CONSTANTINOPLE (Byzantium; Heb. קושטנטיני, קושטנטינא, קושטאנדינא, קושטא), former capital of the byzantine and ottoman empires; now istanbul , Turkey. Under the Byzantine empire Jews were settled in various areas of Constantinople. In the fourth and fifth centuries they lived in the Chalkoprateia (copper market), where there was a synagogue as early as 318 (converted into a church in 422). From the 10th century to about 1060 they lived on the south shore of the Golden Horn. In the late 11th century they were transferred by the authorities to the suburb of Galata-Pera, the affluence of which was noted by benjamin of Tudela in the mid-12th century. In 1203 the Jewish quarter burned down. There were Jewish workers in copper, finishers of woven material, dyers, silk weavers, and makers of silk garments. In the 11th and 12th centuries Jews were compelled to serve as executioners. Jewish physicians served various emperors despite church opposition to consulting them. Benjamin of Tudela also reports on the presence of Jewish tanners in the city and the complaints of wealthy Jews about the animosity among gentiles caused by the tanners. Throughout the Byzantine period the Jews in Constantinople had close contacts with Christians. In the sixth and early seventh centuries Jews were active in the political factions of the circus parties . In 641 Jews took part in a riot, during which the church of Hagia Sophia was broken into. Under leo III in 721–22, Jews were forced either to leave the city or to accept baptism. But this ruling apparently did not bring the community to an end. In about 874 shephatiah b. amittai of Oria, Italy, according to a legendary report in the Aḥima'az Chronicle, went to Constantinople to plead with the emperor basil i to end the persecutions of Jews in Italy. Other prominent Jewish visitors to the city included a khazar in the 10th century, Benjamin of Tudela in the mid-12th century, and the poet Judah Alḥarizi in the 13th century. Jews were among those banished from the city because they supported the princesses Zoe and Theodora against the emperor Michael V in 1042. Many were killed in a riot against Venetian and other Western merchants during the reign of Alexius II (1180–83). In 1204 the Latin Crusaders captured Constantinople and established the capital of the Latin Empire (1204–61) in Galata. The conflict of the great Christian powers awoke messianic expectations among the Jews of the city during the First Crusade. In the Byzantine period the Jewish community was administered by a council of elders and by archipherecites (heads of the academies). Benjamin of Tudela reports that five wealthy rabbis led the community. There were also religious officials, didaskaloi (teachers). The council of elders dealt with administrative, fiscal, and cultural-religious matters, and relations with Christians. A Karaite community existed in Pera from the 11th century on and Constantinople became an important center of Karaite learning which attracted members of the sect from elsewhere. Celebrated leading Karaite scholars of Constantinople   included tobias b. moses ha-avel (11th century) and judah b. elijah hadassi (mid-12th century). From 1275 to 1453 the Venetian and Genoese Jews lived in Constantinople under the legal jurisdiction of their respective governments. From 1280 to 1325 the Venetian Jews lived together with the Byzantine Jews, but from 1325 to 1453 they lived in the Venetian quarter on the Golden Horn. The Genoese Jews lived in the Genoese quarter of Galata from 1275 to 1453. The Jewish quarter of Constantinople existed from about 1280 to 1453 in Vlanga, on the southern coast of the Golden Horn on the Sea of Marmara. During this period (from 1280) the Jews were involved in the tanning trade. The quarter was burned by the Turks in 1453. The fall of Constantinople appeared to Jews to herald the Redemption: the Targum for Lamentations 4:21 was held to prophesy the downfall of the "guilty city"; some predicted that redemption would occur in the same year, 1454. For later history, see istanbul . -BIBLIOGRAPHY: J. Starr, Jews in the Byzantine Empire (1939); idem, Romania (1949); idem, in: JPOS, 15 (1935), 280–93; A. Galanté, Les Juifs de Constantinople sous Byzance (1940); Baron, Social2, index; Baron, Community, index; Baer, Spain, index; A. Sharf, Byzantine Jewry (1970), index; D. Jacoby, in: Byzantion, 37 (1967), 167–227; M. Adler, Itinerary of Benjamin of Tudela (1907), 7, 10, 11–14. (Andrew Sharf)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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