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1626 - 1676 SHABBETAI ZEVI (Ottoman Empire)

Born in Smyrna of Spanish immigrants, he started learning Kabbalah at a young age and became ascetic. Nathan of Gaza helped him convince himself that he was the Messiah, a fact which he proclaimed in 1648. He soon built up a large following. When forced by the Sultan to choose between conversion or death, he became a Moslem. Some still believed in him and founded a sect called the Donmah in Salonica. So ended a period of tragic hope, whose repercussions were felt for many years to come.




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