||This volume is labeled "vol. 1" on the title page. It does not seem, however, that any further volumes were ever published. It contains songs, Pizmonim (liturgical poems) and piyyutim (lyrical compositions intended to embellish an obligatory prayer or any other religious ceremony, communal or private) that were customary to recite on Simhat Torah, on the seventh day of Passover and on the festival of Shevuot in the community of Tlemcen. Shmuel Sultan, Avraham ibn Samon and Aharon Lekubi are credited with bringing the manuscript to the publisher.
Tlemcen, city in N.W. Algeria, Judeo-Berber center. The Berber tribes in the neighboring areas of Tlemcen professed Judaism. Judeo-Muslim saints were worshiped there for a long time. In the 10th and 11th centuries scholars of the community corresponded with the geonim of Mesopotamia. The city was destroyed by the Almohads in 1146. Jews settled there again only in 1248, when it became the capital of the Zeiyanide kingdom. The Jews of Tlemcen lived outside the city in a suburb or village called Agadir. Abraham Ben-Jalil, ambassador of Aragon, settled there with his family in 1291. The community's rabbis in the 14th century were Abraham b. Hakun and Moses b. Zakar. When Ephraim b. Israel Al-Nakawa (Enquaua), a Spanish refugee, settled in Agadir, he obtained permission for the Jews to settle in the city of Tlemcen. There he built a synagogue. Among outstanding scholars were Judah Najjar, Marzuk b. Tawa, Saadiah Najjar, the Ankawas, and the Alashkars. The Arab traveler Abd al-Basit remarks that he studied medicine with the famous teacher, Moses Alashkar (1465). However, in 1467 this coexistence was disrupted by persecutions of the Jews by Muslim religious brotherhoods. At this time many Jews left for Castile. Among them was Joshua b. Joseph ha-Levi, the author of Halikhot Olam.
In 1492 many Spanish refugees settled in Tlemcen, including the Gavison, Levy-Bacrat, and Khallas families. Some of them, including Stora, Ben-Mahiya, and Sasportas, assumed important diplomatic functions. Jacob Alegre was sent on a mission to Charles V (1531). In the treaties they negotiated a clause granting religious liberty to the Jews who wished to settle in Spanish territory.
In the early 16th century Tlemcen suffered a series of disasters, from which it never completely recovered. In 1517 the Turks pillaged the city, destroyed Jewish property, and obliged the Jews to wear a piece of yellow material on their headgear. By 1520 there were no more than 500 "houses" (families) of Jews. In 1534 the Spanish army captured the town; massacres took place and 1,500 Jews were enslaved. Their coreligionists of Fez and Oran paid the ransom asked to set them free. Although the Jewish community of Tlemcen was sacked by the Turks in 1670, it still produced such scholars as Nathan Djian and Isaac Moatti in the 1700s. When the French entered the city in 1830, they found 1,585 Jews and five synagogues, one of which they turned into a church in 1842. During the 1881 uprisings the Jews fought back against their Christian adversaries. They were not attacked again until 1940, when legal discrimination was instituted. Their rights were restored along with those of the rest of Algerian Jewry. The community was never larger than 6,000 persons, and its members were largely workers and employees.
The Jewish cemetery on the outskirts of Tlemcen was the most important place of pilgrimage for Jews and non-Jews. Located there is the tomb of the "Rabh" (R. Ephraim Ankawa). Sometimes more than 10,000 people from many parts of the world convened there on Lag ba-Omer. After 1962 no Jews lived in Tlemcen.