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[Page 145, Volume 1, Hebrew]

Chapter Fourteen

The Activities of Allatini and Modiano

Translated by Judy Montel

The Political Situation in the Ottoman Empire

Sultan Mijid died on June 25th, 1861 when he was 39 years old. His death was a great loss to the entire Ottoman Empire. In his place Sultan Aziz ruled, who, upon ascending to the throne promised all of his subjects that he would not discriminate unjustly among them and would endeavor that all citizens of the empire would be happy. (Then a Jew from Saloniki by the name of Avraham was appointed as an advisor in the Divan, the royal council, and his salary was 7,000 grush per year.[1]) In his days, the Grand Vizier Fu'ad founded 15,071 schools in Turkey where six hundred and sixty thousand students learned. These schools were divided into two sorts: the “Idadi'i”, as a sort pre-Gymnasium (pre-high school); and the “Sultani'i” – a high school, some of which were founded, a few years later also in Saloniki.

With catastrophic results for the government of Turkey, Sultan Aziz did not cooperate with its ministers nor did he keep his promises regarding the royal subjects. He squandered as much as half a million grush a month on expenses for his wives and servants. The Treasury owed more than 222 million sterling, therefore the minister of the Treasury introduced paper money (“Kayamis”) at a value of about 283 million francs. Since the people and merchants were not used to the paper bills and refused to accept them, the government was forced to withdraw them from circulation. In his reign, the Baron Moshe Hirsch received the rights to build the railroad in the Balkans and in Macedonia, which connected Europe to the near East, that is to say, from Vienna to Constantinople.

The ministers of state could not tolerate the Sultan's wasteful spending and removed him from the throne; three days later he committed suicide. In his place Sultan Murad V ruled, however he too lasted only three months, when he too was removed from the throne. In his stead Abdul Hamid II ascended to the Sultanate (5636 – 1876). At the insistence of the Grand Vizier Madhat Pasha, Sultan Hamid granted a new constitution in favor of all of his subjects (December, 1876), according to which all of the Jews were free to practice the strictures of their religion without limitation and were allowed to fill elevated posts in the government (and indeed three Jews were then elected to Parliament and two to the Senate [2]). The “Chacham Bashi” (chief rabbi) was given the right to participate in the deliberations of the Council of Ministers, and the Sultan recognized the decisions of the Jewish rabbinical court including in civil cases.

The Murder of the Consuls of France and Germany

The catastrophes [3], insurrections and revolts were a present and regular occurrence in those days in the countries of the Empire, especially in Macedonia, and as a result of this, there was much anarchy and chaos in the districts of the province. In 5635 (1875), for example, bandits known as “Bashibozoks” raided Saloniki and looted the homes of Jews and their businesses, including raping women [4]. One year later there was an incident that horrified all of Europe and became an excuse for the other powers to intervene in Turkish affairs.

And here is the incident: A young Bulgarian woman from a village near Saloniki wished to convert to Islam, apparently to marry a Turk. The young woman arrived in Saloniki by train in order to report to the Governor, as was then the custom. A large crowd of Turks with their wives accompanied the young woman from the Governor's residence to the “Sa'atli Jami” mosque. That day was also a holiday of the Greeks; about one hundred and fifty of them, accompanied by a gathering of Bulgarians attacked the group, kidnapped the young woman and put her into the carriage of the American Consul – a wealthy Bulgarian named Haji Lazaro – who was present, and rapidly departed from there with her.[5]

When this became known to the Turks, they went to the home of the American Consul and demanded the young woman from him. Meanwhile, the young woman's mother had removed her from the Consul's residence. Since she was not there, the Turks went to the Governer, Machmed Rifit Pasha, who was in the aforementioned mosque. The French Consul, Mr. Moulain (previously the French Vice-Consul in Jaffa) and the German Consul, Henry Abbot (who was, in fact, an English subject, but was Orthodox in his faith) were summoned to the aid of their brother-in-law, the American Consul (his two sisters were married to the two Consuls just mentioned). They went along to the mosque and awaited the Governor in a side room, and after some negotiating, the Governor requested that the write to their brother-in-law to release the young woman.

The “New York Times”, which devoted considerable space to this incident during four months and reported three different versions regarding the chain of events, didn't explain why the French and German Consuls actually entered the mosque. In any case, the Turks did not let them leave the place before the young woman had been turned over to them. The Consuls, when they saw their lives in danger, did indeed write to their brother in law to hand the young woman over to the Turks. However, since the girl had, in the meantime, disappeared and was not to be found, the Turkish mob killed the French and Turkish Consuls. Some time after the murders it became known that the young woman was in the home of a Greek, she was taken and led to the Governor's residence. This latter was able to save the American Consul and his family, who were in danger. The murdered Moulain was 39 years old and Abbot even younger. According to the “New York Times” among those inciting the rabble were several members of the “Mijlish Idari” committee (the municipal government committee).

This murder aroused a storm and fury in the governments of Europe and warships of some of the powers reached the shores of Saloniki. In order to quiet the wrath of the Christians, the Sultan fired the Governor and sent in his place another Governor named Sherif Pasha, who arrived in the city with a reinforcement of soldiers. The new governor arrested fifty suspects, executed six of them without trial before a large public, among them a giant black Muhamaden. He also demoted several officers and sentenced the Police Chief, Salim Bey, to 15 years of forced labor on Rhodes. Reza Bey, also a senior clerk, he sentenced to hard labor for ten years, and Lata Bey, the minister of the fortresses of Saloniki – three years of imprisonment. The government of Turkey agreed to pay forty thousand English pounds as compensation to the families of the murdered Consuls. Among the participants at the funerals of the Consuls was the Chief Rabbi, R' Avraham Gatinio with a group of rabbis and scholars [6].

Russia found this a good time to attack Turkey (April 24, 1877), she invaded from the south and her allies, Montenegro and Serbia, from the north. The Turks fought back and repelled the latter, but were defeated by the Russians, who entered Andrianopoli (January, 1878). According to the treaty of San Stephan from March 3, 1878, Turkey was forced to pay large amounts of compensation to Russia. The large governments discovered that Turkey would not be able to pay such sums, and Russia would have another excuse to attack her again. They were not pleased with the many concessions that Russia was about to receive especially with regards to the “Holy Sepulchre” of Jesus the Nazarene in Jerusalem. Therefore, they summoned a special congress, the Berlin Congress, in accordance with which decisions Turkey recognized the independence of Serbia, Montenegro and Romania. Bulgaria had only to pay an annual tax to the Sultan, Austria was entrusted with the administration of Bosnia and Herzegovina; England, with the administration of Cyprus and Russia received part of Armenia and many other places in the Caucasus, and in this manner, the Turkish Empire crumbled to all intents and purposes.

During the war between Turkey and Russia, Shmu'el Khasson of Saloniki gave the Sultan Hamid a small steamship for transporting soldiers from one place to another. The Sultan, in thanks, promoted Khasson to the rank of “Capuji Bashi” and gave him the honorary decoration “Osmani'i” level I, and “Majidi'i” level IV.

Refugees in Saloniki

The Jews of Saloniki suffered greatly from this war and its results. They were secure of neither their bodies nor their property. The Jews who lived in the outskirts of the city suffered even more. Many bandits and even soldiers, Bulgarians and Serbs, would attack the Jewish inhabitants of the cities and villages of Macedonia, and even the Jews of Sofia, to murder and rob. Among them were also Turks who rebelled against the “Pasha” of those places and chose the Jews as easy victims. The Greeks also found this an opportune time to kidnap Jews and demand exorbitant ransoms. Many of these victims escaped and arrived destitute in Saloniki with their wives and children. Among these refugees were 161 souls from Sofia, 20 from Nikopol, 20 from Nis, others from Philipopolis and other places. Special committees were founded in Constantinople and Saloniki to come to their aid, and at this opportunity a number of young fellows founded the “Il Avenir” (The Future) association in the city. Dr. Moise Allatini was notable for his generosity once again, and there is no doubt that the chief rabbi, R' Avraham Gatinio aroused his flock to come to the aid of the refugees.. At the end of the war, the local committee wanted the Jews of Sofia to return to their homes. However, the Constantinople committee was of the opinion that it would be better if they remained an additional time in Saloniki, because the Russians promised them that they would protect the refugees every place that was under their rule, but could not take responsibility for the actions of the Bulgarians. Dr. Allatini endeavored to send the refugees from Nis to his representative in Scopie and from there to guide them to Nis.

At that time bandits captured 29 Jews from towns outside of Saloniki and demanded an exorbitant ransom for them. The Turkish army pursued the bandits and the Jewish prisoners escaped and were saved. Other bandits killed a father and his son in Saloniki itself and captured two other Jews, Angel and Shealti'el. The Jews of the city exerted themselves and redeemed them, even granting Angel forty pounds because the bandits had taken all of his assets. The “Etz Chaim” society participated and donated 17 ¼ pounds for their redemption. Only when the situation in Macedonia had improved did the refugees return to their homes. The railroad company gave them a 50% discount on their tickets, and at the insistence of Dr. Allatini, the President of the local Alliance Israelite committee, the Alliance society of Paris covered most of this expenses. The Anglo Jewish Association of London also contributed sixty pounds sterling, and the philanthropist Jacob Schiff from New York with several other worthies held a fundraiser to benefit these same refugees. [7]

The same year Maynard, the American delegate to Istanbul, visited in Saloniki. The community committee thanked him in the name of the Jews of Saloniki for the actions taken by America the previous year to protect the Jews of the east, and a delegation of the refugees of Nis presented him with a report on the torture of the Jews there at the hands of the Serbs. [8].

