views updated


NEHĀVAND (also pronounced Nahāvand ), a city situated in west central Iran about 75 km south of *Hamadan. It was an important city during the Sasanian period. Its conquest by the invading Arabs (642 c.e.) is considered the beginning of the end of the Iranian empire. It is mentioned in the Babylonian Talmud as a golah (Diaspora) which may allude to the existence of a Jewish community in Nehāvand (Kid. 72a). *Benjamin of Tudela (1167) mentioned a city by the name "nhr-vnt" where 4,000 Jews lived. It is possible that he meant the city of Nehāvand.

During the medieval period an important *Karaite community lived there. Prominent in it was R. Binyamin ben Mosheh Nehāvandi (mid-9th century). We possess some fragments of his Sefer ha-Mitzvot and Sefer ha-Dinim. R. David d'Beth Hillel visited the city around the year 1827 and according to him 20 Jewish families lived there, all of whom were poor. He estimated the number of the Muslim population at 3,000 families. Ephraim Neumark (1884), who did not visit the city, heard that 30 Jewish families lived in it.

According to ʿĀlam-e Yahud (1945), a Jewish Persian monthly published in *Teheran, 115 Jewish families lived in Nehāvand, of whom 15, among them some physicians and land owners, were considered rich, 50 ranked as middle class, and the rest were poor. There were two synagogues in the city and one elementary school administered by Alliance Israélite Universelle, where 137 pupils (98 boys and 39 girls) studied up to the sixth grade. The sanitary conditions were reported as unsatisfactory (1945). After the 1979 Islamic Revolution many left for Teheran, Israel, and the U.S., so that no Jewish family was reported as living in Nehāvand by the end of the 20th century.


M.D. Adler (ed.), The Itinerary of Benjamin of Tudela (1907); ʿĀlam-e Yahud, a Jewish monthly in Persian published in Teheran, 13 (October 1945), 236; David d'Beth Hillel, Unknown Jews in Unknown Lands (18241832), ed. by W.J. Fischel (1973); L. Nemoy, Karaite Anthology (1952); E. Neumark, Massa be-Ereẓ ha-Kedem, edited by A. Ya'ari (1947).

[Amnon Netzer (2nd ed.)]