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Yemenite Jews (Hebrew: תֵּימָנִים, Standard Temanim Tiberian Têmānîm; singular תֵּימָנִי, Standard Temani Tiberian Têmānî) are those Jews who live, or whose recent ancestors lived, in Yemen (תֵּימָן, Standard Teman Tiberian Têmān; "far south". Between June 1949 and September 1950 virtually the entire Jewish population of Yemen was transported to Israel in Operation Magic Carpet. Most Yemenite Jews now live in Israel, with some others in the United States, and fewer elsewhere. Only a handful remain in Yemen, mostly elderly.
Yemenite Jews have a unique religious tradition that marks them out as separate from Ashkenazi, Sephardi and other Jewish groups. It is debatable whether they should be described as "Mizrahi Jews", as most other Mizrahi groups have over the last few centuries undergone a process of total or partial assimilation to Sephardic culture and liturgy. (While the Shami sub-group of Yemenite Jews did adopt a Sephardic-influenced rite, this was for theological reasons and did not reflect a demographic or cultural shift.)
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Map of the modern state of YemenOne local Yemenite Jewish tradition dates the earliest settlement of Jews in the Arabian Peninsula to the time of King Solomon. One explanation is that King Solomon sent Jewish merchant marines to Yemen to prospect for gold and silver with which to adorn the Temple in Jerusalem. In 1881, the French vice consulate in Yemen wrote to the leaders of the Alliance in France, that he read a book of the Arab historian Abu-Alfada, that the Jews of Yemen settled in the area in 1451 BC.Another legend places Jewish craftsmen in the region as requested by Bilqis, the Queen of Saba (Sheba). The Beta Israel or Chabashim (Jews in nearby Ethiopia) have a sister legend of their origins that places the Queen of Sheba as married to King Solomon. Parts of Yemen, Eritrea and Ethiopia at that time were jointly ruled by Sheba, with its capital in Yemen.
The Sanaite Jews have a legend that their ancestors settled in Yemen forty-two years before the destruction of the First Temple. It is said that under the prophet Jeremiah some 75,000 Jews, including priests and Levites, traveled to Yemen.The Jews of Habban in southern Yemen have a legend that they are the descendants of Judeans who settled in the area before the destruction of the Second Temple. These Judeans supposedly belonged to a brigade dispatched by King Herod to assist the Roman legions fighting in the region.
Another legend states that when Ezra commanded the Jews to return to Jerusalem they disobeyed, whereupon he pronounced a ban upon them. According to this legend, as a punishment for this hasty action Ezra was denied burial in Israel. As a result of this local tradition, which can not be validated historically, it is said that no Jew of Yemen gives the name of Ezra to a child, although all other Biblical appellatives are used. The Yemenite Jews claim that Ezra cursed them to be a poor people for not heeding his call. This seems to have come true in the eyes of some Yemenites, as Yemen is extremely poor. However, some Yemenite sages in Israel today emphatically reject this story as myth, if not outright blasphemy.
The immigration of the majority of Jews into Yemen appears to have taken place about the beginning of the second century AD, although the province is mentioned neither by Josephus nor by the main books of the Jewish oral law, the Mishnah and Talmud. According to some sources, the Jews of Yemen enjoyed prosperity until the sixth century AD The Himyarite King, Abu-Karib Asad Toban converted to Judaism at the end of the 5th century, while laying siege to Medina. His army had marched north to battle the Aksumites who had been fighting for control of Yemen for a hundred years. The Aksumites were only expelled from the region when the newly Jewish king rallied the Jews together from all over Arabia, together with pagan allies. But this victory was short-lived.
