Seating Rights in the Alsheich Synagogue in Sana'a


  • Aharon Gaimani


Yemen, Sana'a, synagogue, Alsheich, places of worship, fixed seating, possession


In Jewish communities it was customary to seat the worshipers in the synagogue according to their dignity and merit. There are usually fixed places for worshipers in the synagogue, and each worshiper has control over his place of worship. Some synagogues sell the seats in the synagogue, and a worshiper who buys his seat retains it as his property, and upon his demises it passes to his heirs. However, in synagogues where it is customary not to sell seats, there is a dispute as to whether the seat is inherited. This article deals with a variety of areas regarding the rights of the worshipers to their places of worship in the Alsheich Synagogue of the Alsheich family, who lived in the city of Sana'a, the capital of Yemen, and were one of the most respected families in Yemen. The documents published in the article discuss a variety of cases that deal with practical halakhah, such as the inheritance of the synagogue seat to the son of a deceased worshiper; whether a worshiper who left the synagogue and then returned retains his fixed seat; whether a worshiper who went to another city for several years and asked for his seat back that was already occupied by another worshiper; sale of the seat of a worshiper who has rights in the synagogue who moved to pray in another synagogue; the right of a worshiper to lend his seat because of his desire to immigrate to Eretz Yisrael. The documents deal specifically with the Alsheich synagogue, but they also teach about the custom of the other synagogues in the capital city of Sana'a.