Mizrahi Jews

Mizrahi Jews (Hebrew: יהודי המִזְרָח) or Mizrahim (מִזְרָחִים), also referred to as Mizrachi (מִזְרָחִי), Edot HaMizrach (עֲדוֹת-הַמִּזְרָח; "[Jewish] Communities of the [Middle] East"; Hebrew: ʿEdot(h) Ha(m)Mizraḥ), or Oriental Jews,[12] are the descendants of the local Jewish communities that had existed in the Middle East and North Africa from biblical times into the modern era.

Mizrahi Jews
יהודים מזרחים
Total population
4.6 million (2018)[1]
Regions with significant populations
Middle East 
 Israel3,232,800 (2018)[2]
 Iran8,756 (2012)[3]
 Egypt< 20 (2017)[4][5]
 Yemen4 (2021)[6]
 Iraq3 in Baghdad (2021)[7]
400–730 families in Iraqi Kurdistan (2015)[8]
 Lebanon<100 (2012)[9]
 Bahrain37 (2010)[10]
Central Asia 
Europe and Eurasia 
 RussiaOver 30,000
 United Kingdom7,000
East Asia 
 Hong Kong[11]420
 China (mainland)90
Southeast Asia 
The Americas 
 United States300,000+
  • Modern: Mizrahi Hebrew, Modern Hebrew, Judeo-Arabic languages
  • Historical: Local languages, primarily Syriac, Assyrian Neo-Aramaic, Arabic, Persian, Georgian, Bukhori, Judeo-Tat, the Judeo-Aramaic languages, Judeo-Marathi and Judeo-Malayalam
Judaism (secular, Masortim, Orthodox, Ultra-Orthodox)
Related ethnic groups
Ashkenazi Jews, Sephardi Jews, Maghrebi Jews, Karaite Jews and other Jewish ethnic divisions. Other Middle Eastern groups Samaritans, Levantines, Aramaic-Assyrians, Arabs.

* indicates that the country is a member of the EU

Nowadays, the term Mizrahim is exclusively applied to descendants of the Jewish communities from the Middle East and North Africa; Inclusive of the Jews who had lived in Levantine and Middle Eastern countries such as the Iraqi Jews, Kurdish Jews, Lebanese Jews, Syrian Jews, Yemenite Jews, Turkish Jews, and Persian Jews from Iran; as well as descendants of Maghrebi Jews who had lived in North African countries, such as Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco.[13] These various Jewish communities were first grouped into a single ethnic identity officially in the Jewish Agency's 1944 One Million Plan.[14]

The term "Mizrahim" also sometimes includes Jewish communities from the Caucasus,[15] and Central Asia,[16] such as Mountain Jews ("Kavkazim") from Dagestan and from Azerbaijan, and Bukharan Jews from Uzbekistan and from Tajikistan. Nevertheless, these countries were all part of the Soviet Union prior to its dissolution, and many of their citizens and descendants speak Russian to this day, clashing with two traits considered Ashkenazi Jewish.

Before the establishment of the state of Israel, Mizrahi Jews did not identify themselves as a distinctive Jewish subgroup.[15][17] Instead, Mizrahi Jews generally characterized themselves as Sephardi, as many of them follow the customs and traditions of Sephardi Judaism (but with some differences among the minhag "customs" of particular communities). The original Sephardi Jewish community was formed in the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal) where they were exiled from in the 1490s, causing many of them settling to areas where Mizrahi Jewish communties already existed.[15] Both reasons have resulted in a conflation of terms, particularly in Israel's ethnic and religious usage, with "Sephardi" being used in a broad sense and including Middle Eastern Jews, North African Jews, as well as Sephardim proper from Southern Europe (Mediterranean Europe).[17][18][15] From the point of view of the official Israeli rabbinate, any rabbis of Mizrahi origin in Israel are under the jurisdiction of the Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel.[18]

From 1948 to 1980, over 850,000 Mizrahi and Sephardi Jews were expelled, fled or evacuated from Arab and Muslim countries.[19][20] As of 2005, 61% of Israeli Jews were of full or partial Mizrahi-Sephardi ancestry.[21][22]


"Mizrahi" is literally translated as "Oriental", "Eastern", מזרח Mizraḥ, Hebrew for "east". In the past, the word "Mizrahim", corresponding to the Arabic word Mashriqiyyun (Arabic "مشريقيون" or Easterners), referred to the natives of Iraq and other Asian countries, as distinct from those of North Africa (Maghribiyyun). In medieval and early modern times, the corresponding Hebrew word ma'arav was used for North Africa. In Talmudic and Geonic times, however, this word "ma'arav" referred to the land of Israel, as contrasted with Babylonia. For this reason, many object to the use of "Mizrahi" to include Moroccan and other North African Jews.

