Jews of Rhodes Project #sephardic
Robert RUBIN <bob_rubin@...>
Announcing the Start of a New Study: Jews of Rhodes Project
by Robert RUBIN MAYO, M.D.
Is your family >from the Island of Rhodes?
Would you like to be a part of an incredible historical study?
Goals: The purpose of the Jews of Rhodes Project is to try to identify the
original 50 families who were Iberian, Italian, and Romaniote Jews that
existed in Rhodes in 1522. This will be done by studying the paternal lines
(using Y DNA testing) and the maternal lines (using mitochondrial DNA
testing) of Jews whose families had lived on the Island of Rhodes.
Background: Jews were credited with assisting in the defense of Rhodes
against the invading Ottoman Turks in 1480. At the start of the 1500s, as a
flood of Sephardi exiles >from Spain and Sicily desperately sought refuge
throughout the Mediterranean world, the Jews of Rhodes also struggled to
survive. D'Aubusson, the Grand Master of Rhodes, ordered them to convert to
Christianity. Some submitted to baptism, while others faced slavery, death,
or were expelled to Nice, France. D'Aubusson´s death prevented the decree's
full enforcement, saving the community, but very few Jews remained.
In 1522, the Ottoman Turks vanquished the Knights of Saint John, heralding
the start of four centuries of religious freedom for the Jews of Rhodes. The
Ottoman Sultan, Suleiman the Magnificent, sought to develop the island with
the assistance of the Jews. That same year, a dozen Jewish families from
Thessaloniki / Salonica arrived in Rhodes, and he granted them special
privileges, including a 20-year tax exemption, free housing, and sulfur
mining rights. During this same period, Jewish exiles >from southern Italy
turned east to the Ottoman Empire for refuge, and some likely joined
Sephardic and Sicilian Jews in settling on Rhodes. The appearance of many
Italian surnames among the Jews of Rhodes bears witness to this migration.
Some historical books, by reputable people, note that about 50 families
settled in Rhodes in 1522.
The Romaniote Jews (Jews of Greek origin who spoke Greek) had lived in
Rhodes centuries before the arrival of the Sephardic Jews in the 16th
century. The Romaniote Jews became a small minority and soon lost their
Abraham Galante, Histoire des Juifs de Rhodes, Chio, Cos, etc., Istanbul:
Societe anonyme de Papeterie et d'Imprimerie, 1935.
Rabbi Marc D. Angel, The Jews of Rhodes: The history of a Sephardic
Community, Sepher-Hermon Press, Inc. and the Union of Sephardic
Congregations, New York, 1980.
Esther Fintz Menasce, Gli Ebrei a Rodi, Milano, 1992.
Please note: Providing the DNA samples are easy to do. The lab mails to you
two cotton swabs. You swab the inner cheek in your mouth for one minute with
each swab, place them in separate small containers, and then you mail it
back to the lab.
For more information on how you can participate in this study, use the
Robert RUBIN MAYO