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Bassan Yeḥiel

(238 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ben Naeh
Jehiel ben Ḥayyim Bassan was born into a Romaniot family in Rhodes in 1550, and moved to Istanbul in the 1580s after his wife died. He became one of the prominent rabbis of the city, and possibly also the head ( av bet din) of its rabbinical court during the first quarter of the seventeenth century. Together with Elijah Mizraḥi, Bassan disagreed with Samuel de Medina in a controversy over the right of a majority to impose its will upon the minority with regard to a communal ordinance (Heb. haskama) that had negative financial consequences for the minority. Bassan held that it was im…

Bekemoharar Family

(518 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ben Naeh
The Bekemoharar family of rabbis and scholars was descended from Menahem ben Isaac Ashkenazi (1666–1733), who was born in Timişoara (Temesvár) near the border between present-day Romania and Serbia. His family moved to Edirne (Adrianople) in the heartland of the Ottoman Empire when he was two years old. When the chief rabbi of Edirne, Abraham ben Isaac Ṣarfati, died in 1722, the city’s thirteen congregations could not agree on a candidate to replace him. Seven congregations favored the late rabbi’s son-in-law Abraham Geron (d. 1751), but the other six chose Ashkenazi as thei…

Haskama

(1,048 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ben Naeh
From the sixteenth century on, the fundamental rules guiding the life of the Jewish community in the Ottoman Empire were based upon legal decrees known as haskamot (sing. haskama,also askama) or taqqanot (sing. taqqana). Both terms were used in medieval Iberia and were carried over into the Sephardi diaspora following the expulsion. Taqqanot (Heb. ordinances) formulated to cope with new needs and changing realities organized and ensured the management and proper functioning of the community for the benefit of its members. The most important taqqanot determined the unchallengeab…

Ḥazzan family

(1,029 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ben Naeh
The Ḥazzans (Ḥazan) were a Sephardi rabbinical family first mentioned in seventeenth-century Izmir (Smyrna). Several members of the family served as rabbis in communities of the Ottoman Empire from the late eighteenth century to the early twentieth century.  Joseph ben Elijah Ḥazzan (d. after 1694) was a pupil of Joseph di Ṭrani (Mahariṭ; d. 1638) in Istanbul. After some time in Izmir, he settled in Jerusalem. He was the author of several works, including ʿEn Yosef (The Face of Joseph; Izmir, 1675), a collection of homilies on the weekly Torah portions,and ʿEn Yehosef (The Face of Jeho…

Handali, Esther

(321 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ben Naeh
Esther Kira Ḥandali (Esther Kyra), the wife of Elijah Ḥandali, was one of the best-known Jewish women to bear the title kira (Turk. dame, lady). These women exercised political influence through her contacts with women in the harems of four Ottoman sultans: Süleyman I the Magnificent (r. 1520– 1566), Selim II (r. 1566– 1574), Murat III (r. 1574–1595), and Mehmet III (r. 1595–1603). Esther was regularly admitted to the harem to sell jewelry, perfumes, and other items, and she also ran errands or performed services for the women outside the palace. Thanks…

Ibn Yaḥya, Gedaliah ben Jacob Tam

(316 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ben Naeh
Gedaliah ben Jacob Tam ibn Yaḥya (d. 1575), born into a distinguished Sephardi family of rabbis, intellectuals, and literati that originated in Spain, was one of the leading rabbis of Salonica during the second half of the sixteenth century. His father, Rabbi Jacob Tam ben David ibn Yaḥya (ca. 1475–1542) was a notable rabbi and intellectual, and the author of a book of responsa entitled Sheʾelot u-Teshuvot Ohale Tam (Responsa Tents of Uprightness). Both Gedaliah and his brother Joseph (d. 1534) studied medicine, Joseph apparently becoming one of the personal physicians of…

Alsheikh, Moses ben Ḥayyim

(386 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ben Naeh
Moses ben Ḥayyim Alsheikh (Alshich, Alshekh), a prominent rabbinic scholar and author, was born in Edirne (Adrianople) around 1520. In his youth, Alsheikh studied under Joseph ben Samuel Taitatzak (ca. 1465–1546/50) and later under Joseph Caro (1488–1575). He then moved to Safed and, except for journeys abroad on behalf of the community, lived there for the rest of his life. Distinguished for his scholarship, he wrote dozens of halakhic works and commentaries on the Bible. Alsheikh was one of the select few to receive the ancient traditional ordination (Heb. semikha) revived by Jacob B…

