top of page
< Back

Jewish Colonies in Cyprus - Further Information, and Letter from Cyprus, 1653

John M. Shaftesley

<plain_text><page sequence="1">PLATE XXX ^^^^ ^^a^a^L^a^L^L^a^a^a^a^a^ &gt;. *?^ 5/3</page><page sequence="2">Jewish Colonies in Cyprus ? Further Information JOHN M. SHAFTESLEY, O.B.E., BA. Since the publication of my paper 'Nineteenth Century Jewish Colonies in Cyprus' in Trans? actions XXII (1970), I have found a number of further items which help to clear up some questions or uncertainties.1 The first concerns the Russian Jewish group,2 headed by Joseph Massel (later of Manchester), which went first to Syria and then to Cyprus (1882-1884). I have now traced a report on the departure from London of this group in the 1882 volume of the Jewish Chronicle in Jews' College Library, the one in the newspaper's own library being defective. This report (1 September 1882)3 rounds off the account of their London contact: JEWISH EMIGRANTS TO THE HOLY LAND We are informed that an interesting spectacle was afforded on Monday evening by the departure of a number of refugee Russian Jews from London Bridge Station by the continental train en route for Syria. 'These constitute the pioneer colony (100 souls in all) of the Syrian Colonization Fund lately established under the joint presidency of the Earl of Shaftesbury and Viscountess Strangford at No. 9, Gracechurch Street. They proceed to land which has been acquired for the express purpose of the fund, and will be received on their arrival in Syria by the accredited agent of the com? mittee, who has for a month past been pre? paring the site for the colony.' Our informant [probably Mrs. James Finn] adds: 'Apart from the fact that this is the first time in the history of this remarkable people that any of them have been restored to the Land of Promise by exclusively Gentile agency, the scene was most impres sive. The emigrants were accompanied to the station by at least an equal number of Jews resident in London, who came to bid them God-speed, and the enthusiasm and excitement was such as to need the com? bined exertions of the representatives of the committee with those of the station super? intendent and quite a score of his subordinates to preserve a semblance of order. The bag? gage of the emigrants having arrived and been stowed away, the women and children were seated in the train. Then the packages containing the food for the journey were placed in the hands of their respective owners, the men were passed one by one through the wicket to the train by their elected chief man, who had charge of the book of through tickets. When all were in their places, Mrs. Finn, the lady secretary of the fund, walked down the train, giving words of encouragement in their own language to the women and men, and dis? pensing little presents to the children, and in a few minutes the train started. The com? mittee will continue their most useful work as funds come in.' Further research has discovered more documents in the Public Record Office4 4 See note 1. I had learned from the late Leonard Cohen, formerly of Manchester, who, with his wife, had settled in Kyrenia, Cyprus, that he had become interested in the subject after discussion and correspondence with me and reading my paper. We both learned, independently of each other, of still more material in the Public Record Office and elsewhere, and we both obtained photocopies of various relevant documents. Mr. Cohen wrote to me that he was taking the story of the Jews in Cyprus further, into this century, and he had sent off a preliminary account to the Anglo-Jewish Association in London. He most unfortunately died soon after. I found also that a group photo? graph existed of Russian Jews in Jerusalem who had applied to settle in Cyprus. Through the very kind help of Maurice Woolf, to whom I am grateful, I obtained a copy of the photograph (reproduced in this volume, Public Record Office reference CO 67/110, by permission of the Controller 1 See Trans.J.H.S.E., Vol. XXII, p. 107, Additional Note. 2 Ibid., pp. 91ff. 3 p. 6, col. B. 183</page><page sequence="3">184 John M. Shaftesley bearing on the later settlements of Jews about 1897 to 1899.5 These show that my reservations on Professor Richard Gottheil's account in the Jewish Encyclopedia (1903)6 were justified. He had, as I thought, confused?and fused? with some justification, the two 'Russian' Jewish expeditions, one from London, not really Russian, and the