קורפו

פרטי הקהילה

סיפור הקהילה

THE JEWISH COMMUNITY OF CORFU

    The first written testimony on the presence of Jews in Corfu is found in the "Itinerary" of the Spanish Rabbi Benjamin Ben Yonah, who wrote that, during his visit to the island of Corfu in the 12th century, he met a Jewish dyer named Joseph.

    Later on, historians noted that in 1267 "numerous Jews lived in the island". That year the island was conquered by the House of Anjou (1267-1336), a period during which Jews who numbered several hundred, faced the population's hostility. Therefore, the Princes passed decrees in order to protect them.

    In 1387 the Venetians occupied the island for a long period of time. In 1425 they forced the Jews to live among Gentiles in various quarters.

    In 1492, some of the Sephardic Jews who were expelled from Spain settled in Corfu. In 1494, the expelled Jews from Apulia (Italy), and in 1589, some former "Marranos" from Portugal, led by Don Samuel Senor joined them. The new immigrants wished to integrate to the local "Romaniote" community. The Romaniotes, however, did not agree for fear they would lose certain privileges they had gained in the meantime. So, in 1551, the immigrants formed the new "Apulian" community. They lived within the citadel and had their own synagogue and cemetery.

    In 1571, when the Venetian State decided to expel the Jews from its territory, the Jews of Corfu were exempted, because according to the resolution of the Senate "This Jewish Community has proved beneficial to the city and to the island".

    On February 9, 1602, the Venetians passed a decree imposing a "badge" on Jews, which was a yellow cap for men and a yellow head cover for women, or a round yellow badge. In 1622, the 'General Pronoitis of the Seas', passed a decree imposing new restrictions, which led to additional decrees on March 1, 1707.

    These decrees were abolished when the Democratic French occupied Corfu between 1797-1799, granting certain privileges to the Jews, still valid when the Imperial French invaded the island in 1807.

    The British seized Corfu in 1814, limiting some of the Jews' privileges until the island was incorporated to Greece on June 2, 1864. The State granted them equal rights to the rest of the population.

    On April 2, 1891, the Jewish Community -composed of 5,000 people- suffered a terrible blow of anti-Semitic incidents due to religious superstitions, commercial competition and political interests. During these incidents the mob engaged in attacks against the Jews, looting of houses and shops, and a stunning violence. Many Jews were forced to emigrate to Egypt, France, Italy, England, etc.

    Since then, the Romaniote and Apulian Communities that had been separate, were integrated.

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