HORMUZ (Ormuz), an island in the Persian Gulf, commanding the trade route from Europe to India and the Far East, captured by the Portuguese in 1507. From the 16th century on, Hebrew and European sources attest the existence of a Jewish community. The 16th-century Yemenite Jewish traveler *Zechariah Al-Dahiri describes in his Sefer ha-Musar the six months he spent in Hormuz. In 1549, the Jesuit missionary Gaspar Barzaeus stayed two years in Hormuz; he found there a well-organized Jewish community of 200 families composed of immigrants from Portugal, Spain, Mesopotamia, Egypt, and other countries, who enjoyed great prosperity as silk merchants, horse traders, and moneylenders. The two rabbis, Solomon and Joseph, allowed Barzaeus to deliver a sermon in the synagogue in 1549, but his mission to convert the Jews was a failure. In 1572 the Portuguese authorities sent Samuel Jacar of Hormuz with dispatches to the Holy Roman Emperor. Hormuz attracted many refugees from Spain and Portugal in the 16th century, some en route for *Goa. The Inquisition in Goa, established in 1560, tried to stop the flow of Jews to Hormuz and thence to India and from 1567 on issued many unsuccessful decrees to this effect. The Jewish community came to an end with the joint Persian-English attack in 1622 which led to the decline of Hormuz; many Jews transferred to the Persian mainland, especially to Bandar Abbas and Band-e Kong.
W.J. Fischel, in: JQR, 40 (1949/50), 379–99; idem, in: Alexander Marx Jubilee Volume (1950), 203–30; C. Roth, Venice (1930), 166.
[Walter Joseph Fischel]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.