Religious Beliefs and Prac t ices. Rabbinic Judaism is the religion of the people being considered here. In Egypt, there are still small numbers of non-Talmudic Qaraites Talmud, and several hundred Samaritans persist in Nablus. Members of both groups can also be found in Israel today.
Judaism is a monotheistic religion, but traditionally it has recognized angels and saintly individuals as having extraordinary influence with God. Rabbis may be asked to write talismans against the evil eye and other ills.
Like orthopraxic rabbinic Jews elsewhere, Arabic-speaking Jews observe the Sabbath from sundown to sundown by abstaining from what is defined as "work" in the Talmud. This abstention includes the preparation of special Sabbath dishes, which can be kept warm overnight in an oven called a hamin.
Religious Specialists. Rabbis, generally called hakhamin, are trained in Jewish law. Some are also mystics initiated in the cabala. There is no clear distinction between the legally learned and the mystical-magical religious leaders.
Ceremonies. The yearly cycle of festivals and fasts follows the Jewish calendar, beginning with Rosh Hashanah and ending with the penitential prayers that lead to the New Year. Similarly, Jews follow a life cycle of rites of passage, from prenatal rituals and infant-male circumcision to burial and mourning.
Arts. As artisans and as consumers, Jews have generally utilized decoration in clothing and homes resembling that of their neighbors. Through sumptuary codes, the Muslim states have at times imposed particular forms of clothing on Jews. Some varieties of goods were made locally by Jewish artisans, whereas other varieties were made by coresidents of other religions.
In song, the Jews of Aleppo and Damascus combined He brew poetry with Arabic and Turkish melodic modes. S songs would be sung at the synagogue and also on cerer ual occasions. These songs are generally called pizmonim (Hebrew: poems). Some are sung before dawn on the Sabbaths between Sukkoth and Passover as petitionary prayers (Hebrew: baqashot ).
Medicine. Although Western medicine has been used in the twentieth century, it has been supplemented by traditional cures, including talismans prepared by rabbis, visits to shrines, bleeding by leeches, and the like.
Death and Afterlife. Traditional beliefs assumed bodily resurrection of the dead at the End of Days, reward and punishment, and the possibility of reincarnation. The dead were buried within twenty-four hours after death, if possible, in Jewish cemeteries.