In 518 the kingdom was taken over by Zar'a Yusuf, who "was of royal descent, but he was not the son of his predecessor Ma'di Karib Yafur."He too converted to Judaism, and instigated wars to drive the Aksumite Ethiopians from Arabia. Zar'a Yusuf is chiefly known by his cognomen Dhu Nuwas, in reference to his "curly hair."Jewish rule lasted until 525 AD (some date it later, to 530), when Christians from the Aksumite Kingdom of Ethiopia defeated and killed Dhu Nuwas, and took power in Yemen.According to a number of medieval historians who depend on the account of John of Ephesus, Dhū Nuwas announced that he would persecute the Christians living in his kingdom because Christian states persecuted his fellow co-religionists in their realms; a letter survives written by Simon, the bishop of Beth Arsham in 524 AD, which recounts the persecution by a person referred to as Dimnon in Najran (modern al-Ukhdud in Saudi Arabia). The persecution is apparently described and condemned in the Qur'an (al-Buruj:4). According to the contemporary sources after seizing the throne of the Himyarites, in 518 or 523 CE Dhū Nuwas attacked the Aksumite (mainly Christian) garrison at Zafar, capturing them and burning their churches. He then moved against Najran, a Christian and Aksumite stronghold. After accepting the city's capitulation, he massacred those inhabitants who would not renounce Christianity. Estimates of the death toll from this event range up to 20,000 in some sources . Legends hostile to Dhu Nuwas certainly betray the viewpoints and self-justifications of those who defeated him and later Muslim historiographers, and therefore need to be taken with the due grain of salt.What is clear is that the Jewish Yemenite kings did not force Judaism on their subjects, following the Talmudic view that righteous peoples exist in all cultures and religions and need not convert to Judaism to be saved.As a consequence, it is not clear what percentage of the population was or became Jewish. San'a, however, was said to be a chiefly Jewish city.
Rise of Islam in Yemen
As Ahl al-Kitab, protected Peoples of the Scriptures, the Jews were assured freedom of religion only in exchange for the jizya, payment of a poll tax imposed on all non-Muslims. Active Muslim persecution of the Jews did not gain full force until the Shiite-Zaydi clan seized power, from the more tolerant Sunni Muslims, early in the 10th century.
As the only visible "outsiders" (though their presence in Yemen predated the introduction and mass conversion of the population to Islam) the Jews of Yemen were treated as pariahs, second-class citizens who needed to be perennially reminded of their submission or conversion to the ruling Islamic faith. The Zaydi enforced a statute known as the Orphan's Decree, anchored in their own 18th century legal interpretations and enforced at the end of that century. It obligated the Zaydi state to take under its protection and to educate in Islamic ways any dhimmi (i.e. non-Muslim) child whose parents had died when he or she was a minor. The Orphan's Decree was ignored during the Ottoman rule (1872-1918), but was renewed during the period of Imam Yahya (1918-1948).
Under the Zaydi rule, the Jews were considered to be impure, and therefore forbidden to touch a Muslim or a Muslim's food. They were obligated to humble themselves before a Muslim, to walk to the left side, and greet him first. They could not build houses higher than a Muslim's or ride a camel or horse, and when riding on a mule or a donkey, they had to sit sideways. Upon entering the Muslim quarter a Jew had to take off his foot-gear and walk barefoot. If attacked with stones or fists by Islamic youth, a Jew was not allowed to defend himself. In such situations he had the option of fleeing or seeking intervention by a merciful Muslim passerby.
The Jews of Yemen had expertise in a wide range of trades normally avoided by Zaydi Muslims. Trades such as silver-smithing, blacksmiths, repairing weapons and tools, weaving, pottery, masonry, carpentry, shoe making, and tailoring were occupations that were exclusively taken by Jews. The division of labor created a sort of covenant, based on mutual economic and social dependency, between the Zaydi Muslim population and the Jews of Yemen. The Muslims produced and supplied food, and the Jews supplied all manufactured products and services that the Yemeni farmers needed.
Yemenite Jews and Maimonides
Yemenite Jews have lived principally in Aden (200), Sana (10,000), Sada (1,000), Dhamar (1,000), and the desert of Beda (2,000). Other significant Jewish communities in Yemen were based in the south central highlands in the cities of: Taiz (the birthplace of one of the most famous of Yemenite Jewish spiritual leaders, Mori Salem Al-Shabazzi Mashtaw), Ba'dan, and other cities and towns in the Shar'ab region. Yemenite Jews were chiefly artisans, including gold-, silver- and blacksmiths in the San'a area, and coffee merchants in the south central highland areas.
19th-century Yemenite messianic movements
During this period messianic expectations were very intense among the Jews of Yemen (and among many Arabs as well). The three pseudo-messiahs of this period, and their years of activity, are:
According to the Jewish traveler Jacob Saphir, the majority of Yemenite Jews during his visit of 1862 entertained belief in the messianic proclamations of Shukr Kuhayl I. Earlier Yemenite messiah claimants included the anonymous 12th-century messiah who was the subject of Maimonides' famous Iggeret Teman, the messiah of Bayhan (c.1495), and Suleiman Jamal (c.1667), in what Lenowitz regards as a unified messiah history spanning 600 years.
