Rabbinic Emissaries and Their Contacts with Yemenite Jewry

A. Gaimani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Yemenite Jewry is distinguished for its preservation of ancient customs. Rabbinic emissaries who came to Yemen, from whatever other Jewish community, were received with great respect, both by virtue of their Torah and by virtue of the sanctity of Ereṣ Yisrael. They were hosted by the community leaders, prayed together with the congregation, and participated in community events. The emissaries voiced their opinions when their customs conflicted with those of Yemenite Jewry. These conflicts, in which some of the emissaries attempted to change the Yemenite custom, concerned both social and ritual issues. Although the emissaries sometimes enjoyed limited or temporary success in their efforts, in most cases the Yemenites insisted on preserving their customs out of recognition of their ancient roots. Some emissaries inquired after the ancient tradition practiced among Yemenite Jewry, expressed their praise for the way in which the Yemenites preserved their ways of life, and accordingly appreciated the ancient Yemenite custom. This paper considers both the cases in which the emissaries could not base their own custom as well as those in which they enjoyed limited or temporary success in modifying the Yemenite custom. An attempt is likewise made to examine additional aspects of the interaction which can contribute to our understanding of the results of the encounter between the emissaries and Yemenite Jewry.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)101-125
JournalHebrew Union College Annual
StatePublished - 1998


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