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in many respects out-Mormon Mormons tion, to the graves of their relatives, there
If a rabbi of distinction dies, you see
Salonika may be termed a New Jeru. such portions of flesh as his own law forsalem, as there are no less than seventy bids, who may come in and light his fire thousand of the seed of Abraham within for him on the Sabbath and cook his food, its walls; almost all the business of the for it is unlawful for a right-minded Jew place is carried on by them; the quays even so much as to light a brazier to warm are gay with them in their quaint cos himself withal if the weather be cold on a tumes, the men with their long robes lined Sabbath day. with fur over a tunic of striped cotton or The Dünmehs consequently serve in the silk, whilst the women are decked in the bazaars on the days when others rest; and gayest colors possible and adorn their the Turks find them extremely useful on heads with caps of green or red, closely Fridays if a little special business has to bound over their foreheads, and hanging be done; the Jews give them employment down behind in a thick tail embroidered on Saturdays, and the Christians are not with gold thread and terminating in a above using them on Sundays, so no fringe of gold, whilst around their necks wonder the Dünmehs grow rich, and other hang strings of pearls and other jewels. people grumble at the three days of inacThese Jews of Salonika are perhaps the tion owing to the three different days on most fervid adherents of the quaint rab- which Sunday is observed by the merbinical doctrines to be found anywhere chants of Salonika. The Dünmehs are nowadays. During the days before the acknowledged by all in Salonika to be the Passover you may see Jewish women best scribes, most of the Turkish governat the tombs outside the walls, in their ment clerks are Dünmehs, and if you see long red cloaks and white mantles round in a tiny hole in the bazaar a turbaned their shoulders, wailing over their dead; scribe writing anything the illiterate counturbaned rabbis stand at the gate of Kara- try-folk may want in the shape of appeals milia to conduct families, for a considera- to the pasha, or appeals to the tax-col
lector, you may be sure he is a Dünmeh. synagogue, and it was nearly a century Besides these lucrative posts the Dünmehs before a general consensus of opinion was possess the monopoly of shaving in Sa- established under a common head. We ionika, and a barber's post in the East is have a curious documentary account of a one of great importance; it brings him en deputation conducted by the rabbi Moses rapport with all the leading men of the to Constantinople, to crave the sultan's day; his shop is the great haunt of the protection against the Slavs, and in the scandalmonger and the intriguer; so we year 5328, on he 25th of the month see that our peculiar people are by no Shebah, the deputation entered the pres. means insignificant in their own country. ence of the sultan. After five interviews,
Rabbi Nehemiah was much shocked and after laying before his Majesty their when I called upon him and asked for in- many grievances, finally on the sixth in. formation concerning the Dünmehs, "a terview they were presented with a firman loathsome people," said he, “a people who sealed with the imperial seal, and still in deserve to be forgotten and blotted out of our possession, which granted us many mind ;” and he shook his head, encircled immunities and protection from our perin its black and white turban, and stroked secutors, and from that day to this, with his long, grey beard, which hung down one exception, a common head has been over his yellow striped silk robe. Some recognized, and our prosperity has been complimentary remarks on the Jews of unique." Salonika, their ancient lineage, and their "And that one exception ? " inquired I. success in commerce soon conciliated the “ Was the detestable heresy of the false kind old man. “Yes, we are an ancient Messiah, Sabbatai Sevi,” replied Nebepeople,” he said, “ and moreover our ped- miah, and seeing my anxiety to learn more igree is clearer than that of any Jews in on this subject he took up his parable and the world ; our ancestors came to Salonika told me all he knew. in the time of Alexander the Great, follow- A slight sketch of the career of this ex. ing in the wake of his victories after the traordinary deceiver is all that is here Eastern conquests." This statement of necessary, as we wish more especially to Rabbi Nehemiah's, though a little as- enter into the customs and precepts of the tounding at first and quite impossible to descendants of his followers as we find substantiate, is not at all improbable, for them now in Salonika only. I was told after the first emigration we know that that a few families of these Dünmehs Alexander planted many Jewish colonies exist still at Adrianople and in other in Macedonia, and we also know that at Turkish towns, but these are of Salonikan the commencement of our era the Jews of origin, so that to all intents and purposes Thessalonica, Berea, and other towns of the Dünmehs of Salonika are the sole Macedonia formed important communi- representatives of the once numerous folties.