other, perhaps two others, from Jerusalem in the same period. The documents plainly intimate that different groups were involved, and it is my guess that after the return of the English group to England the Russian group and some Rumanians con? tinued for a time at Margo Chiflik, the area originally bought, with the help of the lea, by the English Jews. On 29 May 1896 the Ahavath Zion Society, Lovers of Zion Colonization Society Ltd., of 36 Old Montague Street, Whitechapel, E., sent a letter to the Colonial Office7 seeking permission to settle at Margo, which they followed with a further letter on 11 June 18968 giving further particulars of their scheme. Still another letter, of 23 July 1896,9 thanks Mr. E. Fairfield, of the Colonial Office, for 'the sympathetic tone and highly satisfactory reply' they had received from him. It is signed by S. Goldman, Secretary, who had taken the place of John V. Corvorden, of 35 Crispin Street, E., whose name and address, printed on the notepaper as Secretary, had been crossed out. Confusingly, an earlier letter in the records appears, under date 2 July 1896,10 from the Agent of the Ottoman Bank reporting to the High Commissioner in Cyprus that 'the settlers' had so far done well. These must have been Rumanian Jews settled elsewhere under the encouragement of Davis Trietsch, who was indefatigable in his scheme to get Jews to colonise Cyprus as a 'half-way house' to Palestine.11 The English group was not yet fully engaged, for not till a year later, 17 July 1897, did Alfred L. Cohen12 write to the Colonial Office on behalf of the Ahavath Zion Society in London. In a longish letter, Alfred Cohen explains to the Under-Secretary that the Jewish Colonisation Association, of whose Council he is a member, had been applied to for help in settling in Cyprus by 'some Russian Jews' (a description which seems at first sight odd, as the Ahavath Zion party came from various countries originally and already had English born children; but see also Cohen's letter of 16 September 1897 below). These poor people, he said, had already expended about ?1,100 of their own money?which was true of the English Jews?in the part purchase of the Margo farm and they wanted a loan of about ?3,000 from the lea to complete the purchase. He recalls the late Edward Fairfield's having said that Sir Walter Sendall (the High Com? missioner) was taking an interest in the Society and was about to visit the farm. One thing worrying the lea was the report of locust infestation of Cyprus, as they were 'already troubled with this plague in Argentina' (where, of course, lea had its big Jewish colonies). Ica asks a series of questions, besides that of the locusts, concerning the conveyance of the farm into the lea's name until the advance is paid, whether under Cyprus laws land is registered in the name of a mortgagor or purchaser, and how fertile the land might be. In response, a confidential report compiled by P. Gennadius, Director of Agriculture in the island, was sent to Joseph Chamberlain on 27 August 1897. The chiftlik?a variant spelling of H.M. Stationery Office [Plate XXX]) and photo? copies of some other documents. (I thank Mr. A. Schischa for his help in deciphering some of the more difficult signatures.) 5 Trans. J.H.S.E., XXII, pp. lOOff. ?Ibid., p. 109, col B. 7 Public Record Office, No. 11521, GO 67/103. s P.R.O., No. 12476, GO 67/103. 9 P.R.O., No. 15652, GO 67/103. 10 P.R.O., No. 13930, GO 67/101. 11 The full story of Davis Trietsch and his strenuous efforts to get Rumanian and Russian Jews to settle in Cyprus as a sort of preparation for Palestine?a scheme bitterly opposed by the Zionist Congresses?is told by Oskar K. Rabinowicz, 'Davis Trietsch's Colonization Scheme in Cyprus', Herzl Tear Book (ed. Raphael Patai, New York), Vol. 4, 1961-62, pp. 119-206, and reprinted as a pamphlet. I am greatly indebted to Mr. Josef Fraenkel for the opportunity of consulting his copy of the year book. 12 Uncle of Sir Robert Waley Cohen. See about A. L. Cohen, Miscellanies, J.H.S.E., Part IV (1942), p. 18.</page><page sequence="4">Jewish Colonies in Cyprus?Further Information 185 ?or farm comprised about 1,550 acres, and was 'one of the best farms' in the island, 'without trees'. He suggested planting citrus and other fruit trees. Sir Walter thinks that Gennadius's report 'is more unfavourable than is perhaps consistent with the circumstances of the case'; he encloses a memorandum from the Registrar-General answering Cohen's legal inquiries; and there is no cause for anxiety about locusts.13 Gennadius, in his report of 17 August 1897, says his impression is 'far from being favour? able'. The property was bought two years before for ?3,775, ?1,100 down and the rest, ?2,675, to be paid in instalments at 7?