Homosexuality in Jewish society

(1,771 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ben Naeh
Human sexual activity is influenced by its surroundings, and whether it is labeled as “normative” or “deviant” depends upon the norms relative to the place and time, the social and cultural contexts, and the standing of the individual. The study of homosexuality among Jews in the Ottoman Empire and in the lands of Islam, and also of the attitude of Jewish society, amply demonstrates this. Like Judaism (Lev. 18:22 and 20:13), Islam strictly forbids sexual relations between males (Qur’an 7:81, 26:165, 27:55; and even more explicitly in the ḥadīth), but in actuality, the official stan…

Pallache, Ḥayyim

(432 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ben Naeh
Ḥayyim ben Jacob Pallache (Palache, Palaggi), known by the Hebrew acronyms Ḥabif and Maharḥaf, was a chief rabbi of the Ottoman city of Izmir (Smyrna). Born in Izmir in 1788, he was educated by his father, who was a well-known rabbi and kabbalist, as well as by his grandfather Joseph Raphael ben Ḥayyim Ḥazzan (Ḥazzan, 1741–1820), who was also a chief rabbi of Izmir. Ḥayyim Pallache was already a rabbi in 1813, when he was but twenty-five years old; by the time he reached forty in 1828, he had been appointed head of the Bet Yaʿaqov rabbinical seminary. Ten years later, he became the head …

Taytaṣak, Joseph

(545 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ben Naeh
Joseph ben Solomon Taytaṣak was a scholar and rabbi, active from the late fifteenth to the mid-sixteenth century, who excelled both in traditional Jewish subjects and in secular subjects. As a young man in Castile, where he was born in 1465, Taytaṣak caught the attention of Rabbi  Levi ibn Ḥabib (Ralbaḥ, ca. 1480–1545). He moved from Spain to Portugal but fled to Italy after the expulsion edict in 1497. Taytaṣak lived in Salonica during the first decade of the sixteenth century, and later spent time in Yanina (Ioannina) and Serres. He was considered one of Saloni…

Modaʽi, Ḥayyim

(381 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ben Naeh
Born apparently in Istanbul in 1720, Ḥayyim ben Elijah Moda‘i moved to the Holy Land during his childhood, where he lived in Safed. After having resided there for twenty-five  years, he left the town for Europe as a rabbinical emissary (Heb. shadar or meshullaḥ) in order to collect donations. After this journey he settled in Istanbul (1749), where he was appointed one of the city’s rabbis. At the same time he also served as a member of the Committee of Officials in Safed ( vaʿad peqide ṣefat). After the destruction of Safed by the earthquake of 1760, he once again traveled to Eur…

Ashkenazi, Judah Ben Joseph

(338 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ben Naeh
Judah ben Joseph Ashkenazi, born ca. 1730, was one of the most notable scholars of Izmir (Smyrna) during the eighteenth century. His father, Joseph, immigrated from Vienna to Izmir around 1700. Judah was the son-in-law of Rabbi Barzilay Ya‘beṣ, a scholar and communal leader. From various sources, it appears that Judah was known for his sharpness of mind, his profilic literary output, and his accomplishments as a teacher. He grew up among the students of the Maḥziqe Torah seminary and eventually became an outstanding scholar and teacher. Rabbi Ḥayyim ben Jacob Pallache (known by the…

Caro, Joseph Ben Ephraim

(1,127 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ben Naeh
Joseph ben Ephraim Caro (1488–1575), known also by his Hebrew acronym as the Riq, was one of the most important halakhic adjudicators of all time. Honored with the title maran (Heb. our master) or maran ha-meḥabber (Heb. our master the author) for his monumental compilation, the Bet Yosef, he was born in 1488, apparently in the city of Toledo in the Kingdom of Castile. In 1492, when the Jews of Spain were expelled, his family went to Portugal, but after only a few years they were forced to flee eastward and headed to the Ottoman Empire. Caro…

