Today in Sephardic Jewish History


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1925: Greece mandates a national day of rest, in disregard to any religion. Thus the Jews are forced to work on the Sabbath, and those who did not, lost profits. The Jews saw this a move on the government's part to get rid of them.


 1481: An edict was handed down in Spain calling for all persons to aid in apprehending and accusing suspects who are guilty of heresy. This was said to be issued because persons of nobility in Andalusia

1920: Rabbis of Jerusalem arrange special prayers at the Western Wall for the Jews in Damascus who are threatened with violence.

 1598: In a letter from the Sultan to the Ottoman leaders in Jerusalem, he approves of the fact that the local Muslims locked the doors of the Nahmanides (Ramban) Synagogue, due to the fact, "the noisy ceremonies of the Jews in accordance with their false rites hinder our pious devotion and divine worship." Because of this the door was locked and sealed. The Sultan approved of the closing of the building, and he then ordered the synagogue to be annexed to the Muslims.

 1361: The aljama of Barcelona was pardoned by the king after it had "persuaded" a Muslim to convert to Judaism.


 1942: Jacob Moshe Toledano who was born in Tiberias was installed as Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv and Jaffa. In 1926 Toledano served as the head of the religious court at Tangiers, and later similar posts in Cairo and Alexandria. Toledano was escorted from Tiberias to Tel Aviv by a grand delegation.

 1921: Commission in Jerusalem reports that at present there is no way to secure an appointment of a Hahambashi for Palestine that would satisfy all sections of the community. They recommend the formation of a supreme religious council who will represent both Sephardic and Ashkenazi communities.

1942: A major Arctic blast hit the Levant. The thermometer in Alexandria was six degrees below zero, five people were killed because of the snow in Lebanon, Jerusalem suffered damage when buildings in the Old City were cracked from ice build up, and in Istanbul the city suffered deaths and was stifled with three feet of snow, twelve degrees below zero temperatures and "hungry wolves" in the neighborhood.


 1974: The National Council of Jewish Women pledged to work to help Syrian Jewry, calling Syria's acts against the Jews as "�degradation and inhuman restrictions."

 1924: Died, former Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, Elyachar Haim Moshe at age 80.

1940: The Tel Aviv committee to elect a new Chief Sephardic Rabbi had among its candidates, Rabbi Koretz of Salonika, the man who succeeded Rabbi Uziel as chief rabbi of Salonika.  Just three years later Salonikan Jewry would be wiped out, and Koretz would be found communally guilty of holding back knowledge of the Germans plan to murder the Jews.

 1313: The Council of Zamora (Spain) made a ruling which was allegedly based on a "constitution" of Pope Clement V, where he allowed the Christians to legally deny accruing any interest on loans from Jews.


1944: In a shocking memo to United States Secretary of Treasury, Henry Morgenthau (former Ambassador to Turkey during the Ottoman period), his staff reported the following about U.S. State Department officials.  That they:
"Have not only failed to use the governmental machinery at their disposal to rescue Jews from Hitler, but have even gone so far as to use this governmental machinery to prevent rescue of the Jews.



 1915: Hahambashi of Turkey protests schools for the conversion of Jews to Christianity in the Haskoy quarter of Constantinople. He is assured the school will be closed, and not reopen. At request of the Hahambashi, the Ministry of Public Instruction cedes the building of the missionary school over to the Jewish community.



 1606: The Governor of Puerto Rico reported one-fifth of the white population of the island was Portuguese. It was said these "white" Portuguese persons were most likely conversos.


 1942: At the German Wannasee Conference, the Final Solution was presented. This plan to annihilate the Jews included not only 11 million Jews of Central Europe, but 700,000 Jews in unoccupied France which included the Jews of North Africa. Listed on documents at the Conference were 10,000 Jews of the neutral country of Spain.

 1921: King Constantine donates 10,000 Drachmae  for the relief of Jewish sufferers of the fire in Salonica.

1495: Abravanel along with King Alfonso sailed from Naples to Mazzara near Sicily. The city of Mazzazra was given as a gift from Ferdiand of Spain to Alfanso. While there, news reached both Abravanel and Alfanso that Charles VIII had taken Naples. The French rioted against and looted the Jewish community almost wiping it out. Many Jews were sold as slaves, and many were forced to convert to Christianity. Abravanel later wrote, "My entire enormous wealth was stolen."

 1944, Roosevelt signs Executive Order 9417, establishing the War Refugee Board. The Board is committed to enforcing the policies of the U.S. government regarding the rescue and relief of victims of persecution. Some of the names of families who were brought to America were, Altarac, Arditti, Baruch, Franco, Gaon, Kalderon, Kamhi, Ovadia, and Pinto. Even so, this effort of the United States is looked at by historians as just a token gesture.

 1634 Trial of the men implicated in the 'Complicidad Grande' (Great Complicity). Seventeen arrests were made by the Inquisition after a man turned another man in for being "unwilling to make a sale on Saturday," and for not wanting to eat bacon. The man�s possessions were confiscated, more people were implicated, and eventually a total of 81 persons would be locked up and their possessions sequestered. These men were prominent businessmen of the Lima community, and their arrests and led to a "widespread commercial crisis" and failure of the community bank.

1918: Chief Rabbi L. Fridmon of Algeria plans a community building which will contain a yeshiva, an assembly hall, a library, shelter for strangers, a mikvah and a bakery for matzah.

1919: General Lyautey, the resident General of Morocco visits the Mellah (Jewish Quarter) and urges the Jews to contribute towards it sanitation and enlargement.


 1925: Former Hahambashi of Turkey, Rabbi Haim Nahoum is elected Chief Rabbi of Cairo, Egypt.

 1917: Italian government sends twelve thousand Lire ($2,400) to Governor of Tripoli for the Jewish poor.


 1917: Not one home in the Jewish quarter of Belgrade remains. Large numbers of Jews emigrated to Greece.   The Americans sent $55,000 to help with relief in Serbia and Greece, after receiving a cablegram for help from the Chief Rabbi of Salonica, Jacob Meir.

 1945: In the weekly internal report of the War Refugee Board, it reported that the United States would permanently close its War Refugee office in Turkey. The outgoing representative stated, "Inadequate sources of information and communication channels render impossible the orderly organization or direction from Turkey of any rescue activities...."


1938: The Palestine Post reported "Anxiety in Yugoslavia" as anti-Jewish feelings and vandalism was on the rise. It was reported "local Nazis" smashed the windows out of the Sephardic synagogue of Belgrade.

1960: World Sephardi Federation meets in Madrid, Spain. Some members complain they did not want Spain to be the site of the meeting, as they did not want to return to Spain for any reason.


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