In the 17th century significant Jewish manuscripts from Aleppo were bought in France and Britain. After the Ottoman conquest in 1517, constant contacts were established with the great communities in Constantinople and the other towns in Turkey, as were trade links with them and with Persia and India. Contacts with the Jews of Palestine were also close, and the influence of the Safed kabbalists was marked. Shabbateanism found many adherents in Aleppo, especially R. Solomon Laniado and R. Nathan Dayyan, R. Moses Galante and Daniel Pinto, and after *Shabbetai's apostasy, *Nathan of Gaza went to Aleppo and continued his activities there. In 1684 R. Solomon Laniado wrote a letter as the rabbi of the two congregations.
The traveler Texieira estimated c. 1600 the Jewish population of the city at about 1,000 families, many of them wealthy. According to the census of 1672 there lived in the city 380 Jews who paid the jizya, most of them musta'arabs and 73 of Spanish origin. In 1695 there were 875 Jewish families. The Jews numbered about 5% of the city's population in the Ottoman period. In 1803 the traveler Taylor estimated that there were only 3,000 Jews in the city.
In 1700, R. Moses b. Raphael Harari of Salonika was rabbi of Aleppo. He died in 1729. At that time, European Jews from France and Italy also settled in Aleppo; they participated in the extensive trade between Persia and southern Europe in which Aleppo served as an important station. These merchants, called *Francos, enjoyed the protection of the consuls of the European powers and this created antagonism in the community. The Francos liberally supported communal institutions, but refused to pay the regular taxes and did not recognize the authority of the community. R. Samuel Laniado ii, rabbi of Aleppo in the first half of the 18th century, strongly demanded that the Francos have the same obligations as all other Jews in Aleppo and that all the rules should bind them. In the second half of the 18th century the dispute flared up again when the chief rabbi, Raphael Solomon (b. Samuel) Laniado, tried to compel the Francos to accept the rules of the community and was opposed by R. Judah Kazin, who defended the Francos; the latter, in protest, ceased to take part in public prayers. The dispute had a social background, since the Francos were wealthy and learned and were attached to the ideas and customs they brought from Europe. At the end of the 18th century, with the decline of trade between Aleppo and Persia, the number of Francos dwindled. The prominent families among the Francos included Ergas, Altaretz, Almida, Ancona, Belilius, Lubergon, Lopez, Lucena, Marini, Sithon, Selviera, Sinioro, Faro, Piccotto, Caravaglli, Rodrigez, and Rivero. There were also Jewish translators employed by the European consuls. The Ottoman authorities attempted to extort money from the Jewish translators by putting pressure on the Jewish community. The Jewish community, however, refused to release these translators from paying their share of the communal taxes.
From the 1520s until the mid-17th century, Jews as well as Christians filled the post of emini gümrük, that is, the chief officer of the local customs house charged with the collection of receipts. Many Jews died in the plagues which occurred during the Ottoman period. Many scholars in the community created halakhic literature, especially responsa, codes, homiletics, exegesis of the Bible, and liturgy. There were also rabbis who created kabbalistic literature. Many of these scholars settled in Ereẓ Israel.
Between 1841 and 1860 three *blood libels occurred in Aleppo. In June 1853 the Greek-Catholic patriarch accused the Jews of Aleppo of kidnapping a Christian boy for ritual purposes. Despite the tension between Jews and Christians in the city, the Picciotto family helped the latter. Only a few Jewish students studied in the Christian schools. In 1854 the rabbis of Aleppo declared a ḥerem (boycott) on any relations with the Protestant missionaries who tried to proselytize Jews. From 1798 until the end of the 19th century several European states appointed European Jews who had settled in Aleppo as their consular representatives. The first was Raphael Picciotto, who was appointed in 1798 consul of Austria and Toscana, and other members of his family were later appointed consuls of other states. Another Raphael Picciotto was consul of Russia and Prussia between 1840 and 1880; the consul of Austria-Toscana was Elijah Picciotto and after his death in 1848 his son Moses inherited this office. The consul of Holland was Daniel Picciotto and of Belgium Hillel Picciotto. The consul of Persia was Joseph Picciotto and of Denmark Moses Picciotto, of Sweden and Norway Joseph Picciotto, and of the U.S. Hillel Picciotto. In the 18th century many local Jews acquired French or British citizenship. Until 1878 the French consul's attitude to Jews was negative, following the policy set by the consul Bertrand during his years in Aleppo (1862–78), but from 1878 the policy was changed by the consul Destree. British consuls protected the Jews of Aleppo throughout the century.
