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Indexes, Catalogues, and Encyclopedias on Sephardic Jews of Sephardic rabbis across the generations


Lakdoshim Asher Baaretz (For the holy people who are in the Land of Israel), by Rabbi David Lanaiado. The Aretz “initials mean “Aram Zova,” a name by which Jews called ancient Aleppo. In the years before the State of Israel was established, Rabbi Lanaiado scanned the Sephardic Jewish cemeteries in Arab countries in such places as Aleppo, Beirut, Cairo, Damascus, and Safed; documented the gravestone inscriptions; and added his own knowledge of books and essays that the deceased had written. He also has included his personal recollections about family ties as well.
This work cannot be replaced; many of the gravestone inscriptions he has commemorated were destroyed by time or/and by hostile authorities.
Yehudei Hamizrach Beeretz Israel (Oriental, i.e., Eastern Jews in Eretz Yisrael), by David Moshe Gaon. Gaon, a researcher of Sephardic families and culture, dedicated his life to writing this two-volume book in which he details all he knows about many Sephardic families (especially in the second volume). Originally published in 1929, the Gaon family printed a second edition in 1999 in response to numerous requests. Both volumes may be read on the web at www.hebrewbooks.org/36725  (first volume) and www.hebrewbooks.org/36724  (second volume).
Toldot Hachmei Yerushalaim (History of the religious authorities in Jerusalem), by Rabbi Eliezer Rivlin. Although not restricted to Sephardic Jews, this book includes many generations of Sephardic rabbis who lived in Jerusalem.
• Lexicons of Sephardic Jewish surnames include Discovering Your Sephardic Ancestors and Their World, 2d ed., by Jeffrey S. Malka. The most amazing discovery came to me once by looking at an Arab surnames lexicon (written in Arabic) at a fair in Haifa.
Otzar Hashira Vehapiyut (Thesaurus of medieval Hebrew poetry), by Israel Davidson, 1924, is a four-volume encyclopedia of interest to people who possess old poetry manuscripts written by family elders. This thesaurus may help locate the poem, its writer, and the time of writing. Any additional information may contribute to understanding more about the family’s history. The entire encyclopedia is mounted on the HebrewBooks website, e.g.,
vol. A. www.hebrewbooks.org/21706 ;
vol. B, www.hebrewbooks.org/21333 ;
vol. C, www.hebrewbooks.org/ 21606 ;
vol. D, www.hebrewbooks.org/21648 .
Shluchei Eretz Israel Ledorotam, (Emisarries of Eretz Yisarel throughout the generations), by Abraham Yaari. If a family knows of an ancestor who has served as an emissary to the Golah (Diaspora), look for his name in that book. The information Yaari publishes about the emissaries is important and interesting. A fully documented listing of emissaries from Jerusalem only is published at the end of the second volume of Gaon (above) in www.hebrewbooks.org/36724 .
In spite of the existence of the Internet, the number of publications of such indexes, catalogues, and encyclopedias has increased and not diminished, as one might expect.
New publications of this type include:
• Arzei Halevanon (Cedars of Lebanon), by Rabbi Shimon Vanunu, is a huge, four-volume encyclopedia devoted solely to Sephardic rabbis. Published in 2007, it is the largest work on the subject.
• The Rabbinical Literature of Aram Zova (Aleppo)Scholars, by Dr. Yaron Harel, explores all published books of Aleppo rabbis ever printed
Aleppo, City of Scholars by Rabbi David Sutton, based upon LaKedoshim Asher Ba'aretz (For the holy people that are in Eretz Yisrael), by Hacham David Laniado; edited and expanded by Rabbi David Sutton. Published in 2008, this book brings to the English reader all the work of Rabbi Lanaiado mentioned above and even augments it with new supplements.
In a new book on Egyptian Jews, from a new series by Yizhaq Ben Zvi Institute publishing house, Jewish Communities in the East in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, 
Two such informative papers that may contain valuable genealogical data are an article by Abraham Cohen Tawill on the immigrant Sephardic Jews who arrived at Aleppo in the 16th century following the order of expulsion from Spain. Another article is “Events of Damascus Jews” written by Eliezer Rivlin and Yosef Yoel Rivlin, which lists all families who lived there. It can be fully downloaded at www.hebrewbooks.org/36782 . In it are interesting details of Jewish families living in Damascus in the 19th century.

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