In the past, the origin of the term Mizrahi was in the Hebrew translation[23] of Eastern European Jews' German name Ostjuden,[24][25] as seen in the Mizrahi Movement, Bank Mizrahi and in HaPoel HaMizrahi.[23] In the 1950s, the Jews who came from the communities listed above were simply called and known as Jews (Yahud in Arabic) and in order to distinguish them in the Jewish sub-ethnicities, Israeli officials, who themselves were mostly Eastern European Jews, transferred the name to them, though most of these immigrants arrived from lands located further westward than Central Europe.[26][27] Mizrahi is subsequently among the surnames most often changed by Israelis,[28] and many scholars, including Avshalom Kor,[29] claim that the transferring of the name "Mizrahim" was a form of Orientalism[30] towards the Oriental Jews, similar to the ways in which Westjuden had labeled Ostjuden as "second class" and excluded them from possible positions of power.[31][32]

The term Mizrahim or Edot Hamizraḥ, Oriental communities, grew in Israel under the circumstances of the meeting of waves of Jewish immigrants from Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia, followers of Ashkenazi, Sephardi, and Temani (Yemenite) rites. In modern Israeli usage, it refers to all Jews from Central and West Asian countries, many of them Arabic-speaking Muslim-majority countries. The term came to be widely used more by Mizrahi activists in the early 1990s. Since then in Israel it has become an accepted semi-official and media designation.[33]

Before the establishment of the state of Israel, Mizrahi Jews did not identify themselves as a separate Jewish subgroup. Instead, Mizrahi Jews generally characterized themselves as Sephardi, as they follow the customs and traditions of Sephardi Judaism (but with some differences among the minhag "customs" of particular communities). That has resulted in a conflation of terms, particularly in Israel and in religious usage, with "Sephardi" being used in a broad sense and including Mizrahi Jews, North African Jews as well as Sephardim proper. From the point of view of the official Israeli rabbinate, any rabbis of Mizrahi origin in Israel are under the jurisdiction of the Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel.

Sami Michael rejects the terms "Mizrahim" and "Edot HaMizrach", claiming it is a fictitious identity advanced by Mapai in order to preserve a "rival" to the "Ashkenazim" and help them push the "Mizrahim" below in the social-economic ladder and behind them, so they won't ever be in line with the Israeli elites of European Jewish descent.[34] He's also going against the Mapai manner of labeling all the Oriental Jews as "one folk" and erasing their unique and individual history as separated communities; he wonders why the real Easterners of his time who were the Eastern European Jewish peasants from the villages weren't labeled as "Mizrahi" in Israel while fitting it more than the Oriental Jews who were labeled that way. Michael is also against the inclusion of Oriental Jewish communities who do not descend from Sepharadic Jews, as his own Iraqi Jews, as "Sepharadim" by the Israeli politicians, calling it "historically inaccurate". He also mentions that his work as an author is always referred to as "Ethnic" while European Jews' work, even if historic in theme, isn't for that very racism.[34]

The Westerners street in Jerusalem, Israel; coined after the Maghrebi Jews

Most of the "Mizrahi" activists actually originated from North African Jewish communities, traditionally called "Westerners" (Maghrebi), rather than "Easterners" (Mashreqi). The Jews who made Aliya from North Africa in the 19th Century and prior started their own political and religious organization in 1860 which operated in Jerusalem was called "The Western Jewish Diaspora Council" (Hebrew: "ועד העדה המערבית בירושלים"). Many Jews originated from Arab and Muslim countries today reject "Mizrahi" (or any) umbrella description, and prefer to identify themselves by their particular country of origin, or that of their immediate ancestors, e. g., "Moroccan Jew", or prefer to use the old term "Sephardi" in its broader meaning.[35]

Religious rite designations

Today, many identify non-Ashkenazi rite Jews as Sephardi – in modern Hebrew Sfaradim – mixing ancestral origin and religious rite. This broader definition of "Sephardim" as including all, or most, Mizrahi Jews is also common in Jewish religious circles. During the past century, the Sephardi rite absorbed the unique rite of the Yemenite Jews, and lately, Beta Israel religious leaders in Israel have also joined Sefardi rite collectivities, especially following rejection of their Jewishness by some Ashkenazi circles.