The ḥakham bashi in Aleppo was the supreme spiritual authority and from the 1870s there were two chief rabbis. The chief rabbi in 1858–69 was Hayyim Lebton, and after his death Saul Duwek (d. 1874), Mennaseh Sithon (1874–76), and Aaron Sheweika in the year 1880. The later rabbis were Moses Hacohen and Moses Sewid. The Francos established in the 18th century two schools for orphans and poor children. A great yeshivah was active. In 1862 the vali imprisoned R. Raphael Kazin, and freed him only under the order not to establish a Reform community in Aleppo. In 1865 a book by R. Elijah b. Amozeg of Leghorn, Am le-Mikra, was burned in Aleppo. In 1868 the first Jew was appointed to the meclis (city council) of Aleppo. From 1858 on Jews officiated in the mercantile court of law in Aleppo. In 1847, 3,500 Jews lived in the city, and in 1881, 10,200. During most of the Ottoman period Aleppo had the largest Jewish community in Syria. The majority of its Jews belonged to the middle class and were known as diligent merchants and agents. The local government, the European consuls who lived in the city, and the European agents of the trading companies recognized the economic power of Aleppo's Jews. A few Jews also had roles in the administration of the Vilayet of Aleppo, for the most part as tax collectors, custom officers, and *sarrafs, some earning vast amounts from these positions in addition to their own businesses.
In the first half of the 19th century, the status of the community declined both economically and culturally. At the same time hostilities erupted between the various religious communities in Syria. The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 greatly affected the international trade of the Jewish merchants of Aleppo. In 1875, a blood libel was spread about the Jews of Aleppo; however, the missing Armenian boy, whose absence had provided the charge, was found in a nearby village. In 1869 the *Alliance Israélite Universelle established a school for boys with 68 students from the wealthy families and 15 children from needy families, but most of the latter left the school. In 1873 the school was closed and in 1874 it was reopened. In 1872 the Alliance established a school for girls, with 20–30 students, utilizing European teaching methods. It was closed and reopened a few times and only in the 1890s did it operate at full capacity. In 1865 Abraham Sasson and his sons set up a printing house in Aleppo, one of the sons having learned the craft in Leghorn. In 1887 Isaiah Dayyan established another printing press with the help of H.P. Kohen from Jerusalem. Two years later they had to cease operation, not being able to obtain a government license. The license was obtained in 1896 and printing resumed and continued until World War i. Having learned the craft with Eliezer *Ben-Yehuda in Jerusalem, Ezra Ḥayyim Jouegati of Damascus set up and operated a press from 1910 to 1933. Another printing press was founded by Ezra Bijo in 1924 and continued until 1925. Altogether, approximately 70 books were printed in Aleppo, mostly works by local scholars, ancient manuscripts found locally, and prayer books of the local rite. From the 1850s immigrants from Aleppo settled in Western cities like Manchester and opened firms there. The immigration of Jews from Aleppo to other countries and to Ereẓ Israel was limited until the 1870s and the majority of the immigrants settled in Egypt, but in the 1880s and 1890s it grew and became a flood as thousands traveled to North and South America. The immigrants wished to improve their socio-economic circumstances. Many Jews from Aleppo emigrated to Beirut as well from the middle of the 19th century until the 1940s. After World War i there were over 6,000 Jews in Aleppo. The wealthy moved from the Jewish quarter, which was surrounded by a wall, to new quarters. However, the link with Jewish culture was not severed; traditional learning was not neglected and a few hundred immigrated to Palestine. In 1931 there were 7,500 Jews in Aleppo, of whom 3,000–3,500 were poor laborers. In particular among the others were merchants and brokers, and some 20 Jews were wealthy and had big firms while five or six were bankers.
