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RODOSTO (Turkish, Tekfur-Dag; formerly called Bisanthe and Rhœdestus):

Port of Turkey in Europe on the Sea of Marmora, 78 miles west of Constantinople. The city had a Jewish community as early as the twelfth century; for in 1173 Benjamin of Tudela found 400 Jews there, among whom were the noted rabbis Moses, Abijah, and Jacob. The community has remained undisturbed for centuries, but it has not attained any great importance. In the seventeenth century Rodosto possessed a celebrated thaumaturge, R. Isaac ben Sahl, author of a curious manuscript in Judæo-Spanish entitled "Sefer Segullot," which treats of divination, chiromancy, suggestion, and similar topics; and another native of Rodosto, Judah Graziani (1838-93), carried on the work of his predecessor, the belief in demons and malevolent spirits still being a characteristic of the people. Epitaphs in the local cemetery mark the tombs of the chief rabbis Nissim Moses Finzi (1736) and Ẓebi Nathan, while in the same cemetery are the graves of the chief rabbis of the nineteenth century, Raḥamim Graziani, Ḥayyim Elijah Finzi, and Jacob Finzi.

The Jews of Rodosto to-day (1905) number about 2,800 in a total population of 35,000. They possess a synagogue (rabbi, Yom-Ṭob Cordova), an oratory, a school for boys with an attendance of 150, and an apprenticeship committee supported by the Alliance Israélite Universelle. The community is badly organized, however, and is considerably in debt as compared with the other Jewish settlements in Turkey.

Bibliography:
  • Benjamin of Tudela, Itinerary;
  • Franco, Les Sciences Mystiques chez les Juifs d'Orient, Paris, 1900.
D. M. Fr.
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