Israel family

(580 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ben Naeh
The Israel family, noted for producing many prominent rabbis, flourished in Alexandria, Rhodes, and Palestine in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The earliest distinguished member of the family, Moses Israel, was born in Jerusalem around 1670 and died in Alexandria in 1740. Perhaps descended from earlier rabbis whose names are unknown, he was a pupil of Abraham ben David Yiṣhaqi (1661–1729) and married Hannah, the daughter of Moses ben Solomon ibn Ḥabib (ca. 1654–1696), one of the foremost rabbis of Jerusalem during that period. From 1710 to 1713, Moses…

Shabbetay (Shabbati), Ḥayyim

(327 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ben Naeh
Ḥayyim ben Moses Shabbetay(Shabbati) was a noted rabbi of Salonica from the mid-sixteenth to the mid-seventeenth century. Born around 1555, Shabbetay (known also by the Hebrew acronym Maharḥash) was the pupil of Aaron ben Joseph Sasson (1550 or 1555–1626) and of Solomon ben Abraham ha-Kohen (Maharshakh, d. 1602). By the last decade of the sixteenth century, Shabbetay had already achieved recognition as one of the leading rabbinical scholars in Salonica. In 1615, he succeeded Samuel Florentin as marbiṣ tora (teacher of Torah study), i.e., rabbi, of the Qahal Qadosh Shalom; succeede…

Mizraḥi, Elijah ben Abraham

(471 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ben Naeh
Elijah ben Abraham Mizraḥi (d. before 1527), generally known by the Hebrew acronym Reʾem,  was one of the greatest rabbis of the Romaniot community of Istanbul. Born there around the middle of the fifteenth century, he headed a yeshiva and apparently figured as the leader of the city’s rabbinical community. Modern scholarship tends to dismiss the claim that he was formally styled chief rabbi ( haham başı ), however, although this was assumed in the past. Aside from being an adjudicator (Heb. poseq) of Jewish law, Mizraḥi possessed broad general knowledge on numerous subjects,…

Castro, Jacob

(287 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ben Naeh
Jacob ben Abraham Castro was one of the most important  rabbis of Egypt during the sixteenth century and the first decade of the seventeenth. Born in 1525, either in Egypt or Jerusalem, into a family of Iberian origin, Castro (known by the acronym Mahariqas) was a pupil of both Levi ben Ḥabib (Ralbaḥ, ca. 1483–1545) and David ibn Abi Zimra, (Radbaz, 1479–1573). Castro stood at the head of the community of Mizraḥi Jews ( Musta‘ribūn) in Egypt throughout the second half of the sixteenth century until his death in either 1612 or 1610. A leading halakhic authority in his …

Sassoon Family

(1,509 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ben Naeh
The Sassoons (Sasons, Sassons) are a prominent Jewish family of Baghdadiorigin whose commercial and financial networks dominated trade in India and the Far East at the height of the British colonial period. Members of the family engaged in philanthropic and scholarly enterprises throughout the Jewish world. The Sassoons were typical of the Jewish notable families that prospered in business and finance in the late Ottoman period cities likeIstanbul (the Zonana, Aciman/Adjiman, Camondo/Kamondo, and Gabbai families), Izmir (Smyrna), Damascus, and Acre (Akko, the Farḥi family), a…

Ashkenazi Jews in the Ottoman Empire

(954 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ben Naeh
Ashkenazi Jews from Central and Eastern Europe migrated to the Ottoman Empire in a series of waves that began as early as the fourteenth century. In part they were motivated by repeated invitations from Romaniot Jews urging them to escape the difficult conditions in Christian Europe by settling in the safer, more accommodating Ottoman realm. Rabbi Isaac Ṣarfati in Edirne, for instance, sent a missive to this effect to the Jewish communities of Germany in the fifteenth century. In addition to  Ashkenazi Jews who moved into Ottoman territory of their o…

Almosnino, Joseph ben Isaac

(289 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ben Naeh
Joseph ben Isaac Almosnino (1642–1689) was a noted rabbi of the late seventeenth century. Born in Salonica, Almosnino (the surname also appears as Almoshnino or Almoshnini) was the nephew of Rabbi Judah ben Samuel Lerma. He studied in Jerusalem at the Bet Yaʿaqov seminary of Israel Jacob ben Samuel Ḥagiz (1620–1674). In 1666, he went to Belgrade to continue his education under Simḥa ben Gershon ha-Kohen, the rabbi of the local community and the head of its seminary, as well as the author of Shemot ha-Giṭṭin. Shortly thereafter, Almosnino married his teacher’s daughter, Leah. She…