1914 photograph of a Yemenite Jew in traditional vestments.The Yemenite Jews are the only Jewish community (other than the Aramaic speaking Kurdish Jews ) who maintain the tradition of reading the Torah in the synagogue in both Hebrew and the Aramaic Targum ("translation"). Most non-Yemenite synagogues have a hired or specified person called a Baal Koreh, who reads from the Torah scroll when congregants are called to the Torah scroll for an aliyah. In the Yemenite tradition each person called to the Torah scroll for an aliyah reads for himself. Children under the age of Bar Mitzvah are often given the sixth aliyah. Each verse of the Torah read in Hebrew is followed by the Aramaic translation, usually chanted by a child. Both the sixth aliyah and the Targum have a simplified melody, distinct from the general Torah melody used for the other aliyot.
Like most other Jewish communities, Yemenite Jews chant different melodies for Torah, Prophets (Haftara), Megillat Aicha (Book of Lamentations), Kohelet (Ecclesiastes, read during Sukkot), and Megillat Esther (the Scroll of Esther read on Purim). Unlike in Ashkenazic communities, there are melodies for Mishle (Proverbs) and Psalms.
- Every Yemenite Jew knew how to read from the Torah Scroll with the correct pronunciation and tune, exactly right in every detail. Each man who was called up to the Torah read his section by himself. All this was possible because children right from the start learned to read without any vowels. Their diction is much more correct than the Sephardic and Ashkenazic dialect. The results of their education are outstanding, for example if someone is speaking with his neighbor and needs to quote a verse from the Bible, he speaks it out by heart, without pause or effort, with its melody.
In larger Jewish communities, such as Sana'a and Sad'a, boys were sent to the Ma'lamed at the age of three to begin their religious learning. They attended the Ma'lamed from early dawn to sunset Sunday through Thursday and until noon on Friday. Jewish women were required to have a thorough knowledge of the laws pertaining to Kashrut and Taharat Mishpachah (family purity) i.e. Niddah. Some women even mastered the laws of Shechita, thereby acting as ritual slaughterers.
People also sat on the floors of synagogues instead of chairs, similar to the way many other non-Ashkenazi Jews sit in synagogues, and the way Yemeni Muslims sit in mosques. (In fact to this day, chairs are quite rare in Yemen) This is in accordance with what Rambam (Maimonides) wrote in his Mishneh Torah:
- "We are to practise respect in synagogues... and all of the People of Israel in Spain, and in the West, and in the area of Iraq, and in the Land of Israel, are accustomed to light lanterns in the synagogues, and to lay out mats on the ground, in order to sit upon them. But in the cities of Edom (portions of Europe), there they sit on chairs."
- - Hilchot Tefila 11:5
- "..and because of this (prostration) all of Israel is accustomed to lay mats in their synagogues on the stone floors, or types of straw and hay, to separate between their faces and the stones."
- - Hilchot Avodah Zarah 6:7
The lack of chairs may also have been to provide more space for prostration, another ancient Jewish observance that the Jews of Yemen continued to practise until very recent times. There are still a few Yemenite Jews who prostrate themselves during the part of every-day Jewish prayer called Tachanun (Supplication), though such individuals usually do so in privacy. In the small Jewish community that exists today in Bet Harash Prostration is still done during the tachnun prayer. Jews of European origin generally prostrate only during certain portions of special prayers during Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). Prostration was a common practise amongst all Jews until some point during the late Middle Ages or Renaissance period.
Like Yemenite Jewish homes, the synagogues in Yemen had to be lower in height then the lowest mosque in the area. In order to accommodate this, synagogues were built into the ground to give them more space without looking large from the outside. In some parts of Yemen, minyanim would often just meet in homes of Jews instead of the community having a separate building for a synagogue. Beauty and artwork were saved for the ritual objects in the synagogue and in the home.
 Weddings and marriage traditions
A bride in traditional Yemenite Jewish bridal vestment in 1958.During a Yemenite Jewish wedding, the bride is bedecked with jewelry and wears the traditional wedding costume of Yemenite Jews. Her elaborate headdress is decorated with flowers and rue leaves, which are believed to ward off evil. Gold threads are woven into the fabric of her clothing. Songs are sung as a central part of a seven-day wedding celebration and their lyrics often tell of friendship and love in alternating verses of Hebrew and Arabic.