% interest; at this date the property 'is over? charged with a debt of ?3075', as the two years' products were insufficient to cover the interest due, adding ?400 to the debt. 'Only two Jews' were thus far settled in the property, quite inexperienced, and 'the consequence of this is that every day they are deceived and robbed by the peasants, as one of the Jews I met there told me'. Gennadius does not think, even with the necessary money, with lighter or no interest, the enterprise would be profitable in a partnership with the peasants ('the mishaka rides'); the chiftlik system, although a beneficial one, does not succeed in Cyprus 'because of the scarce population [lack of labour] and the character of the inhabitants'. This in effect meant that large farms were inadvisable; the peasants preferred smallholdings. But Margo Chiftlik would probably succeed if the proprietors themselves were labourers. 'But I hardly believe there is any Jew land labourer.' Gennadius adds that he knows there are many successful Jew tenants or 'cultivators' in Ru? mania, Hungary, and Russia, 'but there they have to deal with peasants of another nature, whilst here they will have to do with clever, cunning, and artful people'?which might prevent success. The Registrar-General, G. Smith, also sent a report,14 dated 24 August 1897, giving area and financial details, the land being registered in the name of George Papadopoulo (who took it over from a Mr. Pollock), of Nicosia, and mortgaged to the Imperial Ottoman Bank (24 July 1894) for a debt of ?2,000, until 27 Decem? ber 1898. The Jews were to pay Papadopoulo ?3,725 in instalments, with interest. The movables, stock, etc., had already been bought by the Jews for ?1,000. A title to the land could not be granted to a corporate body; it had to be registered in the name or names of persons. A Colonial Office official, in a marginal comment to the Colonial Secretary, wrote:15 'The gist of Mr. Gennadius's report is that these Jews are not bonafide cultivators, and that even a Jew [my italics] cannot exploit a Cypriot? the Cypriot labourer exploits or "speculates" him.' Another official adds curiously, 'Perhaps the Jerusalem labourers may be able to work it', from which I take it that he meant the 'Russian Jews' who almost at the same time put in a request for a grant of land, as we shall shortly see. A copy of these reports was sent to Alfred Cohen, whose reply, on 16'September 1897,16 added to the marginal comment just quoted, becomes 'curiouser and curiouser.' Cohen now completely ignores the English Ahavath Zion Society, whose involvement was implicit in his first letter (above) through the mention of the finances of the Margo farm, as recorded by N. I. Adler (see my paper in Transactions XXII). Instead, he deals with 'the sufferings of my foreign co-religionists' and, although the lea was at that moment in recess, the Council would 'immediately write to Jerusalem [my italics] to inquire into the status of the signatory of the application, and as to the suitability of himself and his colleagues as colonists'. Cohen was not imagining things. He had apparently coalesced two applications into one, a procedure that Professor Gottheil obviously followed. There was another application, by Russian Jews in Jerusalem, for a grant of land in Cyprus and they too had approached lea for help, via the Alliance Israelite in Paris. Proof of this and of agreement resides in the documents at the Public Record Office? a group photograph of the Russian Jews in Jerusalem17 (see Plate XXX) and a letter of 13 P.R.O. No. 19445, GO 67/107. 14 Ibid. 15 Ibid. 16 P.R.O. No. 20389, GO 67/110. " P.R.O. 2468, GO 67/110.