The reason for this classification of all Mizrahim under Sephardi rite is that most Mizrahi communities use much the same religious rituals as Sephardim proper due to historical reasons. The prevalence of the Sephardi rite among Mizrahim is partially a result of Sephardim proper joining some of Mizrahi communities following the 1492 Alhambra Decree, which expelled Jews from Sepharad (Spain and Portugal). Over the last few centuries, the previously distinctive rites of the Mizrahi communities were influenced, superimposed upon or altogether replaced by the rite of the Sephardim, perceived as more prestigious. Even before this assimilation, the original rite of many Jewish Oriental communities was already closer to the Sephardi rite than to the Ashkenazi one. For this reason, "Sephardim" has come to mean not only "Spanish Jews" proper but "Jews of the Spanish rite", just as "Ashkenazim" is used for "Jews of the German rite", whether or not their families originate in Germany.

Many of the Sephardi Jews exiled from Spain resettled in greater or lesser numbers in the Arab world, such as Syria and Morocco. In Syria, most eventually intermarried with, and assimilated into, the larger established communities of Musta'rabim and Mizrahim. In some North African countries, such as Morocco, Sephardi Jews came in greater numbers, and so largely contributed to the Jewish settlements that the pre-existing Jews were assimilated by the more recently arrived Sephardi Jews. Either way, this assimilation, combined with the use of the Sephardi rite, led to the popular designation and conflation of most non-Ashkenazi Jewish communities from the Middle East and North Africa as "Sephardi rite", whether or not they were descended from Spanish Jews, which is what the terms "Sephardi Jews" and "Sfaradim" properly implied when used in the ethnic as opposed to the religious sense.

In some Arabic countries, such as Egypt and Syria, Sephardi Jews arrived via the Ottoman Empire would distinguish themselves from the already established Musta'rabim, while in others, such as Morocco and Algeria, the two communities largely intermarried, with the latter embracing Sephardi customs and thus forming a single community.



In the Arab world (such as Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, and Syria), Mizrahim most often speak Arabic,[12] although Arabic is now mainly used as a second language, especially by the older generation. Most of the many notable philosophical, religious and literary works of the Jews in Spain, North Africa and Asia were written in Arabic using a modified Hebrew alphabet.


Kurdish Jews in Rawanduz, northern Iraq, 1905.

Aramaic is a Semitic language subfamily. Specific varieties of Aramaic are identified as "Jewish languages" since they are the languages of major Jewish texts such as the Talmud and Zohar, and many ritual recitations such as the Kaddish. Traditionally, Aramaic has been a language of Talmudic debate in yeshivot, as many rabbinic texts are written in a mixture of Hebrew and Aramaic. The current Hebrew alphabet, known as "Assyrian lettering" or "the square script", was in fact borrowed from Aramaic.

In Kurdistan, the language of the Mizrahim is a variant of Aramaic.[12] As spoken by the Kurdish Jews, Judeo-Aramaic languages are Neo-Aramaic languages descended from Jewish Babylonian Aramaic. They are related to the Christian Aramaic dialects spoken by Assyrian people.

Persian and other languages

Among other languages associated with Mizrahim are Judeo-Iranian languages such as Judeo-Persian, the Bukhori dialect, Judeo-Tat, and Kurdish languages; Georgian; Judeo-Marathi and Judeo-Malayalam. Most Persian Jews speak standard Persian, as do many other Jews from Iran, Afghanistan, and Bukhara (Uzbekistan),[12] Judeo-Tat, a form of Persian, is spoken by the Mountain Jews of Azerbaijan and Russian Dagestan, and in other Caucasian territories in Russia.


