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MONZON:

Town near Lerida in the ancient kingdom of Aragon, Spain. It had a considerable Jewish community, the members of which were engaged in business, especially money-lending. In 1260 Solomon de Daroca was one of the wealthiest Jews in Monzon; he was probably also a farmer of the taxes. He often advanced large sums of money to the court, and received as security the taxes of the Jewries of Monzon and Lerida. In 1262 he appears as leaseholder of the salt-works of Arcos (Jacobs, "Sources," Nos. 221, 249, 336 et seq.).

When the Jews of Aragon were called upon to render King James II. pecuniary assistance in his war against Sicily, the Jews of Monzon, by a special agreement with the king, were exempted from contributing. During the bitter persecution of the Jews of Aragon in 1349 the Jews of Monzon fasted and prayed and fortified themselves within the Jewry, which they did not leave until the danger had passed. According to Jewish chronicles, a general massacre of the Monzon Jews took place on the middle days of a certain Passover festival. Some Jews were engaged in playing blind man's buff, when a quarrel arose between them and certain Christians who were passing by. In order to avenge themselves on the Jews, the Christians lodged a complaint against them with the justice, who believed their statements. Without, however, awaiting the results of an investigation the people fell upon the Jews and caused terrible bloodshed, while many children were forcibly baptized ("Shebeṭ Yehudah," p. 39). This massacre occurred probably in 1391, in which year several Jews in Monzon submitted to baptism.

Among the richest Jews in Monzon at that time were the Zaportas, of which family several members were converted. Louis Zaporta's daughter married a son of the first duke of Villahermosa. Jaime Ram, the son of Rabbi Ram (the word "Ram" being formed perhaps of the initial letters of "Rabbi Abraham [or Aaron] Monzon"), was considered one of the leading jurists of his time. The Jewish community of Monzon, which in the beginning of thefifteenth century paid 350 sueldos in taxes, was represented at the Tortosa disputation by Don Joseph ha-Levi and R. Yom-Ṭob Carcosa. The study of the Talmud was pursued with zeal at Monzon; and the rabbinical college there was recognized by Solomon b. Adret as among the foremost of the day. At Monzon lived En-Parid Saladin, who was among Isaac ben Sheshet's opponents when the latter was rabbi in Saragossa; Judah Alshech; Ḥayyim Emtabuch (?), who corresponded with Isaac ben Sheshet; the industrious translator Elijah Ḥabillo; and others.

Bibliography:
  • Rios, Hist. ii. 146;
  • iii. 82, 91;
  • Isaac b. Sheshet, Responsa, Nos. 314 et seq., 481, 483, 495 et seq., 507;
  • Shebeṭ Yehudah, p. 68;
  • Joseph ha-Kohen, 'Emeḳ ha-Baka, p. 66.
D. M. K.
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