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

13
OTHER CONGREGATIONS IN PALESTINE

THE ASHKENAZIM IN PALESTINE

At the beginning of the eighteenth century there were a few hundred Ashkenazim living in Palestine, mainly in Jerusalem.1 With the immigration of R. Judah Hasid and his group the Ashkenazi community in the city grew noticeably, but after the group disintegrated the Ashkenazim dispersed, and some even left the country. Tradition relates that from the time of the destruction of the Ashkenazi court until the renewal of the Ashkenazi community at the beginning of the nineteenth century the Ashkenazim in Jerusalem were forced to dress like the Sephardim so that their Moslem creditors and their descendants would not recognize them and try to collect the Ashkenazi community debt remaining from the early eighteenth century. At any rate, in a document from 1769 R. Moses Yerushalmi related: "And it is forbidden for an Ashkenazi . . . to enter Jerusalem unless he is dressed in Turkish [Sephardi] clothing and speaks the Turkish language so that no one will know that he comes from Europe. And all this is because of the actions of the group of Hasidim that immigrated with the late R. Judah Hasid the second."2

It is likely that after the destruction of the Ashkenazi court not all the Ashkenazim left Jerusalem, and a small community, numbering a few dozen souls, remained in the City.3 With the rehabilitation of the Jerusalem community by the Istanbul Officials attempts were made to renew the activities of the Ashkenazi community, and at the end of the 1720S the few Ashkenazim reorganized themselves into a separate community and elected patrons. They also began to send emissaries on their own behalf to the communities of Europe. Nevertheless a substantial community was not established, since because of past events the Ashkenazim did not have a rabbinical court or a synagogue of their own-- "and the Ashkenazi Jews come to pray in the synagogue of the Sephardi Jews"4--and so, having no choice, they became part of the Sephardi community.

After the destruction of the Ashkenazi court the number of Ashkenazim in the Galilean communities increased, first in Safed, in which

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