web analytics
August 20, 2014 / 24 Av, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat (L) visits the JewishPress.com booth at The Event. And the Winners of the JewishPress.com Raffle Are…

Congratulations to all the winners of the JewishPress.com raffle at The Event



Before The Deluge: Jews Of The Mediterranean Islands (Part IV)


book-Die-Juden-in-der-Velt

The stories in this column are translations by Mr. Nollet from Die Juden In Der Welt (The Jews in the World) by Mark Wischnitzer, a long out-of-print book published more than seven decades ago in Germany. The book examines Jewish communities, one country at a time, as they existed in 1935 – a time before the Nazis began their extermination campaign against the Jews and before there was a state of Israel.

Jews Of The Mediterranean Islands

(Continued From Last Month)

Sicily

The excavation of archeological layers has shown that in Roman times there were Jewish communities in Syracuse, Catania, Noto, among other places. At the end of the 6th century there is mention of Jews in Messina, Palermo, and Girgenti. By the 11th and 12th centuries, the Jewish communities, growing in number and importance, undertook commercial connections with North Africa and the Orient.

Not without reason was Sicily called the classical land of Jewish enterprise. The Jewish silk-weavers were renowned. Their teachers were Jewish silk-weavers from the Greek city of Thebes who were taken captive by Roger II in 1147 and brought to Palermo, where they were made busy in the royal silk factory. As a consequence of the transplantation of the Jews, the entire silk industry of Sicily did great business.

The metalworking shops also were mostly in Jewish hands. As a sign of how essential were the Jewish iron and copper smithies, can be seen from the management of the Decree of Expulsion of 1492. The state secretary applied for a stay of execution of the expulsion measures in order to prevent a sudden rise in prices, fearing a lack of Christian replacements. In the memorandum the Crown officially disseminated, it was stipulated that the Jews manufactured horseshoes, plows, and metal parts for sailing and galley ships alike, and there should be no further expulsions without cause.

There must have been many Jewish carpenters, because there was an entire guild of Jewish carpenters in Palermo. Jews conducted agriculture and trade in wheat, wine, cheese, and cattle. At the end of the 15th century, Obadja Bertinoro mentioned Jewish shippers and barge operators in Sicily.

Sicily was a center of Jewish learning. In the 13th century, Faradsch of Agrigento translated certain medical writings under royal commission. Aaron Abulrabi of Catania, a pupil of the Talmud school of Brindisi, wrote grammatical works and commentaries.

Achitub ben Isaak of Palermo, himself a doctor from a family of doctors, translated Maimonides from Arabic into Hebrew. The reputation of “the Wise Ones of Messina” was widespread.

At the end of the 13th century there were more than 50 Jewish communities, which were led by a central organization. In a publication from the middle of the 18th century the Jewish population of Sicily was estimated at 100,000. This number was set decidedly too high, but Palermo, Messina, and Syracuse always possessed populations of 3,000 members.

The Decree of Expulsion of 1492 presented serious worries to the various city authorities and companies. The City Council of Palermo believed the economy could not withstand the withdrawal of a million Gulden, which the Jews would otherwise contribute to cover their living expenses. Taxation of the Jewish residents was likewise a tangible asset. Nevertheless, the edict, dictated by the ecclesiastical authorities, prevailed over economic considerations, and Jews had to leave. They scattered s to the Balkans, the islands of the eastern Mediterranean, Egypt, and Asia Minor.

In the 19th century there was a noted immigration back to Sicily. The census of 1911 showed more than 1,000 Jewish inhabitants. [Translator’s Note: There may have been many more, unrecognized as Jews.]

Euboia

This island on the east coast of central Greece is also known in Italian as Negroponte [“Black Bridge”]. In Hebrew letters the Jews named this island “Egrypon,” after the old name of the capital of Chalkis. Jews were already living on Euboia as early as the first century of the Common Era. One encounters Jews in the 12th century in Chalkis, Carysdos, and Oreos. On order of the Senate of Venice, the Jews had to build a fort in 1304 at their own expense.

The Spanish-Jewish Diaspora of 1492 also affected this island. Jews from Euboia went farther, to Constantinople, and established there a society for the Jews from Euboia.

Many Jews died during the Greek War of Independence in 1821 and a fraction rescued itself by fleeing to Smyrna [on the Asia Minor mainland]. After friendly relations with the Greek population were established, the decimated community could be built up again. In 1930, about 200 Jews lived on Euboia.

Samos

This island had a Jewish population in Hellenistic times. Benjamin of Tudela reported finding about 300 co-religionists on Samos in 1170, and also stated the names of the leading men of this community. The Greek Revolt of 1821 meant the end of Jewish settlement, which had gone back a long way.

Zante

The Jews settled on this island rather late, during the Anjou [French] Dynasty.  When Zante came under Venetian control, the Senate of Venice made every effort to restore the population, which had been decimated by Turkish invasions, and the resulting privileges attracted Jews from Corfu, Patras, and Lepanto. They spoke Greek but had Latin-sounding names. At the end of the 17th century, Jews emigrating from Crete came and built a synagogue.