There are descriptions from the years 1931 and 1934 of the impoverishment of Aleppo Jewry. Most of the immigrants to Ereẓ Israel were needy. In the 1940s many Jews immigrated through *"illegal" immigration (Aliyah Bet). In the year 1944, in the wake of the deteriorating political and economic situation of the community, 510 emigrated from Aleppo to Ereẓ Israel. In 1945 many children and young men immigrated to Ereẓ Israel. The police accused the leader of the community of Aleppo, Rachmo Nechmad, of aiding the secret immigration to Ereẓ Israel. Among the scholars of the first half of the 20th century were R. Ezra Abadi, R. Abraham Salem, R. David Moses Sithon, R. Elijah Lopez, R. Judah Ataya, R. Abraham Isaac Dewik, and R. Isaac Shehibar.
[Eliyahu Ashtor /
Leah Bornstein-Makovetsky (2nd ed.)]
In 1947, Aleppo had a Jewish community of about 10,000. In an outbreak of violence against the Jews in December 1947, all the synagogues were destroyed and about 6,000 Jews fled the city. Many of them secretly crossed the frontier into Turkey or Lebanon, where they settled, or continued to Israel, Europe, or America. On December 1, 1947, anti-Jewish riots broke out in the Jewish quarter of Aleppo. About 150 buildings, 50 shops and offices, ten synagogues and five schools were damaged; 160 old Torah scrolls from the Baḥsīta synagogue were burned. The leaders of the community preserved the famous Keter Aram Ẓova. Thanks to their efforts most of the scroll arrived in Israel. In November 1947 the Jewish Telegraph Agency reported that 22 Jews from Aleppo had been arrested when they tried to pass the frontier between Lebanon and Israel. There are other reports about many Jews from Aleppo who tried to escape to Israel. The Jews also suffered under the reign of Colonel Adib Shishakli (1949–54). The principal leaders of the community in 1953/1954 were Chief Rabbi Moses Mizrachi, who was 90 years old, R. Zaʿafrani, and Selim Duek. The latter was a wealthy merchant who had relations with the local authorities. According to a report by the president of the Beirut community in 1959, around 2,000 Jews lived in Aleppo then. The 1,000 Jews living in Aleppo in 1968 resided in two quarters: Baḥsīta, the old quarter; and Jamīliyya, founded after World War i. Muslims, who had moved into these quarters after the departure of the Jewish residents, occasionally assaulted their Jewish neighbors and several cases of murder were recorded. The four schools of the Alliance Israélite Universelle were closed by the government in 1950, and thereafter most of the children studied at a religious elementary school (talmud torah). As the community dwindled, this school was also closed, and some Jewish children studied at Christian schools. A special prayer-custom, the Aram-Ẓobah rite, existed in Aleppo (its prayer book was printed in Venice, 1523–27). In July 1967 Jewish teachers were dismissed and degrading regulations against the Jews were issued by the government. In that year only 1,500 Jews were living in Aleppo. The Jews of Aleppo in the last generation tried to maintain their Jewish identity. They published lectures by Edmond M. Cohen, which were distributed at great risk in the 1970s and 1980s. This was the last book produced by the remnants of the community.
Aleppo immigrants in Buenos Aires in the 1920s, under the leadership of R. Saul Sithon Dabbah, lived traditionally, as in Aleppo. During the 1930s, integration into the life of Argentina increased and with it came a decline in religious and ethnic identity. This trend reversed itself after one more generation, under the guidance of R. Isaac Shehebar.
[Hayyim J. Cohen /
Leah Bornstein-Makovetsky (2nd ed.)]
Syrian Jewry and, particularly, the community of Aleppo long enjoyed a reputation as lovers of music and singing. In the course of eight centuries, they developed a characteristic style in their liturgical and related activities. As early as the 13th century, the Spanish Hebrew poet Judah *Al-Ḥarizi, referring to Syrian personalities, mentioned the cantor R. Daniel and said his performance conquered "the hearts of the holy people by his delightful song" (Taḥkemoni, 46). From about the same time we have evidence concerning the adoption and singing in Aleppo of the Arabic poetical strophic genre called muwashshaḥ (Hebrew shir ezor) invented in Andalusia by the beginning of the 10th century. This new genre, soon after its creation, gained great favor and knew wide circulation. One can infer from the question concerning its singing addressed by the Jews of Aleppo to Maimonides that it was already then popular among them and that it probably provoked the dissatisfaction of the rabbinical authorities. Their question was whether the singing of Arabic muwashshaḥāt (plur. of muwashshaḥ) with instrumental accompaniment was permitted. The question probably implied secular and/or paraliturgical singing.