lowers of the false Messiah. This com“ The greatest event in our long his. munity is formed of about a thousand tory," continued the rabbi, “was the families, and numbers eight thousand Spanish influx in 1493, which converted souls, all dwelling together in one quarter our colony into the largest body of Jews of the town, and all held in bondage by the in existence, and so great was this influx same curious ties. that they absorbed their co-religionists Sabbatai Sevi was a Smyrniote Jew, into themselves and taught them the born in 1625, and the son of a broker in Spanish tongue.” Judæo-Spanish, or that city; he was a clever youth, and so Ladino as it is called, is still the language well versed in the Cabala and other Jewof the Jews of Salonika; their books are ish books that at the age of eighteen he written in Spanish with Hebrew charac- was made a rabbi. Doubtless some ac. ters, most extraordinary things to contem- counts of the Fifth Monarchy men, and plate, and for Salonika Ferdinand and the then much accredited report that the Isabella, when they persecuted the Jews Messiah was to reappear in 1666, reached and drove them from Spain, wrought a Smyrna and worked upon his imagination great deed. “Our records from that date so much tha he decided to make himself to now have been carefully preserved, and out to be that Messiah, and to assist his are full of interest,” said he; "we have object he secretly caused reports to be amongst them minute accounts of the per promulgated to the effect that a prophet secutions we suffered from the Slavs, and would shortly appear who would rob the of our intercal dissensions, for in the first sultan of his crown and restore again the years after the influx we were composed kingdom to Israel. When he thought of many sects, each having its separate that the right time had come, to the dis. may of the Smyrniote rabbis he pro- to choose between three things : either to nounced the name Jehovah ” aloud in work a miracle and thereby prove his open conclave, for which offence he was identity; or to have three poisoned arrows summoned before a tribunal and con- shot at him by the sultan himself; or to demned to die; but doubtless he had been become a Mahomedan. “I am a follower prepared for this, and had arrangements of Mahomed,” replied Sevi to this test, made for his escape from Smyrna, and and turning to his followers, who were diswith the one object in view he went as a mayed beyond measure at the collapse of pilgrim to Egypt and Jerusalem, where their hero, he added, " And he was numhe chose as his Elijah one Nathan Ben- bered amongst the transgressors." jamin, a man of ascetic life, who professed The extremely firm hold that Sevi had to see visions. Before returning to Smyr-established over his followers is evinced na he sent his attendant Nathan before by the tenacity with which many adhered him to prepare the way, and in the capac- to him after his exposure and his fall; ity of a second St. John the Baptist to these devoted followers did not scruple to announce that he was coming to deliver embrace Islamism themselves and likemen from the oppression of the Turks, wise to be numbered amongst the transand to lead back the Jews to Palestine. gressors; and with certain secret reservaNathan did his work well, writing a cir- tions, into which we will go presently, cular letter addressed to the “Remnant of large bodies of Jews became Mahomedans the Israelites, peace without end,” the at this period. They were the ancestors result being that intense and mad excite of the thousand families of Dünmehs who ment seized upon the Jews of that place. live at Salonika to-day. They nearly killed themselves with pen. Sabbatai Sevi died in 1676 in prison at ances; they administered to one another Belgrade, but his followers gave out that thirty-nine lashes, and tortures of all he was not really dead, but had ascended kinds; and an influential Jew, Pennia by into heaven, and now at Salonika, in their name, whose daughter prophesied and secret places of Worship, called kals, wrought miracles, assisted Nathan in his they always keep beds ready, on which the work of preparation.