Yemenite and other Eastern Jewish communities also perform a henna ceremony, an ancient ritual with Bronze Age origins, a few weeks or days before the wedding. In the ceremony the bride and her guests hands and feet are decorated in intricate designs with a cosmetic paste derived from the henna plant. After the paste has remained on the skin for up to two hours it is removed and leaves behind a deep orange stain that fades after two to three weeks.
Yemenites, like other Middle Eastern and North African Jewish communities, had a special affinity for Henna due to biblical and Talmudic references. Henna, in the Bible, is Camphire, and is mentioned in the Song of Solomon, as well as in the Talmud.
- "My Beloved is unto me as a cluster of Camphire in the vineyards of En-Gedi" Song of Solomon, 1:14
Rashi, a Jewish scholar from 11th c France, interpreted this passage that the clusters of henna flowers were a metaphor for forgiveness and absolution, showing that God forgave those who tested Him (the Beloved) in the desert. Henna was grown as a hedgerow around vineyards to hold soil against wind erosion in Israel as it was in other countries. A henna hedge with dense thorny branches protected a vulnerable, valuable crop such as a vineyard from hungry animals. The hedge, which protected and defended the vineyard, also had clusters of fragrant flowers. This would imply a metaphor for henna of a "beloved", who defends, shelters, and delights his lover. In the first millennium BCE, in Canaanite Israel, henna was closely associated with human sexuality and love, and the divine coupling of goddess and consort.
 Religious groups
Elderly Yemenite Jew in the early 20th century.Yemenite Jew in the late 19th century.Yemenite Jew sounding the Shofar in a photograph from the 1930s.The three main groups of Yemenite Jews are the
- Maimonideans or "Rambamists"
The differences between these groups largely concern the respective influence of the original Yemenite tradition, which was largely based on the works of Maimonides, and of the Kabbalistic tradition embodied in the Zohar and the school of Isaac Luria, which was increasingly influential from the 1600s on.
- The Baladi Jews (from Arabic balad, country) generally follow the legal rulings of the Rambam (Maimonides) as codified in his work the Mishneh Torah. Their liturgy was developed by a rabbi known as the Maharitz (Mori Ha-Rav Yihye Tzalahh), in an attempt to break the deadlock between the pre-existing followers of Maimonides and the new followers of the mystic, Isaac Luria. It substantially follows the older Yemenite tradition, with only a few concessions to the usages of the Ari. A Baladi Jew may or may not accept the Kabbalah theologically: if he does, he regards himself as following Luria's own advice that every Jew should follow his ancestral tradition.
- The Shami Jews (from Arabic ash-Sham, the north, referring to Palestine or Damascus) represent those who accepted the Zohar in the 1600s and modified their siddur (prayer book) to accommodate the usages of the Ari to the maximum extent. The text of their siddur largely follows the Sephardic tradition, though the pronunciation, chant and customs are still Yemenite in flavour. They generally base their legal rulings both on the Rambam (Maimonides) and on the Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law). In their interpretation of Jewish law Shami Yemenite Jews were strongly influenced by Syrian Sephardi Jews, though on some issues they rejected the later European codes of Jewish law, and instead followed the earlier decisions of Maimonides. Most Yemenite Jews living today follow the Shami customs. The Shami rite was always more prevalent, even 50 years ago.
- The "Rambamists" are followers of, or to some extent influenced by, the Dor Daim movement, and are strict followers of Talmudic law as compiled by Maimonides, aka "Rambam". They are regarded as a subdivision of the Baladi Jews, and claim to preserve the Baladi tradition in its pure form. They generally reject the Zohar and Lurianic Kabbalah altogether. Many of them object to terms like "Rambamist". In their eyes, they are simply following the most ancient preservation of Torah, which (according to their research) was recorded in the Mishneh Torah.
 Dor Daim and Iqshim dispute
Towards the end of the nineteenth century new ideas began to reach Yemenite Jews from abroad. Hebrew newspapers began to arrive, and relations developed with Sephardic Jews, who came to Yemen from various Ottoman provinces to trade with the army and government officials.
Two Jewish travelers, Joseph Halévy, a French-trained Jewish Orientalist, and Edward Glaser, an Austrian-Jewish astronomer, in particular had a strong influence on a group of young Yemenite Jews, the most outstanding of whom was Rabbi Yihhyah Qafahh. As a result of his contact with Halévy and Glaser, Qafahh introduced modern content into the educational system. Qafih opened a new school and in addition to traditional subjects, introduced arithmetic, Hebrew and Arabic and the grammar of both languages. The curriculum included subjects such as natural science, history, geography, astronomy, sports, Hebrew, Arabic, and Turkish.