Almost all the chants and hymns sung outside the formal religious service were the work of distinguished Aleppo rabbis such as Moses Laniado, Raphael Antebi, Jacob and Mordecai Abbadi, and Mordecai Levaton, who were poets as well as composers. Some of them may have modeled themselves on the poet Israel *Najara of Damascus who was highly esteemed by composers of the period. This encouragement of the art of singing by the rabbis found strong support in R. Mordecai Abbadi's introduction to a book of bakkashot (Sephardi hymns), Mikra Kodesh, published in 1873. The melodic style of Aleppo belongs to the Arabian-Turco-Persian musical family, but also shows other influences, mainly those of Sephardi Jews. Both in prayers and other songs, the *maqām style (melodic pattern) and elaboration prevail. For each Sabbath or festival prayer there is an appropriate maqām, and the various zemirot (hymns) also conform to the maqām pattern.
The Aleppan musical tradition was instrumental in the evolution of the Sephardi-Jerusalemite style, which currently dominates the entire realm of the liturgical and paraliturgical in many Oriental communities in Israel. It probably started with the singing of bakkashot and its fascinating dissemination and wide adoption by many immigrant groups. The establishment of formal cantorial training seminaries in the last decades certainly was determinant in consolidating the style toward which most of the generation of the Israeli-born Oriental cantors inclined.
See also *Bakkashah.
[Amnon Shiloah (2nd ed.)]
Ashtor, Toledot, 1 (1944), 267 ff.; 2 (1951), 16 ff., 117 ff., 425 ff.; Rosanes, Togarmah, 1 (1930), 182; 2 (1938), 146–7; E.N. Adler, Jews in Many Lands (1905), 159–68; Lutzki (Dotan), in: Zion, 6 (1940/41), 46–79; idem, in: Sefunot, 1 (1957), 25–61; A. Yaari, Ha-Defus ha-Ivri be-Arẓot ha-Mizraḥ, 1 (1936), 31–52; idem, in: ks, 24 (1947/48), 66–67; Ha-Rofe ha-Ivri, 10 (1937), 145–59; 27 (1954), 145–56; 28 (1955), 102–4 (bibliography); Idelsohn, Melodien, 4 (1923), introd.; Katz, in: Acta Musicologica, 40, no. 1 (1968), 65–85. add. bibliography: A. Ben-Yaacov, in: Sefunot, 9 (1965), 363–82; L.A. Frankl, Yerushalayma (1860), 106–21; Alḥarizi, Taḥkemoni, ed. by A. Kaminka (1899), index; N.A. Stillman, The Jews of Arab Lands: A History and Source Book (1979); A. Yaari, Iggerot, index; Lewis, in: Studia Islamica, 50 (1979), 109–24; M.A. Epstein, The Ottoman Jewish Communities and their Role in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries (1980); D. Laniado, Li-Kedoshim Asher ba-Areẓ, le-Toledot Ḥakhmei ve-Rabbanei Aram Ẓova (1980); J.M. Landau and M. Maoz, in: Peʿamim, 9 (1981), 4–13; T. Philipp and N. Zenner, in: Peʿamim, 3 (1979), 45–58; A. Marcus, in: ijmes, 18 (1986), 165–83; A. Shamosh, Sippuro shel Keter Aram Ẓova (1987); J. Hacker, in: Zion, 52 (1987), 25–44; J. Sutton, Aleppo Chronicles: The Story of the Unique Sepharadeem of the Ancient Near East in Their Own Words (1988); B. Masters, The Origins of Western Economic Dominance in the Middle East: Mercantilism and the Islamic Economy in Aleppo, 1600–1750 (1988); J. Hacker, in: Galut Aḥar Golah (1988), 497–516; H. Abrahami, in: Shorasim ba-Mizraḥ (1989), 133–72; A. Marcus, The Middle East on the Eve of Modernity: Aleppo in the Eighteenth Century (1989); A. Rodrigue, De