Rabbi Ya'akov Kovo wrote about the refugees:

        “Go see the works of the Lord, the land was riddled with hollows, sore, bruises and evil diseases. When we saw children and women, infants and suckling babies, living on the land, and from a distant country, wandering about the city in the streets and markets.
        Then our eyes were darkened from seeing, those who had worn embroidery, in faded and patched dresses, beggars who had left homes full of money.”[9]

In these phrases and in his speech, he also praised the Alliance society for its help with these words:

        “Then the pursuers of justice, the society of Alliance Israelite heard of them, from the dens of lions, from the mountains of the leopards, the raised their limbs like eagles, their hands showered a rain of generosity… with which to enliven every bitter and suffering soul,” and in Ladino added: “this is the Aliansa which from the heights of its seat came down, as a merciful mother, to spread a table for them (the refugees)… God has awakened the heart of the holy society, the Aliansa Israelita Universala and with the participation of the minister and vizier, master cavalier Dr. Moshe Allatini (protection, mercy and blessings upon him) and the gentlemen of the collective (that is, the seven leading citizens)… and also the excellent fellows of the Il Avenir Society… say now gentlemen, are we not required to bless and praise this beautiful well-spring of the Alliance Israelite Universelle whence pours forth the waters of charity, and whence flows the dew of mercy? For that is where God has commanded the blessing to be present.” [10]

At this opportunity Rabbi Ya'akov Kovo especially praised Dr. Allatini: “In front of his entire people he always works miracles… after he had founded schools for boys and for girls… he reached out his hand to the tree of life [literally, Etz HaChaim, the name of the local congregation and aid society]; and also he singled out for praise Rabbi Yehuda Nechama, David Morpugo, the doctors Enrico Ferrera and Moshe Mizrachi, and also the ladies who came to the aid of the refugees, and in particular the rabbis and elders and leading citizens who ran an appeal for both the refugees and the poor in general.

The Chief Rabbinate

Rabbi Avraham Gatinio: Among the important rabbis who lived then was Rabbi Avraham Gatinio. His father, Rabbi Benbenishti was one of “The Complete Wisemen”, and his grandfather and great grandfather were, in their times, leading rabbis of the “kollel”. He studied torah with Rabbi Avraham David, and later changed direction and for a time did a business in trade, even doing well, however he left business and dedicated himself to Torah. In 5591 (1831) he was already an arbiter of Jewish law (posek) and in 5609 (1849) he was appointed as a rabbinical judge of orphans and widows. In 5616 (1856) he was already considered the most important rabbi in the community after Rabbi Asher Kovo. At the death of this latter, in 5635 (1875), the rabbis and seven leading citizens appointed him chief rabbi. He was accompanied, as leading rabbis of the community, by Rabbi Shmu'el Arditi and Rabbi Me'ir ben Nachmias [11]. At his demand, the Pasha released twenty Jewish prisoners on the day he took office. Rabbi Avraham Gatinio, or Aga”n, as his friends called him, was one of the progressive rabbis, and cooperated, when still a rabbinical judge, with Dr. Allatini. Like Rabbi Yehuda Nechama, he too was a fan of the Alliance society. The Baron Moshe Hirsch and his wife, when they passed through Saloniki on January 26, 1875, visited him and took the opportunity to donate ten thousand francs to the needy. During the days of his rabbinate the community committee purchased a large plot on which to build homes for the poor. [12]

Already in his day, the number of rabbis was shrinking, as he writes: “In this generation scholars have been growing fewer and few are left of the many.” [13] Rabbi Avraham didn't spend many days as rabbi. The wealthy wished to raise the “Nabila” (an indirect tax on foodstuffs), and he as champion of the poor, objected to this, and was forced to resign (Tishrei, 5639 – September, 1878). He died a year later, aged eighty, on Succot, 5640 (1879). According to the tradition that went out of Saloniki, the wealthy regretted having shamed their rabbi, and went to prostrate themselves on his grave and to beg his forgiveness. Therefore on his tombstone he is given the title “Great Rabbi,” even though at his death he was no longer actually the chief rabbi.

Rabbi Avraham Gatinio published the book “Elef Kessef”, responsa of his grandfather, Rabbi Avraham, added citations and editorial remarks, and made indices for it, and did the same for “Mitzraf LaKessef”, the book of his great grandfather , Rabbi Benbenishti Gatinio; they both appeared in 5627 (1867). During his lifetime he printed the first part of his responsa and his eulogies called “Tzel haKessef” (5632 – 1872). The second part appeared after his death (5641 – 1881). He translated several chapters of Rabbi Eliahu Ben Me'ir's “Sefer HaBrit” into Ladino, which appeared in three editions in Saloniki (5607, 5641 and 5660 – 1847, 1881 and 1900).

Rabbi Shmu'el Arditi: Born to his father Ya'akov. Like Rabbi Avraham Gatinio, he too (as well as his colleague Rabbi Me'ir ben Nachmias) started out as a tradesman. However, in 5617 (1857) we see that he is already one of the “Excellent Rabbis”. When Rabbi Avraham Gatinio died he was appointed as an acting Chief Rabbi. He was accompanied by Rabbi Me”ir ben Nachmias and Rabbi Shmuel Yosef as leading rabbis. All three signed, and Rabbi Shmu'el Yosef signed first, to endorse the book “Vayikra Yehoshu'a” (And Joshua Called) by Rabbi Yehoshu'a HaCohen Perachia (5642 – 1882). He also had disagreements with the wealthy members of the community committee (see details below), and was even forced to resign. However, the wealthy members convinced him to change his mind and he remained in his appointment until the end of his days. Sultan Hamid gave him the title “Kaimakam Effendi”, that is, substitute Chief Rabbi (of Constantinople) a position of leadership over all of the communities in Turkey and represented them before the Sultan.

In his time the new building of the big Talmud Torah school was built (5644-5 or 1884-5).

Rabbi Shmu'el Arditi wrote a book of responsa and sermons called “Divrei Shmu'el” (The Words of Shmu'el)' which appeared in 5651 (1891), and other sermons called “Parashat Derakhim” (Crossroads) which remained in manuscript [14]. He died on the 5th day of Elul, 5647 (Fall, 1886), aged 75 years. A great honor was done to him at his death. Following his funerary bed walked Marshall Rijip Pasha, the Governor Ali Pasha, various government officials, the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan with a crowd of priests, etc., and thousands of Jews from all parts of the community.

Rabbi Ya'akov ben Nachmi'as: Four months after the death of Rabbi Shmu'el Arditi, his older friend, Rabbi Me'ir ben Rabbi Ya'akov ben Nachmias, also died at age 84. The fruit of his spirit, which remained in manuscript, was lost. Apparently, it was he who invented, in his youth, the liquor called “Raki Nachmias”, or “Raki di la casa dil Khakham Nachmias, which was renowned for its quality and taste until the destruction of the community by the Germans.

The Dispute Between Rabbi Arditi and the Rich Men

Rabbi Avraham Beracha wrote in his introduction to the book “Divrei Shmu'el” by Rabbi Shmu'el Arditi: “He did not prefer anyone… so that the truth would be made more glorious by special attachment [to it].” This is a reference to the dispute he had with the rich men, the foreign citizens, the Francos, who wished to change the administration of the community and establish a new administration. Dr. Allatini, in his letter of April 24th, 1882, to the President of Alliance Israelite Universelle, describes the dispute, in his version, “an ancient hatred (exists) between the Jews who are Turkish citizens who pay taxes to the government… and the Jews who are citizens of foreign governments. According to the “capitulations” the foreign citizens are exempt from paying several taxes to the government, among these the Kavisazho (poll tax),” and therefore, they also refrained from paying into the community fund their share of those taxes. Since they had capital, it was incumbent upon them to participate and pay for the poor as well, since the community was responsible for this tax on all the Jews. There is not doubt that amongst the cream of the city's inhabitants there were also foreign citizens, however most of them were Turkish citizens with the Chief Rabbi over them. The local committee of the Alliance Israelite, with Dr. Allatini at their head wanted to radically change the composition of the administration. They aspired “to gradually distance [the Rabbi] from the affairs of the community,” and for the community council to be elected “by the people”, and also to introduce new regulations into the community, etc. It may be assumed that the reformers wanted to raise the “Gabila”, an indirect tax on foodstuffs, again, and to lower the “Pija”, the direct tax that fell upon the shoulders of property owners, and to weaken the status of the Chief Rabbinate as well, reforms that Rabbi Arditi refused to accept, and he was thus forced to resign. Seven leading citizens, most of whom did not agree with the demands of the reforms, wrote to the rabbi of Constantinople, and he applied to the ministers regarding the matter. And indeed, through his intervention an order was received from the Sultan to reinstate the rabbi to his post and foreign citizens were forbidden from serving as members of the community council. And, as Dr. Allatini writes in his letter to the president of the Alliance Israelite: “as a result of the intrigues of the reactionary party… the government of Constantinople has reinstated the Chief Rabbi to his former authority and instructed him not to accept anyone to the community council except Turkish citizens.” From another source we know that Rabbi Arditi's resignation lasted for only three months. [15]

However Dr. Allatini, as he write to the president of the Alliance Israelite from Paris, was asked by the major associations and as the president of the Alliance in Saloniki, to make peace between the two “parties.” He applied, therefore, to the Governor Galib Pasha and requested him to mediate between the two camps. In my opinion, despite Dr. Allatini's intention being desirable, he used his considerable influence and asked Galib Pasha so settle the matters according to the plan of the “progressives” who were his followers, that is to say, the Alliance Israelite association, and to arrange that the rabbi remain in his post, for there was no other option, but to also allow foreign citizens to be members of the community council, and this is what was done. (It is worth mentioning that the members of the council were not elected by the people at that time. They were elected from among 500 merchants who paid the community tax, the “Pija”, who were mainly foreign citizens).

