07/27/05 - muslims and jews

In today's excerpt - Salonica in the mid-1500s is showcased as one of the many instances in history where--in contrast to today's Palestinian situation--Muslims and Jews lived side-by-side in relative harmony:

"Rabbis formed a privileged ruling caste [in the Muslim Ottoman Empire] free of communal or government taxes. There was, of course, an Ottoman court system, presided over by the kadi, an appointed official, who dispensed justice through the city ... [but] they never obliged a Jew to appear on the Jewish Sabbath ... and it was the rabbinical courts which constituted the chief means through which Jews settled their differences.

"Interventions by the Ottoman authorities ... were rare ... only rarely did the kadi stir into action.  In one case, a dispute between two contenders for the position of rabbi in the Aragon synagogue led to the kadi stepping in and making the appointment himself; but this rendered the victorious candidate so unpopular with his congregants, ... that he was forced soon after to move on. ..."


Mark Mazower


Salonica, City of Ghosts: Christians, Muslims, and Jews 1430-1950


Vintage Books


Copyright 2004 by Mark Mazower


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