</page><page sequence="5">186 John M. Shaftesley thanks from the same group of 42 men to the Colonial Office.18 The letter is dated from Jerusalem, 29 November 1897, and refers to their petition to 'The Great Queen of England' as well as intimating that they are mailing their photographs. The signatories are: David Palatz, Nahum Zaltzman, Saul Spira, Israel Helman, Jacob Mordecai Feinberg, Aaron Loeb Yurman, Joseph Kuznetz, Jonah Friedland, Loeb Friedland, Zalel Haluli, Israel Futerman, Mendel Press, Solomon Halpert, Nehemiah Ber Perelman, Moses Hirshenbein, Aaron Loeb Cohen, Moses Vorintetsky, Saul Nahum Rozovsky, David Moises, Meir Finkel stein, Loeb Khen Tov, Eliahu Joseph Liptzik, Jacob Rabinowitz, Moses Friedman, Jacob Eliezer Katz, Moses Chaim Katz, Aaron Weint raub, Judah Vansmotsky, Chaim Chazan, Joch anan Abramov, Joseph Meimaran [?], Isaac Alsheich, Abraham Levinrad, Jacob Sasson, Chaim Margoliouth, Isaac Weinberg, Gershon Muterfer, Leizer Balaban, Isaac Liebovitz, Samuel Joseph Margoliouth, Bechor Yossi Kimchi, Eliahu Ben Jacob, and their address is The Society of Cyprus, David Palatz, Jerusalem, Palestine. All the signatures to the letter are in Hebrew script. An accompanying minute by a Colonial Office official19 comments: 'From the photo? graph they appear to be a decent body of men.' One tiny but mystifying sub-chapter must be added to this nineteenth-century saga of Cyprus. The records contain still another letter,20 addressed to Sir Montague F. Ommaney, K.C.M.G., at the Colonial Office, from a William Broadbent, Reliance Marine Insurance Co. Limited, Exchange Buildings, Liverpool 20 Feby: 1899, who says, T am asked by some Russian Stundists contemplating emigration resulting from continued persecu? tion if I can obtain information regarding Cyprus', and he asks if land for agricultural purposes is available, what is the value of agricultural land, and what are the usual conditions of purchase and tenure. The Colonial Office simply advised W. B. Broadbent, Esq., to inquire of the High Commissioner of Cyprus, and as far as that Department was concerned, there the matter of the Russian Stundists seems to have ended. There is a sort of postcript to the story of the Anglo-Jewish settlement. Walter Cohen (of the same family as Alfred Cohen), whom I men? tioned in my original paper and who lived for a time as the lea representative at Margo with the group from England, applied to the High Commissioner for the remission of Land Registry fees on 4 May 1899,21 and H.M. Treasury sanctioned the refund of ?69 4s. on 22 July 1899.22 Thus seems to have ended a kibbutz manque. ? P.R.O. No. 26938, GO 67/110. i9 Ibid. 2c P.R.O. No. 4613, GO 67/121. 21 P.R.O. No. 11181, GO 67/118. 22 P.R.O. No. 19168, GO 67/121. Letter from Cyprus, 1563 In the Revue de Geographie (Paris), vol. 5, 1879, pp. 206-228, an article appeared describing a voyage from Venice to Cyprus by Ehe de Pesaro and his family. Elie wrote a fully descriptive letter from Famagusta to his relatives and friends on 18 October 1563, in Hebrew. It was translated into French by Moise Schwab for the Revue, with notes and comments, and I am indebted to Dr. Richard Barnett for a photocopy of the whole article, which I summarise and quote from, in my own translation, below. Mr. Schwab recalls, as described by the Marquis of Sassenay in the Revue of November 1878, some of the history of Cyprus, which, after eighty-two years of Venetian rule, was conquered by the Turks in 1571 and then entered on a period of complete decadence, until it came under British rule [in 1878]. Pesaro's Letter is dated in Venetian times, 1 Marheshvan 5324 (18 October 1563), and was among the MSS. in the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris. A German translation of extracts was published in 1861 in the Jahrbuch</page><page sequence="6">Jewish Colonies in Cyprus?Further Information 187 f?r die Geschichte der Juden (Leipzig) by J.-M. Jost, to whom a copy of the original had been sent by Beer Goldberg, who, at Jost's request, later published the whole Hebrew text in a pamphlet, oVlJ? "H, in Vienna, in 1878.1 The letter, it appears, was not remarkable for its style or literary quality, but for the special interest it offered to the historian six years before the war with the Turks, which ended with their conquest of Cyprus two years later. Elie de Pesaro had emigrated with his family from Pesaro, intending to settle in Palestine. But when the ship called at Fam agusta they learned that the plague had been raging throughout all the provinces of Syria and he decided to wait until it had abated. Thereupon he wrote his account of the journey to his friends and relations, to give the benefit of his experience to anyone who might follow his example. Biographical Details Few Schwab says biographical details of Elie are few, but he sums up Carmoly's account in his Revue Orientale, vol. 1, 1841. After teaching for a long time in Venice, Elie went to Cyprus