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On the Arabic Dialect of the Jews of Sidon/Lebanon

Aharon Geva-Kleinberger

Pages 87 - 104


There are only few Jews left in Lebanon today, mostly in Beirut. At its peak, in the late forties of the last century, the Lebanese Jewish community numbered more than 10,000. Lebanese Jewry is a conglomerate of various Jewish communities: some are descendants of Andalusian and Maghrebi Jews, some of whom considered Lebanon as a way station to the Holy Land; others came from Turkey and Greece, among whom there were also Ashkenazi Jews. In Lebanon, all Jewish communities spoke Arabic, but some spoke Ladino and Yiddish as a second language, as well as French. After 1948, most of the Lebanese Jews immigrated to Israel, while others went to Central America, especially to Panamá and Mexico, but also to Southern America. Until the seventies of the last century, there were some Jews left in the southern Lebanese city of Sidon (in the local dialect: Ṣayda) and before that in Tyre, with some tiny Jewish communities in Dayr il-Qamar (Dēr il-ˀamar) and even in Ḥāṣbayya. Most of the Jews of Sidon today live in Israel and their dialect has not been researched until now. This article preserves the Arabic dialect of the Jews of Sidon, which is on the threshold of extinction.

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