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Bidding Information
Lot #    22210
Auction End Date    12/23/2008 11:02:30 AM (mm/dd/yyyy)
Title Information
Title (English)    Community Document
Author    [Unrecorded - Only Ed.]
City    Trikkala, Greece
Publication Date    1885
Collection Information
Independent Item    This listing is an independent item not part of any collection
Description Information
   [1] p., 210:172 mm., light age staining, creased on folds.
   Document from the Jewish community in Trikkala, city in W. Thessaly, Greece. In the third and fourth centuries, Trikkala was an important Hellenistic city that probably had a Jewish population, but little is known about it. From 1421 to 1451, there were an estimated 387 Jewish families in the area, most of whom were Judeo-Greek–speaking Romaniote Jews. After the Ottomans conquered Constantinople, they began sending Jewish sorgunim (those forcibly exiled) from Trikkala to the capital. In Istanbul, the Trikkala Jews formed their own community and in 1540, it had ten family heads who paid the jizya (head tax). In 1545, there were only six family heads listed, and by the 17th century, no more traces of the community.

The Kahal Kadosh Yevanim ("Greek Community") synagogue in Trikkala confirmed the ancientness of the Jewish community, which grew during the 16th century with the arrival of refugees from Hungary, after the Ottoman conquest of Buda, Spain, Portugal, and Sicily. There were also Kahal Kadosh Sephardim and Kahal Kadosh Sicilyanim (Sicilians) synagogues in the town. While the Romaniot Jews absorbed the Iberian Sephardi exiles, eventually the Sephardim achieved communal hegemony. The refugees from Spain introduced the weaving of wool. In 1520–35, there were 1,000 Jews in the city and in the region. The Jews of the city worked in wool production, and in trading wool and hides. The Trikkala Jewish merchants had commercial relations with Larissa and Arta as well as with Venice and Ragusa (Dubrovnik).

Though dhimmis, they enjoyed communal autonomy and toleration from the authorities. In 1497 the community requested from the authorities exemption from the Ispenja tax, claiming that the Jews did not work in agriculture, but commerce and the crafts. Thus, they also were exempt from serving in the Janissary military units. The Jews of Trikala were in contact with the rabbinic authorities of Salonika and Arta. Among the rabbis active in Trikkala in the 16th century were Romaniot rabbi Benjamin b. Rav Shmariya (Papo) of Arta (R. Samuel Kalai was his student), Benjamin b. Shmariya (rabbi of the Romaniot kahal), Solomon ben Maior, Menachem b. Moses Bavli; Menachem b. Shabbetai ha-Rofeh (av bet din), and Eleazar Belgid.

In the failed Greek rebellion of 1770, Jews in Trikkala were robbed of their money and property. In the 18th century, the community was served by R. Abraham Amarilio, author of Sefer Berit Avraham (1802). In 1873, the community number 150 families or 600–700 people, with Jews working as tinsmiths, moneychangers, and mainly small fabric merchants. In 1881, Trikkala became part of the Greek sovereign state. In October King George I visited the city, stayed in the home of a local Jewish family, and was well received in a ceremony in the synagogue.

In the 1880s, the community was led by Jacob Joseph Sidis, who came in the 1870s from Ioannina and made improvements, including a boys' choir, hiring of new teachers for the talmud torah, renovation of two of the cities' three synagogues, and the building of a mikveh. At the end of the 19th century the community rabbi was Simeon Pessah, later of Larissa.

Hevrat Yetomot was a philanthropic society that helped poor girls, assisted in education, contributed to the talmud torah, assisted the Bikkur Holim society, and aided, in the religious sphere, Tikkun Hatzot and Amirat Tehilim (recitation of psalms). There were *blood libel accusations in 1893, in 1898 (followed by anti-Jewish riots), and in 1911. At the end of the 19th century there were about 800 Jews in Trikkala. In 1912, the wealthy landowner Elias Cohen housed the royal family on a visit to Trikkala. In 1917–19, Judah Matitiya, edited the Greek publication Israel, organ of the Zionist Federation of Trikkala, Larissa, and Volos. Asher Moissis assisted in its publication. Two large department stores in Trikkala were owned by Jews, and Lazarus Muchtar and Meir Solomon were known as wealthy local Jewish bankers. The Ohavei Tzion Zionist organization's club had an important function for the youth of the community. In 1925, the community numbered 120 families. The Jews worked in commerce and banking. In the mid-1920s, there was a Jewish theatrical group in Trikkal.

   Mosè, 7 (1884), 196; M. Molho and J. Nehama, In Memoriam, Hommage aux victimes juives des Nazis en Grèce, 2 (1949), 61, 156, 164; B. Rivlin, and L. Bornstein-Makovetski, "Trikkala," in: Pinkas ha-Kehillot Yavan (1999), 125–31; Y. Kerem, The History of the Jews in Greece, 1821 – 1940, Pt. 1 (1985), 197–214; D. Benveniste, Jewish Communities of Greece, Notes and Impressions (Heb., 1979), 66–69; EJ
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Listing Classification
19th Century:    Checked
Greece-Turkey:    Checked
Language:    Greek, some Hebrew
Manuscript Type
Kind of Judaica