in 1560 and thence to Palestine about the end of 1563, according to Carmoly, whose historical accuracy is suspect. Elie's letter was left in Cyprus. The man charged to deliver it was Eliezer Aschkenazi, Rabbi of the Famagusta Jewish community, who was to visit Venice for family reasons, as the letter explains. The first lengthy part of Elie's letter is devoted to a minute description, no doubt useful to naval historians, of the ship they travelled in and its equipment and arms, its crew and their various duties, the cargo, the food necessary, the three classes of passenger and costs and accommodation (there was a special 'head tax' on Jews not inflicted on Christians), and touches on the problem of pirates and brigandage. There is even an orchestra to entertain the passengers. Following all this, Elie gives a warning of the traps intending sea travellers should avoid, the customs and cur? rency rules to be observed?for any infractions of which the officials were particularly hard on a Jew?and the food and utensils to be taken with, all to be strictly listed to avoid dispute on the ship, whose minor officials were untrustworthy. Sailing in Convoy Elie's ship left Venice in a convoy of five galleys?on which were many Jews?on Wednesday, 15 Ab 5323 (4 August 1563), touching at various ports en route, all depicted vividly. He is especially displeased with the tiny but wealthy and Hellenised Jewish com? munity at Zante (Greece) for their religious laxity. After a two-day storm, they eventually arrived off Cyprus and put in to Famagusta on the Sabbath before the New Year 5324, 11 September. On landing, they were terrified to learn that the plague had struck, since the month of Adar I, all the lands of Syria, among the places most affected being Jerusalem, Safed, Aleppo, Damascus, Beirut, and Tripoli, although it was now receding. As news had arrived, after six days at Famagusta, that Tripoli was now clear, at the crack of dawn on the day of the Jewish New Year 5324 (18 September) the galleys moved on to that port, among their passengers being the 'venerable and distinguished German scholar', Salomon of Pisa, going with his family to Jerusalem, three people from the Levant going to Safed, and an old Portuguese man who had come from Pesaro with Elie. They arrived on the second day of the Festival. But, while Elie offers them his most solemn wishes for their health and prosperity, he does not take the risk of going with them, and stays behind with one Isaac of Apulia, who had formerly lived in Ferrara. They waited for more favourable news, he says: T willingly followed the proverb 1 Through the kindness of Mr. A. Schischa, I have been able to examine his copy of the Hebrew pamphlet, which has a French title-page, as follows: 'Vie eternelle: Publication mensuelle des manuscrits precieux, provenants des anciens docteurs israelites, par B. Goldberg &amp; M. Adelman. Table de matieres: 1) Voyage de Venise ? Famagouste en 1563 par Elie de Pesaro.. .* But the imprint on this pamph? let is not Vienna, as stated by M. Schwab, but 'Paris, 1878.' The letter in Hebrew is given under the heading of irr1??? SrD??J.M.S.]</page><page sequence="7">188 John M. Shaftesley which says, "A prudent man seeth the evil and hideth himself" (Prov. xxii, 3).' God, he continues, had been kind to him in his favourable contact with the local Jewish community, who pressed him to stay. In any case, he told himself, should he wish later to go on, it was nearer to his destination in the Holy Land than the roundabout route via Tripoli or Rhodes; he gives the exact number of miles between the various places, which convinced him. Most Jews avoided crossing to Jaffa or Acre in the summer, out of fear of the Algerian (or Maltese) pirates, but it was safe from October until the end of March. Famagusta, Elie explains, was a flat, double walled, fortified coastal town, flanked by a fine big castle, with warships constantly patrolling, and with careful quarantine rules. Houses and streets were well built and there were two market places and a pretty square in front of the royal palace. There was a running-water fountain at every street corner. While heavy rains occurred, it never snowed, and the eight month-long summer was very hot. The writer touches favourably on economic and social conditions, but remarks on the wide incidence of eye inflammation throughout the summer, accompanied by fevers. He puts this down to the heat. Restrictive Practice Elie rented a sizable apartment, which he describes, whose lower room formed a good lock-up warehouse. One was not allowed to take water from the fountain oneself, on pain of having one's pitcher smashed by the Greeks or the ship's workers, but water-sellers constantly called at the house and water was cheap. 