This is the presentation of the matter according to Dr. Allatini, who describes the party of Rabbi Arditi as “The Retreaters”. We are missing the presentation of the matter from the point of view of Rabbi Arditi and his supporters. However, it appears that the dispute was fierce, as the rabbi writes in his responsa: “that my opinion [is less for] my people from several adventures that were forced upon me not for any of my provoking them, for I have been pursued and harassed.” And in another place he writes: “since I am not worthy to enter into the occupation of writing due to the disturbance by which I have been pursued and harassed by people of command, ruiners of a city, empty of Torah commandments and hasty to do ill to cancel the Torah of our God until from all this I have escaped from the appointment, the appointment of authority as one escapes from a snake, and have distanced myself from authority and all that resembles it.” [16]. If the dispute was indeed regarding the election of the council, if to accept or not to accept the foreign residents or to put the financial matters in order, etc. – according to Allatini's version – then there is no ill in it. If the government allowed and if the wealthy all paid the “Pija” in accordance with their assets. However, the truth is that the “progressives” and “intellectuals”,nearly all members of the Alliance Israelite committee, wanted to intruduce reforms that were not for the sake of observing the Torah and the religion, but, on the contrary, to limit the powers of the chief rabbi and similar rules, and therefore Rabbi Arditi and his supporters opposed them. Due to this dispute many resigned their membership in the Alliance Israelite, among them Rabbi Arditi.

Between four and five hundred people from the two camps wrote a letter of thanks to Galip Pasha for his mediation. On his part, Dr. Allatini asked the president of the Alliance Israelite from Paris and the “Anglo-Jewish Association” from London that they also write to the governor, and this was done. [17]

There is a tradition in Saloniki that every time the wealthy injured the honor of their rabbi, some of them died within the year. And here, coincidentally or not, within twelve months of the time of the dispute the following died: Dr. Allatini, Dr. Bechor Frances of the seven leading citizens, and Sha'ul Modiano. There is no doubt that Rabbi Arditi eulogized Dr. Allatini, even though there is no extant source to corroborate this. Even though Rabbi Arditi remained at his post until the end of his days, he had, apparently, additional disagreements with the council members. In my opinion, from that time several of the leaders and community representatives began to see the intervention of the Alliance Israelite in matters of community administration less favorably.

The three of them: the rabbis Gatinio, Arditi and Nachmias were privileged to see the advancement of the community in all of its various circles, as we shall see below.

In their books, Rabbi Gatinio and Rabbi Arditi were upset that Jews were going, on the Sabbath, out of the Sabbath perimeter, lending money with interest with no license, treating Torah scholars disrespectfully, shaving their beards and that those with set matches were visiting the homes of their brides. They both, like Rabbi Asher Kovo in his day, allowed Jews, in times of war with the Christians when there was no choice, to unload arms from the boats on the Sabbath, for there were no Gentiles or Turks at the time who were adept at this work, which had always been in the hands of the Jews.

According to the order of the assessment of the community tax, bachelors were exempt from paying tax. The “assessment” took place once every three years. The bachelors who had since married were “assessed” within these three years and this was called “the grooms assessment”. Since the times had changed, the bachelors then first took care of earning a living and were postponing marriage. Therefore, the seven leading citizens agreed with Rabbi Arditi, in 5643 (1883) to to tax young men over the age of twenty, even if they were bachelors.

The Death of Dr. Moshe Allatini

Dr. Allatini reorganized the “Bikur Cholim” (visiting the sick) Fund, and his name was engraved on a marble slab at the clinic that was eventually established at “Maidan di Lubil” together with the name of his friend Sha'ul Modiano and eight others. Dr. Allatini and his family donated 585 gold pounds (more than a third of the total donations) to the building of the Alliance Israelite school for boys, he paid for a large part of the expenses for the building of the girls' school and especially the kindergarten (“Asilo”), worked to modernize the great Talmud Torah school and appointed Yisra'el Danone, the principal of Alliance Israelite, and Rabbi Yehuda Nechama as supervisors of the teachers and the curriculum.

In 5618 (1858), as we have said, he established the large flour mill and several years later, he founded factories which manufactured beer, shingles and fired bricks. He employed in these factories many hundreds of Jewish laborers and many Greeks, and he was therefore beloved of the Greeks, and was especially liked by the Metropolitan. The relations between the Jews and the Greeks in his day were good ones in the history of the community. At his request, the Greek Patriarch of Constantinople published a “Priestly Letter” to all the Greeks not to bring blood libels before him against the Jews; he also applied to the Metropolitan of Alexandria to prevent outbreaks of violence by the Greeks against the Jews there.

Dr. Allatini used his great influence to help his brethren, not just in his birthplace, Saloniki, but also to help the Jews of a great many other communities, for example: Bulgaria, Serbia, Zanti, Volo, Kayostindil, Alexandria and others. He founded the “Chesed Olam” (Eternal Grace) Fund and ruled that merchants who were members would pay a certain percentage of the merchandise leaving the city as their membership fee. In 1878, which was a drought and the export was well nigh non-existent, he requested that the merchants pay a special tax on the merchandise coming in to the city and divided the moneys collected: 40% to Bikur Cholim, 30% to the Talmud Torah schools and 30% to the Alliance Israelite schools.

In the summer of 5635 (1875) he travelled to Europe with his wife. Upon his return, at the end Tishrei 5636 (October, 1875), the townspeople received him and his wife with great honor and one of the poets wrote the following in his honor:

To the champion of our people, our benefactor and savior, a glory to Israel and an exemplar to our generation
The Honorable Minister, Sir, Cavalier Dotor
Moshe Allatini
May the Lord lengthen his days with an abundance of peace and blessing
And his years among the most pleasant with no end, Amen, so be it
Upon his return in peace with his righteous spouse
Shoshana [Rose] flowering and glowing with light
From their great trip in Euvropa
On the 30th day of Tishrei, the year La T U R* to scout yourselves a place
For your grace, at your service

Who comes from this distant path
His glory in the mouth of all of the crowd
Who is this brilliant, sapphire and diamond
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord

Who is this “observed from the foundation of His seat”
His grace overwhelms the believers
Whose donations make a tree of charity grow
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord

This is your beloved, oh congregation, here comes joy
Rejoice in the temple before me
This is the prince of the people – return to the grape harvest
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord

This is the man, Moshe Ha'latini**
All concepts thank him
He brought first fruits in their basket
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord

He who rises to the head of the battle
Desires the words of my mouth and my thoughts
Bless him from the spring of blessing
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord [18]

*The letters La T U R mean “to scout” and also add up to the year written, i.e., 5636, or 1876.

**In Hebrew, the “H” makes the name now read “The Latini”, revealing, perhaps, its origin.

Dr. Allatini published two articles regarding the situation of the Jews of Saloniki in his time. One in the year 5616 (1856) is the report of which an extract is delivered below, and the second, which appeared in 1875 in the “Jewish Chronicle” of London entitled: “A Sketch, State of Primary Education among the Jews of the East, and specially among the Jews of Salonica, addressed to the Anglo Jewish Association. Translated from the Italian by James Picciotto, London, 1875”. A number of his lectures and speeches on the subject of the schools of the Alliance Israelite also appeared in print. [19]

He emphasized the necessity of sending young men to Constantinople and to Paris to train them for the rabbinate and in education. At his urging, three young men from Saloniki were sent to study medicine in Constantinople and later in Paris, where they finished their studies and did well. [20]

Dr. Allatini was awarded an honorary medal by the government of Turkey (he received “Majidi'i” of the highest degree). The government of Greece gave him the honorary title of “Salvatori”, from the government of Austria he received the decoration of a Knight of the Order of Franz Josef (Ritter des Kaiserlichen Franz Joseph-Ordens) and from the government of Italy the decoration “Cavaliero” of the crown of Italy.

He was active up until his last day. On September 20, 1882 in the morning he signed his last letter to the president of the Alliance Israelite in Paris and died that very day, a short time before midnight. At his death a royal honor was done him. He was mourned not just by his fellow Jews, but by all inhabitants of the city with no regard to religion or race. The representatives of various governments and the heads of the city bore his casket from his home to the cemetery. After his deathbed walked the following: the governor Galib Pasha, the senior clerks of the cities authorities, high ranking army officers, the Metropolitan, the head of the Catholic Mission and heads of other religions. During the funeral the bells of the Greek churches rang and the Turkish “Chujas” wailed dirges from the tops of towers. The Consular flags as well as the flags on the ships were lowered to the half-mast. Among the non-Jewish eulogizers was the Italian consul and the head of the Greek community. The Turks and the Greeks organized special prayers at their places of prayer and the “Chujas” tore their clothing as a sign of mourning.

