1550 - 1619 (7 Adar 5379) EPHRAIM SOLOMON OF LUNTSCHITZ (Poland-Prague)
Rabbi, preacher and biblical commentator. "Ephraim of Luntschitz" was renowned for his brilliant sermons, in which he spared no sector. He bullied the rich for not being more generous, criticizing their pretensions of religious status based on finance rather than on deeds. At the same time he accused the poor of not doing enough to "help themselves" and relying on charity. His sermons were collected and published in Ir Giborim, Revivot Efrayim and others. His Klei Yakar is included in many editions of the Bible as a standard commentary.
C. 1550 - 1626 AARON BEN JOSEPH SASSON (Ottoman Empire)
Rabbinic scholar. Aaron served as the head of the yeshiva in Salonika and later in Constantinople. His 232 responsa were publish under the title; Torat Emet - she’elot u-teshuvot (Torah of Truth - Questions and Answers).
C. 1550 - C. 1625 ISRAEL BEN MOSES NAJARA (Safed? - Gaza)
Poet, kabbalist, and Rabbi. Najara is most famed for his liturgical poetry, though many of the tunes he used were totally secular – for which he was criticized. His Most famous book of poems Zemiroth Israel ( Songs of Israel ) consists of 108 liturgical poems, Among his poems are Yah Ribon Olam (O Lord of the World) which is recited in Jewish houses on Shabbat throughout the world. Najara also wrote books on ethics, halacha, and a commentary on the Pentateuch. He served as Rabbi in Gaza where he lived until his death.
1550 - 1616 SAMUEL PALLACHE (Morocco -Netherlands)
Spy, diplomat, and pirate. Together with his brother Josef they served Muley Zaydan of Morocco(1610) and were close to the Dutch crown prince Maurice. Both had an extensive Jewish education and Samuel even studied for the Rabbinate. Pallache acted as a double agent between the Dutch / Moroccans and Spain. When the Dutch appointed him as a privateer, his crew consisted mostly of Conversos. His is said to have kept kosher on board, didn’t fight on the Sabbath, and gave a 10th of his booty to charity. In 1614 he was forced to dock in England where the Spanish ambassador had him arrested but he was released and sent back to the Hague where he died of illness and in semi poverty.
1550 April 2, EXPULSION FROM GENOA (Italy)
A physician named Joseph Hacohen (see 1496)and his nephew tried to open a practice in Genoa. They were chased out of the city. The rest of the Jews were expelled soon afterwards.
1551 NICOLAS DE NICOLAY (France)
A French geographer and traveler reached Turkey. He bemoaned that Jews recently banished from Spain, have “taught the Turks inventions … and means of war... artillery, gun powder … and other weapons." Other visitors also commented on the number of Jews who brought their knowledge of weaponry to Turkey.
1551 August 13, SIGISMUND II AGUSTUS (Poland)
The last Jagello monarch of Poland issued a proclamation which permitted Jews to elect their own chief rabbi and judges, answerable only to the King. It is appropriately called the "Magna Carta of Jewish Self-Government". He also permitted Jews to settle in Vilna without restrictions other then being limited to certain streets.
1553 SAMUEL USQUE (Portugal)
Wrote ConsolaLam as TribulaLoens de Israel (Consolation for the Tribulations of Israel) in Portuguese, which he dedicated to Dona Gracia Nasi. The work is a history of the Jews based on the Bible and biblical traditions. Set as a dialogue between three shepherds, he covers the first and second Temple periods as well as the persecution of the Middle Ages.
1553 September 9, (1 Tishrei 5314 Rosh Hashanah) THE TALMUD (Rome, Italy)
Was confiscated and publicly burned in Rome. This burning was held under the auspices of Cardinal Caraffa, later to be Pope Paul IV, with the backing of Pope Julius III. Caraffa, a rabid counter-Reformationist, chose this day specifically so the Jews would feel the grief more strongly. Talmud burning spread through much of Italy.
1553 November, JOSEPH HACOHEN ( ITALY)
Completed his Divrei ha-Yamim L'malchei Tzarfat U'malachei Beit Ottoman Hatogar (Chronicles of the Kings of France and the Kings of the House of the Ottoman Turk). This is one of the few Jewish medieval historical works not based on the history of Judaism per se. Hacohen ( see 1496) started with fall of the Roman empire and dealt with the conflict between Christianity and Islam. He also included information on the " new World".
1554 May 29, POPE JULIUS III
After an appeal by Jews in Catholic countries, the Pope agreed only to allow the burning of the Talmud, but not "harmless rabbinical writings".
1554 September 4, ROME (Italy)
Cornelio da Montalcino - a Franciscian Friar who converted to Judaism - was burned alive.
1555 - 1614 JOSHUA BEN ALEXANDER HACOHEN FALK (Poland)
Talmudic scholar and Halachist. Author of Beit Israel on the Arba Turim (see Jacob ben Asher 1270). He wrote other works on Halachah including Me'irat 'Enayim, a commentary to the Shulhan 'Aruk and other works on the Talmud. Unfortunately, many of them were destroyed in a fire. His wife Bayla was famous in her own right (see 1564).
1555 JERUSALEM (Eretz Israel)
Officially had 324 Jewish householders and 13 bachelors.
