Jews in the
Ottoman Empire 06: Occupation of Mid East
Ottoman rule for Tabriz, Baghdad, and Persia -
persecution of the Jews in Baghdad and exodus - Yemen
occupation not complete
from: Ottoman Empire; In:
Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971, vol. 16
presented by Michael Palomino (2008)
<THE CONQUEST OF IRAQ: THE FIRST PERIOD
[1534: Occupation of Tabriz
under Ibrahim Pasha - occupation of Baghdad - Jews
liberated from Persian rule - community life]
In 1534 Suleiman captured *Tabriz, the capital of Persia,
through the efforts of the vizier Ibrahim Pasha. From there
he sent the vizier to take Baghdad from the Persians. It
fell on Dec. 31, 1534. The Jews of *Baghdad, who suffered
under Persian rule, helped the Turks in (col. 1536)
this victory. Baghdad remained in Turkish hands for almost
90 years. In the 16th century it had a large Jewish
population, including wealthy men and great scholars. There
was another community in Ana, which had strong ties with the
Aleppo community and contained "Ma'raviyyim" (Westerners)
and "Mizrahiyyim" (Easterners) congregations. The economic
situation of the two communities in Baghdad and in Ana was
good. David Thabit was the hakham [[wise man]] in both communities. A
tradition relates that at the beginning of the 16th century
there was a large yeshivah [[religious Torah school]] in
Mosul, headed by Asenat *Barazani, wife of the rabbi Jacob
b. Judah Mizrahi. She was a daughter of Samuel Adani
(Barazani). At the request of the local Jews, she sent her
son Samuel to Baghdad, where he established a yeshivah.
OTTOMAN RULE OF IRAQ: THE SECOND PERIOD (1638-1917)
[1638: Baghdad occupied
again - with Jewish help - persecution of the Jews after
Gabbai's death - Jewish exodus to neighbor countries]
*Murad IV (1623-40) captured Baghdad from the Persians.
Among his 15,000 troops were 10,000 Jews - as a result of
their great suffering in the period of Persian rule the Jews
helped the Turks conquer the city. After its capture, Murad
rewarded the Jews accordingly. They considered the capture
of the city a miracle from heaven and named the 16th of
Tevet, 1638, as the day of the miracle.
For a period of 280 years (until 1917), Baghdad remained in
Turkish hands. The sultans appointed valis and the condition
of the Jews depended upon their favors. Baghdad had wealthy
Jews, among them the banker Ezekiel *Gabbai, who was from a
philanthropic and charitable family that supported talmud torahs, yeshivot
[[religious Torah school]], the printing of books, etc. The
sultan Mahmud II (1808-39) appointed him chief banker and
money changer (sarraf
bashi) and a member of his government. The Jewish
community in Constantinople appointed him as their nasi (chief).
After Gabbai's death, the pasha of Baghdad severely
persecuted the Jews, and as a result of his actions, many
left the city and fled to neighboring countries, including
Syria and Egypt. He was followed by two more oppressive
The *Nasi in
Babylon. It was customary for the pasha to appoint
a wealthy and respected Jew as his banker and also as nasi of his community.
This functionary acted as an intermediary between the
community and the government, and his influence extended
beyond Babylon to Persia and Yemen. As in Baghdad he had
complete authority over the communities in the other towns
of the country.
THE CONQUEST OF YEMEN.
[Turkish occupation without
real domination of the country - imams and sheikhs - Jews
helping the Turks are in danger]
Yemen was conquered by the Turks in 1546. In the days of
Suleiman I the Turks ruled over *San'a and part of Yemen:
their sovereignty continued until 1628. There are only a few
extant details on the situation of the Jews at the time of
their rule, except for *Zechariah al-Dahiri's introduction
to his Sefer ha-Musar.
The imam al-Mutahhar drove the Turks from San'a in 1569.
After his victory he falsely accused the Jews of assisting
the Turks in their conquest and expelled them to Mowza'. The
Jews, who wished to redeem themselves from oppressive rule,
hoped for the Turks and helped them in their conquests. Jews
were imprisoned, among them al-Dahiri.
The Turks, who nominally ruled in Yemen, were unable to
dominate the country. They held part of Hodeida but the road
to San'a and the district were under the influence of the
local sheikhs. In 1872 the Turks conquered Yemen again.
During the period of their rule - up to World War I - the
Jews generally experienced a certain degree of well-being in
the district towns.> (col. 1537)