'I had seen here,' continues Elie, 'a fine big synagogue, embellished by a community of about twenty-five families, who variously came from the Levant or from Sicily or Portu? gal. Hate, discord, and jealousy reign in their midst. There are no poor requiring alms, but if a needy stranger arrives, they do not bother with him in the way that is done in Italy. They have no other tax to pay than 26 ducats a year delivered to the town's judge for the whole of the community. All make an easy living, with out trouble; none of them exercises a profession, living on the interest on their capital, except two or three less well placed, who have no surplus money to lend but earn enough to keep them as small trade middlemen. There are no other Jews in the rest of the island . . .'. Loans under Guarantee The letter describes the 'marvellous' loan system in Cyprus?no trust and no credit, only absolutely certain guarantees. If the security offered was of gold or silver, the interest rate was 20 per cent, if of wool, silk, or other commodities, 25 per cent. In any failure or delay in repayment, the municipal tribunal judged, with the force of law, and the lender (there were no public banks) got his money back, with certain penalties on the borrower, or had the right to exact further security. 'As soon as the Christians see another Jew arrive to stay here, they ask him if he wants to lend money. If the reply is affirmative, they are pleasant to him, and he has no need to fear that the other Jews will bear him any grudge for encroaching on their earnings. The country is big enough to support them all . . . '. Elie mentions the custom (Schwab thinks it is an old Italian custom, not Cypriot)?not, however, a law?of would-be borrowers bringing a gift, gauged according to the size of the loan, and adds that he lent out all the money he had brought with him for a term of ten days, against only gold or silver; he would not accept clothing as security, nor would he lend more than 30 scudi at a time or less than 3 scudi. Sometimes the go-between demanded higher commission than usual in doubtful cases, which raised the interest rate to the borrower to 40 per cent, but nobody seemed to mind, and the inhabitants were happy to borrow according to their needs, having silver objects and jewellery for pledges, as they were all rich. The writer continues: 'Here I met an eminent man, a scholar in religious law and other learning, one of the glories of our time, Rabbi Eliezer Aschkenazi,2 who is going to be 2 Moise Schwab adds his own footnote, reading (in translation): 'This scholar, who afterwards</page><page sequence="8">Jewish Colonies in Cyprus?Further Information 189 near you and taking my letter to Venice. He is going to visit his daughter-in-law, the daughter of the eminent scholar Samuel Juda and grand-daughter of the celebrated and erudite Gaon Rabbi Meir of Padua, taking with him his son whom she is going to marry. He is about 50 years old and for 22 years had been a dayan in the Egyptian communities, whom he left only fortuitously. He preferred to establish himself here with his family, about two years ago. He knows a dozen languages, is competent in several of the secular sciences, and has an uncommon knowledge of the Talmud. He brings honour to the Jews, without counting that he is also rich, having a fortune of five or six thousand gold crowns. May God show him favour, for since the day of my departure from Venice until my arrival here I have not seen so venerable a man, so well endowed by the Almighty. In his house I have savoured repose of body and soul; he is friend, guide, and adviser of the highest order in everything. He has shown his affection towards me, and I confess such an esteem for his learning that I would be almost tempted to stay here for two years in order to study under his direction, as this town suits me completely. I can fix my time here easily day and night; neither business nor the conduct of my house could make me lose one hour devoted to study. I want to be his pupil, and he treats me as fondly as a father does his son, extending his wings over me against every mischance. Now I have just become