Sunday, July 22, 2012

Jews of Germany - Come To Turkey (1454)

Letter of Rabbi Isaac Zarfati

I have heard of the afflictions, more bitter than death, that have befallen our brethern in Germany of the tyrannical laws, the compulsory baptisms and the banishments, which are of daily occurence. I am told that when they flee from one place a yet harder fate befalls them in another . .. on all sides I learn of anguish of soul and torment of body; of daily exactions levied by merciless oppressors. The clergy and the monks, false priests that they are, rise up against the unhappy people of God ... for this reason they hare made a law that every Jew found upon a Christian ship bound for the East shall be flung into the sea. Alas! How evil are the people of God in Germany entreated; how sad is their strength departed! They are driven hither and thither, and they are pursued even unto death... Brothers and teachers, friends and acquaintances! I, Isaac Zarfati, though I spring from a French stock, yet I was born in Germany, and sat there at the feet of my esteemed teachers. I proclaim to you that Turkey is a land wherein nothing is lacking, and where, if you will, allshallyet be well with you. The way to the Holy Land lies open to you through Turkey. Is it not betterfor you to live under Muslims than under Christians? Here every man dwell at peace under his own Dine and fig tree. Here you are allowed to wear the most precious garments. In Christiendom, on the contrary, you dare not even Denture to cloth your children in red or in blue, according to our taste, without exposing them to the insult or beaten black and blue, or kicked green and red, and therefore are ye condemned to go about meanly clad in sad colored raimtent . . . and now, seing an these things, O Israel, wherefore sleepest thou ? Arise! And lease this accursed land forever!

Bernard Lewis, "The Jews of Islam" pp. 135 - 136 (1984, Princeton University Press)
H.Graetz dates the letter approx. 1454.

Hat Tip: Turkish Jews via @dougpologe

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