L'instruction à l'émancipation (1989), index; A. Rodrigue, Ḥinukh, Ḥevrah ve-Historiya (1991); Z. Zohar, Massoret u-Temurah, Hitmodedut Ḥakhmei Yisrael be-Miẓrayim u-ve-Suriya im Etgarei ha-Modernizaẓiyah 1880–1920 (1993); Z. Zohar, in: Peʿamim, 44 (1990), 80–109; Frenkel, in: Peʿamim, 45–46 (1991), 284–70; M. Frenkel, in: Peʿamim, 61 (1995), 57–74; H. Talbi, in: Peʿamim, 67 (1996), 111–19; W.P. Zenner, in: W. P Zenner (ed.), Jews among Muslim Communities in the Precolonial Middle East (1996), 61–172, 173–86; Z. Zohar, in: Peʿamim,66 (1996), 43–69; M. Frenkel, in: Peʿamim, 66 (1996), 20–42; E. Schlossberg, in: Peʿamim, 66 (1996), 128–37; M. Laskier, in: Peʿamim, 66 (1996), 70–127; Y. Harel, in: Michael, 14 (1997), 171–86; idem, Ha-Sifrut ha-Toranit shel Ḥakhmei Aram Ẓova (1997); M. Gil, Be-Malkhut Ishma'el bi-Tekufat ha-Geonim, 1–3 (1997), index; J. Hacker, in: Zion, 62 (1997), 327–68; E. Picciotto, The Consular History of the Picciotto Family (1998); Y. Harel, in: ijmes, 30 (1998), 77–96; idem, in: Jewish History, 13/1 (Spring 1999), 83–101; B. Masters, in: E. Eldem (ed.), The Ottoman City between East and West (1999), 17–78; S. Brauner Rodgers, in: Peʿamim, 80 (1999), 129–42; R. Lamdan, A Separate People, Jewish Women in Palestine, Syria and Egypt in the 16th Century (2000), index; Y. Harel, in: Jewish Political Studies Review, 12/3–4 (2000), 13–30; W.P. Zenner, A Global Community, The Jews from Aleppo Syria (2000); Y. Harel, Bi-Sefinot shel Esh la-Ma'arav, Temurot be-Yahadut Surya bi-Tekufat ha-Reformot ha-Otmaniyot 1840–1880 (2003); L. Bornstein-Makovetsky, in: Jewish Law Association Studies, 14 (Jerusalem 2002 Conference Volume) (2004), 17–32. music: M. Kligman, "Modes of Prayer: Arabic Maqāmāt in the Sabbath Morning Liturgical Music" (Ph.D. dissertation, New York University, 1997); K. Shelemay, Let Jasmin Rain Down: Song and Remembrance among Syrian Jews (1998); K. Yayama, "The Singing of Bakkashot of the Aleppo Jewish Tradition in Jerusalem" (Ph.D. dissertation, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 2003).
The principal city of northern Syria.
Syria's second-largest metropolis after Damascus, Aleppo has long been a prominent economic, cultural, and political center, and, with a population of 4.2 million (2002 estimate), it ranks among the leading cities of the Middle East. Located about 70 miles inland from the Mediterranean Sea, at an elevation of 1,280 feet (390 m), Aleppo has a moderate climate, with short, cool, wet winters and long, dry, hot summers. Its surrounding region, parts of which are semiarid, supports extensive agriculture as well as the raising of livestock.
The majority of Aleppo's townspeople are Sunni Muslims, but they live alongside substantial numbers of Christians affiliated with various churches. Tens of thousands of Armenian refugees from Anatolia settled in Aleppo during World War I and strengthened the traditionally prominent Christian presence. The local Jewish community, whose roots went back to pre-Islamic times, also grew during the modern period, but the Arab–Israeli hostilities caused most of its members to leave the country around 1948. The remaining Jewish presence, which continued to dwindle thereafter, came to a historic end with the departure of the last Jews in 1994.