a godfather in his house, because a son has been born to him and I was his chief helper at the circumcision ceremony. Unpleasant People T have no liking for the people of this town. Not only are they bad and wily, having no friendly relations with anyone, but they are a people without feelings, rapacious, without faith in nor awe of God. Also, this honourable settled at Cremona and was chief rabbi at Cracow in 1586, has left commentaries on Esther and other historical Books of the Venetian Bible, 1586. According to legend, he was transported miracu? lously on Passover night from Egypt to Poland when, calumniated to his sovereign, the latter wanted to kill him.' Rabbi greeted me with great joy. The house I live in touches on his; we all go in by the same common door, and none of us goes out except at the hour of prayer. It will be hard for me to be separated from him during the time that he is absent through his journey to Venice for a month. . . .' After expressing every good wish for Rabbi Eliezer and his journey, Elie advises any worthy men whom the Rabbi might persuade to come to Famagusta that they will easily make a good living there, and indeed, should they so order their business as to draw interest there on their capital, they can, if they wish, live on this interest in Jerusalem or Safed. As for himself, he is sorry to be alone in Famagusta, for if he had found a faithful friend to live there he would have got him a very nice position. Then he would have decided to leave part of his possessions there and towards the next year he would make his way to the Mount of Olives, to fulfil the vow he had made to go to the Holy Land. Greek Christian Emnity During a disquisition on the advantages and inconveniences of Cyprus, Elie refers scathingly to the Greek Christians, who are, he says, as inimical to Italian Christians as 'we are to the Karaites'. The Greeks will not eat, 'for all the gold in the world', any food a Jew has touched and will never use his utensils. Should a Jew want to buy something from them, he is not allowed to touch it but must describe it in a loud voice?anything he has touched he must keep. Meat killed by the shechita method they avoid like carrion. Food, fruit, vegetables, drink, etc., are described by Elie in some detail, with some prices. Local cheese is too fatty and does not keep well; most of the Jews buy their cheese from Zante or Tripoli, and it is rather dear. Elie went to the local gardens to buy ethrogim and palm branches for lulabim for Succoth. They were very cheap and much more splendid than any he had seen in Italy. A synagogue official brought to his house free the myrtles and willow branches necessary to make up the lulabim.</page><page sequence="9">190 John M. Shaflesley He launches again into a description of food, this time meat, of good quality. One had to buy a small sheep or lamb whole, for one or two families, since one could not resell the legs, which Jews did not eat. These lambs did not appear on the market till the end of the month, but up to then Jews ate mutton or goat, which were very dear because of the number found unfit for consumption after shechita. The writer refers to the meticulousness of the kasher slaughterers?and the profits that local butchers make from rejected animals. He continues, 'He who is versed in medicine is happy, because the Greeks believe Jews to be good doctors and have confidence in them. It is true that they pay a Christian doctor for ordinary treatment 200 zecchini per head per year, while paying only 120 zecchini to Jews, or about one Venetian gacela per month for a patient. . . . But there are also two Jewish doctors, a Portuguese and a Roman, who make much money and earn a good income at their profession.3 They are greatly honoured by the public and wear a black hat with a small yellow patch ... a privilege not accorded to any other Jew, since Jews are compelled to wear a completely yellow head-dress, as in Ven? ice .. . \ The letter ends with some brief general comment and emotional inquiries about dom? estic and other affairs, with the hope of seeing his correspondents some day in the Holy Land. Among others, he sends regards to the scholar Rabbi Menahem Wallassa, 'the teacher in your noble house.' 3 [Schwab does not comment on the apparent inconsistency here of Elie de Pesaro, who earlier had said (see above) that none of the Famagusta Jews exercised a profession.?J.M.S.]</page></plain_text>

bottom of page