About the Author: Ezra James Nollet is a retired U.S. government chemist living in Poland where he is officer of the local synagogue in Legnica. Before the Deluge appears the last week of each month.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Before The Deluge: Jews Of The Mediterranean Islands (Part IV)”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
The Gaza Region
Live Updates: Hamas Rockets Land Inside Eshkol Towns (11:55am)
Latest Sections Stories
Lewis-081514-Anna-Ticho

“I didn’t choose the landscape; it chose me.”

Astaire-081514

Woe to us that we have to be put to death like common heathen and murderers!

Baim-081514

The world sees the hand of God through us, and does not like it.

Rosen-081514-Amen

The Rebbetzin began campaigning to increase public awareness of the importance of saying Amen.

Some educators today believe that Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder falls into an executive function category.

It’s ironic that the reality of death is often the greatest force steering the affirmation of life.

The theme of the event was “Together Let us Rebuild our Holy Beis HaMikdash on Tisha B’Av.”

Chaya Aydel Seminary has already established a close connection with France’s Jewish community.

All attendees left with fervent wishes for a swift and lasting peace in Israel.

How can awareness evolve from exploding stars?

Is God apologizing for taking away my Father? Is God telling me that He is sorry?

The traditional services that take place here transport visitors back in time, enabling them to smell and feel the authentic historical experience.

More Articles from Ezra James Nollet
book-Die-Juden-in-der-Velt

The Joint Distribution Committee cared for the refugees, directed the care of children, renewed educational facilities, undertook the rebuilding of destroyed houses, etc. Through the year 1930 the Joint Committee distributed over $80 million to the different branches of its relief work, and even distributed aid via affiliated charities to Jewish agricultural settlements in the USSR.

book-Die-Juden-in-der-Velt

The Federation of Jewish Labor by the end of the 1920s consisted of some 125,000 members, of whom 60 percent were employed in the confections industry. After 1929 there was a further rise in the level of Jewish participation in workers’ unions. There were 134,020 Jewish members of the fifty largest trade unions, 34.1 percent of the total number of organized workers, which roughly reflected the level of the Jews in the population of greater New York. In the remaining centers of the garment industry, in Chicago, Philadelphia, and Rochester, almost all the owners were Jews and the workers they employed were mainly Jewish.

The outward orderliness of the new circumstances of life was not without inner quakings of a spiritual crisis. Mixed marriages were extremely frequent in the southern and western states, where Jews were sprinkled in among the Christian populations. They came to about a third of the marriages Jews entered. But after 1881 the picture changed, with the flood of Jewish immigrants into New York. From 1908-1912, only 1.17 percent of marriages involving Jews were mixed.

The (European) press began to busy itself with the problems of emigration. The Austrian Central Body of Jews, which arose in 1848, dedicated itself to this situation. In May of 1848 a Committee for the Promotion of Emigration was started.

On August 22 1654, the Sephardic Jew Jacob Bar-Simson landed in New Amsterdam. It appears he came from Holland. In the beginning of September of the same year, twenty-three Jews set sail for New Amsterdam, refugees from Pernambuco [Translator’s Note: Dutch South America). The ship Saint Charles, which functioned as the Jewish equivalent of the Mayflower for the first Jewish immigration to North America, brought them to the city today known as New York.

Before the beginning of the Common Era, Jews were known to have lived in Sparta, Sikyon, Delphi, Athens, Patras, Mantineja, Laconia, Corinth, Thessalalonika, Philippi, and Beroa. Due to baptism forced on Jews by some Byzantine emperors, a number of Jews emigrated o southern Italy. Otherwise, there was a line of Jewish communities in the 12th century. By itself Thebes housed 2,000 families, Salonika 500 families, and middle-sized settlements arose in Halmyros, Corinth, Drama, Krisa, Naupactos, Ravnica, Arta, and Lamia.

Under the influence of the Age of Enlightenment, the cultural union “Toalet” was formed, which published a number of works of by Hebraic scientists and works of fiction. In recent times, the Jewish-scientific movement has found its stride with the “Union of Jewish Science,” which was founded by S. Seeligmann, a historian and a bibliophile. In its university library, Amsterdam possesses a most valuable Jewish section, the so-called “Rosenthaliana,” which was named after the philanthropist Leiser Rosenthal, who was the father of the Baron von Rosenthal.

The present kingdom of Persia, which recently officially took the name “Iran,” encompasses a region of over 1,640,000 square kilometers with about 15 million inhabitants. The most important cities are the capital Tehran as well Tabris, Mesched, and Isfahan (the former capital).

    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?






    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/features/feautures-on-jewish-world/before-the-deluge-jews-of-the-mediterranean-islands-part-iv/2012/01/26/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: