RIZAIEH (until the 1930s called Urmia ), town in N.W. Iran, on the Persian-Turkish frontier. There was a Jewish community in Urmia in early Islamic days; it first came to the fore in the 12th century with the appearance of the pseudo-messiah David *Alroy, who found many adherents in the town. Nothing more is heard of the community until 1828 when *David d'Beth Hillel visited it. In his Travels he mentions three synagogues in Urmia and gives a detailed account of the community's suffering as a result of a *blood libel. Further details are provided by Christian missionary sources. Letters published by I. Ben-Zvi and an account by Z. Shazar throw further light on the history of Jews in Urmia in the last century. As attested by a letter preserved in Chorny's Sefer ha-Massa'ot (1884; pp. 240–2), they had contacts with the Jews in the Caucasus. The community was severely affected by a famine in 1871. In 1902, about 350 Jewish families lived in 200 houses in Rizaieh, in four separate quarters with a synagogue in each. With the establishment of the State of Israel, most of the Jews in Rizaieh immigrated there and the rest left the town after the 1979 Islamic revolution.
W.J. Fischel, in: Sinai, 5 (1939), 237ff.; idem, in: jsos, 6 (1944), 195–226; A. Ben-Jacob, Kehillot Yehudei Kurdistan (1961), 22–25, 144; Z. Shazar, Kokhevei Boker (19616), 357–73; I. Ben-Zvi, Meḥkarim u-Mekorot (1966), index, s.v.Urmi'ah. add. biliography: A. Netzer, "Jews of Urmia/Rezāiye," in: Shofar (Jan. 2001), 22 ff. (in Persian).
[Walter Joseph Fischel /
Amnon Netzer (2nd ed.)]