Messiah may repose from the fatigues of In due time Sabbatai Sevi landed at his second advent. Probably from the Smyrna, styling himself the “ King of fact of his having disappeared from the Kings," and so carried away were the peo- world at Belgrade, they have decided that ple by his adroit eloquence that a throne at his second coming he will visit them by was set up for him in the synagogue, and way of the northern road, known as the from Sinyrna prophets were sent all over | Usküp road; therefore every day a man the Turkish dominions to all the Jewish is despatched in this direction to meet colonies to preach that “the true Mes- him. When at Salonika I was told that siah of the race of David was come, and lately, since the opening of the railway that to him the crown and the kingdom from Usküp to that town, the point bad were given.” At this juncture Sevi ven- been raised in their assembly that he tured to elect from amongst his most might come by train. Accordingly an eye trusted followers twelve princes who were has to be kept on the station on the arrito act as generals to the twelve tribes val of each train from the north. This on their journey back to their country: custom finds a parallel amongst the other we know from English records that the Jews of Salonika ; but their opinion is report reached even as far as to our that the Messiah will come by sea, so on shores, and that there was some talk of the Day of Atonement they go down to sending English ships to assist in the the sea to meet him, and at the same time transport; and even the sceptic Spinoza, perform the quaint rite of casting their from all he heard, was at one time in- sins into the Bay of Salonika — that inex. clined to waver in his disbelief. The pressibly lovely bay, which, if it could scenes of frenzied excitement in Smyrna relate to us the customs of the various were intense, business was entirely sus cults that have flourished on its margin, pended, and gave place to eager fanatical would have strange tales to tell. worship of Sevi ; presents poured in to Opposite to Salonika rise the snow-clad him from all parts, until at length the sul peaks of Olympus, the home of the ancient tan was roused to action and summoned gods, still covered with Greek convents, him to Adrianople. The story of Sevi's which have been the chief strongholds of interview with the sultan is well known, the Greek faith during the centuries of and how “the holy, noble, and divine Turkish oppression; and then the minMessiah was ordered by that potentate arets with which Salonika bristles point only to the fact that the religion of Ma. 6. The souls of eggshells go down to homed rules. No place in the world is Gehenna, but never ascend out of it more polyglot. No place has within its again. walls a population professing so many 7. The Jews are not at present Maimeecreeds.
nim, but they will be when their eyes are The Dünmehs, though few in number, opened to the truth that Moses and the are by no means at unity amongst them- others are sparks of Sabbatai Sevi, and selves, for they are divided into three then they themselves will become sparks sects. The Ismirli, or the orthodox fol. of the Messiah. lowers of Sevi, whose distinctive mark is 8. In all their acts and deeds the Maithat they shave the chin, are generally meenim are to live in accordance with the known by the distinctive term of “gentle law of Moses. men," and profess to be the descendants 9. They are not to hate the Jews, but of some of the best Spanish Jew families. always to act so as to conciliate them; for Then there are the Jacobines, or followers in a short time they will become their of one Jacobus Querido, supposed to have brethren. been the son of Sevi, who claimed for 10. They will incur punishments if they himself the inheritance of the Messiah, commune either with Jew or Turk con. but the orthodox will have nothing to say cerning their religion; God alone will show to these Jacobines, who to distinguish them the way to the other world. themselves from the others shave their II. All Maimeenim must outwardly heads. The third sect is the least numer- show themselves as Turks, but think in ous, and profess to be the followers of one their hearts as Jews. Osman Baba, who lived at the beginning 12. It is not a sin before God to kill a of the last century, and who in his at. Dünmeh who breaks these rules and oblitempts to conciliate the other two sects gations, and to keep it secret. accidentally formed one for himself. The 13. All Maimeenim must follow Turkfollowers of Baba do not shave at all, ish law, as far as governnment is coneither the head or the chin; and besides cerned; they are to publish themselves as these peculiarities of coiffure the three Turks, read the laws of Mahomed and the sects affect other distinctions, such as Koran; but they are not to go before any some drinking out of cups with handles, Turkish tribunal, but are to judge each and others from vessels without handles, other according to the law of Moses, and and others petty differences too trivial to are to have for this purpose tribunals of notice.
their own. They are to be subject to the We have to do only with the orthodox Turks, but they are in no way to abase sect, and before entering more fully into themselves before them more than they their life and customs it will be as well to can help. peruse and set forth in full the sixteen 14. All Maimeenim must abstain from rules and obligations to which every true intoxicating drink. believer in the false Messiah is obliged to 15. All Maimeenim must have two swear. They are as follows:
names, one a Turkish one, for outward 1. The unity of God and the truth of the publication; and the other a Jewish one, prophesy of Sabbatai Sevi. Adam, Abra. by which only they shall be known amongst
. ham, Jacob, Moses, Esther, and other themselves. Scriptural characters are all parts of the 16. All Maimeenim shall repeat the soul of Sabbatai Sevi; and the Maimee. names of all the higher powers twice nim believe that he has incarnated himself every day. eighteen times.
