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Webster's Dictionary [1]

(n.) A North American rail (Porzana Carolina) common in the Eastern United States. Its back is golden brown, varied with black and white, the front of the head and throat black, the breast and sides of the head and neck slate-colored. Called also American rail, Carolina rail, Carolina crake, common rail, sora rail, soree, meadow chicken, and orto.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [2]

called also Matta Mechassio, a town on the Euphrates, about twenty-two parasangs south of Pumbaditha, is famous in Jewish history as the seat of a renowned academy, which was inaugurated A.D. 219 by Abba Areka, more commonly known by his scholastic title of Rab (q.v.). Rab died in 247 at Sora, where for twenty-eight years he had presided over the Soranic school, remarkable for the pleasantness of its site and accommodations, and numbering, at times, from a thousand to twelve hundred students. Rab's successor in Sora was R. Huna (born about 212; died in 297), a distinguished scholar of Rab's. His learning contributed to sustain the reputation of the school, which could, under him, yet number eight hundred students. After an administration of forty years Huna died, and the rectorship was filled by Jehudah bar-Jecheskel, who died in 299. Bar- Jecheskel was succeeded by R. Chasda of Kaphri (born in 217; died in, 309), a scholar of Rab. Although the colleague of Huna for many years, he was far advanced in life eighty years of age when he attained the rectorship, the duties of which he discharged for ten years, and died in 309 at the age of ninety-two. Chasda, who was the last of the men who had been personally instructed by Rab, was succeeded by a scholar of his own,

Rabba bar-Huna Mare, in the rectory, and when A.D. he died the college was without a rector for nearly fifty years ............................... 309-320

Ashi ben-Simai, surnamed Rabbana (our teacher), resuscitated the college of Sora, and was its rector fifty-two years, during which time seven rectors died in Pumbaditha. Ashi immortalized his name by collecting the Babylonian Talmud........................................... 375-427

R. Jemar, or Mar-Jemar, contracted Maremar, succeeded R. Ashi as rector of the college......... 427-432

R. Idi bar-Abin, his successor .................... 432-452

R. Nachman bar-Huna, who is not once mentioned in the Talmud, held the office............... 452-455

Mar bar-R. Ashi, continued collecting the Talmud, which his father began, and officiated....... 455-468

Rabba Tusphah succeeded Mar bar-R. Ashi........ 468-474 Sora, where one of the oldest Jewish academies stood, was now destroyed by the Persian king Firuz.

After the death of Firuz (485), the academy was reopened, and Rabina occupied the rectory of Sora 488-499

In connection with R. Jose of Pumbaditha, and other scholars of that time, they completed the Talmud Dec. 2, 499. For the next one hundred and fifty years Jewish chronology leaves us in the lurch, as this period was rather troublesome for the Jews; and from the middle of the 7th century the presidents of the Soranic school are styled Gaon i.e. Excellence a word which is either of Arabic or Persian origin. The first gaon is

Mar Isaac cir. 65-670

He was succeeded by

Huna 670-60

Mar Sheshna ben-Tachlipha. 680-689

MarChaninai of Nehar Pakoir 689-697

Nahilai Halevi of Nares 697-715.

Jacob of Nahar-Pakor 715-732

Mar ben-Samuel 733-751

Mari Ha-kohen 751-759

R. Acha a few months

R. Jehudah the Blind 759-762

Achunai Kahana ben-Papa 762-765

Chaninai Kahana ben-Huna 765-775

Mari Ha-Levi ben-Mesharhaja 775-778

Bebai Halevi ben-Abba 778-788

Hilai ben-Mari 788-797

Jacob ben-Mardocai 797-811

Abumai ben-Mardocai 811-819

Zadok, or Isaac ben-Ashi 819-821

Halia ben-Chaninai 821-824

Kirnoj ben-Ashi 824-827

Moses ben-Jacob 827-837

Interregnum 837-839

Mar Cohen Zedek I, ben-Abimal 839-849

the author of the first collection of the Jewish order of prayers ( טידור ).

Mar Sar-Shalom Ben-Boas 849-859

Natronai II, ben-Hilai, the first gaon who used the Arabic language in his correspondence 859-869

Mar Amram ben-Sheshna 869-881

Nachshon ben-Zadok (q.v.) 881-889

Mar Zemach ben-Chajim 889-895

R. Malchija only one month Hai ben-Nachshon 895-906

The Soranic academy loses its importance under the next president

Hilai ben- Mishael 906-914

It lingers on, but without any outside influence. The study of the Talmud had so diminished at this academy that there was no Talmudic authority worthy of being invested with the gaonate, or presidency. In order not to give up this school entirely,

Jacob ben-Natronal-Amram was elected 914-926

For want of a learned man, a weaver was elected as the next incumbent Jom-Tob Kahana ben-Jacob-Hai-ben-Kimai 926-928 Against the customary usage, after Jom-Tob's death, an outsider was elected for the rectorship,

Saadia ben-Joseph (q.v.);..................... 928-932

Under Saadia the Soranic high school revived again. Saadia, unwilling to become a blind tool in the hands of those who called him to his position, was deposed in 930 through the jealousy of others and his own unflinching integrity; and an anti-gaon in the person of

Joseph ben-Jacob ben-Satia was elected 930-932

Saadia, however, retained his office in the presence of an anti-gaon for nearly three years more (930-933), when he had to relinquish his dignity altogether. His opponent,

Joseph ben-Jacob ben-Satia was now sole gaon 933-937

but when deposed in 937,

Saadia ben-Joseph was again incumbent 937-949 When Saadia died, the deposed anti-gaon was again elected 942-948

But with Saadia's death the last sunset light of the Soranic academy had passed away; and the dilapidated state of that once so famous school obliged Joseph ben-Satia to relinquish Sora, and to emigrate to Bassra, in 948. The school founded by Rab, after it had flourished for more than seven hundred years, was now closed. But the Soranians, it seems, could not get over the downfall of the venerable academy, and used all their endeavors to continue the same. They sent four famous Talmudists outside of Babylonia to interest the Jewish congregations for this old alma mater. But these messengers never returned; they fell into the hands of a Spanish corsair. Among these captives was Moses ben-Chanoch (q.v.), who was brought to Spain, where he propagated Jewish learning on the peninsula. In the meantime there was an

Interregnum at Sora from 948-1009

when Samuel ben-Chofni 1009-1034

was elected to the presidency, to close up the list of presidents of that old school.

See Gratz, Gesch. d. Juden, 4, 5, 6. (See Jewish Schools). (B.P.)