Algazi family

(967 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ben Naeh
The Algazis were a noted Turkish rabbinical family from the sixteenth through the nineteenth century. Their origins lay in the city of Bursa, near Istanbul. The family was founded by Abraham ben Moses Algazi the Elder (ca. 1560–ca. 1640), who lived in Bursa and was the son-in-law of Rabbi Joseph ben Moses Benveniste de Segovia. Abraham had three sons: Moses, Isaac, and Solomon Nissim.  Little is known about Moses ben Abraham Algazi except that he mutilated himself in some way and emigrated to the Land of Israel in the mid-1630s. He returned to Bursa in his old age, and died there around 1671. Sol…

Benveniste Family

(820 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ben Naeh
The Benveniste (Benvenest, Benvenisti) family, which had its origins in the Iberian Peninsula, produced noted rabbis and scholars throughout the Ottoman period. They were active primarily in Istanbul and Izmir (Smyrna) in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The first member of the Benveniste family known to have attained prominence was Moses Benveniste, a rabbi who also served as   physician to Grand Vizier Siyavuş Pasha (r. 1582–1584, 1586–1589, 1592–1593). Moses was eventually exiled from Istanbul to Rhodes by order of the sultan. He had two sons…

Rosanes (Rosales) Family

(872 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ben Naeh
The Rosanes (Rosales) family was a noted Sephardi family of rabbis, scholars, and merchants who flourished in the Ottoman Empire from the seventeenth through the nineteenth century. The family probably originated in the small town of Castallvi de Rosanes in Catalonia, not far from Barcelona. After the expulsion in 1492, some members of the family went to Portugal, where their name became Rosales. After 1497, the members of this branch became anusim (crypto-Jews), some of whom later returned to Judaism and gained prominence in Morocco (see Rosales, Jacob). Others ma…

Navon family

(801 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ben Naeh
The Navon family, of Spanish origin, settled in the Ottoman Empire from the Iberian peninsula after the expulsion in 1492 and 1497. It included several important rabbis, scholars, and public figures in Istanbul and Jerusalem during the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries. Ephraim ben Aaron Navon (ca. 1677–1735) was a rabbi in Istanbul and Jerusalem. Born in Istanbul, he moved to Jerusalem around the beginning of the eighteenth century, but in 1720 left as a rabbinical emissary ( shadar or meshullaḥ) to the cities of Turkey. When this mission was concluded in 172…

Qimḥi/Qamḥi family

(539 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ben Naeh
The Qimḥi (Qamḥi, Kimḥi) family, a noted rabbinical family in the Ottoman Empire over several centuries, produced many important scholars. Judah Qimḥi was the father of Abraham and Ḥayyim. Also known are Raphael, Samuel, and Israel Ḥayyim. Samuel was the father of Rabbi Jacob Qimḥi (Istanbul, ca. 1720–London, 1800). Abraham ben Judah Qimḥi (d. 1722) was the head of a religious court and a chief rabbi in Istanbul during the 1720s. Raphael Israel ben Joseph Qimḥi was born in Istanbul and was a disciple of Ḥayyim Alfandari. He followed his teacher to Safed in 1713 and there also st…

Papo, Eliezer

(371 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ben Naeh
Eliezer ben Isaac Papo, born in Sarajevo in 1785, was the rabbi of the small Jewish community in Silistre and one of the best-known Jewish scholars in the Balkans in the early nineteenth century. His fame derived primarily from his Peleʾ Yoʿeṣ (Wonderful Counselor), an important work on morals and ethics ( musar) published in his lifetime (Istanbul, 1825) and many times thereafter down to the present. In addition to the numerous Hebrew editions, it has appeared in Judeo-Spanish, Judeo-Arabic, and Yiddish, as well as in abridged translations in En…

Ashkenazi, Samuel

(251 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ben Naeh
Samuel ben Isaac Jaffe Ashkenazi (1525–1595) was a leading talmudic scholar of the sixteenth century. A native of Bursa (Brusa) in Turkey, Ashkenazi studied under Joseph ben David ibn Lev (1505–1580). Toward the end of the 1540s, he moved to Istanbul, where he was closely associated with Samuel Ṣaba. In the 1550s, already one of the leading scholars in the capital, he was appointed rabbi of one of the city’s congregations, most likely that of the Ashkenazi community. He excelled as an interpreter of halakha, wrote many responsa which are frequently cited by seventeenth-century …