The Sultan Hamid cherished Dr. Allatini so much that he sent his adjutant Assif Pasha to the synagogue of Constantinople to represent him at the great eulogy that the Jews of the city made for the beloved doctor. Never had a Salonikian Jew been so honored in death by the authority and high-ranking royalty as Dr. Allatini was honored. The rabbis of the city held a special eulogy at the H”C Old Italy (Italia Yashan) and the principal of the Talmud Torah school, Ottolenghi, wrote dirges in his honor. [21]

Rabbi Yehuda Nechama wrote the story of his life entitled “The Days and Mourning of Moses” (5643? – 1883) as well as a pamphlet called “Zecher Tzadik” (Memory of a Righteous Man) (5648 – 1888). The doctor, Moshe Mizrachi also wrote a biography entitled: “Moise Allatini, Onoranze funebri resealla sua memoria raccolti e pulicati per cura del Dr. M. Misrachi, Salonico,” 1883, pp. 88. Also Sa'adi Halevi in his newspaper “La Epocha” published the following: “Offinionis… sovri la overa di membrasion… in honor dil difunto Dottor Moise Allatini” (1883) which appeared also as a pamphlet. Earlier, during his lifetime, Dr. Halevi of Corfu wrote a biography in the periodical “Moshe” in Italian and David Frisco of Constantinople also published details about his life and activities in his newspaper “Amigo de la Familia”, Year A, No. 36.

The affectionate Doctor left bequests to the Turkish, Greek and Italian communities, as well as to various community institutions (for instance, 5200 francs to the Talmud Torah schools). His son, Hugo, donated a certain amount to the Alliance Israelite of Paris in memory of his father, and his admirers donated four thousand gold pounds for a memorial within the community. The Alliance committee gave its boys' school his name. In many homes of the common people in Saloniki, until the fire of 1917, there were fixed into the walls pictures of the three benefactors who had worked on their behalf: Dr. Moshe Allatini [22], Dr. Moshe Mizrachi and Dr. Moshe Hirsch (regarding the two latter, we will write more later).

Dr. Allatini left behind a widow: Rosa nee Mortera, and six sons: Lazaro, Carlo Reuven, Hugo, Eduardo, Roberto and Dario. There may have also been two daughters. During the German occupation his tombstone was destroyed to its base by the Greeks, who did not remember his righteousness and good deeds towards members of their nation as well.

The second benefactor in these years was the wealthy man, Sha'ul ben Yitzchak Modiano, a grandson of the Dayan Rabbi Sha'ul, whose name he bore, and a descendant of Rabbi Yosef Shmuel Modiano (Modigliano), the author of the book “Rosh Mashbir”. He was for many years one of the seven leading citizens of the city, among the supporters of the establishment of modern schools, and was especially interested in improving the state of the Talmud Torah schools. He did much and helped to erect the building of the new Talmud Torah school but was not privileged to be present at its dedication, as he had died in the meantime. He also bequeathed shops of value in the “Capan” market to this important institution, and in his lifetime donated 200 gold pounds to the building of the Alliance school. He was also one of those who stabilized the “Bikur Cholim” Fund (for the ill). Like Dr. Allatini, he also received the honorary title of “Cavalier” from the government of Italy, and also received honorary decorations from other governments. His sons, Ya'akov, Levi and Shmu'el as well as his widow, Siniora Fakima, followed in his footsteps with many acts of charity. He was eulogized in a fashion befitting such an exemplary man: Ottolenghi wrote two dirges in his honor, and from them we learn that he supported orphans, was a bastion for the poor and that “the worship of the Lord burned within him.” [23]

Together with the Rabbis Gatinio and Arditi, the following wealthy men also worked: Isac Vita Modiano, who for his good deeds is described as a “Benefactore”; David Bechor Frances, the vice president of the community council, “appointed to deal with public affairs” (died 5683 – 1883); Yosef ben Moshe Saias (the brother of the wealthy Shalom Saias), “He did too many righteous acts to count” (died 5646 –1886); Yitzchak Shmu'el Chasid (died in 5647 – 1887); the same year also saw the deaths of Leonardo Fernandes, “regarding the poor his mercy overcame them”, and David Moshe Morpugo, “a man of great advice… to schools… reliable supervisor”; Yehuda Sha'ul Modiano, from the old “Kollel” (rabbinical leadership) died at the age of eighty in 5648 (1888); Yosef Shmu'el Chasid, formerly one of the seven leading citizens, died in 5649 (1889).

Sages and Rabbinical Judges (Dayanim)

Even though the number of sages was smaller than in the past, there were still many important rabbis during the era of Rabbis Gatinio and Arditi of whom we shall mention just a few here, and the rest in the supplements to this chapter.

As we have seen mentioned previously, Rabbi Shmu'el Yosef (or Ben Yosef) was the brother of Rabbi David Yosef, one of the rabbis of the Kollel (rabbinical college), “Raba d'Amia”. Since he was the elder, he would sign first on rabbinical decisions and endorsements. It was said of him that he did not exhibit preference to any one, and that he had no greed whatsoever. He died aged 84 in 5645 (1885)

Among the exemplary sages was Rabbi Avraham Nachman HaCohen. He founded a Yeshiva called “Beit Avraham L'Chaim” (House of Abraham for Life), which remained in operation until the last generation. He wrote six books, five of which: “Beit Avraham L'Chaim”, “Me'at Mayim” (A Bit of Water), “Taharat HaMayim” (The Purity of Water), “Yukach Na” (Please Take Some) [this refers to the biblical Abraham's injunction to the visiting angels: “yukach na me'at mayim” please take a bit of water in Genesis 18/4], “Sa'adu Libchem” (Eat your Fill – same source), appeared between the years 5604 (1844) – 5641 (1881), and the sixth book “Tachat HaEtz” (Beneath the Tree – see source above) a book of homiletic and textual commentaries on the Torah, remained in handwritten manuscript. He died in 5646 (1886).

Rabbi Moshe Halevi Carasso was a dayan (rabbinical judge) on property issues pertaining to homes and yards, the head of the “Beit Ya'akov Geneo” Yeshiva where he taught much Torah. Died in 5647 (1887).

Rabbi Moshe ben Rabbi Avraham Castro, who studied with Rabbi Yitzchak Barzilai, was very studious, and published the Kabbalistic books: “Torat Chacham” (Torah of the Wise Man) of Rabbi Chaim de la Rosa (5608 – 1848), the fifth volume of Rabbi Chaim Vital (5612 – 1852), “Ashmoret HaBoker” (The Morning Shift) of Rabbi Yehuda ben Rabbi Shlomo HaCohen, commentaries on the Zohar (5612 – 1852), “Olat Tamid” of the Mhar”i Tzemach Chaim (5614 – 1854) and the second and third volumes of Rabbi Chaim Vital (5622 – 1862). He was the chief rabbinical judge of Collections, “father of orphans, judge of widows”, wrote the book “Yarim Moshe” (Moshe will Raise) which includes responsa on the Even Ha'Ezer (Jewish marital law), divorce law, rules of divorces, homilies and eulogies (5650 – 1890). Even though he was not one of the wealthy on his death he left one thousand grush to the “Etz Chaim” Fund. One of his five sons was the Chacham Rabbi Avraham Castro and one of his grandsons was the Dayan Rabbi Sha'ul Castro, the father in law of the Chacham Rabbi Moshe Mal'ach. He died in 5647 – 1887).

As we mentioned earlier, most of the sages studied Torah in poverty. One of these was Rabbi Shmu'el ben Chaim Chaviv. He was born in approximately 5573 (1813) and studied Torah with Rabbi Asher Kovo. He was the son in law of the dayan Rabbi Avraham Kovo. Since he was barely making ends meet he went out on travels for himself around the cities of Turkey, but apparently was not very successful and in 5638 (1878) received an appointment as a rabbi to Chiron. He died there in 5647 (1887) [24]. He edited the book “Sha'ar Asher” (Gate of Asher) written by his teacher, Rabbi Asher Kovo, Part One (5637 – 1877) and two of his eulogies, on his teacher's wife and on his teacher appeared in the book “Sha'ar Asher” Part Two. His responsa and homilies appeared in 5647 (1887) in the book “Amar Shmu'el” (Samuel Said), together with halachic innovations and responsa of his son's son, Rabbi Shmu'el ben Rabbi Raphael Avraham Chaviv, who died soon after his wedding (Rabbi Shmu'el the younger was the brother of the martyred Rabbi Chaim Chaviv, may God avenge his blood).

In these years there were also: Rabbi Chananya Gavri'el, who settled in Jerusalem in about 5636 (1876); Rabbi Shem Tov HaCohen Chasid, who went up to Jerusalem in about 5620 (1840) and died there in 5648 (1888).

It is especially worth mentioning Rabbi Yehuda ben Rabbi Avraham Kovo, the nephew of Rabbi Asher Kovo, a student of Rabbi Ya'akov ben Nachmias, a member of the Talmud Torah committee, judge of orphans and widows, one of the wealthy rabbis, a pious and humble man (he requested of his student, Rabbi David Pipano, that he not be called “Chacham” (Sage) during the funeral service) died in 5648 (1888) and his reponsa and homilies appeared posthumously in a book called “Yehuda Ya'aleh” (Judah will Go Up), (5653 – 1893).