My Dünmeh friend, Mahmed, kept a 2. All the earth was created for the curiosity shop in the bazaar of Salonika. . Maimeenim, and the Turks were only Out of his treasures I from time to time made to keep guard over them; for of a selected an object of doubtful authenticity truth there is no egg without a shell; the for purchase, and thereby established my. Turks are the shell, kilipa; the Maimee- self in his favor. On each of my visits to nim are the egg.
his shop we talked much on the general 3. All who are not Jews are eggshells, topics of the day, and at last, after much kilipa.
manæuvring, I contrived to get an invita4. It is forbidden to the Maimeenim to tion for my wife and myself to pay him a make mixed marriages with either Jews visit at his own house, and partake of or eggshells.
coffee. To an eye unpractised in the 5. The Maimeenim have a share in the complexity of the costumes of Salonika, other world; the others have not.
there was nothing in Mahmed's outward appearance, except a distinctly Jewish | by an excellently organized system of chartype of conntenance, to indicate that he ity. Hamdi Bey is said to be the richest was a Dünmeh and not a Turk, pure and amongst them, and there is no better house simple. He was a pallid, middle-aged in Salonika than his; in fact, when money man, with ac beard, and grizzled hair on is wanted amongst them for any special his head, from which we gathered that he purpose, it is always forthcoming. For was a “gentleman,” an orthodox follower example, they have the greatest horror of of Sabbatai Sevi. He wore a variegated allowing a Dünmeh girl to marry or fall turban bound round his head, and the into the hands of an “eggshell," or, as we loose, baggy trousers worn by Turks of might term it, an outsider. Not long ago the middle class, and as we walked from an influential Turk coveted a Dünmeh the bazaar to his house all the information girl, whom he accidentally saw, for his he vouchsafed to tell us was that the harem, and a subscription of 4,000l. was Dünmehs, or as he called them the Turkish raised to buy her off. On another occaJews, all lived in blocks and streets adjoin- sion an energetic pasha determined to ing one another, and that the houses in make the Dünmehs a special subject of each block and street communicated with investigation with a view to publicly de. one another. Rabbi Nehemiah had told nouncing them as only pretended followme this, and had added that in each block ers of the Prophet. Forthwith, when they there is a kal, or meeting-house, where heard their danger, the community detheir secret services are held, at which a spatched an influential body of men to paytan, for so they call the officiating Constantinople, and by the judicious outpriest, presides, reading their service in lay of a sum not less than 10,000l. they Judæo-Spanish, and since they have no contrived to get the objectionable pasha windows to the front for fear of detection, removed from Salonika. On one occasion they light their edifices with green-colored a Dünmeh girl was led astray. They lamps. Many people in Salonika affirm never rested until they got her into their that they have seen the Dünmehs wear- possession. They tried her before their ing, the white Jewish cloak worn at the own tribunal, and they condemned and Hebrew service, and that they have a executed her privily. Such is the bond sort of sacrifice at the Passover, blood be- of terrorism by which they are held toing seen on their lintels, and on the fore- gether - a bond which none dare break. heads of their children, though for this I in these latter days some young, educated am not able to vouch; but it is highly Dünmehs who have travelled abroad, and probable, from the firmness with which had intercourse with other nations, have they adhere to the doctrines of the Old resented this bond, and have entered into Testament.
a compact not to marry until they can At all events from the Dünmehs them- choose wives for themselves, and some selves very little information can be ex- actually have gone to live abroad, and tracted, and they are most careful to prove taken to themselves wives from amongst to the outer world that they are Mussul- the "eggshells.”
“Which mosque do you worship Mahmed's house occupied a considerat?”. I inquired of Mahmed. “I don't able space of ground, and we entered from worship at any mosque in particular. I the street through a heavy, creaking door go to them all in turn,” was our host's into a courtyard surrounded on all sides careful rejoinder; certainly they are adepts by offices, an oven, a kitchen, a larder, at hypocrisy. On every Friday you may etc, which courtyard was sheltered by a see a fair sprinkling of Dünnehs on their vine which grew upon a trellis erected way to the mosques. Their women, when over the whole. A wooden staircase conthey visit a hadji's tomb, tie up the bit of ducted us up to the dwelling portion of rag to the railings, as Turkish woinen do, the house, and we first entered a large as a memorial of their visit. They take a sitting-room furnished with divans which, whiff of the odor of sanctity for a piastre on the staircase side, was entirely open to apiece, after the fashion of the true fol- the air. It was then hung with newly lowers of the Prophet, and from time to washed clothes in the process of drying. time they send a few of their own badjis All was clean and very neat. The wood. to Mecca for appearance' sake.
work was prettily ornamented with carvMahmed's house we found to be a very ing. From the front there was a distant confortable one; in fact, all the Dünmeh's peep of the sea through a vista of houses, live comfortably, since they have no pov- which gave an idea of freshness to the erty amongst them, the richer members of house to which most of the dwellings in the community assisting the poorer ones Salonika are strangers. An air of com