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Some five or six years ago, a:
· project was started by a learned Jew for the establishment of a Jewish college in some part of this kingdom.The pamphlet which was published containing the outlines of this plan breathes a liberal spirit, but the project seems not as yet to have met with much encouragement either from Jews or Christians. Two years since it was again revived, but with what success in obtaining funds I am unable to say. As the study of the Hebrew Scriptures and antiquities, together with Biblical literature generally would form a prominent part of the proposed course of education, it was thought by Dr. Naudi, the Secretary of the Malta Jews' Committee to be deserving of the patronage of Christians. Desirable as such an institution might be, in which the Jews should feel a national interest, and where sound learning should be cultivated, very satisfactory pledges would be required before entrusting them with funds. All who are waiting for the enlightening of Israel, must hail however with joy whatever tends to promote a critical study of the Hebrew Prophets, and a rational system of interpreting the sacred text.
It would have been highly gratifying to my feelings could I have reconciled it with a conviction of duty, to have visited the Jews of Italy. As they were not very numerous nor in a country where the government suffered Bibles and tracts to be introduced, and as several English missionaries were residing among them, I did not feel justified in making the tour.
Greece.-Before the Greek revolution there were four thousand Jews in the Morea, of which two hundred families were at Tripolitza. In the Ionian
islands under the protection of the British government there are now estimated to be 7000. At Thebes and Livadia there were in each, twenty houses of Jews, at Janina three hundred, a few also at Larissa and perhaps in other cities of Albania and Thessaly. Some doubtless are still to be found in the north of Greece. The events of the revolution have tended greatly to increase the animosity subsisting between them and the Greeks. In return for the indignities committed on the person of their Patriarch, the latter have embraced every opportunity of taking vengeance. Still it is probable that when peace shall be restored and commerce shall revive, greater liberality will prevail, and the Jews again resort to Athens and Corinth and the regions of Achaia. Should this take place, they would then be most favorably situated for the success of missionary efforts.
JEWS OF EUROPEAN TURKEY.
Thessalonica-Jewish Mahometans—Great excitement among the
Constantinople Jews-Baptism of three hopeful convertsTheir imprisonment—Efforts for their release--Apostacy of one of their number--Domestic government of the Jews and other Rayahs--Jewish teacher-Condition of the Jews in Constantinople--Visit to Jewish villages--A betrothal-Lengthened imprisonment of converts--Jewish Spanish language-Sundry individuals—A Jewish cemetery--Release of imprisoned converts.
1829.-Salonica, the Thessalonica of the New Testament, is an important city in the modern history of modern Judaism. For a particular account of the Jews in this place, we are indebted to Benjamin
Barker, Esq., Agent of the British and Foreign Bible Society at Smyrna. After estimating their numbers at 25 or 30,000, he proceeds to remark. “The Jews here have one Chief Rabbi with a considerable number of others under him; thirty-six synagogues; a large school and several smaller ones."
“ There are amongst them a few bankers and merchants, and the rest are divided into brokers, shop keepers, artisans, porters and boatmen. They are very industrious, and like the rest of the Jews in the Turkish Empire, their chief aim is to amass money. On account of their number, they enjoy a little more consideration than in other parts of Turkey, as their annual taxes are more considerable. lo short they are in commerce the leading wheel, for on their Sabbath nothing is hardly done at Thessalonica and the streets and bazars appear to be deserted. I sold many books to them whilst I was there of the Prophets and even New Testaments, and distributed a great many tracts, and excited in them the spirit of enquiry. One in particular told me that he believed in the New Testament, and was persuaded that Jesus was the promised Messiah. I had several interesting conversations with this Jew, who appeared to be in good circumstances, and sincere in what he advanced.”
66 There are about twelve hundred Jewish Turks,* who are called by the Turks Donmethes or Renegadoes, and are divided into three separate classes, namely, Bezestenlithes, Ghoniothes and Cavalieros. Each class is
* The followers, it has been said, of the famous Zabbathai Zevi, who after having given himself out as the Messiah, in 1666 turned Mahometan to save his life.
distinct, as they do not intermarry, nor have any kind of connexion with each other or with the Turks. It is generally supposed that they still retain many of their Jewish observances, and it is thought that in secret they are still Jews. In public they affect to know only the Turkish language, but in private they often speak the Jewish Spanish, especially the women. It is said that in their private worship they have their Rabbies, though in public they attend the Mosques. Their circumcision takes place, as with the Jews, about eight days after the birth of the child; while if they followed the Turkish custom that ceremony ought to be delayed several years. With the Turks before the ceremony of circumcision takes place, the children are dressed very gaudily, and are paraded about the town with music and a concourse of people; but the Jewish-Turks, on the contrary, have that ceremony performed privately in their houses. It is the firm opinion of many that they are only Turks externally, in order to enjoy the same privileges with them."
“In my opinion if any thing is to be done for the Jews in this land of barbarism, Thessalonica offers a fine field; but if I am to judge from Jewish affairs at Constantinople, the task of converting the Jews becomes very difficult. May it please the Disposer of all things to moderate his wrath and give them a helping band to extricate them from their present errors and enable them to walk once more in the ways of the Lord, and to acknowledge His Son as their only hope for future bliss.'
Constantinople, Feb. 16, 1827. Of my master and the common language of the Levantine Jews, it will be in season to speak when I am better acquainted with them. At this time I shall
confine myself to a brief history of those changes thai have been operating for some time past among a portion of the Jews and which a few months since resulted in the violent persecution of numbers for their open disregard of Rabbinical Judaism. · It is not easy to trace the origin of this most interesting state of things. Special edicts have been issued by the Rabbies, against divulging any of the circumstances-no unusual resort of those who would blind the consciences of men. Probably however, the general spirit of free enquiry which is abroad in the earth has extended itself even to this Mahometan land. But the Hebrew New Testament which Mr. Leeves, the Agent of the Bible Society, has been so long circulating here, was beyond all doubt the most important cause of these movements. How blessed are the operations of this Society, which 6 as the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion,” spreads abroad its soft and silent and refreshing influence! The conversations of Mr. Wolff with Jews who came hither from Jerusalem, and particularly the faithful labors of Mr. Hartley, have been greatly useful in the later stages of the excitement.
From these and perhaps other causes, some hundreds of Jews had associated together and signed certain articles with a view of freeing themselves froin the burdensome yoke of their Rabbies. This event took place perhaps a year ago, and was already known before my departure from America. A considerable number began last autumn visiting Mr. Hartley the English Missionary, and openly avowing their belief in Christianity, so that it seemed for a while that the whole