The Jews in Palestine in the Eighteenth Century: Under the Patronage of the Istanbul Committee of Officials for Palestine

By Jacob Barnai; Naomi Goldblum | Go to book overview

4
IMMIGRATIONS DURING THE MID-EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

IN THE WAKE of the disintegration of the Jewish community in Jerusalem at the beginning of the eighteenth century there was, as mentioned, an almost total cessation of immigration to Palestine,1 and only during the thirties, after the rehabilitation of the Jewish settlement by the Istanbul Officials, was the immigration renewed. During these years several important persons immigrated, together with their followers.

The activities of the Istanbul Officials led to a great increase in the number of Jewish immigrants and pilgrims to Palestine, beginning at the end of the 1730s. As a result a permanent yearly event came into being, in which ships were leased, mainly during the summer months, in Istanbul, Izmir, and Salonika, to take the many Jewish immigrants and pilgrims to Palestine.2 The immigrants in the mid-eighteenth century came from various ends of the Diaspora: from Yemen, Morocco, Turkey, Greece, Poland, Italy, and western Europe. These were generally immigrations of groups numbering several dozen people, headed by a rabbi- leader. What characterized these immigrant leaders was that most of them were Kabbalists and that one can find in their writings a clear messianic tension. Some of them even had connections with the groups of the last Sabbateans. It should be stressed that during the 1730s there were strong messianic expectations owing to the approach of the year 5500 of the creation of the world according to the Jewish calendar ( 1740 C. E.). In general messianic expectations were aroused at the approach of each new century in the Jewish calendar, and these expectations motivated many of the immigrants at the end of the thirties and in 1740 C. E.

Among these immigrants were a group of rabbis from Izmir who arrived in Palestine during the thirties and forties, after they published the book Hemdath Yamin, which was replete with Sabbatean motifs. This group included R. Jacob Israel Algazi, R. Haim Abulafia, R. Isaac Hacohen Rapaport, R. Raphael Treves, and R. David Hazan.3 In 1747

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