Jewish diaspora in the Middle East outside of Palestine started in 6th century BCE during the Babylonian captivity,[36] which also caused some Jews to flee to Egypt.[37] Other early diaspora areas in the Middle East and North Africa were Persia, Yemen[22] and Cyrene.[38]

As Islam started spreading in the 7th century, Jews living under the Muslim rule became dhimmis. Because Jews were seen as "People of the Book", they were allowed to keep their own religion, but they had an inferior status in an Islamic society.[39]


Some Mizrahim migrated to India, other parts of Central Asia, and China. In some Mizrahi Jewish communities (notably those of Yemen and Iran), polygyny has been practiced.[12]

Post-1948 dispersal

After the establishment of the State of Israel and subsequent 1948 Arab–Israeli War, most Mizrahim were either expelled by their Arab rulers or chose to leave and emigrated to Israel.[40] According to the 2009 Statistical Abstract of Israel, 50.2% of Israeli Jews are of Mizrahi or Sephardi origin.[41]

Anti-Jewish actions by Arab governments in the 1950s and 1960s, in the context of the founding of the State of Israel, led to the departure of large numbers of Mizrahi Jews from the Middle East. The exodus of 25,000 Mizrahi Jews from Egypt after the 1956 Suez Crisis led to the overwhelming majority of Mizrahim leaving Arab countries. They became refugees. Most went to Israel. Many Moroccan and Algerian Jews went to France. Thousands of Lebanese, Syrian and Egyptian Jews emigrated to the United States and to Brazil.

Today, as many as 40,000 Mizrahim still remain in communities scattered throughout the non-Arab Muslim world, primarily in Iran, but also Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, and Turkey.[42] There are few Maghrebim remaining in the Arab world. About 3,000 remain in Morocco and 1,100 in Tunisia.[43][44] Other countries with remnants of ancient Jewish communities with official recognition, such as Lebanon, have 100 or fewer Jews. A trickle of emigration continues, mainly to Israel and the United States.

Absorption into Israeli society

Refuge in Israel was not without its tragedies: "In a generation or two, millennia of rooted Oriental civilization, unified even in its diversity", had been wiped out, writes Mizrahi scholar Ella Shohat.[45] The trauma of rupture from their countries of origin was further complicated by the difficulty of the transition upon arrival in Israel; Mizrahi immigrants and refugees were placed in rudimentary and hastily erected tent cities (Ma'abarot) often in development towns on the peripheries of Israel. Settlement in Moshavim (cooperative farming villages) was only partially successful, because Mizrahim had historically filled a niche as craftsmen and merchants and most did not traditionally engage in farmwork. As the majority left their property behind in their home countries as they journeyed to Israel, many suffered a severe decrease in their socio-economic status aggravated by their cultural and political differences with the dominant Ashkenazi community. Furthermore, a policy of austerity was enforced at that time due to economic hardships.

Mizrahi immigrants arrived speaking many languages:

  • many, especially those from North Africa and the fertile crescent, spoke Arabic dialects;
  • those from Iran spoke Persian;
  • Mountain Jews from Azerbaijan spoke Judeo-Tat;
  • Baghdadi Jews from India spoke English;
  • Bukharan Jews from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan spoke the Bukhori dialect;
  • the Bene Israel from Maharashtra, India, arrived speaking Marathi.

Mizrahim from elsewhere brought Georgian, Judaeo-Georgian and various other languages with them. Hebrew had historically been a language only of prayer for most Jews not living in Israel, including the Mizrahim. Thus, with their arrival in Israel, the Mizrahim retained culture, customs and language distinct from their Ashkenazi counterparts. The collective estimate for Mizrahim (circa 2018) is at 4,000,000.[46]

Disparities and integration

The cultural differences between Mizrahi and Ashkenazi Jews impacted the degree and rate of assimilation into Israeli society, and sometimes the divide between Eastern European and Middle Eastern Jews was quite sharp. Segregation, especially in the area of housing, limited integration possibilities over the years.[47] Intermarriage between Ashkenazim and Mizrahim is increasingly common in Israel and by the late 1990s 28% of all Israeli children had multi-ethnic parents (up from 14% in the 1950s).[48] It has been claimed that intermarriage does not tend to decrease ethnic differences in socio-economic status,[49] however that does not apply to the children of inter-ethnic marriages.[50]

Although social integration is constantly improving, disparities persist. A study conducted by the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics (ICBS), Mizrahi Jews are less likely to pursue academic studies than Ashkenazi Jews. Israeli-born Ashkenazim are up to twice more likely to study in a university than Israeli-born Mizrahim.[51] Furthermore, the percentage of Mizrahim who seek a university education remains low compared to second-generation immigrant groups of Ashkenazi origin, such as Russians.[52] According to a survey by the Adva Center, the average income of Ashkenazim was 36 percent higher than that of Mizrahim in 2004.[53]


