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(1,409 words)

Author(s): Marc Angel
The island of Rhodes (Grk. Rhodos; Turk. Rodos) is situated in the eastern Aegean about 18 kilometers (11 miles) southwest of Turkey. Small numbers of Jews have lived in Rhodes since ancient times, but a significant community did not emerge until the Ottoman conquest of the island in 1522. Rhodes remained part of the Ottoman Empire until 1912, when Italy took possession of the island in the Turco-Italian War. In 1944, during World War II, the entire Jewish community was deported by the Nazis; only about 150 survived the concentration camps. A few Jews still live in …

United States of America

(1,398 words)

Author(s): Marc Angel
The early Jewish communities in North America were all established by Sephardi Jews of the Western Sephardi tradition. The first congregation in North America, Shearith Israel, also now known as the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue, was founded in New Amsterdam (New York) in 1654. Four other congregations in what became the United States, all Sephardi, antedated the American Revolution—in Newport, Philadelphia, Charleston, Savannah. Almost all the Jewish immigration to the United States through the nineteenth century was composed of Jews of European background.Early in the tw…

Gavison Family

(575 words)

Author(s): Marc Angel
The Gavison (Gavishon, Gavizon) family attained prominence in the Jewish community of medieval Seville. After several members were killed in the anti-Jewish riots in 1391, the survivors settled in Granada, where they continued to be persecuted because of their Jewish faith. When the Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492, the Gavisons, led by Abraham and Jacob Gavison, made their way to the city of Tlemcen in Algeria.Abraham Gavison (d. 1506) was a rabbi and poet. Jacob Gavison (d. after 1521), also a rabbi, wrote a tract entitled Derekh ha-Sekhel (The Way of Wisdom) in defense of Ma…

Angel Family

(433 words)

Author(s): Marc Angel
The Angel family traces its origins back to medieval Spain. A Maestre Angel slaughtered kasher meat for conversos in Ciudad Real in the early 1480s. Following the expulsion of 1492, the Angel family was centered in Salonica and then spread to other communities throughout the Ottoman Empire and beyond. Some members went by the Hebrew surname Malakh or Malakhi (from Heb. mal’akh, angel). In the sixteenth century, Mordecai Angel was a rabbi in Rome. Because he was tall, handsome, and graceful, people referred to him as galante; this appellation was eventually adopted as a family sur…

Bengualid (Ben Walīd), Isaac

(394 words)

Author(s): Marc Angel
Rabbi Isaac Bengualid (1777–1870), born in Tetouan, was a scion of a distinguished rabbinic family that had come to Morocco from Castile after the expulsion from Spain in 1492. He had one son by his first wife, who died soon after giving birth, and four sons and six daughters by his second wife.Bengualid was known for his vast rabbinic erudition as well as his saintliness. In 1835, he was appointed head of the rabbinical court in Tetouan.  A two-volume collection of his responsa, Vayomer Yiṣḥaq (Livorno, 1876), was published through the efforts of his sons.In one of his responsa, recogni…