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Details of Jewish Tribe in Arabia Given by Secretary of Wahabi Mission

September 20, 1926
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date
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(Jewish Telegraphic Agency Mail Service)

A detailed description of the Jewish tribe at Khaibar, on the Nejd-Hedjas border, in Central Arabia, was given by Nissim Tajjir, son of the Chief Rabbi of Damascus who returned from a trip to Hedjas as secretary of the Wahabi Mission in Syria.

Mr. Tajjir said he had conversed with members of the tribe, and was able to vouch for their Judaism. They had settled in Arabia some 1,500 years ago, perhaps even earlier, and practise many of the Jewish rites. The Jewish Day of Atonement and the weekly Sabbath are scrupulously observed by them, but the liturgy is not in Hebrew, the sole prayer in this language being the "Hear. Oh! Israel!" fragment. Palestine to which they are passionately devoted, is to them "The Land of the Temple," and they are well aware of the modern development of their ancient country. They have one Scroll of the Law, inscribed in ancient Hebrew caligraphy and believe that this is the talisman for their continued existence.

They asked Mr. Tajjir to bring them a number of "mezuzoth" (the scrolls of parchments affixed to the portal of Jewish houses), which they intended fastening to the flaps of their tents, as they thought this was a potent symbol of Judaism. They have one fortress, which no people had ever succeeded in capturing.

The number of the tribe, according to their own statements, is 60,000 of whom 30,000 were armed. The female element is small, some fifteen per cent only of the total population. The strict law of segregation in matrimony is observed, and they do not intermarry with the other tribes. Their sustenance is derived from cattle breeding and plunder. On the Sabbath, however, they do not fight nor raid other tribes. They are constantly at war with the Shammar Arabs, but their relations with the Wahabis are peaceful. They had contributed three men to the guard of Sultan Ibn Saud at Riadh, the Nejdian capital, while the Chancellor of the Exchequer there was also a Jew named Mordecai Yaffe. The Wahabis respect the Jews, and prefer to trade with them than with the Sunni Moslems. Until some generations ago the Khaibaris traded with the Yemenites but this has been discontinued.

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