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960 - 1028 GERSHOM BEN JUDAH (Germany)

Also known as Meor HaGolah (Light of Exile). He founded a talmudic school in Mayence (the first in Germany) which became the center for European Jewry. His famous ordinances, known as Takanot D'Rabbenu Gershom, included a ban against polygamy and protection against invasion of privacy. He also ruled that forced converts returning to Judaism must be accepted and not harassed in any way.


Physician, and adviser to Abd al-Rahman III, wrote his famous letter to Joseph, king of the Khazars, Hasdai described the Umayyad kingdom in Spain and asked questions about the kingdom of the Khazars. Joseph's replied detailing Khazar history, and its current status.

961 AL HAKIM II ( Spain)

Succeeded his father Abd-al-Rahman III and is not to be confused with Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah (985 - 1021) the "Mad caliph". Al Hakim (915-976) made Cordova a center of scientific learning and continued to use the services of Hasdai ibn Shaprut . His death marked the beginning of end of the Umayyad rule and the flourishing Jewish community.

962 OTTO THE GREAT (936-973) (Germany)

Emperor of Germany. As in France under the Carolingian kings, German Jews were generally under the Emperor's protection. The burghers or feudal barons were hostile to them, but in Germany the Emperor, for the most part, controlled the situation. Although favorably treated, Jews were regarded as possessions of the Emperor. Since they were prohibited from owning land, commerce was the only occupation open to them.

964 - 973 SVYATSLAV I (Russia)

Russian prince of Kiev who conquered Itil (Atel), the capital city of the Khazars in 965.


Svyatoslav I, ruler of the Kievian Russians, defeated the Khazars and temporarily occupied their capital. Some historians believe that the Khazars then converted to Islam in order to obtain an alliance with their Moslems neighbors, although there is evidence of a continued Khazar kingdom for another 50 years.

965 July 9, OTTO (Germany)

Gave the Bishop of Magdeburg jurisdiction over all merchants and Jews for taxation purposes. In general, under Otto (912-973) the Jews were not expelled or forcibly converted. They were considered the personal property of the King. In the individual towns, the Jews were offered privileges or charters, usually through a contract whereby they would be protected by the crown, in return for financial fealty. The word privilege (privilegium) is found in many documents related to the position of the Jews under various rulers. The term denotes a "private law", or rule and refers to an individual, group or institution.

966 IBRAHIM IBN YA'QUB (Tortosa, Spain)

Met with Otto I and received permission to travel all through central Europe. Ibn Ya'qub, a geographer and historian, had been sent by the Cordovan caliph Al-Hakam II (96176) to report on western and central Europe. . Ibn Ya'qub traveled through France, Germany , Bohemia and Poland . He is noted for his detailed account of the lives of the people in the places he visited, including their diets and physical conditions and economic situation. His writings constitute a major contribution to our knowledge of life in those times.

967 - 1169 FATIMID KINGDOM (Egypt)

Except for the mad caliph, al-Hakim (996-1020), the Jews were generally well treated.

969 RAMLE (Eretz Israel)

The Fatimid Caliph al-Aziz defeated the Turkish princes, signaling the beginning of Fatimid rule over Eretz Israel (until 1099). The Fatimids (part of the minority Shi'ite sect) traced their ancestry to Fatima, Mohammed's daughter. They believed that the Caliphs should be direct decedents of Mohammed. In general they were tolerant of other religions and appointed Jews and Christians to positions of importance.

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