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1620 DUTCH TAKE BRAZIL FROM PORTUGAL

Its Converso publicly returned to professing Judaism.


1621 - 1663 (1 Adar I 5422) SHABBETAI BEN MEIR HACOHEN (Vilna, Lithuania)

One of the most well known and important commentators on the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah) in which he explained and clarified rather than criticized Joseph Caro. His work is called Siftei Hacohen (Lips of the Priest) or the Shach for short. A lively competition developed between him and David ben Shmuel Halevy (1586), author of the commentary Turei Zahav (Taz). Each wrote replies and rebuttals to the other's works. Most of the Polish/Lithuanian rabbis ruled according to the Shach while those of Germany went according to David Halevy. He and Yom Tov Heller wrote litanies for those killed by Chmielniki (1648), which he described in his Megillat Eichah (1651). He fled Vilna in 1655 and became a rabbi in Moravia.


1621 April, SIR HENRY FINCH (England)

Called to restore the Jews to their homeland. Finch (1558-1625), the legal advisor to King James I was arrested after publication of his treatise "The World's Great Restoration", Sir Henry predicted that Jews will once again soon have their own land and a worldwide empire with it. Needless to say, King James was less than enthralled, especially as it implied that the present rulers would have to pay homage to the Jewish king, and forced him to recant any parts which could be construed to not supporting the monarch.


1622 November 25, KING CHRISTIAN IV (Denmark)

In a letter to the Amsterdam Jewish council he promised "privileges" to Jews, including freedom of worship for those settling in his country. Denmark became the first of three Scandinavian countries to permit Jews to settle there.


1623 LOUIS XIII

Permitted Jews to live in France along with a payment of 110,000 francs (about $450,000 in today’s terms)to be delivered with the crowing of each new king. This was of course in addition to a capital tax and a poll tax.


1624 FERRARA (Italy)

A ghetto was instituted.


1624 BAHIA (Brazil)

Conversos declared their Judaism after the Dutch conquest. This was the first colony in the New World in which Jews openly professed their Jewish beliefs. Unfortunately, the following year the Portuguese reconquered the region and the Jews were forced to flee.


1625 MOHAMED IBN FAROUK (Eretz Israel)

A tyrant from Nablus who purchased the office of the Governor of Jerusalem and then imprisoned Jewish leaders in lieu of 12,500 gold florins.


1625 VIENNA (Austria)

Jews were forced to move into a ghetto (Leopoldstadt).


1625 - 1693 (10 Adar 5453) GERSHON ASHKENAZI (Austria)

Rabbi and preacher. Ashkenazi served as chief Rabbi of Austria until the expulsion of 1670. His responsa, Avodat HaGershuni dealt with a wide range of Halacha. Much of what we know about the Chmielniki massacres are based on this work. A prolific writer, he also composed Tiferet HaGershuni, which was comprised of his sermons on the Torah, and Chidushei HaGershuni on Halacha.


1625 - 1697 MOSES BEN MORDECAI ZACUTO (Amsterdam, Holland)

Rabbi poet Together with Joseph Penso, he was a pioneer of Hebrew drama. Zacuto is known for commentary on the Mishnah Kol Ha ReMe"Z , as well as his commentaries on the Zohar . He was also noted for his play Yesod Olam (Foundation of the World) the first biblical drama in Hebrew and his dramatic poem, Tofteh Arukh apparently inspired by Dante's Divine Comedy.


1625 October 23, POPE URBAN VIII

Decreed that Jews should be buried in unmarked graves. Pope Urban VIII (1568-44) also ordered per-existing tombstones to be removed or destroyed.


1626 MA'AVAR YABOK (Mantua Italy)

Was published by Aaron Berechiah ben Moses of Modena (d.1639), an Italian Kabbalist. Ma'avar Yabok ( the Yabok River Crossing) was written for the Mantua burial society ( chevra kadisha ), and included customs and prayers that are still in use today. He wrote other works including Me'il tzedaḳah (The Cloak of Righteousness) on worship and Ashmoret haBoḳer (The Watches of the Morning) on prayers to be cited in the morning.


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.


1626 December 1, IBN FAROUK (Governor of Jerusalem, Eretz Israel)

Was deposed. His downfall after his harsh persecutions was celebrated by the Jews, although the succeeding governors were not much of a relief.


1627 MENASSEH BEN ISRAEL (Holland)

Published the Hope of Israel (in Latin and Spanish) in which he asserted that the American Indians were the descendants of the Ten Lost Tribes.


1627 January 12, AMSTERDAM (Holland)

The first Jewish printing press in the Netherlands was set up by Menasseh ben Israel. Its first publication was a prayer book in the Sepharadic tradition.


1628 BARBADOS

The first knowledge of Jews on the British conquered (1605) Island, was in a letter from one Abraham Jacob to the Earl of Carlisle. By 1680 there were over 200 Jews on the island , and by the end of the century 190 of them received citizenship.


1628 MOSES COHEN HENRIQUES (Bay of Matanzas Cuba )

A Jewish pirate, he helped the Dutch capture large part of a Spanish treasure fleet. The treasure is estimated to have been worth over 11.5 million guilders (close to 1 billion dollars today). For a while he ran his own pirate island off the coast of South America. When the Portuguese retook the area he escaped. Henriques became an adviser to the pirate Henry Morgan who later as Lieutenant Governor of Jamaica granted him citizenship in Jamaica on November 18, 1681.




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