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I plan to collect historical documents and articles by various authors in this blog, usually without comments. Opinions expressed within the articles belong to the authors and do not always coincide with those of mine.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Jews of Rhodes rejoiced in the Turkish victory

Source: "THE JEWS OF RHODES" by Marc D.Angel and forwarded by the Haham Rev.Dr.Solomon Gaon (New York 1978).

Page 17:


"During the first few years of the 16th century, the wave of Christian intolerance as seen in Spain and Portugal spread to Rhodes. The Grand Master, Pierre d'Aubusson, called for the expulsion of the Jews from the domains of the Knights of St. John. .. The Grand Master now lodged a host of charges against the Jews of the city. He argued that they led scandalous lives and that their bad example had led others to sin. He told the Council of Rhodes that the Jews might cause many evils among the faithful Christians. The Council unanimously agreed that the Jews were to be expelled from the island and all territories of the Order within 50 days. They were given 40 days to sell their property. Furthermore, they were forbidden to settle in Turkey lest they serve as spies against the Knights.

However, the edict stipulated that all Jews who accepted baptism could remain in Rhodes. It also stated that all Jewish children would be forcibly baptized, regardless of their parents' decisions. The Grand Master then proceeded to have Jewish children baptized and brought up at the public charge. Some Rhodian Jews converted under these pressures. Others who could leave Rhodes were put on a ship to Nice, France. A number were tortured and killed."

Page 18:

"In June 1522, Sultan Suleyman mobilized once again Ottoman forces against the Knights of Rhodes. According to the 16th-century Sephardic historian, Joseph Hacohen, the Turks had 400 ships and 200,000 soldiers as well as an enormous quantity of weapons. Exaggerated as these figures may be, the Turkish attack was undoubtedly a massive one."

Page 19:

"Elijah Capsali of Candia believed that the Turkish conquest of Rhodes was part of the messianic drama leading to redemption. To him, the Sultan seemed a messianic figure. In a poem written in honor of the Turkish victory, Capsali described the event as a marriage between Rhodes, the bride, and Suleyman, the groom. Of Suleyman he wrote: ''Your descendants shall inherit the cities of their enemies with joy and happiness. And your name in Israel will be known as Groom and Bride.''

The Jews of Rhodes rejoiced in the Turkish victory and the Order's departure. They rushed to the synagogue and prayed there openly for the first time since d'Aubusson had decreed conversion or expulsion from the island. Capsali described the liberation as follows:

On that day all the Turkish slaves in Rhodes were liberated, for the Sultan had so stipulated with the Rhodians that they not be killed. Also, many Jews were in Rhodes as slaves, and they escaped with God's mercy. Moreover, all the Jews who had been converted at the time of the expulsion from Rhodes -whether by force or from free will- all returned to their original faith. They opened the synagogue which the gentiles had closed..."

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