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I am Yemenite 6
Orphans's Decree

Medium: Glass Mosaic 

Materials: Stained Glass, Handmade Jewelry, Metal, Beads, Smalti & Ancient Pottery from Jerusalem

Dimensions: 18” H x 14” W


Orphan's Decree

This portrait of a Yemenite Jewish girl whose clothing and jewelry are representative of those found among the Jews near Sa’ana in the 19th century is my interpretation of a child’s fear of enforcement of the law referred to as the Orphan’s Decree. This statute originated in the 1800s and required that the Yemeni state (Zaydi) take custody of all Jewish orphans, usually of both parents, under the age of 12 and forcibly convert them to Islam. While initially intended to protect orphaned Jewish children, under the rule of Imam Yahya (1918–1948), this law was enforced aggressively and quickly became a source of harassment and fear. This law, like all laws applying to dhimmi, was applied more or less ruthlessly depending upon the inclination of local and royal officials. In my interviews with Jews whose families originated from Yemen, this decree was often described as a law that terrorized the Jewish community.

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