During the period of Ottoman rule in Syria (1516–1918), Aleppo served as the administrative capital of a large province that extended over much of northern Syria as well as parts of southern Anatolia. Ottoman governors dispatched from Istanbul administered the affairs of the area with the cooperation of Aleppo's local Muslim elite. The city's politics were characterized by the competition for influence among local powerful figures and by periodic local clashes with the Ottoman authorities. The unusually troubled years from 1770 to 1850 witnessed violent factional strife, popular unrest, and occupation by the Egyptian army (1832–1840). In the calmer period that followed, more orderly Ottoman control was restored, and the community began to experience the benefits of European-inspired innovations, including modern schools, improved sanitation and health care, street lighting, printing, newspapers, and wheeled transport. The local notable families integrated themselves more fully into the Ottoman provincial administration at this time and strengthened their power by acquiring large amounts of rural land.
With the establishment of modern Syria in 1920, Aleppo continued to serve as the seat of government for the surrounding region. Its Sunni landowning families, with their counterparts from Damascus, dominated national politics during the French mandate (1920–1946) and the first two decades of independence. As of the 1960s, however, the old landed notables began to be displaced by a new political elite composed of men of provincial and minority origins (particularly Alawi). Land-reform measures resulted in the expropriation of the great agricultural estates and helped to break the political back of the Sunni elite. In the 1970s and 1980s, opposition in Aleppo and other Sunni centers to the new political structure gave rise to clashes of Muslim organizations with Hafiz al-Asad's regime.
The modern period also transformed Aleppo's commercial role. Since the sixteenth century, the city had been a leading center of regional and international trade, with a network of markets that included cities in Anatolia, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Arabia, Egypt, Europe, and Asia. In the nineteenth century, however, much of the region's external trade, now oriented increasingly toward Europe, shifted from inland cities such as Aleppo to the Mediterranean coastal towns. The end of the Ottoman Empire (1918) cut Aleppo off from some of its traditional markets in the region and narrowed still further its commercial horizons. The city's manufacturing sector, however, remained strong, and today, as a major industrial center, Aleppo produces fine silk and cotton fabric, soaps and dyes, processed foods, leather goods, and articles of gold and silver.
Like other major Middle Eastern cities, Aleppo grew dramatically during the modern period, especially since around 1950, when the migration from rural regions to urban centers began to assume massive proportions. Its population, about 90,000 in 1800, had risen modestly to 110,000 in 1900 and to 320,000 in 1950, but it then increased sharply by 1.5 million in the next forty-five years.
With this population growth came a corresponding physical expansion. Beginning in the 1870s, vast new areas developed all around the old historic city, thereby giving birth to modern Aleppo. The new districts, built on a European model of apartment buildings and wide streets laid out in a regular grid pattern, contrasted sharply with the dense environment of courtyard houses and narrow, winding alleyways in the old parts. As the better-off townspeople gradually moved out of the old city, it deteriorated into an overcrowded habitat for the urban poor and for rural migrants. This exodus represented the rejection of an environment that had come to be regarded as backward and unsuited to modern living. The old city has nevertheless remained among the best preserved and most handsome of the traditional Middle Eastern cities, and since the 1970s a movement to conserve its historic monuments and urban fabric has taken hold, although with still unresolved debates over proposed rehabilitation plans.
Aleppo, which has remained one of Syria's leading centers of cultural life, is particularly renowned, in the country and wider region, for its role as a creative center of traditional music. The muwashshah, a song traced back to Muslim Spain, has been a local specialty; hundreds of these vocal pieces—now known as muwashshahat halabiyya —were composed or preserved in the city and diffused from there throughout the region. Ottoman music has also been popular, and Turkish influences continue to distinguish local approaches to music theory. Many accomplished Arab musicians have hailed from Aleppo, among them the violin virtuosos Sami al-Shawwa (1887–1960) and Tawfiq al-Sabbagh (1890–1955) and the popular singer Sabah Fakhri (1933–). The most influential figure was Ali alDarwish (1884–1952), whose encyclopedic knowledge of the Arab and Ottoman musical systems and repertoires, derived from thirty years of travel in the Middle East and North Africa, has profoundly marked the region's musical scene and scholarship.
see also sunni islam.
Gaube, Heinz, and Wirth, Eugen. Aleppo. Wiesbaden, Germany: L. Reichert, 1984.