The Dor Daim and Iqshim dispute about the Zohar literature broke out in 1913, inflamed Sanaa's Jewish community, and split into two rival groups, that maintained separate communal institutions until the late 1940s. Rabbi Qafahh and his friends were the leaders of a group of Maimonideans called Dor Daim (the "generation of knowledge"). Their goal was to bring Yemenite Jews back to the original Maimonidean method of understanding Judaism that existed in pre-1600s Yemen.
Similar to certain Spanish and Portuguese Jews (Western Sephardi Jews), the Dor Daim rejected the Zohar, a book of esoteric mysticism. They felt that the Kabbalah based on the Zohar was irrational, alien, and inconsistent with the true reasonable nature of Judaism. In 1913, when it seemed that Rabbi Qafahh, then headmaster of the new Jewish school and working closely with the Ottoman authorities, enjoyed sufficient political support, the Dor Daim made its views public and tried to convince the entire community to accept them. Many of the non-Dor Daim elements of the community rejected the Dor Daim concepts. The opposition, the Iqshim, headed by Rabbi Yahya Yitzhaq, the Hakham Bashi, refused to deviate from the accepted customs and the study of Zohar. One of the Iqshim's targets in the fight against Rabbi Qafahh was the modern Turkish-Jewish school. Due to the Dor Daim and Iqshim dispute, Rabbi Qafahh's Turkish-Jewish school closed 5 years after it was opened, before the educational system could develop a reserve of young people who had been exposed to its ideas.
 Form of Hebrew
Main article: Yemenite HebrewThere are two main pronunciations of Yemenite Hebrew, considered by many scholars to be the most accurate form of Biblical Hebrew, although there are technically a total of five that relate to the regions of Yemen. In the Yemenite dialect, all Hebrew letters have a distinct sound, except for the letters ס sāmekh and ש śîn. The Sanaani Hebrew pronunciation (used by the majority) has been indirectly critiqued by Saadia Gaon since it contains the Hebrew letters jimmel and guf, which he rules is incorrect. There are Yemenite scholars, such as Rabbi Ratzon Arusi, who say that such a perspective is a misunderstanding of Saadia Gaon's words.
Rabbi Mazuz postulates this hypothesis through the Jerban (Tunisia) Jewish dialect's use of gimmel and quf, switching to jimmel and guf when talking with Gentiles in the Arabic dialect of Jerba. Some feel that the Shar'abi pronunciation of Yemen is more accurate and similar to the Babylonian dialect since they both use a gimmel and quf instead of the jimmel and guf. While Jewish boys learned Hebrew since the age of 3, it was used primarily as a liturgical and scholarly language. In daily life, Yemenite Jews spoke in regional Judeo-Arabic.
Manuscript page from Yemenite Midrash ha-Gadol on Genesis.The oldest Yemenite manuscripts are those of the Hebrew Bible, which the Yemenite Jews call "Taj" ("crown"). The oldest texts dating from the ninth century, and each of them has a short Masoretic introduction, while many contain Arabic commentaries.
Yemenite Jews were acquainted with the works of Saadia Gaon, Rashi, Kimhi, Nahmanides, Yehudah ha Levy and Isaac Arama, besides producing a number of exegetes from among themselves. In the fourteenth century Nathanael ben Isaiah wrote an Arabic commentary on the Bible; in the second half of the fifteenth century Saadia ben David al-Adani was the author of a commentary on Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Abraham ben Solomon wrote on the Prophets.
Among the midrash collections from Yemen mention should be made of the Midrash ha-Gadol of David bar Amram al-'Adani. Between 1413 and 1430 the physician Yaḥya Zechariah b. Solomon wrote a compilation entitled "Midrash ha-Ḥefeẓ," which included the Pentateuch, Lamentations, Book of Esther, and other sections of the Hebrew Bible. Between 1484 and 1493 David al-Lawani composed his "Midrash al-Wajiz al-Mughni."
