Koraḥ, Amram ben Yiḥye

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KORAḤ, AMRAM BEN YIḤYE (1871–1953), writer and leader of Yemenite Jewry. Born in *Sanʿa, he immigrated to Israel in 1950 and died in Jerusalem. His father, R. Yiḥye *Koraḥ (1840–1881), was – although a kabbalist – the first enlightened Jewish scholar in *Yemen whose works took into account rationalist considerations. They reflect on one hand the wish to improve the social and spiritual conditions of the Jewish community in Yemen, and on the other hand the encounter with modern rabbinical and scholarly works in order to prove the correctness and genuineness of Yemenite traditions. On his death, the young son Amram was maintained by R. Yiḥye Qāfiḥ, his father's student and young colleague. His education by R. Qāfiḥ is well documented in his works, strongly colored with the latter's enlightened attitude toward Jewish studies, both religious and secular. However, when the Jewish community was thrown into a bitter disagreement about *Kabbalah, he sided with R. Yiḥye Yiẓḥak, the leader of the followers of the Kabbalah and the main opponent of R. Qāfiḥ. Owing to his excellent knowledge of Arabic, an indispensable component in the education of R. Qāfih's students, he acted as secretary to the bet din of Sanʿa and took care of inheritances, community funds, taxes, and charitable trusts, as well as accounts of private firms and businessmen, and functioned as the community scribe in the correspondence with Muslim authorities. From 1905 he was part of the communal leadership of the Jewish community of Sanʿa and after the death of R. Yiḥye Abyaḍ (1939?) he was nominated as chief rabbi of the Jews of Yemen, a position he held until his immigration to the State of Israel. His best-known work is Saʿarat Teman ("The Tempest of Yemen," 1954), the first to bring a comprehensive history and description of the ways of life of the Jews of Yemen, based on both Jewish and Muslim sources (books and documents). In this book he included a zealous Zionist manifesto expressing the ultimate hope of the State of Israel to be the National Home of the Jewish people. Another significant work of his is Alamot Shir (1964), the first scholarly compilation of the Yemenite Diwān including some 200 poems, mostly by Yosef ben Israel and Shalom Shabazī, accompanied with outstanding brief and simple exegesis. In addition, he wrote Neveh Shalom, establishing and explaining the correct version of *Saadiah Gaon's Tafsīr ("exegesis") to the Bible.


A. Qoraḥ, Saʿarat Teiman (1954); Y. Tobi, in: Ha-Ivrit ve-Aḥyoteha, 2–3 (2002/3), 205–22; N. Ilan, in: tema, 8 (2004), 131–48.

[Yosef Tobi (2nd ed.)]