Today in Sephardic Jewish History


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 1822: Brazil declared its independence from Portugal. Soon after many Spanish Jews from Morocco migrated to the area. By 1879 Sephardim had settled all the way down to the Amazon rain forest area. Those Jews living in the jungle were very strict about their religion.

1900: The Hahambashi of Turkey presents an address to Sultan Abdul Hamid on the occasion of his 25 anniversary of his accession to the thrown.

1938: Anti-Jewish laws are annouced on the Island of Rhodes in the newspapers. Ritual slaughter was banned & all Jews who came after 1919 must leave the island.


 1735: Lewis Gomez, a merchant in New York sold 25 loads of lime to the city for £6 pounds, 5 shillings. Gomez advertised his "lime" in the newspaper as "good stone-lime."

1905: A disastrous fire in Adrianople, Turkey destroys 1500 Jewish homes and 13 synagogues. 10,000 Jews were rendered homeless along with the 40,000 who already were.


 1902: Two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the foundation of the Spanish and Portuguese Congregation Beth Israel at Hamburg. There were no celebrations.

1903: Fire destroys a synagogue at Travnik, Bosnia.



 1654: Twenty-three Sephardic Jews, seeking sanctuary from the Spanish Inquisition, arrive in New Amsterdam [New York], from Pernambuco, Brazil. They had arrived at their final destination on the ship St. Catherine (also referred to in the literature as the St. Charles).

 1705: On this day an auto-de-fe took place in Lisbon. In 1846 in the Occident and American Jewish Advocate the journal described the situation on that day while reviewing a book review for a work called The Inquisition and Judaism: "In the public square of Lisbon there were led out to the stake a number of hapless victims, declared criminal by the tribunal of the Inquisition, for being suspected and afterwards convicted of Judaism, a crime than which that abominable institution knew none greater."


1918: In San Sebastian, Spain, Jewish New Year services are held for the first time in 400 years. The services were attended by 30 worshipers.

1654: A petition by Jacques de la Motthe, the French master of the ship St. Charles requested payment for Jews and their freight which he brought to New Amsterdam from Cape St. Anthony. He said their were "23 souls, big and little, who must pay equally." After a week passed, the Jews belongings were put up for auction, and it was said many Christians bought the Jews belongings, only to give them back to the Jews.


1909: Jews in Aleppo telegraph the Hahambashi requesting he intervene with the government respecting taxes for exemption for military service, on account of their precarious financial situation. The Hahambashi prevailed and the Minister of Finance telegraphed the Aleppo authorities to collect only 20% of debt Jews owed, and to release prisoners from prison who could not pay.

1916: Salonica government declares compulsory military service is now required and that all Jews over 21 cannot leave from its newly acquired provinces.


 1899: Anti-Jewish riots occurred in Algeria.

1910: New Ladino newspaper El Desperter appears in Tetuan. It is the first Jewish newspaper in Morocco.

1910: Turkish government tax sales of kosher meat by local communities. Proceeds were promised to go to philanthropic purposes. Governors of all vilayets (provinces) informed and directed to assist chief rabbis in enforcing payment.




1685: Jews in New Amsterdam petition to be allowed to worship their religion publicaly. Their wishes were not approved, because they did not, "profess faith in Christ." During this time strict Christian observance was mandatory.

1912: King of Italy makes Commanders Guido, Rava, Sforni, Mantua and Signor Sereni, Presidents of the Jewish Community at Rome, Grand Officers in the Crown of Italy.

1915: Hilfsverein der deutschen Juden was informed the inhabitants of Strumitza, fearing its occupation by Bulgarians, set fire to the town and fled. One hundred families went to Salonica and Doiran.


1909: A total of 12,214 Jewish young men registered as recruits for the Turkish Army.

 1614: Mass murder of Jews in Salonica, killed while returning from the Dolia market.

1909: At the request of the Hahambashi, authorities take important steps to suppress the White Slave Trade. Both Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews did have involvement with this, but when Chief Rabbi Nahum provided the Turks with lists of names for investigations, they did nothing with them.


 1485: Pedro Arbues, Canon of the Cathedral of Saragossa was attacked while praying. He died two days later, and when the news went public, the Christian community gathered to swear revenge. The attack was planned by prominent Jews (Conversos) of Aragon including Sancho de Paternoy, Master of the Royal Household; Gabriel Sanches, the High Treasurer of the kingdom; and Francisco de Santa Fe, assessor to the Governor of Aragon. The Church later made Arbues into a Saint in 1867. The results of this were near 200 people had revenge struck upon them, some murdered outright, some beheaded with their mutilated bodies put on display. Some were imprisoned, some committed suicide to alleviate their suffering, and some fled to France.

1655: Indians had assaulted Manhattan with, "murder, robbery and fire." Public defenses which were built the year prior and ran along Wall Street were reinforced. The Jews were ordered to pay a high contribution to the fund for defense.


