YEZD , city in central Iran, probably built by Yazdegerd i (399–420). That Yezd was a center of Jewish scholars in the early Middle Ages is attested by a ninth-century Hebrew manuscript of the Later Prophets with masoretic notes which was found there; it is one of the oldest known biblical manuscripts composed by Persian Jews. The Yezd community's spiritual leader, Mulla Or Sharaga, (d. 1794), who is mentioned in a few Judeo-Persian letters of the early decades of the 19th century, maintained close contacts with the Jews of *Meshed. In 1928 an *Alliance Israélite Universelle school was established in the city. Jews from Yezd were among the earliest immigrants to Palestine and many families settled, mainly in *Safed and*Jerusalem. In 1948 there were about 1,000 Jews in Yezd and in 1973 fewer than 400; it was reported that after the 1979 Islamic revolution only five families remained.
E.N. Adler, Ginzei Paras u-Madai – The Persian Jews, their books and ritual (1898?), 20; A. Marks, in Soncino-Blaetter, 2 (1927), 114; I. Ben-Zvi, Meḥkarim u-Mekorot (1966), index. add. bibliography: Y. Sharga, Mi-Yazd le-Ereẓ ha-Kodesh (1987); A. Netzer, "Jews of Yezd," in: Shofar (Mar.–Apr. 2003), 22ff. (in Persian).
[Walter Joseph Fischel /
Amnon Netzer (2nd ed.)]