Among the Yemenite poets who wrote Hebrew and Arabic hymns modeled after the Spanish school, mention may be made of Yaḥya al-Dhahri and the members of the Al-Shabbezi family. A single non-religious work, inspired by Ḥariri, was written in 1573 by Zechariah ben Saadia (identical with the Yaḥya al-Dhahri mentioned above), under the title "Sefer ha-Musar." The philosophical writers include: Saadia b. Jabeẓ and Saadia b. Mas'ud, both at the beginning of the fourteenth century; Ibn al-Ḥawas, the author of a treatise in the form of a dialogue written in rimed prose, and termed by its author the "Flower of Yemen"; Ḥasan al-Dhamari; and Joseph ha-Levi b. Jefes, who wrote the philosophical treatises "Ner Yisrael" (1420) and "Kitab al-Masaḥah."
DNA testing between Yemenite Jews and various other of the world's Jewish communities shows a common link, with most communities sharing similar paternal genetic profiles. Furthermore, the Y-chromosome signatures of the Yemenite Jews are also similar to those of other Middle Eastern populations.
- Despite their long-term residence in different countries and isolation from one another, most Jewish populations were not significantly different from one another at the genetic level. The results support the hypothesis that the paternal gene pools of Jewish communities from Europe, North Africa and the Middle East descended from a common Middle Eastern ancestral population, and suggest that most Jewish communities have remained relatively isolated from neighboring non-Jewish communities during and after the Diaspora.
One point in which Yemenite Jews appear to differ from Ashkenazi Jews and most Near Eastern Jewish communities is in the proportion of sub-Saharan African maternally-transferred gene types which have entered their gene pools. One study found that some Arabic-speaking populations—Palestinians,Jordanians, Syrians, Iraqis, and Bedouins—have what appears to be substantial mtDNA gene flow from sub-Saharan Africa, amounting to 10-15% of lineages within the past three millennia. In the case of Yemenites, the average is actually higher at 35%. Of particular historic interest might be the finding that with almost no exceptions the sub-Saharan gene flow was exclusively female, as stated in this excerpt from the study:
- We have analyzed and compared mitochondrial DNA variation of populations from the Near East and Africa and found a very high frequency of African lineages present in the Yemen Hadramawt: more than a third were of clear sub-Saharan origin. Other Arab populations carried ∼10% lineages of sub-Saharan origin, whereas non-Arab Near Eastern populations, by contrast, carried few or no such lineages, suggesting that gene flow has been preferentially into Arab populations. Several lines of evidence suggest that most of this gene flow probably occurred within the past ∼2,500 years. In contrast, there is little evidence for male-mediated gene flow from sub-Saharan Africa in Y-chromosome haplotypes in Arab populations, including the Hadramawt. Taken together, these results are consistent with substantial migration from eastern Africa into Arabia, at least in part as a result of the Arab slave trade, and mainly female assimilation into the Arabian population as a result of miscegenation and manumission.
Yemenite Jews, as a traditionally Arabic-speaking community of local Yemenite and Israelite ancestries, are included within the findings for Yemenites, though they average a quarter of the frequency of the non-Jewish Yemenite sample. In other Arabic-speaking populations not mentioned, the African gene types are rarely shared. Other Middle Eastern populations, particularly non-Arabic speakers—Turks, Persians, Kurds, Armenians, Azeris, and Georgians—have few or no such lineages.
A study performed by the Department of Biological Sciences at Stanford University found a possible genetic similarity between 11 Ethiopian Jews and 4 Yemenite Jews who took part in the testing. The differentiation statistic and genetic distances for the 11 Ethiopian Jews and 4 Yemenite Jews tested were quite low, among the smallest of comparisons that involved either of these populations. Ethiopian Jewish Y-Chromosomal haplotype are often present in Yemenite and other Jewish populations, but analysis of Y-Chromosomal haplotype frequencies does not indicate a close relationship between Ethiopian Jewish groups. It is possible that the 4 Yemenite Jews from this study may be descendants of reverse migrants of African origin, who crossed Ethiopia to Yemen. The result from this study suggests that gene flow between Ethiopia and Yemen as a possible explanation. The study also suggests that the gene flow between Ethiopian and Yemenite Jewish populations may not have been direct, but instead could have been between Jewish and non-Jewish populations of both regions.
Emigration of communities to Israel
There were two major centers of population for Jews in southern Arabia besides the Jews of Northern Yemen, one in Aden and the other in Hadramaut. The Jews of Aden lived in and around the city, and flourished during the British protectorate. The Jews of Hadramaut lived a much more isolated life, and the community was not known to the outside world until the early 1900s. In the early 20th century they had numbered about 50,000; they currently number only a few hundred individuals and reside largely in Sa'dah and Rada'a.