Among his friends were the judge Shlomo Yitzchak Saias, Rabbi Moshe ben Chayim de Boton, the judge of orphans and widows Rabbi Ya'akov ben Rabbi Me'ir ben Nachmias, known as Rabbi Bechor Nachmias (these two latter died in 5649 – 1889); a year later Rabbi Chaim ben Yosef; Rabbi Shlomo Aharon Yeini, who printed the book “Musar Haskel” (second edition) in about 5645 (1885); Rabbi Raphael Khasson of the supporters of the “Etz Chaim” charity society; Rabbi Avraham Bechor Becher Shmu'el Shealtiel, who edited the book “Me'at Mayim” of Rabbi Avraham Nachman HaCohen (5637 – 1877), and apparently it was he who composed a number of tunes and requested that they appear in the song books of Saloniki in the previous century.

Sultan Abdul Hamid and the Jews

Due to his hatred of Christians or his affection for his subjects who were of Abraham's seed, either way, Abdul Hamid tended favorably towards the Jews. Rightly, he trusted them more than the Christians, who were always suspect of conspiring to rebel and overthrow the throne. Many times he defended them and even denounced Jewish persecutions in several places in Europe; another time he gave a command to issue Turkish passports to Russian refugees and allowed them to settle in his kingdom. He was the first Sultan to appoint Jews to senior positions in the kingdom and even granted the title “Pasha” to Jewish doctors, who had distinguished themselves serving the empire. As we wrote earlier, three Jews were elected in his day to the Parliament and two to the Senate. He granted official recognition to the Chief Rabbi of Constantinople and allocated a special salary for him from the government (which in 1906 was 3,500 francs), included him in a special council of royal ministers and gave him the right to hold Jews under arrest in his office; these were special privileges that until then had not all been granted to Chief Rabbis in Turkish communities.

The Jews were free to follow the customs of their religion unhindered. They were given permission to print books as of old, as long as there was nothing in them against the Sultan and the authorities. The “Pashas” (the governors) of Saloniki from 1867 until 1908 generally behaved in this spirit. Worthy of mention among them: Madhat Pasha, Omir Fibzi Pasha, Mahmed Rifit Pasha, Galib Pasha, Rojib Pasha, Ali Pasha, Sabri Pasha, Hairi Pasha, Hassan Fikhmi Pasha [25], Riuf Pasha and Hussein Halami Pasha. Sabri Pasha appointed a council of six advisors on city affairs that consisted of: three Turks, one Greek and two Jews. The consideration for the Jews reached a point that a respectable Jew (Yosef Na'ar) was even, for a number of years the head of this council. [26]

Among the appointed Jewish members of the municipality known to me were Ya'akov David Benbenishti and Ya'akov Yitzchak Kases, in 5648 (1888); they were both also members of the community council. In 5660 (1900) Kases and Moshe Sabate Asa'el (known as Moise Effendi), and after them – David Mattitya Bizhe served. In 5609 (1909) the members were: Na'ar, Asa'el and Isac Boton.

In the same years a special municipal council was established called “Mijlish Idari”, and as regular members it had the chief rabbi plus another Jewish delegate; In 5648 (1888) it was Bechor Effendi Shealti'el, and after him, Sabati Kh' Abrabanel (known by the name Nadir Effendi Abrabanel), Manatsh Effendi Astromesa as well as Binico Shealtiel, and others.

In the council of the Supreme Court there was also a Jewish representative, who in those years was Eliyahu Ya'akov Frances, and after him, Mordechai Shlomo Abastado. Members of the commercial court were: Nachman Aharon Mal'ach, Asher Effendi Shalem, and Nissim Matzliach Effendi. The governor Fikhmi Pasha established a commercial bureau in 5664 (1904) that Josefo Mizrachi served on as assistant chairman, and Ya'akov Sha'ul Modiano was one of its active members.

Among the senior clerks in Saloniki, aside from the doctors, we must mention Yosef Effendi Kriger who was, in 5652 (1892), the general manager of the city for political affairs [27]; Daoud (David) Effendi Levi, who was active in this council for several years and was later appointed to the passport bureau; and Vitalis Effendi ben Mordechai Astromesa, an agronomist who was appointed in 5681 (1921) as General Supervisor for Agriculture for Saloniki and its environs, and many others.

An Incident Between the Turks and the Jews

In spite of these privileges, policies and good relations there were still occasional injustices wrought by the governors, like the following instance that occurred in 5644 (1884):

At the initiative of the Jews or with their cooperation, large buildings were built in Saloniki in which the workers sorted the tobacco. The authorities appointed Turkish supervisors (“Koldjis”) to ensure that tobacco was not smuggled out before the “balu” taxation. On Friday, August 8th, 1884, when many Jews were crowded into the Jewish market to buy their Sabbath needs, fifteen of these supervisors (“Koldjis”) approached a Jewish shopkeeper and requested to enter his store to check if he didn't have any smuggled tobacco. The Jew objected, saying that the guards needed to come accompanied by the “Muchtar” of the neighborhood (who was Jewish) and an official Turkish clerk. The supervisors did not listen to his words and forced their way in. The storekeeper continued to object, and one of the supervisors shot in the air with his pistol, and his friends also pulled out their pistols and fired. Seven Jews and a woman who were passing in the street at that hour were injured. There was a great panic and all of the shopkeepers closed their stores and fled in all directions. The English consul, Blont who heard the shots was first on the scene, and quickly summoned the governor Galib Pasha and the chief of police, and after them Rabbi Arditi and the members of the community council arrived at the place. The entire Jewish population was seething over the incident, and the chief rabbi wrote to the Governor and asked that the perpetrators be punished. He was furious that the supervisors, on the excuse that they were coming to check if there were any smuggled tobacco, were entering the Jewish buildings specifically at a time when only the women were there; they were stopping cargo wagons and arbitrarily harassing pedestrians on the street. The rabbi also demanded that the supervisors be forbidden from bearing arms within the city. The governor responded that he would investigate and cause justice to be done.

In the meantime, the injured woman died. The chief of police filed a report with the governor that relied on the Turkish supervisors' version. In addition, the “Rizhi” (the tobacco company) agent, Detrobitsch as well as Lir, the head of the Ottoman Bank and the government inspector of the railway, Kopir (these last two being known anti-semites), who were on good terms with the governor, influenced him and the chief of police and as a result, instead of punishing the Turkish shooters, six Jews were arrested.

The community council, aided by the best of the Jewish lawyers, appealed the arbitrary arrest, and Rabbi Arditi wrote to the chief rabbi of Constantinople to deliver an official complaint to the Minister of Justice regarding this injustice. And indeed, Constantinople wrote to the governor to reexamine the matter without prejudice. Only after this intervention were the Jews released and some of the Turkish guards arrested. However, as a counter measure, two other Jews were arrested, Italian citizens, who, according to Turkish “witnesses” wished to kill the “Koldjis”. The Italian Consul intervened and defended them. In the meantime, many Jews, Greeks, Bulgarians and even Turks signed a petition to the governor to disarm the supervisors of their weapons. [28]

In those days there were still several violent Turks who attempted by means of all sorts of threats to extort money from wealthy Jews. Usually, the police would take action against them without enthusiasm, and when they discovered that the police were indifferent, Jews sometimes “took care” of the bandits on their own. [29]

In spite of all this, it can be said that the Jews of Saloniki were definitely grateful to Sultan Abdul Hamid for the way the city developed so marvelously in his day, particularly with regard to commerce, industry and construction. This development was accompanied by rapid progress in education in every class and increased the honor of the community, which included then a large number of doctors, lawyers, journalists, engineers and academics, who had been educated a institutions of higher learning in Constantinople, Europe and even in the city itself. The Jews truly venerated Sultan Hamid and celebrated his birthdays, which were official holidays, joyfully and enthusiastically in both the synagogues and the study halls. This enthusiasm was especially notable on the 25th anniversary of his reign. [30]

It is not surprising, therefore, if Rabbi Ya'akov Me'ir, who was appointed as Saloniki's rabbi in 5668 (1908), said in 5673 (1913) to King Georgos, after the conquest of Saloniki by the Greeks, that in “the time of the Sultan Hamid, perhaps other nations suffered from him, but the Jews suffered nothing for the Sultan trusted that the Jews respected his authority and would not rise up against him.” [31] On his part, the Sultan appreciated the loyalty of the Jews to him and his rule and decorated the respected citizens with different honoraria. In the appendix to this chapter I submit the list of Jews from Saloniki known to me who received honorable decorations from Sultan Abdul Hamid.

In 5662 (1902), the Turks, mostly Donmehs, built a fabulous mosque in the “Campanias” suburb and many Jews helped with the construction costs, among them Alfred Allatini and his widow, who donated thirty five thousand grush. When Alfredo died, in 5661 (1901), his widow pledged one hundred gold pounds to the Turkish schools. In 5664 (1904), Jews donated generously to the Turkish school “Yiadigari Tiriki”..

Also worth mentioning is Yosef Ya'akov Nechama who decorated the new mosque that was then built with lovely decorations. (Rabbi Kovo didn't object to this work in the mosque since the Turks believe in the unity of the diety).

The relations between the Jews and the Turks in Saloniki were so good that the governor (Pasha) was frequently present not only at the funerals of respected Jewish citizens, but also at school celebrations, especially those of the Alliance Israelite, and at balls and parties that were held by esteemed Jews. Hassan Pasha, for instance, and with him, several senior clerks, were present at the circumcision ceremony of the son of Chanan Mercado Yehoshua, in 5662 (1902). At the death of Alfredo, son of Dr. Moise Allatini, in 5661 (1901), his casket was borne by, among others, also Marechal Ha'iri Pasha and Ali Bey from the Turkish side. These good relations continued until the conquest of the city by the Greeks.