In 2000, M. Hammer, et al. conducted a study on 1,371 men and definitively established that part of the paternal gene pool of Jewish communities in Europe, North Africa and Middle East came from a common Middle East ancestral population. They suggested that most Jewish communities in the diaspora remained relatively isolated and endogamous compared to non-Jewish neighbor populations.[54]

In a 2010 study by Behar, et. al. the Iranian, Iraqi, Azerbaijani and Georgian Jewish communities formed a ”tight cluster” overlying non-Jewish samples from the Levant with Ashkenazi, Moroccan, Bulgarian and Turkish Jews and Samaritans, results being ”consistent with an historical formulation of the Jewish people as descending from ancient Hebrew and Israelite residents of the Levant”. Yemenite Jews formed their own sub-cluster that was ”also located within an assemblage of Levantine samples” but also showed notable relation ”primarily with Bedouins but also with Saudi individuals”.[55]

Notable Mizrahim

Business people

  • David Alliance, Baron Alliance GBE, Iranian-born British businessman and Liberal Democrat politician
  • Jacob Arabo, Bukharian-American jeweler and founder of Jacob & Company
  • Alona Barkat, owner of the football team Hapoel Beer Sheva; sister-in-law of former Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat
  • J. Darius Bikoff, founder and CEO of Energy Brands
  • Joseph Cayre, co-founder of record label Salsoul Records, video tape distributor and producer GoodTimes Entertainment, and video game publisher GT Interactive Software
  • Stanley Chera, American real estate developer
  • Jack Dellal, real estate, oil and banking investor in the U.K.
  • Henry Elghanayan, real estate developer
  • Habib Elghanian, businessman executed by the Islamic Republic of Iran
  • Shlomo Eliyahu, Israeli businessman
  • Ghermezian family, billionaire shopping mall developers
  • Kamran Hakim, New York City real estate developer
  • Efrem Harkham, Israeli-born American founder and CEO of LeHotels.com
  • Uri Harkham, Iraqi-born CEO of Harkham Industries (women's apparel company), and chairman of Harkham Properties (commercial real estate company)
  • David Hindawi, Iraqi-born American software entrepreneur, billionaire and co-founder of Tanium
  • Orion Hindawi, American software entrepreneur, billionaire and co-founder of Tanium; son of David Hindawi
  • Zarakh Iliev, Azerbaijan-born billionaire, Russian business partner of God Nisanov
  • Neil Kadisha, businessman, investor, philanthropist, billionaire
  • Michael Kadoorie, businessman from Hong-Kong of Iraqi Jewish descent
  • Nasser David Khalili, billionaire property developer and art collector
  • Albert Laboz, New York City real estate developer
  • Isaac Larian, CEO of MGA Entertainment
  • Lev Avnerovich Leviev, Israeli businessman of Bukharian-Jewish descent[56]
  • Moishe Mana, Israeli-American businessman, real estate developer, and billionaire; founded Moishe's Moving Systems and Mana Contemporary
  • Justin Mateen, co-founder of Tinder
  • Isaac Mizrahi, Brooklyn fashion designer of Syrian Jewish descent
  • Sam Mizrahi, Canadian luxury real estate developer
  • David Merage and Paul Merage, co-founders of Hot Pockets
  • Joseph Moinian, real estate developer in New York City
  • Shlomo Moussaieff, jewellery designer, Judaic (Bukharian Jewish) collector and expert
  • David Nahmad, Syrian billionaire and art dealer
  • Ezri Namvar, Iranian-born American businessman, philanthropist and convicted criminal
  • David Nazarian, Iranian-American businessman, investor and philanthropist, son of Younes Nazarian
  • Younes Nazarian, Iranian-born investor who was an early investor in Qualcomm; father of David Nazarian
  • God Nisanov, Azerbaijani-born Russian businessman and billionaire, former Vice President of the World Jewish Congress
  • Ebrahim Daoud Nonoo, Bahraini businessman and former member of the Bahraini National Assembly
  • Fred Ohebshalom, American real estate developer, philanthropist, CEO and founder of Empire Management
  • Joseph Parnes, businessman and investment advisor
  • Sean Rad, co-founder of Tinder
  • Lior Raz, co-creator of Israeli television series, Fauda
  • Maer Roshan, founder of Radar Magazine and Radar Online
  • David and Simon Reuben, British Indian-born businessmen from a family of Baghdadi Jews
  • Joseph Sitt, founder of Thor Equities
  • Charles Saatchi, Iraqi-born advertising executive and art collector
  • Maurice Saatchi, Baron Saatchi, advertising executive and former chairman of the British Conservative Party
  • Haim Saban, Egyptian-born, Israeli-American media mogul
  • Sir Marcus Samuel, founder of the "Shell" Transport and Trading Company ("Shell")
  • Edmond Safra, Swiss-Lebanese-Brazilian banker
  • Sassoon family, from the 18th century onwards becoming one of the wealthiest families in the world
  • Ben Shaoul, New York City real estate developer
  • Elie Tahari, fashion designer
  • Robert and Vincent Tchenguiz, property developers
  • Rus Yusupov, former CEO[57] and now CCO of HQ Trivia[58]


