AMASIYA, chief district town in northern Turkey. The Turks found a small Greek-speaking (*Romaniot) Jewish community in Amasiya. After 1492 exiles from Spain settled there in a separate street, where they were merchants and craftsmen. In their neighborhood lived Greeks, and Armenians, popularly called "Amalekites." The Jewish community was small but organized, with a recognized leadership, and there is information about the regulations of the community and some disputes among its members. A document from 1683 mentions 73 Jews in the town and another document from 1576 mentions 63 Jews. Amasiya was an important town during the rule of Sultan *Suleiman I the Magnificent (1520–66). His son Mustafa was sanjakbey ("district governor") and was known for his hatred of the Jews. In 1553 a *blood libel was spread by Christians when an Armenian woman reported seeing the slaughter of a Christian boy by the Jews in order to use his blood at the Passover feast. Several Jews were imprisoned and tortured and some "confessed" to the crime and were hanged. Finally, the Armenian who supposedly was murdered was found and the government punished the accusers. Moses *Hamon, the sultan's personal physician, succeeded in then obtaining from him a firman which prohibited governors and judges to judge cases of blood libel, and ordered these to be brought before the sultan himself. Jewish merchants from Amasya traveled to Tokat and Persia in the 16th century. In 1590 the Jews of Amasya suffered from the Cellali gangs of bandits. Many frightened Jews fled from the city and only in 1608 was the community renewed. During the 17th century most of Amasiya's Jews moved to Tokat and Ankara. In 1672 there existed a Jewish court of law. At the beginning of the 18th century only a few Jewish families remained in Amasiya. There is no longer a Jewish community there.
Rosanes, Togarmah, 2 (1938), 283f.; Heyd, in: Sefunot, 5 (1961), 137–49; F. Babinger, Hans Dernschwams Tagebuch einer Reise nach Konstantinopel… (1923), 117; A. Galanté, Histoire des Juifs d'Anatolie, 2 (1939), 285–9. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: U. Heyd, in: Sefunot, 5 (1961), 135–50; E. Bashan, Sheviyah u-Pedut (1980), 99; M.A. Epstein, The Ottoman Jewish Communities and Their Role in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries (1980), 200; Y. Barnai, in: Peʿamim, 12 (1982), 50; H. Gerber, Yehudei Ha-Imperi'ah Ha-Otmanit ba-Me'ot ha-Shesh Esrei ve- ha-Sheva Esrei: Ḥevrah ve-Kalkalah (1983), 159.
[Abraham Haim /
Leah Bornstein-Makovetsky (2nd ed.)]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.