The Ottoman Jewish Communities and their Role in the by Mark Alan Epstein

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By Mark Alan Epstein

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In addition, it must always be borne in mind that in Ottoman society social life was centered within each community, so that contacts outside the context of commerce were probably limited. It has recently been pointed out that the court records of Istanbul show surprisingly few cases of dealing with Christians. 66 The same probably holds true for the Jews. The social isolation of groups from one another is confirmed by the general absence of references to Jews in ottoman historical sources. Plunder of Jewish, as well as other, homes and shops is occasionally noted, as during the Janissary riots after the death of Sultan Mehmed II, but such events were so important that they attracted the attention of the Jewish and Greek sources as well.

10 p. 401. A. Ovadiah, " Rabbi Eliyahu Mizrahi, 1F (Hebrew), Sinai, III (1939), Chapter II: Muslim-Jewish relations in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries Images reverenced in Christian Churches bar the doors against both Turk and Jew; who count us worse than cannibals for eating our God as they say we do in the Eucharist: a scandal we owe to the Court of Rome. Francis Osborn, 1673 In the preceding chapter we took note of the fact that there were Jewish communities in the Balkans and in Constantinople before and during the rise of the Ottomans, and that among them were Rabbinite and Karaite Jews.

This distinction seems like reciprocity for the Ottoman 44 differentiation between Jews and other non-Muslims when official terminology reflected the view that Jews were not within the general category of zimmis. In contrast to the situation prevailing between Jews and Muslims, the relationship between Jews and the Christian subjects of the Empire was less satisfactory. As most of the information on this question relates to Istanbul and the Greek provinces, it is possible to speak only of Jews and Greeks, though the occasional references to relations with other Balkan peoples do not reflect a significantly better situation.

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