Ṭrani (Miṭrani), Joseph ben Moses di, the Elder

(617 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ben Naeh
Joseph ben Moses di Ṭrani (Miṭrani) the Elder (ca. 1569–1639) was a leading rabbi and scholar in the seventeenth-century Ottoman Empire. The youngest son of Moses ben Joseph di Ṭrani (Miṭrani, 1500–1580), he was born in Safed around 1569 when his father had already reached an advanced age. Even as a youth, Joseph stood out for his knowledge and talent, and when he was only eighteen years old, he left Safed as a rabbinical emissary (Heb. shadar or meshullaḥ) for the community. Known by his Hebrew acronym as Mahariṭ, he was in Egypt for some time after 1587, then moved to I…

Hagiz, Moses

(584 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ben Naeh
Moses ben Israel Jacob Ḥagiz (Ḥagis) was a halakhic scholar, rabbinical emissary ( shadar), kabbalist, and vigorous opponent of the Sabbatean heresy. He was born in Jerusalem in 1672 into a family of North African origin and was the son of  Israel Jacob ben Samuel Ḥagiz (1620–1674), one of the leading rabbis of Jerusalem. Due to his father’s untimely death, however, he was educated by his maternal grandfather, Moses ben Jonathan Galante the Younger (1620–1689). Ḥagiz married the daughter of the scholar-physician Raphael Mordecai Malkhi and was…

Caro, Isaac Ben Joseph

(433 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ben Naeh
Isaac ben Joseph Caro (d. 1518–1535) was a rabbi and scholar of the generation of the expulsion from Spain. Born in Toledo, Caro had a superb religious education and also studied medicine. He was called to become the head of the yeshiva in Lisbon, whence he was exiled in 1497. He then settled in Istanbul, where he established himself as a respected halakhic scholar. It is known that for a while he also lived in the city of Manisa in western Anatolia. If Caro had children, none of them survived childhood, but he raised and educated his nephew Joseph ben Ephraim Caro (1488–1575), the author of…

Gabbay Family (Iraq)

(264 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ben Naeh
The  Gabbay family of merchants and Ottoman officials flourished from the late eighteenth century through the end of the nineteenth. The name Gabbay is found mostly in Iraq, but it also appears in Turkey and other countries. It is one of the most common surnames of Iraqi Jewry, attributed by family lore to Davidic descent. A number of well-known members of the family served in key roles in the Baghdad community.        Isaac ben David ben Joshua Gabbay was chief banker (Ar. ṣarrāf bāshī) and   nasi (Heb. head) of the Jewish community of Baghdad from 1745 until his death in 1773. His son Ezra al…

Ha-Kohen Ha-Itmari, Elijah ben Solomon Abraham

(396 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ben Naeh
Elijah ben Solomon Abraham ha-Kohen, known as ha-Itmari because of the fame of his Midrash ha-Itmari(Constantinople, 1695), was a scion of a rabbinical family in Izmir (Smyrna). His brother Isaac moved to the Holy Land and died there at an early age. Elijah was active as a rabbi, kabbalist, and exegete in the last quarter of the seventeenth century and the first quarter of the eighteenth. Especially noted as a preacher, he had a strong tendency toward kabbalistic Hasidism, and his homilies on the commandment of charity ( ṣedaqa) reveal a great sensitivity to social injustice. He ap…

Silva, Hezekiah da

(382 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ben Naeh
Hezekiah ben David da Silva was a noted rabbi and scholar in the second half of the seventeenth century. Born in Livorno (Leghorn) in 1656, da Silva migrated to Palestine at the age of twenty (1676). According to Ḥayyim Joseph David Azulay (Ḥida, 1724–1806), da Silva was the pupil of Judah Sharaf and Moses ben Jonathan Galante the Younger (1620–1689). He studied at the Bet Yaʿaqov Yeshiva in Jerusalem and was one of its most important scholars. In 1688, he went to Western Europe as a rabbinical emissary ( shadar or meshullaḥ). It was during his stay in Amsterdam (1690) that the well-k…