First wave of emigration: 1881 to 1914
Emigration from Yemen to Palestine began in 1881 and continued almost without interruption until 1914. It was during this time that about 10% of the Yemenite Jews left. Due to the changes in the Ottoman Empire citizens could move more freely and in 1869 travel was improved with the opening of the Suez Canal, which reduced the travel time from Yemen to Palestine. Certain Yemenite Jews interpreted these changes and the new developments in the "Holy Land" as heavenly signs that the time of redemption was near. By settling in Israel they would be a part in what they believed could precipitate the anticipated messianic era.
From 1881 to 1882 a few hundred Jews left Sanaa and several nearby settlements. This wave was followed by other Jews from central Yemen who continued to move into Palestine until 1914. The majority of these groups moved into Jerusalem and Jaffa. Before World War I there was another wave that began in 1906 and continued until 1914. Hundreds of Yemenite Jews made their way to Palestine and chose to settle in the agricultural settlements. It was after these movements that the World Zionist Organization sent Shmuel Yavne'eli to Yemen to encourage Jews to emigrate to Palestine. Yavne'eli reached Yemen at the beginning of 1911 and returned to Palestine in April 1912. Due to Yavne'eli's efforts about 1,000 Jews left Yemen left central and southern Yemen with a several hundred more arriving before 1914.
The second wave of emigration: 1920 to 1950
Yemenite Jews en route from Aden to Israel.In 1922, the government of Yemen, under Imam Yahya reintroduced an ancient Islamic law entitled the "orphans decree". The law dictated that, if a Jewish boy or girl under the age of twelve was orphaned, they were to be forcibly converted to Islam, their connection to their family and community was to be severed and they had to be handed over to a Muslim foster family. The rule was based on the law that the prophet Mohammed is "the father of the orphans," and on the fact that the Jews in Yemen were considered "under protection" and the ruler was obligated to care for them.
A prominent example is Abdul Rahman al-Iryani, the President of the Yemen Arab Republic who was alleged to be of Jewish descent by Dorit Mizrahi, a writer in the Israeli ultra-Orthodox weekly Mishpaha. She claimed to be his niece due to him being her mother's brother. According to her recollection of events, he was born Zekharia Hadad in 1910 to a Yemenite Jewish family in Ibb. He lost his parents in a major disease epidemic at the age of eight and together with his 5-year-old sister, was forcibly converted to Islam and put under the care of separate foster families. He was raised in the powerful al-Iryani family and adopted an Islamic name. al-Iryani would later serve as minister of religious endowments under northern Yemen's first national government and became the only civilian to have led northern Yemen.
However, yemenionline, an online newspaper claimed to have conducted several interviews with several members of the al-Iryani family and residents of Iryan, and allege that this claim of Jewish descent is merely a "fantasy" started in 1967 by Haolam Hazeh, an Israeli tabloid. It states that Zekharia Haddad is in fact, Abdul Raheem al-Haddad, Al-Iryani's foster brother and bodyguard who died in 1980.Abdul Raheem is survived by tens of sons and grandsons. 
The most part of both communities emigrated to Israel after the declaration of the state. The State of Israel in beginning of 1948 initiated Operation Magic Carpet and airlifted most of Yemen's Jews to Israel.
In 1947, after the partition vote of the British Mandate of Palestine, Arab Muslim rioters, assisted by the local police force, engaged in a bloody pogrom in Aden that killed 82 Jews and destroyed hundreds of Jewish homes. Aden's Jewish community was economically paralyzed, as most of the Jewish stores and businesses were destroyed. Early in 1948, the unfounded accusation of the ritual murder of two girls led to looting.
This increasingly perilous situation led to the emigration of virtually the entire Yemenite Jewish community between June 1949 and September 1950 in Operation Magic Carpet. During this period, over 50,000 Jews emigrated to Israel.
A smaller, continuous migration was allowed to continue into 1962, when a civil war put an abrupt halt to any further Jewish exodus.
According to an official statement by Alaska Airlines:
- When Alaska Airlines sent them on "Operation Magic Carpet" 50 years ago, Warren and Marian Metzger didn't realize they were embarking on an adventure of a lifetime. Warren Metzker, a DC-4 captain, and Marian Metzker, a flight attendant, were part of what turned out to be one of the greatest feats in Alaska Airlines’ 67-year history: airlifting thousands of Yemenite Jews to the newly created nation of Israel. The logistics of it all made the task daunting. Fuel was hard to come by. Flight and maintenance crews had to be positioned through the Middle East. And the desert sand wreaked havoc on engines.
- It took a whole lot of resourcefulness the better part of 1949 to do it. But in the end, despite being shot at and even bombed upon, the mission was accomplished – and without a single loss of life. "One of the things that really got to me was when we were unloading a plane at Tel Aviv," said Marian, who assisted Israeli nurses on a number of flights. "A little old lady came up to me and took the hem of my jacket and kissed it. She was giving me a blessing for getting them home. We were the wings of eagles."
- For both Marian and Warren, the assignment came on the heels of flying the airline’s other great adventure of the late 1940s: the Berlin Airlift. "I had no idea what I was getting into, absolutely none," remembered Warren, who retired in 1979 as Alaska’s chief pilot and vice president of flight operations. "It was pretty much seat-of-the-pants flying in those days. Navigation was by dead reckoning and eyesight. Planes were getting shot at. The airport in Tel Aviv was getting bombed all the time. We had to put extra fuel tanks in the planes so we had the range to avoid landing in Arab territory."
 Present situation
Currently there are large Yemeni Jewish populations in many countries. The substantive population of Yemeni Jews in Israel has claimed considerable discrimination at the hands of Ashkenazi, Sephardi, and other Mizrahi groups. Most well known are assertions that commencing in the 1950s, the Israeli government as well as other organizations in Israel were actively involved in the kidnapping of between 2,400 and 10,000 children from their recently arrived Yemeni families. In most instances, the parents claim that they were told their children were ill and required hospitalization. Upon later visiting the hospital, it is claimed that the parents were told that their children had died though no bodies were presented or graves which have later proven to be empty in many cases were shown to the parents.
In Yemen itself, there exists today a small Jewish community in the town of Bayt Harash (2 km away from Raydah). They have a rabbi, a functioning synagogue and a mikvah. The also have a boys yeshiva and a girls seminary, funded by a Satmarer affiliated Hasidic organization of Monsey, New York, USA.
The Yemeni defense forces have gone to great lengths to try and convince the Jews to stay in their towns. These attempts, however, failed and the authorities were forced to provide financial aid for the Jews so they would be able to rent accommodation in safer areas.
In December, 2008, 30 year old Rabbi Moshe Ya'ish al-Nahari of Raydah was shot and killed by an Islamic extremist. After initially being ordered to pay only a fine, the culprit, a former Yemeni Air Force officer who proudly confessed to the crime, was eventually sentenced to death by an appeals court.  His murder, and continual threats against Jews, prompted approximately 20 other Jewish residents of Raydah to emigrate to Israel. 
On November 1, 2009 the Wall Street Journal reported that in June 2009, an estimated 350 Jews were left in Yemen, and by October 2009, 60 had immigrated to the United States and 100 were considering to do so. BBC estimated the community at 370 and dwindling.
- Siahh Yerushalayim, Baladi prayer book in 4 vols, ed. Yosef Qafih
- Tefillat Avot, Baladi prayer book (6 vols.)
- Torat Avot, Baladi prayer book (7 vols.)
- Tiklal Ha-Mefoar (Maharitz) Nusahh Baladi, Meyusad Al Pi Ha-Tiklal Im Etz Hayim Ha-Shalem Arukh Ke-Minhag Yahaduth Teiman: Bene Berak: Or Neriyah ben Mosheh Ozeri: 2001 or 2002
- Siddur Tefilat HaChodesh — Beit Yaakov (Nusahh Shami), Nusahh Sepharadim, Teiman, and the Edoth Mizrakh
- Rabbi Shalom Sharabi, Siddur Kavanot HaRashash: Yeshivat HaChaim Ve'Hashalom
- Halikhot Teiman — The Life of Jews of Sana'a, by Rabbi Yosef Qafahh, Machon Ben-Tzi Publishing
- The Jews of the Middle East and North Africa In Modern Times, by Reeva Simon, Michael Laskier, and Sara Reguer (Editors), Columbia University Press, 2002, Chapters 8 and 21
- Lenowitz, Harris (1998), written at New York, The Jewish Messiahs: From the Galilee to Crown Heights, Oxford University Press
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|This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Yemenite Jews. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.|