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KUFA (Al-Kūfa ), town on the banks of the Euphrates in central *Iraq, founded by the Muslims in 638. Kufa was at first a military camp, but rapidly became an important Muslim religious and cultural center, especially from the time of the reign of Caliph Alī ibn Abū Ṭālib. From the ninth century onward a decline gradually set in so that only a few ruins remain. During the geonic period there was a large Jewish community, among whose members were the teacher Solomon b. Joseph ha-Kohen and Mūsā ibn Isrā'īl (Moses b. Israel) al-Ṭabīb ("the physician") al-Kūfi. This community is also mentioned in the letters of R. *Samuel b. Ali. Benjamin of Tudela, the 12th-century traveler, found about 7,000 Jews living there. After this time there is no further confirmation of the presence of Jews in the town. According to ancient Jewish traditions, the tomb of King Jehoiachin was situated in Kufa. A large construction stood over the tomb and a synagogue alongside of it.


A. Ben-Jacob, Yehudei Bavel (1965), 51. add bibliography: "al-Kūfa," in: eis2, 5 (1986), 345–51 (includes bibliography).

[Abraham Haim]