 1501: A decree was issued by the Portuguese Govorner Nicolas de Oviendo which aimed at keeping Jews from entinering the New World.

1847: Died at Frankfort-on-the Main, the poet Grace Aguilar at age 31. She was the oldest child of parents descended from Portuguese Marranos who sought asylum in England in the eighteenth century. A prominent poet and writer, her words graced Jewish journals around the world. She was a staunch defender of Judaism, and a Torah loving woman. "Her last words, spelled on her fingers, were, 'Though he slay me, yet will I trust in Him,'"

1910: Jews of Salonica compel editors of Turkish paper that published anti-Semitic remarks to send a public retraction to every Turkish journal.


 1480: Two Dominican friars, Miguel de Morillo, Master of Theology, and Juan de San Martin, Bachelor of Theology were commissioned to go to Seville and seek out heresy of the Jews.

1769: Born, Benjamin Gomez in New York. The Gomez family was one of the most prominent families of all early Sephardim in America. Benjamin traced his family to Isaac Gomez who fled Spain in 1660. In New York the family were wealthy ship owners and merchants, as well as leaders in the Jewish community. Benjamin was the first Jewish bookseller in America.


 1380: The Cortes of Soria, Castile, denies the rights of Jews to judge their own criminal cases. The Cortes also reaffirmed King Enrique II's decree forbidding Jews from serving in the royal and nobiliar administrations. These events help fuel the harangues of Ferran Martinez who lead the bloody anti-Jewish events of 1391.

 1917: Anti-Jewish riots in Tunis cause five Jews to be injured, and their shops pillaged and vandalized.

 1540: The first auto-de-fe was held in Portugal.

1761: On the exact anniversary of the first auto-de-fe in Portugal, Gabriel Malagrida was burned alive on the Terreiro do Paço at Lisbon. He was to be the last victim burned in Portugal at any auto-de-fe.

1918: M. Politis, Minister of Foreign Affairs, announces Greek governmental approval of the suggestion by Dr. Haim Weizmann to the Greek representative in Egypt, that a volunteer military corps be developed for Palestine, from among the Jews of Salonica.


 1900: Fire in Constantinople, 2000 Jews left without shelter, one synagogue destroyed.

 1909: Jews forced to leave Arabia (Yemen) to avoid being forced to convert to Islam.

1916: Rabbis in Palestine declare that all Jews should not fast on Yom Kippur, but eat due to the epidemics which were rampant.

1943: Germans announce through their puppet Greek press that all Jews have only five days to register their names, or face a penalty of death. Christians were told if they hide Jews they would be shot.


 1911: Arabs attack Jewish worshipers in Jerusalem at the Western Wall on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. About 60 worshipers were injured.

1912: Anti-Jewish demonstrations took place in Sophia, Bulgaria in response to statements by the Chief Rabbi. Police were instructed to repress further disorders.


 1038: Jews in Granda celebrate a special Purim commemoration after the capture of the Muslim leader Ibn Abbas who was brought to Granda, killed, and beheaded by a rival (and Jewish tolerant) Muslim faction.

 1909: Four new Jewish schools open in Turkey.

1943: The Chief Rabbi of Athens, Ilia Barzilai, escaped from the city disguised as a peasant. He reached Thessaly where he promoted the Greek partisans, saving some 600 Jews by smuggling them across the Aegean to Turkey. The smuggled boats and money came from the Jewish Labor Federation in Palestine.


 1919: The Hahambashi of Turkey was granted an audience with the Shah of Persia, who paid tribute to the patriotism of Jews of Persia. The Shah attributed the progress of civilization to the Alliance Israelite Universelle schools.

 1480: The Catholic Kings of Spain Ferdinand and his wife Queen Isabella ordered a tribunal in their kingdoms to study cases of heresy. This is the start of what would soon to be known as the Spanish Inquisition.

1920: For the first time since 1492, the Spanish government formally recognizes the Jewish community, according to it all privileges of other religious bodies.


 1251: King Jaime I declared, "No Jews will hold office in the Kingdom of Valencia." The following year Jews were banned from office in all of Catalan and Aragon.

1577: The Sultan ordered a census of the Jews of Safed for the purposes of raising taxes.


 1941: The Jewish owned newspaper in Tunis ceased operation at the order of the government.

1911: Oscar S. Strauss of New York City who is a member of the Hague Tribunals appeals to the United States government to extend help in establishing peace between Italy and Turkey.


 788: Died, Abd Al-Rahman, the man who laid the foundation for an impressive Mulsim dynasty in Cordoba. The grand mosque he started building still stands today over 1,300 years later, right outside the old Jewish quarter of Cordoba.

1909: Both Sephardic and Ashkenazic rabbis in Jerusalem pledge to work hand in hand in the interest of the entire Jewish community. Together they found a relief committee to benefit Jewish families whose heads will be called to military service.




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