Today in Sephardic Jewish History


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 1655: The Magistrate of New Amsterdam wrote a ruling making an attempt to expel the Jews, "resolved that the Jews who came last year from the West Indies and now from the Fatherland, must prepare to depart forthwith."

1655: The Sheriff of New Amsterdam as plaintiff filed suit against the defendant Abram de la Sina, a Jew, for the crime of keeping his store open during the hour the church gave a sermon.

1823: The first Jewish publication in America was published by Solomon Henry Jackson in New York. The publication was called "The Jew" and was an anti-missionary journal. Jackson is also known for translating and publishing the first Sephardic siddur in English-Hebrew in 1826.

1843: The Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue of New York past a resolution prohibiting the performing of ceremonies at funerals of persons intermarried with Christians.

 1943: Over 2,500 Jews in Salonica are crammed into 593 rooms in the Baron de Hirsh Ghetto. The ghetto was surrounded with high wooden fences, topped with barbed wire. Signs in German, Greek and Ladino warned Jews not to leave, under penalty of death.

 1911: Died, Rabbi Jacob de Botton of Salonica at age 68.

1917: Djemal Pasha offers to give the Jews free access to the Western Wall in Jerusalem to pray if they provide the sum of 80,000-100,000 Francs.

1919: Died, Abraham (Albert) Antebi, head of the Alliance Israelite Universelle in Constantinople. He was born at Damascus in 1899.

 1942: Algiers radio announced that all firms, property and legal titles owned in part or full by Jews have been put under "Aryan" administration. This came after the dismissal of 3,000 Jews from the French civil service just a couple months prior.

 1909: Alianza Hispano-Israelita formed in Spain to bring about the return of Spanish Jews.


 1943: The Bulgarian army started to liquidate Jewish property. All confiscated gold and silver was deposited it in sealed packages in the Bulgarian National Bank. Many Bulgarian officials became rich from stealing from the Jews.

1944: An internal memo of this week from the United States Government War Refugee Board states that the United States was negotiating the purchase of a ship for $400,000. The S.S. Necat would be donated to the Turkish Red Crescent after evacuating 5,000 Jewish refugee children from Romania to Palestine.  

 1856: A letter from the Hahambashi discusses "reforms" to institute in the Jewish community. The Judeo-Spanish language is discussed, "As the language taught by the Jews of the Levant is not, properly speaking, a language, and cannot be useful to the youth, we order the creation of free schools for the poor where Turkish, Greek, French, and Italian will be taught."

 1688: On this night a large group of secret Jews planned to escape the island of Majorca by escaping on an English ship, they were looking for religious freedom. A storm delayed their departure, and their plan was betrayed. All those planning to leave were put in prison. In the spring of 1691 these prisoners were sentenced at an auto-de-fe, where 37 were burned at the stake.

1912: Greek town of Zante was devastated by an earthquake. The Jewish quarter was destroyed, and more than 100 Jewish families are homeless.

1912: Marco Besso of Trieste and Errea Cavalieri of Ferrara were both elected as Senators in Italy.

1918: Government of Greece decides to exempt Jewish Ottoman subjects living in Greece from regulations prohibiting commercial transactions with subjects of enemy states.

 1820: The revolutionary military leader and defacto Spanish leader, Riego of Spain issued a decree ending the Inquisition. Even so, this was contested, and the last person to suffer under the Inquisition was in 1826.

 1856: Reported in The News of the World was the report that in Constantinople a Turkish woman who could not locate her child for several hours started to scream after local Greeks told her Jews had dragged her child by force into the house to drain its blood for use on Passover. A crowd gathered and started to smash the windows of the home, and was only held back by the French soldiers. The child later was found by the mother.

 1917: British take Baghdad from the Ottoman Turks.

 1909: Medical Congress in Sophia decided to print brochures in Ladino at request of Christian Delegate, for the benefit of Jews unfamiliar with the Bulgarian language.

 1656: Jews in New Amsterdam are not allowed to hold services because of a decision of the Dutch West India Company.

1908: Major fire in the Jewish quarter of Haskoy, Constantinople, Turkey destroys 500 houses. There were over 5,000 Jews left without shelter. A cablegram was sent from Constantinople to Oscar S. Straus, U.S. Secretary of Commerce and Labor asking for assistance.

1535: David dei Rossi a Jewish merchant from Italy who set out for the Orient in 1534, writes his wife Sarah the following observation of life in Ottoman Palestine, "Hatred of the Jew is, in contrast to our homeland, unknown here, and the Turks hold the Jews in esteem. In this country and in Egypt, Jews are the chief officers and administrators of the customs.


 1912: Decree from the Turkish Ministry of the Interior to the Governor of Jerusalem permits Jews to place benches and light candles in front of the Western Wall.

 1743: The New-York Weekly Journal reported a Jewish funeral procession in New York was attacked by a mob. According to "one learned Christian" witness to it, the mob had, "insulted the dead in such a vile manner that to mention all would shock a human ear."

1911: Election for Grand Council of the Jewish Community of Constantinople takes place. Ashkenazim boycott the elections. Five Ashkenazim who were elected by the votes of Sephardim do not accept office.

 1917: One hundred and ninety Jews from Palestine migrate to Cyprus on an Ottoman mail steamer.

1942: The 60,000 Jews in Tunisia are restricted to publishing only one newspaper.

 1655: Dutch Minister Johannes Megapolensis wrote a letter to the Amsterdam Classis.  In it, he attacks the Jews who had recently arrived in New Amsterdam.