The Development of Commerce

In 5632 (1872), Baron Moshe Hirsch received the concession to lay the railway in Macedonia from Sultan Aziz. At the start, Saloniki was connected to Scopie and after a short time the tracks were extended to Zbepji and from there to Belgrade.

In this way, Saloniki was connected to Budapest, Vienna and Paris. At about the same time, a German firm connected Saloniki to the tracks at Monastir. The railway company of Baron Rotschild tied Constantinople to Romili and a French firm extended the line from Scopie to Belgrade.

Thanks to this sophisticated train network, many of the villagers brought their produce to the nearest station going to Saloniki. On their part, many merchants went out of Saloniki to visit the villagers to buy from or sell to them. Others traveled as far as Vienna, Paris and London on business, without needing local middlemen. The villagers also became used to traveling to the city to purchase European commodities on credit and to pay for it with the crops of their land. Already in the time of Rabbi Arditi, Saloniki became the central warehouse of Madedonia for many types of products, tobacco, silk worms, cotton, leather, fruit, grapes, olives and animals as well.

Many ships reached the port [32] to unload import goods of various sorts, and to take on mainly agricultural produce, which was concentrated in the city for export. The work of loading and unloading was done entirely, according to Adler's testimony in 5658 (1898), by Jews who were experts in their field. The Jews were also ships' agents as well as representatives of most of the insurance companies. [33] The existing shops expanded and new ones opened every day. The merchant Mercado Yehoshua, for instance, expanded his business which was founded in 5590 (1830) as well as Nechama Aharon Mal'ach whose business was founded in 5630 (1870). Major businessmen like Skitodi (Yitzchak Nissim) and Chasdai Moshe Ezrati opened new places of business. These four traded in clothing, silks, cotton, buttons and the like. The Frances and Benbenishti families did business in woolens which were imported from England. The sons of Gedalia Avraham Herera and the sons of Avraham Bivas developed the modest business of their fathers and turned it into several large stores both wholesale and retail. They would also sell on credit to several smaller businesses and to peddlers who went from door to door and would also sell at Greek and Turkish homes.

The Jews were the first to bring not only textiles and other consumer good from Europe, but also industrial equipment such as steam engines, pumps, motors and the like. Fratelli (the brothers) Tiano and Partners were some of the machinery importers. Avraham Yosef Kovo founded, in 5628 (1868), a supply warehouse for the printing industry: type, presses, ink, paper, etc.

Commerce developed in Saloniki to such an extent that in 5660 (1900) the value of the goods exported via the port of Saloniki reached six million dollars, and the import, eighteen million and four hundred thousand dollars. According to Adler's testimony, from the year 5658 (1898), 75% of this entire cycle went through Jewish hands.

Industry and Crafts

The Spanish exiles in Saloniki were famous for their expertise in different crafts and industries. Continuing this tradition of production the Saias family founded a textile (weaving) mill in the second half of the 18th century. The mill developed and became the largest and most sophisticated of its kind in the city. According to the words of a French author from 5590 (1830), the Jews were already then employed in weaving different colors of cloth, called in Turkish “basma”.

In 5618 (1858) Dr. Allatini built a large flour mill, in which they would grind one hundred thousand kilograms of wheat every day and it supplied flour to all of the inhabitants of the city. Several years later he founded the beer factory and a number of years after that, a factory for fired bricks and a factory for shingles. Since it was not possible to close these factories on Sabbaths and holidays, Dr. Allatini found a non-Jew as a partner and employed hundred of Greek workers who worked on the Sabbath. Of course, most of the clerks and supervisors were Jews. The mill was closed only on the Day of Atonement. It burnt down and was rebuilt in 5660 (1900). [34]

There was at that time a “Association for Weaving Silk” (mentioned as one of the benefactors to the construction of the Alliance Israelite school in 1875), and there were also textile mills owned by Touris and Mizrachi, Sabati Chasid and Siddes; a factory for women's scarves and silk weaving that Yosef Modiano founded in 5658 (1898); Modiano and Partners built large warehouses for sorting the tobacco in the name of the “Rizhi” company, which started out employing between 400 – 450 men and women and by 5662 (1902) had nearly 10,000 men and women workers.

In the beginning of 5670 (October, 1909), the association of Alliance Israelite alumni in Saloniki organized an exhibition of handicrafts, art and industry. One hundred and fifty artists and artisans, mostly Jewish, took part in the exhibition. They presented products in forty types of crafts. Many Jews were recognized at this opportunity and among those who received gold medals were: Mayo and Pilosof, the owners of a soap factory (they supplied soap to the Sultan); Yitzchak D. Serero and Partners, owners of a brush factory, received an honorary certificate at first and later on a gold medal; Abraham Abastado, a shoe manufacturer, received a gold medal for the beautiful shoes he created; Yitzchak Saki, a tailor, received the first prize for superb sewing; Yosef Nachmias, owner of a knitting mill and Michael and Shlomo Angel, tailors, received certificates of praise.

Alkan Adler testified in his book mentioned below that both the builders and the workers in the silk industry at that time were all Jews.

At that time European firms founded a natural gas factory and the first electric power station, as well as carriage tracks (“Tram”), which were first pulled by horses, and after several years, run by electricity, and a water company as well. In most of these firms Jews participated as investors and stockholders. It can certainly be said that there was not a single commercial transaction in Saloniki between 5610-5672 (1859-1912) that the Jews didn't initiate or in which they didn't participate.

Banks and Bankers

With the development of commerce and industry several banks were founded who served not only the merchants of Saloniki but also had ties and dealings with European and Turkish banks. The most important banks and bankers who were active between the years 5624 – 5672 (1864–1912) were: “Banco Allatini”; Yehuda Sha'ul Modiano; Fratelli (Brothers) Modiano; Sha'ul Modiano; Fratelli Eliahu HaCohen; Yosef Ya'akov Capuano; Chaim Shlomo Amar; “Banco Sha'ul Modiano”, whose sons Levi and Ya'akov continued to run and develop the business. Other active bankers were: Chaim Shlomo Amar, Sabati Chasid, and after him his son Shlomo; and in the last years – Avraham Kh' Amar and his son Sha'ul Avraham Amar; Shlomo Shalem; Yehuda ben Ouzilio and his partners; A. Bayonne; David J. Fernandes; Benyamin Chasid and his sons; the sons of Asher Chasid, as well as Ya'akov David Benbenishti and Moseri.

In 5648 (1888) several Jews together with the brothers Allatini founded the “Banc de Salonique”, whose director was generally Jewish. The director of the “Banc Ottoman” was Shmu'el David Zadok in those years.

Magnificent Buildings

Since the merchants, industrialists and bankers needed large warehouses, stores and offices, the Jews built some magnificent buildings at that time in the center of the city, especially on Sabri Pasha Street and the area. Among the important buildings it is worth mentioning: the “Cite Saul” building named for Sha'ul Modiano; Passage ben Rubi; Khan Allatini; Khan Yeini in the Frankish neighborhood; Khan Saias; Passage Orientale & Jidid Khan, which belonged to the community; the Trading building (a commercial firm) on Sabri Pasha Street, which belonged to the Simcha family; large warehouses in the grain market, “Estera” and “Sibi”, besides several beautiful buildings in the “Quartier Franco” (the Frankish neighborhood), among them the building of the “Banc de Salonique” etc., etc. The value of these buildings was in the hundreds of thousands of gold pounds.

Aside from the commercial buildings, the wealthy built themselves virtual palaces out side of the city. First as summer homes, and after a while, as dwellings for the entire year. The first such homes were begun already in 5610 (1850) in the neighborhood know as “Campanias”. At these estates the clerks and important guests of the authority were received as well as representatives of the various governments. Jews also built lovely houses on the “New Beach” road. It would be impossible to talk about those years about the renewal and building of the city without mentioning the part of the Jews in the construction.

In addition, the Jews excelled as clerks in the post office and the telegraph office, the “Junction” railroad, the police, one of whose chiefs in 5670 (1910) was Yitzchak Yehoshua Bey, and in various government posts. The number of Jewish lawyers grew from day to day as well as the number of “Mukhtars” (neighborhood heads).

Wealthy Men Devoted to Their People

In spite of their great wealth, the rich men, veterans and newcomers alike, devoted to their people and religion. As we have already seen, even though Dr. Allatini initiated and founded modern schools, he supported the Talmud Torah schools and the “Etz Chaim” society generously. The well-to-do Sha'ul Modiano was one of the pillars of the Talmud Torah institution. The wealthy Shalom Saias founded a yeshiva which bore his name, and was known as “Lishkat HaGazit” or “Yeshiva de K”M Shalom Saias”. The wealthy Sabati Chasid founded a yeshiva as well, not far from the “Rogoz” neighborhood which was known as “La Yeshiva de K”M Sabati Chasid [35]. The rich Avraham Herera founded a yeshiva called “Beit Yitzchak” in the “Madrizika del Agoa” neighborhood, and assisted, together with Yosef Shulam and the sons of Avraham Baruck Bracha in the printing of the book “Ein Mishpat” (Eye of Justice) (5657 – 1897). Several years later Gavri'el Almosnino founded a yeshiva as well, which bore his name. In these yeshivas were several scholars (at least three) who learned Gemara and the arbiters at the expense of the benefactors and they contained libraries filled with books of responsa, Talmud and the like.