  • Paula Abdul, American singer and choreographer (Father was of Syrian Jewish descent)[59]
  • Sylvain Sylvain American rock guitarist, member of the New York Dolls. Migrated from Egypt as a child.
  • Etti Ankri, Israeli pop singer
  • Zohar Argov, Israeli popular singer, called "the King" of the "Mizrahi" music (Yemenite)
  • Gali Atari, Israeli singer and actress, won the Eurovision Song Contest (from a Yemenite family)[60]
  • Ehud Banai, Israeli singer and composer
  • Evyatar Banai, Israeli singer and composer
  • Yuval Banai, Israeli singer and composer
  • Yossi Banai, Israeli singer and actor (from a Persian Jewish family settled in Jerusalem)
  • Meir Banai, Israeli singer
  • Shlomo Bar, Israeli singer and composer
  • Bea Benaderet, U.S. actor (Father was of Turkish Jewish descent)
  • Sonia Benezra, French Canadian radio and TV personality
  • Patrick Bruel, French pop singer
  • Yizhar Cohen, Israeli singer, won the Eurovision Song Contest (Yemenite family)
  • Emmanuelle Chriqui, Canadian actress
  • Yair Dalal, Israeli musician of Iraqi-Jewish descent.
  • Shoshana Damari, Israeli singer (Yemen born)
  • Dana International, (Cohen) Israeli pop singer, won the Eurovision Song Contest (Yemenite family)
  • Josh Gad American actor (father is Afghani Jewish immigrant)
  • Yehoram Gaon, Israeli singer and actor.[61]
  • Eyal Golan, Israeli singer (Moroccan and Yemenite Jewish descent)
  • Zion Golan, Israeli singer (Yemenite Jewish descent)
  • Sarit Hadad, Israeli singer (Israeli born to a Mountain Jews family)
  • Ofra Haza, Israeli pop and oriental singer (Yemenite Jewish family)
  • Moshe Ivgy, Israeli cinema and theatre actor
  • Malika Kalantarova, Tajik-Bukharian dancer (People's Artist of USSR)
  • Chris Kattan, U.S actor (son of a Jewish-Iraqi origin father)
  • Fatima Kuinova, Soviet-Bukharian singer (Merited Artist of USSR)
  • Saleh and Daoud Al-Kuwaity, Kuwaiti-born Iraqi musicians
  • Mélanie Laurent, French actress and director
  • Yehezkel Lazarov, Israeli actor
  • Haim Moshe, Israeli-born "Mizrahi" and pop singer (Yemenite Jewish)
  • Shoista Mullojonova, Bukharian legendary Shashmakom folk singer (People's Artist of Tajikistan)
  • Farhat Ezekiel Nadira, Bollywood actress of the 1940s and 1950s (Baghdadi Jew from India)
  • Achinoam Nini ("Noa"), Israeli born, Yemenite pop singer
  • Rita, Iranian born, Israeli pop singer
  • Salima Pasha, Iraqi singer
  • Berry Sakharof, Israeli singer and composer
  • Jerry Seinfeld, American comedian and actor (his mother is of Syrian Jewish descent)
  • Boaz Sharabi, Israeli singer (born Yemenite, Tunisian, & Moroccan ancestry)
  • Harel Skaat, Singer and "Kokhav Nolad" ("Israeli Idol") contestant (Yemenite Jewish descent)
  • Bahar Soomekh, Persian Jewish-American actress
  • Subliminal, Israeli rapper of Persian/Tunisian Jewish descent
  • Pe'er Tasi, Israeli singer
  • Shimi Tavori, Israeli singer
  • Elliott Yamin, American singer (Jewish Iraqi father)
  • Idan Yaniv, Israeli singer of Bukharian Jewish descent (Israeli Artist of 2007)
  • Yaffa Yarkoni, Israeli singer (from a Caucasian Jewish family)
  • Ariel Zilber, Israeli singer and composer (son of a Yemenite Jewish-origin mother)
  • Boaz Mauda, Israeli singer (Jewish Yemenite Jewish descent)
  • Kobi Marimi, Israeli singer and actor, represented Israel in the Eurovision Song Contest (from an Iraqi Jewish family)

