TOKAT, capital city of the province bearing the same name in northern Anatolia, situated on the banks of the Yeşil Irmak. The community was founded by Jews from *Amasya in 1530. After the Amasya blood libel in 1553, most of them returned to Amasya in 1565. During the Ottoman period there existed a small Jewish community in Tokat. Tokat then was also the scene of a blood libel, instigated by Armenians; as a result of an intervention by Moses *Hamon, Sultan *Suleiman's chief physician, the Jews were able to prove their innocence. In the 16th century Jewish silk merchants traveled via Tokat to *Aleppo and *Persia. A document from 1574/75 noted 29 Jewish households and 27 Jewish bachelors in the community. The traveler Tevernier visited the city in the 17th century, but wrote only about Muslims, Christians, and Armenians who lived there. Yet it is known that R. Zemach Narvoni lived in Tokat in 1642, and we can assume that there existed an organized Jewish community. Hebron emissaries R. Moshe Halevi Nazir and R. Yosef Hacohen visited Tokat between the years 1668 and 1671 and 1675–1677. The latter spent a short time in Tokat in 1684 when he traveled to many communities to collect money for himself. At the beginning of the 18th century the Shabbatean Ḥayyim Malach met *Shabbetai Ẓevi on his way from Bursa to Tokat. At that time Rabbi Joseph ben Mordechai from *Jerusalem lived in the city. At the beginning of the 19th century about 100 families lived in the community; by 1927 only 20 families were left. There are two Jewish cemeteries and an old synagogue, where a *genizah was found. Jews originally handled the town's commerce, but they were gradually replaced by the Armenians who used more up-to-date methods and mastered the foreign languages required for the export-import trade. As a result of this, the Jewish community scattered.
A. Galanté, Histoire des Juifs d'Anatolie, 2 (1939), 289–92; Rosanes, Togarmah, 2 (1937–38), 135–6. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: A. Yaari, Shelohei, 373, 416, 469–70; Tevernier, Voyages de Perse, I, 90; M. Benveniste, Responsa Penei Moshe, I (1971), no. 33; U. Heyd, in: Sefunot, 5 (1961), 135–50; M. Benayahu, in: Sefunot, 14 (1971–78), 92, 248; M.A. Epstein, The Ottoman Jewish Communities and Their Role in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries (1980), 277; H. Gerber, Yehudei ha-Imperiyah ha-Otmanit ba-Me'ot ha-Shesh Esrei veha-Sheva Esrei: Ḥevrah ve-Kalkalah (1983), 47, 69, 159.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.