Zamora is a city in León, N.W. Spain. Its ancient Jewish community was founded in the same period as those of Nájera andSalamanca. The date when the Jewish quarter was erected is not known. It was situated outside the city walls on the site known as Vega, where there was a separate group of houses, as well as the synagogue of the quarter and the Jewish cemetery. Throughout the period of the community’s existence, there were three synagogues, one of which was registered in the office of Sancho IV, in 1283.
In 1313, a Church Council held in Zamora adopted a series of decisions relating to the Jews: Jews were excluded from state functions; the edicts enforcing the wearing of a distinctive badge were to be maintained, as also those concerning payment of the tithe to the church, the interest rate, and the transfer of newly built synagogues to the possession of the state, among other measures. These decisions of the council influenced the decisions of the Cortes which was convened in that year.
There is no information available on how the persecutions of the Jews in Spain of 1391 affected those in Zamora, but they undoubtedly resulted in conversions and apostasy. The amount of tax which the community paid declined.
During the 1470s and 1480s, R. Isaac b. Moses Arama preached in Zamora. In 1485, an order issued by John II was confirmed; it exempted the Jews of Zamora from providing accommodation for public personalities, with the exception of the king, the queen, and the members of the royal council. In that year Saul Saba – a brother of Abraham Saba, and a renowned kabbalist and preacher – was condemned to death in Zamora, but details of the accusation and the trial are not known.
In 1490, a unique lawsuit concerning a Jewess of Zamora was brought before the crown; she accused Jacob ibn Meir, the son of Isaac of Valladolid, an inhabitant of Zamora, of having ravished her and promising to marry her, and of not keeping his promise. In 1490, the community of Zamora, with that of Seville, contributed toward the redemption of the Jewish captives who had been taken in Malaga. In 1491, the community paid a sum of 100,650 maravedis toward the war with Granada, in conjunction with a number of communities in the area.
At the end of 1492, Zamora became a transit center for Jews who returned from Portugal to Spain in order to convert to Christianity. Several exiles from Zamora achieved fame during the 16th century for their activities in Jewish centers in the Ottoman Empire, of whom the most renowned were Jacob ibn Ḥabib and Levi b. Ḥabib.
Baer, Spain, index; Baer, Urkunden, index; F. Cantera, Sinagogas españolas (1955), 349–53; Suárez Fernández, Documentos.
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.