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Capsali, Elijah

(787 words)

Author(s): Joseph Ringel
Elijah ben Elkanah Capsali(ca. 1489–ca. 1555) was the chief rabbi of the Jewish community of  Candia (Heraklion) in Crete and served several times as its civil head (It. condestablo/ rettor). He was initially educated by his father, but in 1508 left Crete to study in the yeshiva of Judah and Abraham Mintz in Padua, and then fled to Venice during a period of unrest in 1509. He returned to Crete in 1510. While in Italy, he also studied with Israel Isserlein, who proved to be the most influential of his teachers. Other rabbis …

Akrish, Isaac ben Abraham

(453 words)

Author(s): Joseph Ringel
Isaac ben Abraham Akrish was a prominent collector of books and publisher of rare rabbinic works in the sixteenth century. He was born in Salonica, where his family settled after fleeing Spain when the Jews were expelled in 1492. Akrish led the life of a wanderer, and claimed to have honed his debating skills by conversing with intellectuals of various religions encountered on his journeys. Eventually, he found a community of scholars to his liking in Egypt, joining the household of Rabbi David ibn Abi Zimra (Radbaz) and tutoring his grandchildren. An avid bibliophile, Akrish spent his …

Aydın

(350 words)

Author(s): Joseph Ringel
The city of Aydın (known as Güzelhisar under the Seljuqs and their successors, and as Tralleis in pre-Islamic times) is situated near the coast of western Anatolia (southwest of Izmir). It had a Jewish community in Roman times, but whether Jews lived there continuously until the Ottoman era is uncertain. Ottoman records from the early seventeenth century indicate that Aydın had an established Jewish community and a rabbi. Ottoman census records from the late nineteenth century put the number of Jew…

Akrish, Isaac

(422 words)

Author(s): Joseph Ringel
Isaac ben Abraham Akrish (d. 1888?) was a prominent rabbi and dayyan (Heb. judge) in Istanbul. He studied in the yeshiva founded and endowed by Abraham Fua. The Hasidic work Maʾamar Ḥayyot Esh (The Utterance of the Living Creatures of Fire) published after Akrish’s death, identified Rabbi Solomon Eliezer Alfandari as Akrish’s teacher. Akrish’s only surviving book, entitled Qiryat Arbaʿ (City of Arbaʿ [Hebron]); Jerusalem, 1876), includes ethical sermons, commentaries on passages from rabbinic literature, and responsa. Other responsa of his were publishe…

Aegean Sea, Islands and Coastal Cities

(432 words)

Author(s): Joseph Ringel
The Aegean Sea, situated between modern Greece and Turkey, was a major commercial waterway during the Ottoman period. Attracted by economic opportunity, Jews settled in cities on the Greek and Turkish Aegean coasts and in the Aegean Islands. The mainland port cities of Salonica and Izmir became major centers of Sephardic settlement and culture. Jews also lived in cities located slightly inland, such as Manisa and Aydin, and by the late nineteenth century, small Jewish settlements dotted some of the other towns on the Aegean mainland. The…

Alkabetz, Solomon

(560 words)

Author(s): Joseph Ringel
  Solomon ha-Levi Alkabetz [Alqabeṣ] (ca. 1505, Salonica[?] – ca. 1584, Safed[?]) was a prolific author and a teacher of some of the most important kabbalists and legists in Jewish history, including Joseph Caro and Moses Cordovero. Born into a Sephardic family that had been expelled from Spain, Alkabetz grew up in Salonica, where he attended the yeshiva of Joseph Taitatzak (Taitaṣak; also Taitazak) and instructed pietists in Kabbala mysticism. In 1529, Alkabetz set out on a journey to Palestine,…