The wealthy Yosef ben Shushan and his wife Rachel donated a valuable plot for the construction of a rabbinical seminary, that was properly founded in 5657 (1897). The wealthy Aharon Nechama Mal'ach also supported this institution. For her part, Seniora Fakima, the widow of Sha'ul Modiano, gave her own moneys to build the glorious synagogue in the “Campanias” neighborhood which cost around three thousand gold pounds. Officially, it was named “Beit Sha'ul” for her husband, but people called it “El Kahal de la Seniora Fakima” [36]. Other wealthy members of he Tiano, Russo, Dassa, Fernandes, Moseri, Ferrera, Mizrachi, Buena, Abastado, Torres, Amar, Bizhe, Geneo, Kovo and other families donated generously to the schools of the Talmud Torah, the Alliance Israelite, the craft school, to a large number of charity organizations and in particular to the “Bikur Cholim” (Visit the Sick) fund, which in those years cared for thirty thousand cases a year. They also donated their assets to the construction of the hospital, which we will speak about in the next chapter.

Jews of Saloniki in the Eyes of Non-Jews

In 5647 (1887) a non-Jewish French author visited Saloniki, and these are his words regarding the Jewish inhabitants:

“Of the 130 thousand inhabitants here about 70 thousand are Jews. I do not think that a number like that can be found even in Jerusalem. In no other place in the world do the Jews feel themselves as much t home as here. They prefer the rule of the Turks to the rule of the Christians… most of them speak ancient Spanish, which was the language of their forefathers. Their relatively flourishing economic situation attracts immigrants from Italy to the city as well… I saw them {the Jews}in their shops, in the street, at the port, in the agency offices. They have a kind of free stride… I walked in the narrow streets, I went in to a yard… I saw a beautiful young woman… who held a broom in her hand as if it were a royal sceptre, and I was reminded of the verse “for I am black and comely, oh daughters of Jerusalem” [Song of Songs]… the Jews here work in all trades, from physical labor to the highest managerial posts. Of course, they are excellent at commerce… they are also the owners of the factories and also the porters, interpreters and clerks, mediators and bankers. They have a place in every level of the society, from the very highest to the very lowest. The great merchants are Jews: The names of Allatini, Modiano are known in Marseille, in Paris and London, no less than in the Aegean. Next to these wealthy men there are also Jews with no luck, like the Christians… next to the old market is the glorious palace of Modiano, and two steps from there, in some sort of basement, I saw a number of children in a terrible state, singing something in Hebrew… the great merchants are charitable…”

He also wrote that a Jew who owned a boat told him that the wealthy have lots of money, “but they forget that we the poor are their brothers,” and simultaneously he praised the Allatini family for their generosity…. The number of Turks, according to him, is forty thousand; the “Donmehs” live in a suburb at the height of the city in a very clean place; the number of Greeks is twenty thousand and they compete with the Jews, but the Jews outnumber them in the city and have turned it into a little Israel. [37].

The complaint of the boat owner that his wealthy brethren neglect the poor contradicts his own assertion that the large merchants are charitable. In any case, this testimony in general, coming from a non-Jew, confirms again the greatness and uniqueness of the Jews of Saloniki in these years.

For his part, Samuel Cox, the American delegate in Constantinople, who visited Saloniki around 1885 wrote:

“Saloniki is a paradise for Jews. When you get to the coast, the owner of the boat that fetches you is Jewish… when you walk up on dry land, you are shoved by turbaned porters who are Jews, and when you enter the customs house, you are surrounded by clerks who speak unceasingly – Jews…. The builders are Jews, the barbers are Jews. The children of Israel are everywhere, doing every kind of task. They trade in metal, in old clothes, and in almost everything that can be traded in a city…. There are in this city many wealthy Jews, and some of them are millionaires. [38].

Addenda to Chapter Fourteen

A. List of Sages and Rabbis Who Were Active at this Time

Rabbi Yehuda Matalon, “Tremendous, great in years”, died in 5640 (1880); the same year the judge Rabbi Yitzchak Shem-Tov Arditi, who was a sermonizer, preacher and great teacher died; the judge Rabbi Yitzchak, the brother of Rabbi Asher Kovo, and the sage and preacher Rabbi Yitzchak David Amarilio died in 5641 (1881). The judge Rabbi Yitzchak ben Rabbi Yehoshu'a HaCohen Perachia had his innovative commentaries on the Torah and his eulogy for his mother appear in his father's book “Vayikra Yehoshu'a”, he died in Jerusalem at the age of 80 after 5642 (1882); the judge Rabbi Ya'akov called Bechor Bracha (the rabbinical judges were only paid a small salary from the community fund and most of them were quite poor, and Rabbi Shim'on Menashe, in his eulogy for Judge Bracha, wrote “and poverty is difficult”), died in 5643 (1883) worn down by suffering; the judge Rabbi Yitzchak Tzalmona died in 5644 (1884); the excellent Rabbi Shlomo Molcho, Rabbi Yosef Ya'akov and Rabbi Moshe Benbenishti who died in 5645 (1885) ( this latter was a member of the Talmud Torah committee, moved to Jerusalem, was appointed the clerk of the charity and as head of the rabbinical court and died there aged seventy five years, he was the brother in law of Rabbi Shim'on Menashe, who eulogized him in H”C Ashkenaz in Saloniki, and Moshe Ottolenghi wrote a dirge in his honor) [39]

In addition, in the days of the rabbis Gatenio and Arditi the following rabbis were active: the judge Rabbi Shmu'el ben Yehuda Gatinio, the nephew of Rabbi Avraham, died in 5646 (1886); Rabbi Shmu'el called Bechor Gatinio, the son in law of Rabbi Avraham Gatinio (his eulogy for his father-in-law was printed in the book “Tzel HaKessef” [Shadow of Silver], Part II, p. 121, A); Rabbi Bechor Yitchak Herrera, a preacher and torah scholar, died in 5648 (1888); Rabbi Moshe Chaim Aelleon.

B. List of Recipients of Turkish Honors [40]

Dr. Moshe Allatini, many high level honors; the Chief Rabbi Shmu'el Arditi – “Majidi'i”; Shmu'el Khasson, mentioned above – “Osmani'i” Level III and “Majidi'i” Level IV; the doctor Benbenishti Effendi Astromesa – “Majidi'i” Level V; Bechor Effendi Shealti'el – “Majidi'i” Level IV; Fernandez and Mizrachi – Osmani'i” Level IV; Carlo Allatini – Majidi'i” Level I; “Osmani'i” Level II; Kaimal Effendi ben Rubi – “Salisi”' Yehushu'a Effendi Amaraji, was appointed numerous times as one of the chiefs of the police; Ya'akov Modiano – “Osmani'i”; Yosef Matalon “Osmani'i” Level IV; Yosef Effendi Kriger – many high level honors; Henrici Mizrachi – “Majidi'i” Level III; Yosef Ya'akov Nechama, for his artistic renderings in the new mosque – “Aftichad”; Peppo Asa'el – “Osmani'i” Level IV; Ya'akov Moshe Florentine, Yitzchak Ya'akov Florentine, Yitzchak Yosef Simcha, Jacques Molcho, Bezalel Levi, Sam Levi, and Isacino Carasso – “Osmani'i” Level IV; Jacques Pasha Nissim and Emmanuel Shalem, many high level honors; the doctor Shlomo Bey Nachum – “Majidi'i” Level III; Dr. Bechor Bey Kimchi – “Osmani'i” Level IV; Rabbi Ya'akov Me'ir – “Majidi'i” Level II (Sultan Rishad also gave him the “Osmani'i” Level I); Daoud Effendi Levi – “Sani'i” Level II; Izak Effendi Gatenio – “Osmani'i” Level IV; Steiner – “Osmani'i” Level III; Jacques Benbenishti Gatenio and Arditi – “Majidi'i” Level V; Yosef Silami Effendi – “Osmani'i” Level IV; Victor Bey Effendi – “Majidi'i” Level IV; Joseph ben Chaim Shalem, Turkish Vice Consul in Bruxhill – “Majidi'i” Level IV; his brother Asher – “Majidi'i Level V; the wives of Moise Allatini, Carlo Allatini, Eduardo Allatini, Alfred Allatini, Ya'akov Sha'ul Modiano, Emmanuel Shalem, Yosef Na'ar and the wife of Jacque Pasha, each of them received “Sifakat” Level II or III. (Sultan Rishad also honored several Jews, among them Yitzchak Yehoshu'a Bey, who received the “Majidi'i” Level IV from him).

