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Sura Academy

Coordinates: 31°52′00″N 44°27′00″E / 31.86667°N 44.45000°E / 31.86667; 44.45000
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Sura is located in Iraq
Coordinates: 31°52′00″N 44°27′00″E / 31.86667°N 44.45000°E / 31.86667; 44.45000
Country Iraq

Sura Academy (Hebrew: ישיבת סורא) was a Jewish yeshiva located in Sura in what is now southern Iraq, a region known in Jewish texts as "Babylonia". With Pumbedita Academy, it was one of the two major Jewish academies from the year 225 CE at the beginning of the era of the Amora sages until 1033 CE at the end of the era of the Gaonim. Sura Academy was founded by the Amora Abba Arikha ("Rav"), a disciple of Judah ha-Nasi. Among the well-known sages that headed the yeshiva were Rav Huna, Rav Chisda, Rav Ashi, Yehudai ben Nahman, Natronai ben Hilai, Saadia Gaon, and others.


A depiction of Rabbi Ashi teaching at the Sura Academy

Abba Arikha arrived at Sura city to find no lively Jewish religious public life, and since he was worried about the continuity of the Jewish community in Babylonia, he left his colleague Samuel of Nehardea and began working to establish the yeshiva that would become Sura Academy. Upon Abba Arikha's arrival, teachers from surrounding cities and towns descended upon Sura. The Academy of Sura was formally founded in the year 225 CE, several years after his arrival.

Sura Academy would eventually grow to include a faculty of 1,200 members and included the following features:

  • ˀekhseḏrā (Jewish Babylonian Aramaic: אכסדרא), a covered walkway leading from the street up to the house of learning
  • qṭon (קיטון), offices for the rabbis and deans and classrooms for teachers
  • gannǝtā (גינתא), garden whose produce fed the academy's teachers and students
  • ṣeppē (ציפי), flat mats placed on the floor, where teachers and students could rest between classes

Sura Academy soon became the most influential yeshiva in its region, besting the Nehardea Academy.

The academy's classes were occasionally held at Matha-Mehasia (מתא מחסיא), a suburb of Sura city, and after a while a Torah center was founded there as well.

List of Sura academy's Deans[edit]

Amora era[edit]

Savora era[edit]

Gaonim era[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ The list names in accordance with Hebrew Wikipedia; & Jewish EncyclopediaGaon- Synchronistic List of the Geonim of Sura and Pumbedita
  2. ^ The list names is also based on "Jews in Islamic countries in the Middle Ages", Moshe Gil, p. 404 – A Chronological List of the Geonim of Sura and Pumbedita [1]
  3. ^ The list dates are in accordance with the work of Prof. Moshe Gil, "Kingdom of Israel in the Gaonic era", 1997 (in Hebrew). Some of the information concerning the dates are based on factual sources, however, some are based on premises, in the absence of authoritative sources or due to contradiction between sources. There is a dispute among the scholars concerning some of the dates, and not all is agreed upon.