Today in Sephardic Jewish History


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 1916: Italian government declares an Italian, and not a native, be appointed as rabbinate in Tripoli. Arabs are in charge of local courts of justice and deal unjustly against Jews.


  1908: Daoud Effendi Molho, First Dragoman of the Imperial Divan, Constantinople, nominated Senator in Turkey. The functions of the First Dragoman were mainly political; he accompanied the ambassador or minister at his audiences of the sultan and usually of the ministers, and was charged with the core of diplomatic negotiations.  

1910: A Jew, Jacob Effendi de Vidas, ex-Censor of the Jewish Press at Smyrna is appointed Inspector of Elementary Schools at Mitylene (Lesbos).

 1914: American Jewish Committee appropriates $2,500 for an orphan asylum in Sophia, Bulgaria due to orphans of the Balkan War.    This was at the request of the Chief Rabbi, Dr. M. Ehrenpreis.

 1914: U.S. State Department informs American Jewish Committee that it will not expel Russian Jews who sought refuge in Turkey, but will permit them to become naturalized citizens.

 1497: King Manuel I proclaimed an Edict which demanded the Jews convert to Catholicism or leave the country. However, fearing most Jews would leave rather then convert, the Crown closed the ports, thus halting any potential Jewish sea escape.

1919: Turkish Minister of War issues a decree releasing all Jews (as well as Greeks and Armenians) from obligation in the military.

 1909: In response to the complaints by the Alliance Israelite Universelle of the Jews in Fez, the Sultan calls for the chief rabbis, then tells them the Jews will never again have to femibion babyplanung folsäure, tabletten, and that Sabbaths and festivals will be respected.

1942: Germans in Salonica steal all the marble tombstones so they can line a swimming pool for their soldiers.  

 1914: Federation of Oriental Jews organizes the Oriental Jewish Community of New York. They plan to establish and maintain their own institutions, burial grounds, Talmud-Torahs, etc., and to care for the poor and sick Ladino speaking community.

1915: Abraham Shalom Yahuda of Madrid, is appointed ordinary professor "Catedratico numberario" of rabbinic literature at the Central University. This, at a time when Spain still did not have one Jewish synagogue since the expulsion of 1492.

 1911: Jews in Palestine organize a Red Magen David society with the purpose of sending doctors and nurses to Tripoli. Earlier in the week the Anglo-Palestine Company in Jaffa donated 1,000 Francs for a fund for injured Turkish soldiers in Tripoli.

 Died, Rabbi Haim Covo of Salonica at age 68.

1940: British begin a western desert offensive in North Africa against the Italians.

 1915: Moise Cohen of Constantinople was appointed professor of finance at Ottoman University.

1930: The savings bank which many members of the Sephardic Jewish Brotherhood in New York had their money in closed and no funds were made available. The collection of dues began to fall off at an alarming rate, and there was a high demand for financial aid from the Secret Relief Fund.

 1914: Hahambashi Nahum calls upon Ottoman government in Palestine to for protection of the Jews in the face of an anti-foreign movement.

1917: British troops under General Allenby make their way into Jerusalem, defeating the Ottoman Turks and liberating Judea. The whole city turned out to greet the General, as did the Chief Sephardic and Ashkenazic Rabbis.

 1626: Inquisitional authorities arrested Francisco Maldonado de Silva, after his sister (a devout Catholic) turned him because he told her he believed in Judaism, as their father had. His passion for Judaism came after studying a book written in 1391 by the Bishop of Burgos. The Bishop, a convert Jews who was born as Solomon Halevi, wrote the book to defend the Catholic faith. Halevi's words put doubt into Francisco's mind about Catholicism, and brought him closer to Judaism-the religion Francisco's father had already been following. In the end Francisco went to his death January 23, 1639 for his faith in Judaism.

 1847: The Portuguese congregation of New Orleans held their first annual meeting.

1913: Died, Abraham J. Laredo a prominent merchant of Gibraltar.

 1917: Reuters telegram to Amsterdam reports the population of Palestine is suffering terribly; and that the population has been reduced to one third because of hunger, sickness and distress. Only 23,000 of the 60,000 Jews are left in Jerusalem.

1932: Died, Dr. Angel Pulido y Fernandez, Spanish researcher of the Sephardim. In 1904 he wrote Espanoles sin Patria (Spaniards without a home) which sparked the idea of the Sephardim returning to Spain. He became a member of the Spanish Parliament, and later the King made him a Senator. He spent the latter part of his life passionate about Sephardic return, writing, meeting and advocating this idea.

 1647:  Isaac de Castro was put to death at an auto-de-fe by the Inquisition for the crime of teaching Judaism to conversos. De Castro had arrived in Bahia (then under Portuguese control) from Amsterdam through Dutch Brazil.