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  1. Archives Israelites, Paris, 1868, pp. 730-731; Perhaps he is not from Saloniki, but merely has the last name “Salonikio”.Return
  2. According to the new constitution the residents of Saloniki and the District of Macedonia received the right to send six delegates to the Parliament in Constantinople: three Turks, and three from among the Christian and Jewish Turkish citizens. However, Dr. Allatini wrote to the president of the Alliance Israelite in Paris that in Saloniki there are no Jews who are subjects of the Sultan who are of sufficient ability and worthy of being delegates. Apparently, among the three Jews who were then elected to Parliament, and the additional two to the Senate, there was not a one from Saloniki.Return
  3. On the 11th of August, 1875 a part of the Turkish neighborhood next to the Governor's mansion burnt down. Since the fire reached the area of the jail the removed the 460 prisoners to take them to another tower of incarceration, and the prisoners were wild, snatching things to eat on their journey from the Jewish fruit peddlers.Return
  4. Sam Levi, “My Memories”, ibid., p. 10. Also, of these two, the New York Times announces the outrages the “Bashibozoks” perpetrated at the time in Macedonia.Return
  5. According to another version, the Consul was not at the station but merely in his carriage.Return
  6. New York Times, May-August, 1876.Return
  7. New York Times, 17.3.1878, and there appears a description of the difficulties of the refugees which are mentioned in the sermon of Rabbi Ya'akov Kovo.Return
  8. Archives of the Alliance Israelite Universelle, Saloniki bundle.Return
  9. Rabbi Ya'akov Kovo “Discorso por il Anio Cintino di Hevrat Etz HaHayim”, Saloniki, 5638, p. 5, introduction to the sermon he gave for Shavu'ot, 5638 (1878).Return
  10. Rabbi Ya'akov Kovo, ibid. pp. 6, 10, 12 (this is more evidence against the “Alliancists” of Saloniki, when we hear that the rabbis objected to the Alliance Israelite).Return
  11. The three of them signed the endorsement to the book “Ma'aseh Khoshev” by Rabbi Yitzchak Benbenishti Gatinio, 5636 (1876).Return
  12. In 1877 a meeting took place in Paris regarding the situation of the Jews in the Orient. The organizers of the meting requested Rabbi Gatinio to express his opinion regarding the relations of the Jews with the Sultan. The Rabbi responded to them that the Sultan is usually considerate of the Jews. In contrast, he asked them to do their utmost to improve the situation of Romanian and Serbian Jews.Return
  13. “Tzel Kessef”, Vol I, p. 224A.Return
  14. According to the editor, Rabbi Avraham Beracha, “Divrei Shmu'el” p. 181A.Return
  15. According to his book “Divrei Shmu'el”, Rabbi Arditi did not arrange divorces from the 11th of Shevat until the 11th of Iyar, 5642 (Approximately late January to early May, 1882).Return
  16. “Divrei Shmu'el”, 1/8, No. 18, p. 62B, 14, No. 9, p. 105A.Return
  17. “Divrei Shmu'el”, ibid.; Archives of the Alliance Israelite Fraternelle, bundle of Dr. Allatini, “La Turquie”, Constantinople, June, 1882. The article in “La Turquie” was written by or at the command of Dr. Allatini, and it is a nearly identical copy of the letters Dr. Allatini sent to the President of the Alliance in Paris regarding the matter. It is important to note that Dr. Allatini, in his letters to the presidents of the Alliance concealed the participation of the rabbis and and the activities of several “Associations” in favor of the people. In his letters he emphasizes that the majority of his charities, which were truly great and important, were done as the president of the Alliance in Saloniki, but did not mention the large and numerous charities done at that time by the wealthy Shalom Saias and the wealthy Sha'ul Modiano and others, and it is too bad.Return
  18. Archives of the Alliance Israelite Universelle, Allatini bundle. [The song was written by Rabbi Yehuda Nechama who published it in “La Epocha”, No. 2, 10 Cheshvan, 5636, 8.11.1875).Return
  19. Among these lectures the following are known, “Discorso del Dott. Moise Allatini,” Modena, 1877. It appeared in Ladino as well in Saloniki under the title “Discorso di Dottor Moshe Allatini, Presidenti del Comitato dela Aliansa Israelite Universelle ala Occasion dela Overtura dela Escola di los Ninios, 26 Tishrei, 5677”. Another of these that was published was: “discorso… Pronocieado al 21 L'Ulio 1878, In Occasion di Ona Adonansa General delos Adirintis e la Alliansa Israelia Universelle in Salonio”, Saloniko, Estamparia dil Journal la Epocha, 1878.Return
  20. Among the doctors who studied at the Alliance school in their youth during the time of Dr. Allaniti were Isai Tzadok, Albert Shaki, Izak Becher Yehuda, and another two Turks, Rifat Mustafa Effendi and Ishma'el Hassan Effendi; to begin with the studied in Constantinople and from there they travelled to Paris (Archives of the Alliance Israelite Universelle, ibid.).Return
  21. Moshe Ya'akov Ottolenghi, “Tzemach David”, Saloniki, 5647, No. 20-21, pp. 24-27. Immanuel “Tombstones of Saloniki”, No. 1746. his widow Rosa died in 5652 (1892) (Immanuel, ibid., No. 1769). She participated in her husband's generosity to the schools.Return
  22. The Allatini and Mortera families were married into the following families: Fernandez, Mizrachi, Nassikh Kamondo from Constantinople, Paris, Bariola, Tiano, Schultz, Friedman, Ferrera, Bloch, Morpugo, Leibovitch, Lombrozo, Modiano, Buena, Franjiti and Moro. (According to the invitation of the family to the funeral of Dr. Allatini, Archives of the Alliance Israelite, Allatini bundle).Return
  23. Ottolenghi, ibid., No. 22-23, pp. 27-31. Since the Modiano family excelled in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and its sons were among the seven leading citizens of the city and highly respected members of the community, I hereby produce below the names of the more important wealthy members of this family who were active between the years 5620 (1860) and 5643 (1883) (several of whom died in the beginning of the twentieth century). Here are their names in chronological order: Yehoshu'a Modiano, Sha'ul Yehuda Modiano, Shmu'el Yitzchak Modiano, Shmu'el Yitzchak Modiano (two of this name), Yitzchak Shmu'el Modiano, the brothers Salvator and Shlomo sons of Yitzchak Modiano in Marseille, Yehuda Sha'ul Modiano, Sha'ul Yehoshua Modiano, Yitzchak Yehushu'a Modiano, Sha'ul Yitzchak Modiano, Yitzchak Yehuda Modiano, Yosef Yitzchak Modiano, Yitzchak Vita Modiano, the brothers Yitzchak, Shmu'el and Sha'ul sons of Daniel Modiano, Ya'akov Sh. Modiano, Raphael Yosef Modiano, Yitzchak Shlomo Modiano, Albert Sha'ul Modiano, the brothers Shmu'el and Levi sons of Sha'ul Modiano, Elim (Eliahu?) Modiano, and above all, the generous woman, Fakima, the widow of Sha'ul Modiano.Return
  24. Regarding the rabbis of Chiron, see Mercado Kovo, “Outlines in the history of an Israelite community in Ceres”, Tel-Aviv, 5722 (1962), pp. 8-10.Return
  25. When Hassan Pasha arrived in Saloniki on the 8th of Tishrei, 5656 (Fall, 1895), Ottolenghi wrote a “Golden Song” in his honor; ibid., No. 41, p. 61.Return
  26. The heads of the municipality until 1908 were: Arif Bey, Fayek Pasha, Ahmed Bey, Ali Orfi Effendi, Ali Reza Bey, Arif Bey (again), Mufti Ibra'im Bey, Hamdi Bey, Keirim Effendi, Husni Effendi, Hamdi Bey (again), Khulusi Bey from Sirim, Khulusi Bey from Surlovali, Ahmit Capandaraji Effendi, Osman Adil Bey, Ishma'el Bey, Yosef Na'ar, Tifik Bey (according to Sam Levi “Salonique au point de vue municipal” in “Almanach National”, Saloniki, 1912, p.213.Return
  27. Director General of Political Affairs.Return
  28. Archives of the Alliance Israelite, Saloniki bundle.Return
  29. See, for instance, Yosef Ouziel, “The White Tower” (HaMigdal Halavan), pp. 112-120.Return
  30. [The author relies on official publications from the newspapers of the time which do not accurately reflect the mood in every level of the public. There is no doubt that there was, especially among the intellectuals and those educated in Europe, objection to the dictatorial regime of Abdul Hamid and therefore there were many of them who were active in the “Young Turks” revolution, even among its leaders. They were, in spite of this, generally Turkish patriots and did not like the Greek liberation movement, which was run by the priests who stood at its helm as a war against the “unbelievers” which included both Jews and Turks].Return
  31. Avraham Galanti, “Turcs et Juifs”, Stamboul, 1932, pp. 42-43.Return
  32. From the year 1901 to 1905 3400 ships arrived at Saloniki with a combined cargo of 930,000 tons of merchandise, and in 1911, 992 ships arrived with a cargo of 1,042,775 tons.Return
  33. Jewish bankers, foremost among them Ya'akov Shmu'el Modiano and Levi Modiano, bought a 2900 ton ship to sail between Saloniki and the cities on the Mediterannean coasts and called her “Ida” after Levi Modiano's wife (“Il Avenir” 10 February, and 9 March, 1904).Return
  34. At this opportunity the brothers Allatini organized two parties to celebrate the opening of the mill: one religious and one neutral. The religious celebration was held in the presence of the Chief Rabbi Ya'akov Kovo and many scholars; the neutral celebration was held two months later on the 25th anniversary of the reign of Sultan Abdul Hamid, with the participation of the Pasha and senior officials. They slaughtered “sacrifices” that day, as is customary among the Turks, and handed the meat out to the poor.Return
  35. Apparently the wealthy Shalom Saias and Shabati Chasid were learned in Torah and therefore they are given the title “Cha”m” (i.e., Chacham).Return
  36. For more about her and her generosity, see Yosef Ouziel, “The White Tower” (HaMigdal Halavan), pp. 86-87.Return
  37. Revue de Deux Mondes, part 85, Paris, 1888, pp. 114-120.Return
  38. Samuel C. Cox, “Diversion of a Diplomat in Turkey”, New York, 1887, pp. 188, 194.Return
  39. Ibid., No. 34, pp. 52-54.Return
  40. I took these names from the press of the time in Saloniki and the “Jewish Chronicle”, London.Return

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