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Bidding Information
Lot #    18380
Auction End Date    7/10/2007 10:27:30 AM (mm/dd/yyyy)
Title Information
Title (English)    Manifesto to Visitors to Corfu
Title (Hebrew)    מודעת מעדת ישראל בקורפו
Author    [Only Ed. - Community - Unrecorded]
City    Corfu
Publication Date    1886
Collection Information
Independent Item    This listing is an independent item not part of any collection
Description Information
   Broadside 370:265 mm., light age staining, creased on folds, not in CD-EPI.
   Tri-lingual Hebrew, French, Italian broadside from the parnasim of the Jewish community of Corfu informing travelers to the island Corfu will no longer receive funds from island residents. In the past the Jewish community had provided funds and traveling expenses to visitors. This will no longer be done. Instead, a reduced stipend of five or ten francs, depending upon the prestige of the visitors will be provided. The manifesto is signed by the Rav of the island, R. Joseph Menahem ha-Levi Sephardi Tohor and four parnasim. The Hebrew text is at the head of the broadside and below, in two columns, is the French and Italian text.

Corfu, the second largest of the Ionian group of islands, is today part of Greece. At the time the manifest was issued it belonged to the Ottoman Empire. The town of the same name is the largest on the island. Benjamin of Tudela, in c. 1160, found only one Jew in Corfu. The number of Jews increased during the 13th and 14th centuries with the arrival of newcomers from the mainland. The Jews on the island were subject to violent attacks and persecution; they were forced to row on the galleys, to provide lodging for soldiers, were summoned to the law courts on Sabbaths and festivals, and as elsewhere in the Byzantine orbit had to act as public executioners. From time to time the authorities were forced to publish defense orders to protect them from the hostility of the general population. When Corfu surrendered to Venice (1386), the deputation of six persons sent to arrange the terms included the Jew David Semo. A decree of 1387 reaffirmed the previous rights of Jews under Byzantine rule, but in 1406 they were forbidden to acquire land and were ordered to wear a distinguishing badge. In 1408 they were forbidden to own land worth 2,000 ducats, later increased to over 4,000 ducats. The Venetian authorities frequently imposed heavy taxes on the Jewish community in order to finance the wars against the Turks. On the other hand, the Jews sometimes gave voluntary contributions and assisted in the fortification of the walls. The Jews lived at first in two streets between the Old Town and the fortress. When this area was included in the new fortifications, they were scattered for a while throughout the city, but in 1622 they were confined to a ghetto. Despite these restrictions, the Venetian authorities were more liberal toward the Jews of Corfu than they were toward the Jews of Venice itself. During the 16th century there were two congregations in Corfu, that of the Romaniots who preserved the ancient Byzantine rite (known as Minhag Korfu), and that of the Italians. In the course of time the Italian community was enlarged by Jews from Apulia, Spanish exiles, Portuguese Marranos, and Ashkenazim, who ultimately adopted the Sephardi rite. Relations between the two communities did not always run smoothly. The Romaniot community enjoyed special privileges and objected to the right of permanent residence being granted to the Italians. Between 1662 and 1664 all Jews in Corfu received equal status. Each of the communities had two "overseers" (syndikoi), two kashrut supervisors, and two parnasim. In 1563 the traveler Elijah of Pesaro reported that the Italians constituted the majority of the Jewish colony in Corfu. They imposed their language on all the Jews of the island, most of whom spoke the Apulian dialect interlaced with Greek words.

In 1522 there were about 200 Jewish householders; in 1558, about 400; and in 1663, 500. The Jews of Corfu engaged in dyeing, leather tanning, moneylending, trading, and the brokerage of goods between Venice and the Levant. The Jewish merchants of Corfu were granted privileges not granted to those of Venice itself. A N. Testament in Judeo-Spanish was printed in Corfu in 1829, no doubt for missionary purposes. Hebrew printing by Jews began in 1853 and continued until 1896. Of 14 items published, 13 were by Joseph Nahmuli, who also supplied a Greek translation to some of the liturgical items. When in 1716 the Turks besieged Corfu, the Jews distinguished themselves in the defense of the island. The loyalty of the Jews of Corfu to the Venetian government lasted until Venetian rule ended in 1797. Under French rule of Corfu (1797–99 and 1806–15) Jews had equal rights with other citizens, and the community's rabbi enjoyed the same privileges as the religious heads of the other communities. Their condition deteriorated under British rule (1815–64); they were excluded from public office and disenfranchised, and Jewish lawyers were forbidden to plead in court. Judah Bibas, known for his support of the ideal of the return to Zion and of the Haskalah movement, was rabbi of Corfu from 1831. In 1855 the Jewish community comprised 4,000 persons. The local population maintained their old prejudice, and when equal rights were restored to the Jews upon the island's annexation to the kingdom of Greece in 1864, riots broke out, causing a large exodus of Jews to Greece and Italy. In 1891, when the Jewish population of 5,000 still lived in their own quarter, a blood libel caused a storm on the island and throughout Greece, and brought in its train large-scale emigration. From then on the Jewish community waned; many Jews emigrated to Trieste and Egypt. In 1923 about 3,000 Jews lived on the island, most of them small tradesmen who struggled to earn a livelihood. There were four synagogues in the town of Corfu all now following the Sephardi rite: the Greek synagogue, the Apulian, the Apulian-Spanish, and the Apulian minyan. On the eve of World War II the community numbered 2,000. During the occupation by the Italians (1941–43) there was relative quiet. The Germans occupied the island on September 27, 1943. On June 14, 1944, 1,800 Jews were deported to Auschwitz. By 1948, the number of Jews in Corfu was reduced to 170, in 1968 to 92. Only one of the four synagogues remained.

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Listing Classification
19th Century:    Checked
Greece-Turkey:    Checked
History:    Checked
First Editions:    Checked
Language:    Hebrew, French, Italian
Manuscript Type
Kind of Judaica
Posters:    Checked