1916: Greeks call up all Jews 19-30 for military service. The response was overwhelming.

 1769: Dr. John Sequeyra, scion of a distinguished Sephardic family of physicians in England, treated George Washington's daughter "Patsy"  who was ill.

1909: Imperial irade confirms election of Rabbi Haim Bidjarano as Chief Rabbi of Adrianople.

1911: Educational institutions in Jaffa raise funds for the Ottoman Navy League.

Celebration of the 25th anniversary of the first Jewish colony in Argentine.  The colony was made up of 200 families from Constantinople.   By mid-1917, Ashkenazim made up 80% of the Jews in South and Latin America, the other 20% being Sephardim.

 1531: A Bull was issued by Pope Clement VII establishing the Inquisition in Portugal. Frei Diogo da Silva was made Inquisitor General.

1909: Muslims in Tunis protested when Jews were going to be put under French jurisdiction. Muslims stated that this was discriminatory and a violation of treaties, even though it was the Muslims the French were going to protect the Jews from.

 1908: Rabbi Panigel was forced to surrender his seals of the office of Hahambashi of Jerusalem. Rabbi Hiskia Shabbatai filled the office temporarily.

1917: American Joint Distribution Committee issues $50,000 for Salonica, $25,000 for Turkey outside of Palestine and $3,500 for Alexandria. These funds are to purchase wheat for the baking of matzah for the upcoming Passover.

1949: Palestine Post reported thirty-five men and women from 12 countries signed up for a three month class to become first-aid workers for the Magen David Adom, the Israeli ambulance service. Instruction was in French, Hebrew Judeo-Spanish and Yiddish.

 1919: Zionist office opened in Constantinople for Jews wanting to move to Palestine.

1924:  Governor General Primo de Rivera of Spain offered all Sephardim the possibility of reacquiring Spanish nationality provided they acquired this nationality before December 31, 1930.

 1914: The Battle of Champagne in France started on this day. Many Oriental Sephardim fought in this battle, and gave their lives. Many of them were Jews from the Ottoman Empire were educated in the Alliance Israelite Universelle schools in Turkey. These Jews felt they owed a debt to France.

1924: Spanish newspapers published a signed decree from the king of Spain saying Sephardic Jews dispersed along the Mediterranean coast and in other countries, which "in one way or another" claim descent from families, which once lived in Spain can apply for full Spanish citizenship.

 1952: Near tragedy struck the Sephardic Jewish Brotherhood of America when fire destroyed the headquarters at 1380 Jerome Avenue, Bronx, New York. Fortunately, complete tragedy was averted because of the diligence of some members residing in the area and who were nearby at the time of the fire. They prevailed upon the firefighters to saturate the office area with water, thus averting any major destruction of the records.

 1912: Report that in response to joint representations by foreign Ambassadors, the Turkish government repeals order expelling Italian subjects, majority of whom are Levantine Jews.

 1922: Four members of the Salonica Jewish community were elected to the Greek Assembly; Isaac Alhanati, Jonas Jamnelides, Joshua Laias and M. Levy.

 1529: Died, Shelomo Alkabetz in Salonica. Born in Spain, Alkabetz was a printer of Hebrew books. He wrote 'Lecha Dodi'.

 1480: Miguel de Morillo and Juan de San Martin, both Dominican friars arrived in Seville. Until that day, Seville, a center for many New Christians had been relatively quiet for some time previous. Essentially, this was the day the Inquisition began in Seville.

1917: Mass celebration in Washington D.C. to celebrate British taking Jerusalem.


 1907: Emperor Menelik of Abyssinia (Ethiopia), grants letters of protection to Rabbi Haim Nahoum and his team who were sent by the Alliance Israelite Universelle to study the condition of the Falashas (Ethiopian Jews).

 1943 Reports out of Ankara, Turkey say the Germans are rushing material and reinforcement troops onto the Island of Rhodes by air, due to sea difficulties. At the time there were 10,000 Germans on the island.

 1911: Chamber of Commerce of Salonica renders decision that Jewish porters do not need to work on Shabbat.

1922: Died, Chief Rabbi of Alexandria, Rodolfo Compagnano.

 1576: After spending four and one half years in prison, Fray Luis De Leon, a converso descendant was released. As a scholar of Hebrew at the University of Salamanca, he was punished by the Inquisition for translating the Song of Songs (Solomon) from Latin into Spanish.

 1924: Deadline set by Governor General Primo de Rivera of Spain offering all Sephardim the possibility of reacquiring Spanish nationality, f
ew Jews took him up on this offer.


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