||Two independent Judeo-Arabic works bound together. The first is Zipporin Shamir, segulot and remedies by R. Hayyim Joseph David Azulai, (Hida, 1724–1806). The text, which is in a single column in square letters, is preceded by a list of the subscribers who made publication possible, followed by memorial pages. The second work, Kita’av Nifla’ot Gedolot, by R. Hayyim ben Israel Hori, is a collection of tales and on good Middot.
R. Hayyim Joseph David Azulai, (Hida, 1724–1806) is one of the great Sephardi gedolim. Born in Jerusalem where his father was a leading rabbi, Hida wrote his first work at the age of 15, showing that many Jewish scholars had made mistakes in matters of bibliography and chronology. At the age of 29, he was sent as an emissary (shaliah) to raise money for the Jerusalem community. Hida was the author of almost 100 books on a wide variety of Judaic subjects, among them halakhic works, responsa, and on festivals. His best known is his Shem ha-Gedolim with biographies of 1,300 scholars and a description of 2,200 books. His diaries cover his full life, as rabbi of Cairo, a student in Hebron, his two great European journeys, and much more, including humor, pathos, and adventure (captured by pirates, and his meeting King Louis XVI of France).
Djerba is an island off the coast of Tunisia. In ancient times it was an important Phoenician trading center. According to the local tradition, the Jewish settlement there dates to the reign of King Solomon. A family of priests fleeing Jerusalem in the year 70 C.E. is said to have transported one of the Temple gates to Djerba. It is believed to be enclosed in the synagogue, called al-Ghariba (the extraordinary) of the Hara al-Saghira (the Small Quarter), which is situated in the center of the island, a much frequented place of pilgrimage. The population consisted mainly of kohanim (priests) with a small sprinkling of others, although there were no levites among the residents. According to tradition, the absence of levites on the island is the result of a curse against them by Ezra because they refused to answer his request to send levites to Israel (cf. Ezra 8:15), and they all died. The history of the Jews of Djerba includes three serious persecutions: in the 12th century under the Almohads; in 1519 under the Spanish; and in 1943 under the Nazis. Maimonides, in a letter to his son, expressed a low opinion of their superstitions and spiritual capacity, but praised them for their faith. In the 19th and 20th centuries the yeshivot of Djerba produced many rabbis and writers and they provided rabbis for the communities of North Africa. In 1946 there were some 4,900 Jews in Djerba. Their number dwindled to about 1,500 by the late 1960s, the majority emigrating to Israel and settling on moshavim (many of them on moshav Eitan).