1555 - 1631 (5 Kislev 5392) SAMUEL ELIEZER AIDLES (Edels) (The Maharsha) (Cracow, Poland)
Born 1555 in Cracow. Also known as the Maharsha, he is one of the best known talmudic commentators. His Chidushei Halachot is included in almost every publication of the Talmud. He believed that many of the Aggadot (talmudic legends) could be explained rationally and as parables. Aidles also served as the chief rabbi in Lublin and Ostrog. He was known by his mother-in-law's name, Aidel, who supported him and other scholars for many years.
1555 May 23, - June, POPE PAUL IV (1555-1559) (Ancona Italy)
The former Cardinal Caraffa was elected to the papacy. As part of his Counter-Reformation, Pope Paul IV supported the arrest of 51 Conversos. Twenty-five were burned. rnDonna Gracia Mendes Nasi tried to organize a boycott of the port of Ancona by Jewish merchants throughout the Ottoman empire but was opposed by some merchants and many rabbis who feared that the Pope would retaliate.rn
1555 July 14, BULL CUM NIMIS ABSURDUM (Rome, Italy)
In his Bull, POPE PAUL IV (1555-1559), the former Cardinal Caraffa, renewed all previous anti-Jewish legislation and installed a ghetto in Rome. Jews were forced to wear a special cap and forbidden to own real estate or practice medicine on Christians. Communities weren't allowed to have more than one synagogue. He ordered Jews to pay an annual amount for every synagogue, "even those that have been demolished," and said: "Jews can only engage themselves in the work of street sweepers and rag pickers". Jews in all the papal states were forced to lock themselves into the confines of the ghettos each night.
1556 SOKHACHEV (Poland)
The Bishop of Chelm accused local Jews of host desecration. Three Jews were condemned and executed. This happened despite a lack of evidence and the order of a retrial by King Sigismund II Augustus.
1556 - 1647 HAYYIM SHABBETAI (Maharhash) (Salonika)
Halachik authority, and chief rabbi of Salonika. His Sefer Torat Hayyim (The Book of Law and Life or The Book of the living Law) is a responsa in three volumes. One of his responsa relates to the question of when Jews in the rain forests of the New World (Brazil) should pray for rain, due of the reversal of seasons south of the equator. This made it the first recorded American related responsa. Sefer Torat Hayyim was reprinted in Jerusalem in 1970.
1556 March, ANCONA (Italy)
Under orders of Paul IV, "privileges" or charters granted to Jews were revoked. Former Conversos were forced back into Christianity. 23 men and woman were burned for refusing. The Sultan Suleiman complained (March 9th) that his Turkish Jewish subjects had been imprisoned, and that because of this he had lost a substantial amount of money. He demanded that all Turkish Conversos be set free.
Jews were among the first settlers of Santa Cruz de la Sierra. Although little is known of them, to this day many of the older families still light candles on Friday night and sit on the floor as a sign of mourning.
1557 - 1578 SEBASTIAN OF PORTUGAL
Granted Jews freedom to emigrate in return for a fee of 250,000 ducats. Many decided to leave.
1557 MISHLE SHUALIM (FOX FABLES) WAS PUBLISHED ( Mantua)
Written by Berechiah ben Natronai Krespia ha-Nakdan ( France), it contained over 100 ethical fables some of them his own. Berechaih or Berachya, lived in the 13th c. and the first manuscript of his work dates back to about 1268. A Yiddish translation appeared in 1588, and was very popular. He is also famed for his book Sefer Hahibur and Sefer Hamazref both ethical works.
1558 - 1616 (6 Iyar 5376) MEIR BEN GEDALIAH (Maharam of Lublin) (Poland)
Educator, talmudic scholar, and director of the Yeshivot of Cracow, Lvov and Lublin. Many of his pupils became well-known in their own right. His casuistic commentary (Meir Enai Chachamim) is considered one of the important commentaries on the Talmud. After his death, over 140 of the halachic questions posed to him were published under the name Manhir Einai Chachamim.
1558 - 1603 REIGN OF ELIZABETH I (England)
Under her rule, the first Conversos were unofficially allowed to enter England as Christians.
1558 September 22, RECANATI (Italy)
Under the protection of Pope Paul IV, Joseph (Paul) Moro, a baptized Jew, entered a synagogue on the Day of Atonement. Holding a crucifix, he tried to preach a conversion sermon. The congregation evicted him and a near massacre occurred. Eventually the entire Jewish population was expelled.
1559 FIRST PRINTING OF THE TALMUD IN POLAND (Lublin)
After the public burning of the Talmud in Rome (see 1553) the center for publishing the Talmud moved to Poland.
1559 POPE PAUL IV
Published the first Index of Forbidden Books which would lead to burning of the Talmud as well as any other books deemed offensive to Catholic faith or morals.
1559 March 29, PRZEMYSL (Poland)
King Sigismund II granted the Jews a charter despite opposition from the local authorities.
1559 April 17, CREMONA (Italy)
Sixtus Senesis, an apostate Jew who became a Dominican, tried to convince the local Spanish governor to burn the Talmud. The governor demanded witnesses before he would give the order. Vitttorio Eliano, the converted grandson of Elias Levita and one Joshua dei Cantori, bore witness that the Talmud was full of lies about Christianity. A few days later approximately 10,000 books were burned. The Zohar was not touched since the Pope and the Catholic church was interested in its publication, believing that it would supplant the Talmud and make it easier to convert the Jews. Ironically, it was Eliano himself who wrote the preface to the Cremona Zohar.