Ṭrani (Miṭrani), Moses Ben Joseph di

(514 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ben Naeh
Moses ben Joseph di Ṭrani (Miṭrani) the Elder (1500–1580), known also by his Hebrew acronym Ha-Mabiṭ, was one of the greatest religious scholars of Safed during the sixteenth century. Born in Salonica into a Sephardi family of Iberian origin that had come to the Ottoman Empire via Trani in southern Italy, he moved to Edirne at an early age to live with his uncle Aaron following the death of his father. He was educated by his uncle and at the yeshiva of Joseph Fasi. In either 1520 or 1521, he moved to Safed and within a short time was given the rabbinical title of marbiṣ torah (teacher of Torah stud…

Farḥi, Isaac

(284 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ben Naeh
Isaac ben Solomon Farḥi, born in Safed in 1779, was a rabbinical scholar and writer noted for his piety and his concern for the impoverished. Educated in Jerusalem, Farḥi was a pupil of the Bet El kabbalist and halakhic authority Yom Ṭov ben Israel Jacob Algazi (1727–1802). He twice traveled abroad as a rabbinical emissary ( shadar or meshullaḥ) for the Jerusalem community. In addition to being a member of the religious court of Ḥayyim Abraham ben Moses Gagin (1787–1848), who was also of the Bet El yeshiva, Farḥi was a prolific and varied writer and exegete, and a sin…

Boton, Abraham de

(385 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ben Naeh
Abraham Ḥiyya ben Moses de Boton (or Button), generally considered to have been one of Salonica’s foremost rabbis during the second half of the sixteenth century, was born into a family of expellees from the Iberian Peninsula. Various dates have been given for his birth, with ca. 1545 being most likely. He died in Salonica in 1592 (other dates given in the secondary literature are as early as 1588 and as late as 1605). De Boton studied under Samuel de Medina and may have been a relative of Rabbi Moses ben Joseph de Trani (Mitrani) the Elder (known as Mabit, d. 1580 or…

Names and Naming Practices - Ottoman Empire and Turkish Republic

(4,393 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ben Naeh
The Jewish denominations within the Ottoman Empire—Romaniots, Mustaʿribūn, Sephardim, Ashkenazim, and Karaites—all had their own distinctive naming practices, but the differences between them were more pronounced in the earlier period, from the fifteenth to the sixteenth century, than later. Starting in the seventeenth century, Italian (and later some French) Jews, collectively known as francos , began to settle in the empire. Their naming practices were not much different from those of Jews already living in the empire, but their family names, as …

Ashkenazi, Bezalel

(356 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ben Naeh
Bezalel ben Abraham Ashkenazi was born in Jerusalem around 1520 and died there, most likely in 1594. He was a leading rabbinical figure in Egypt and the Holy Land during the second half of the sixteenth century. As a youth, he was a student at the yeshiva of Israel ben Meir di Curiel (d. 1577) in Safed. Later he went to Cairo and studied with the great halakhic scholar David ben Solomon ibn Abi Zimra (Radbaz; d. 1573). After his teacher moved to Jerusalem in 1553, Ashkenazi was the foremost rabbi in Egypt. He established his own yeshiva in Cairo, where the great kabbalist Isaac Luri…

Sürgün (Forced Resettlement)

(347 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ben Naeh
The Turkish word sürgün (expulsion, deportation) was mainly used in two contexts. First, it designated forced migration, or exile, imposed on dissidents either temporarily or permanently to maintain political stability in the place from which they were removed. Second, and more important with regard to Jews, sürgün designates the Ottoman population-transfer policy whereby large numbers of people were forced to relocate for strategic purposes. Within the Jewish context, the most noted instance of sürgün concerns the repopulating of Constantinople, the new capital of the …

Istanbul

(4,287 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ben Naeh
The Ottoman conquest of Constantinople (Heb. Qushṭa or Qushṭandina) in 1453 was a turning point in the history of the city’s Jews. Sultan Mehmet II the Conqueror (Turk. Fatih Sultan Mehmed, r. 1444–1446, 1451–1481) changed the city’s name to Istanbul. At the time of the conquest, the city had three distinct districts: The first was the Byzantine nucleus, enclosed by walls and forming a sort of continental peninsula on the European side (Thrace). This was the area where the Ottomans established the seat of their government, embodied in the impe…
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