Scientists and Nobel prize laureates

  • Claude Cohen-Tannoudji, French physicist, Nobel prize laureate in Physics[62]
  • Baruj Benacerraf, American immunologist, Nobel prize laureate in Physiology or Medicine[63]
  • Serge Haroche, French physicist, Nobel prize laureate in Physics
  • Avshalom Elitzur, Israeli physicist, noted for the Elitzur–Vaidman bomb-testing problem in quantum mechanics


  • Gavriil Ilizarov, Soviet physician of Mountain Jewish descent, known for inventing the Ilizarov apparatus for lengthening limb bones and for his eponymous surgery
  • Abraham Karem, an aerospace engineer who is a pioneer in Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology
  • Yisrael Mordecai Safeek, American physician and inventor

Politicians and military

  • Yekutiel Adam, Israeli general (from a Caucasus Jewish family)
  • Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, Israeli general, current Israeli Minister of Infrastructure, former Minister of Defense and Israel Labor Party chairman, commonly called by his Arabic name "Fuad", of Iraqi Jewish descent
  • Yitzhak Rachamim Navon, Israeli politician, diplomat, and author; served as fifth President of Israel (1978–1983)
  • Yisrael Yeshayahu Sharabi, Minister of Post, and Knesset speaker in the 1970s and 1980s
  • Houda Ezra, served as the Bahraini Ambassador to the United States from 2008 to 2013
  • Les Gara, Democratic member of the Alaska State Legislature, former Deputy State Attorney General, of Iraqi Jewish descent
  • Dalia Itzik, Knesset speaker, of Iraqi Jewish descent[64]
  • J. F. R. Jacob, Indian Army war hero, retired general, also sometimes called the "Liberator of Dhaka"
  • Avigdor Kahalani, former Israeli Minister of Internal Security, and decorated tank commander, of Yemenite Jewish descent
  • Moshe Katsav, former President of Israel (2000–2007), and Minister of Transportation, of Iranian Jewish descent
  • Shaul Mofaz, former Israeli Minister of Defense and Chief of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) General Staff, Iranian Jew[65]
  • David Alliance, Baron Alliance GBE, Iranian-born British businessman and liberal democratic politician
  • Yitzhak Mordechai, retired IDF general, former Israeli Minister of Defense, and Minister of Transportation, of Iraqi Jewish descent
  • Gabi Ashkenazi, former IDF Chief of Staff, of Syrian Jewish descent
  • Dorrit Moussaieff, First Lady of Iceland, Bukharian Jew
  • Abie Nathan, Israeli peace activist
  • Shlomo Hillel, former Israeli minister and Knesset speaker, of Iraqi Jewish descent[66]
  • Moshe Levi, former Israeli general, chief of the IDF General Staff
  • Dan Halutz, Israeli air pilot and general, former chief of the IDF General Staff
  • Moshe Shahal, former Israeli minister and lawyer
  • Moshe Nissim, former Israeli finance and justice minister
  • Eli Cohen, former Israeli spy in Syria[67]
  • Ran Cohen, Meretz politician, former Member of Knesset, of Iraqi Jewish descent
  • Yoram Cohen, former director of Shin Bet
  • Shalom Simhon, Israeli Labor politician, former Minister of Agriculture
  • Tamir Pardo, previous director of the Mossad