1913: King of Greece assassinated at Salonica. False charges ran in the Greek newspapers that the killer was Jewish, later found out killer was not, but was a mentally ill Greek.

 1867: The Ashkenazim of the holy land sought permission to slaughter their own meat. The Ashkenazim appealed to the British to intervene for them. In the formal letter of request to the Consul, it stated that both the Muslims (and the Sephardim) understood, "that the Ashkenazim were not true Israelites." This concerned the Ashkenazim because they made money selling certain cuts of meat to the Muslims, and if the Muslims did not consider them Jews, they would not by their meat.

1909: Sultan of Turkey ratifies election of the Hahambashi Haim Nahoum who has an audience with the Sultan.

 1915: American Jewish Relief Committee apportions $30,000 for Jews in Palestine, $1000 per month (for 6 months) for Palestinian soup kitchens, and $3000 per month (for 10 months) to Turkish Jews outside of Palestine.  

1759: A letter was received in New York at the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue from Newport, Rhode Island. It was a request from the congregation at Newport asking for funds to help build a synagogue.  New York sent financial assistance, and on May 28 the congregation at Newport sent a letter of thanks, signed by 10 of its members, back to New York.

1776: The President of Congress, John Hancock, arranged to send George Washington $250,000 cash to be used to maintain the siege of Boston. Hancock wrote in the letter that accompanied the funds sent that he had selected three "gentlemen of character whom I am confident will meet your notice." One of these men was Moses Franks of Philadelphia.

1919: The National Jewish Council in Constantinople asks the British High Commander for the discharge of all Jewish soldiers from the Ottoman army. They state the Jewish soldiers endured terrible suffering, as they were used to build roads across Anatolia. Thousands died due to lack of food, illness, insufficient equipment and cruel treatment.  

 1862: Died, Uriah Phillips Levy, Commodore of the United States Navy in Philadelphia. Levy was a descendant of the original 23 Jews who settled in New Amsterdam in 1654. He was buried in the Cypress Hill Cemetery in the Congregation Shearith Israel portion. On his stone was written, "He was the father of the law for the abolition of the barbarous practice of corporal punishment in the United States Navy."

 1784: Reverend Gershom Mendes Seixas returned to New York City from Connecticut and took up his position as Minister.  He returned while New York City was evacuated by the British, and most of the members of the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue were in the safety of Connecticut and Philadelphia. Seixas was very patriotic, and was thanked by President George Washington at one time. Seixas instituted a recital of a prayer for the government in English, it having been always read in Spanish prior.

1924: Died, Moses Cattaui Pashe, President of the Jewish Kehillah of Cairo, Egypt.

 1847: A sermon delivered at the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue, Bevis Marks, was in regard to the Irish Potato Famine.  The sermon was delivered by Rev. D. A. De Sola: "For devastation has gone forth through the land, Death stalks around, with disease in its train..."

1911: Reports of massacre and looting of Moroccan Jews.

1944: A Turkish Jew who was an eyewitness in Greece reported to the United States government that on this date the Germans deported all the registered Jews of Athens.

 1271: Jaime freed all the Jews in Murviedro of debts from Christians. It should be noted this is after the Christians burned down a synagogue, and then were forced to rebuild it themselves.

1903:  The Jewish quarter of Port Said, Egypt is invaded and looted by Arabs in consequence of an earlier ritual murder charge (September 17, 1902).

 1943: Wilfrid B. Israel, a German born Jew and ardent Zionist departed London for Lisbon. Once in Portugal he stayed in the peninsula for two months, where he found over 1,500 stateless Jews in Spain. He issued 200 of them certificates to go live in Palestine, and did what he could to intervene on the other's behalf.

 1901: Anti-Jewish riots in Smyrna, Turkey in consequence with the disappearance of a child who was said to have been slaughtered by the Jews for 'ritual murder.' Though the riots continued for four days, the child was eventually found and paraded through the streets to show he was indeed alive.

1906: At the insistence of the Chief Rabbi of Bulgaria, the Minister of the Interior of Bulgaria issues a circular to his governors to take every form of precaution against anti-Semitism over Easter.

1912: A Jew, for the first time, receives appointment as an officer in the Ottoman Turkish Army upon graduation from the Imperial Military Academy.

 1873: After accusations of ritual murder surfaced in Turkey, letters were sent to the Christians leader in Marmara, Gallipoli, Bursa, Salonica, Smyrna, Manisa, Chios, Adrianople, Janina, Silistria and other cities to warn of this behavior. The letters were formulated by the Turkish Jewish leadership in conjunction with the Greek Patriarch.

 1912: By decree of the King of Italy, Jews in Tripoli can organize.

1921: Winston Churchill, British Colonial Secretary, greets 10,000 Jews on Mt. Scopus in Palestine. Both the Chief Sephardic and Ashkenazic Rabbis were in attendance, they gave him a Sefer Torah.

 1492: King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain signed an edict for the expulsion of the Jews from Spain.

1951: A new synagogue was dedicated in Istanbul, Neve Shalom. The building holds more than 1,000 people, and the 400,000 Lira it cost to be built was raised by the Jewish community of Galata, Pera, and Chichli.

 1799: A Marrano named Lorenzo Beltran was sentenced for Judaizing at an auto-de-fe in Seville. He was the last Macron that the Inquisition went after.

1943: This was the deadline the Germans gave Spain to repatriate any Spanish nationals of the Jewish "race."


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