Religious figures

  • Rabbi Shimon Agassi, Iraqi Hakham and kabbalist
  • Rabbi Shlomo Amar, the current Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, of Moroccan Jewish descent
  • Rabbi Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron, former Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel, of Persian Jewish descent
  • Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, former Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel
  • Rabbi Abraham Hillel, Chief Rabbi of Baghdad
  • Rabbi Yitzhak Kaduri, renowned Mizrahi Haredi rabbi and kabbalist from Baghdad, lived to be 108
  • Rabbi Shlomo Moussaieff, co-founder of Bukharian Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem
  • Rabbi Amnon Yitzhak, Orthodox rabbi, of Yemenite origin
  • Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, former Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel and spiritual leader of Shas, of Iraqi Jewish descent


  • Linoy Ashram, Israeli rhythmic gymnast, first Israeli athlete to win an individual all-around Rhythmic Gymnastics World Championships medal
  • Yossi Benayoun, Israeli soccer player for Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal, of Moroccan Jewish descent
  • Omri Casspi, first Israeli-born player to the NBA, of Moroccan Jewish descent
  • Doron Jamchi, Israeli basketball player
  • Oded Kattash, Israeli basketball player
  • Pini Gershon, Israeli basketball coach, one of the most successful in the Euroleague's history, Moroccan Jewish mother
  • Robert Mizrachi, poker player, Iraqi Jew
  • Michael Mizrachi, poker player, Iraqi Jew
  • Victor Perez, boxer, Tunisian Jew
  • Shahar Tzuberi, Israeli Olympic medalist in windsurfing, Yemenite Jew
  • Haim Revivo, Israeli footballer; Moroccan Jewish parents.

Visual arts

  • Adi Ness, photographer of Iranian Jewish descent
  • Israel Tsvaygenbaum, Russian-American painter of mixed Polish and Mountain Jewish descent
  • Anish Kapoor, British-Indian sculptor, born in Mumbai to a Hindu father and Baghdadi Jewish mother

Writers and academics

  • Shimon Adaf, Israeli Hebrew poet and writer
  • Mati Shemoelof, Israeli Hebrew poet and writer
  • Eli Amir, Israeli Hebrew writer
  • Jacques Attali, French thinker and author
  • Alon Ben-Meir, Iraqi-born American professor and writer
  • Orly Castel Bloom, Israeli Hebrew writer, from an Egyptian Jewish family
  • Andre Chouraqui, French-Israeli thinker and writer
  • Jacques Derrida, French philosopher
  • Shiri Eisner, Israeli writer and activist[68]
  • Nissim Ezekiel, Indian poet and art critic
  • Ariel Helwani, Canadian mixed martial arts journalist
  • Eva Illouz, French-Israeli sociologist
  • Smadar Lavie, Israeli anthropologist
  • Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, psychotherapist
  • Sami Michael, Iraqi-born Israeli Hebrew writer
  • Gina B. Nahai, Iranian-American writer, columnist, professor
  • Samir Naqqash, Iraqi-born Israeli writer in Arab language
  • Nouriel Roubini, economist, professor at New York University
  • Yehouda Shenhav, Israeli sociologist, born in an Iraqi Jewish family (Shahrabani)
  • Haim Sabato, Israeli rabbi and Hebrew writer
  • Rachel Shabi, British-Israeli journalist and author of We Look Like the Enemy: Israel's Jews from Arab Lands about Mizrahi Jews in Israel
  • Avi Shlaim, Iraqi-born Oxford University scholar and author specialising on the Israel-Palestine conflict and Zionism
  • Ella Habiba Shohat, cultural studies scholar and author, from a Baghdadi Jewish family
  • Sasson Somekh, Israeli Arabologist
  • Saba Soomekh, Iranian-born American professor and author


  • Tali Farhadian, (born 1974 or 1975), Iranian-born American former US federal prosecutor (Englewood Cliffs)


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  • Gilbert, Martin (2010). In Ishmael's house: a History of Jews in Muslim Lands. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0300167153.
  • Zaken, Mordechai (2007). Jewish Subjects and Their Tribal Chieftains in Kurdistan: A Study in Survival. Boston and Leiden: Brill.
  • Smadar, Lavie (2014). Wrapped in the Flag of Israel: Mizrahi Single Mothers and Bureaucratic Torture. Oxford and New York: Berghahn Books. ISBN 978-1-78238-222-5.




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