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An estimated 20-30,000 Jews were living in Poland. Within 75 years the number of Jews would reach 150,000.

1500 ASHER LEMLEIN ( Venice)

Announced that the messiah would be coming within two years. His call for repentance, fasting and preparation for the messiah spread to western and central Europe. Little is know about the effect of his pronouncements on the Jewish community at large . Johann Pfefferkorn, (see 1509) in his pamphlet The Jew glass “Der Juden Speigel” (1505) ridiculed Lemlein, and called for his brother Jews to convert as he did.

1500 - 1558 CHARLES V OF HAPSBURG (Holy Roman Empire)

Was generally protective of the Jews. In 1520 he refrained from demanding the customary coronation tax. In 1530 Charles V reconfirmed the "privileges"/charter he had granted to the Jews and defended them through the encouragement of Josel of Rosheim against Martin Luther.

1500 - 1568 GARCIA DE ORTA (Portugal-India)

Converso scientist and physician. He is known as "the first European writer on tropical medicine and a pioneer in pharmacology." In 1580, more then ten years after his death, he was condemned by the Inquisition and his remains were thrown into the sea.

1500 - 1532 SOLOMON MOLCHO (Diego Peres)

Converso and pseudo messiah. He became so impressed with Reuveni (1524) that he reconverted to Judaism. He predicted correctly an earthquake in Portugal and a flood in Rome. At first Pope Clement VII befriended him, after his predictions came true. He traveled with David Reuveni to Charles V to convince him to let the Jews fight against the Turks (see 1532). Charles V had him killed.

1500 - 1559 (1 Kislev 5319) SOLOMON SHAKNA (Shachne) BEN JOSEPH (Lublin, Poland)

Student of Jacob Pollack. He was called to serve as the Chief Rabbi of Little Poland (1541). He was known as a great talmudist and pilpulist, and helped adapt Caro's Shulchan Aruch to Northern Jewry. He refused to write any halachic work out of fear that it would be taken as a final word.

C. 1502 - 1578 PEDRO NUNES (Portugal)

Influential mathematician and royal, cosmographer. His book De arte atque ratione navigandi - On the art and science of navigation was one of the important contributions of his day. He is considered the inventor of the marine navigational rhumb line (loxodrome) which is a line crossing all meridians of longitude at the same angle. Nunes was not bothered by the inquisition, since he was the teacher of the Inquisitor General Cardinal D. Henrique but in 1620 his grandchildren were questioned.

1502 - 1736 SAFAVID DYNASTIES (Persia)

Under its first Shah Ismail I brought Shia (Shiite) Muslim rule to Persia. All non Muslims are now considered unclean. Jews are forbidden to coming into any physical contact with Muslims.


King of Poland (1501-1506) allowed the Jews to return to Lithuania eight years after he expelled them while serving as grand duke of Lithuania. He also appointed Jacob Pollack as Chief Rabbi (see also 1470).

1504 December 27, MOSCOW (Russia)

"Proselytizing" Jews in Moscow and Kiev were expelled after a few high officials converted to Judaism.

1505 - 1584 SOLOMON B. MOSES HALEVI AL KABETZ (Turkey-Safed, Eretz Israel)

Kabbalist and author of Lecha Dodi (Come My Beloved), a mystical song still chanted Friday evenings in most synagogues as a greeting to the Sabbath. He is credited by some as establishing the custom of staying awake all night on Shevuot reciting Tikkun Leil Shavu'ot. In addition to many Kabbalistic works (e.g. Amarot Tehorot), he wrote Biblical commentaries (e.g. Ayyelet Ahavim, Divrei Shelomo) and an explanation of the prayers Beit Tefillah.

1505 December 12, CESKE BUDEJOVICE (Bohemia)

Ten Jews were tortured and killed after being accused by a local shepherd of killing a local girl. Years later, on his deathbed, the shepherd confessed he made up the whole story.

1506 - 1548 REIGN OF SIGISMUND I. JAGIELLON (Yaghello) ( Lithiuania / Poland)

Sigismund I, aka Sigismund the Old (1467-1548), succeeded his brother Alexander and was considered a liberal ruler granting rights and "privileges" (a charter) to the Jews of Lithuania. His attitude to the Jews in Poland especially in the larger cities, was tainted by the pressure from Christian merchants and the magistracy which resented any competition from Jewish merchants. rnrn

1506 - 1589 SAMUEL BEN MOSES DE MEDINA (Thessaloniki)

Known as the RaShDaM. One of the great halachic authorities whose decisions are still quoted today. He published more than 1000 responsa.

1506 - 1589 (2 Cheshvan 5350) SAMUEL Di MEDINA (The Maharashdam) (Salonika, Greece)

Rabbi, leader and one of the outstanding Halachic authorities of his time. Although Medina suffered from both financial difficulties and health problems, he established a Yeshiva in Salonika which was supported by Donna Gracia Mendes. His fame was such that many of his Halachic decisions (over 1000 were published) were also accepted in Eastern Europe.

1506 April 19 - 21, LISBON (Portugal)

During a service at St. Dominics Church, some of the people thought they saw a vision on one of the statues. Outside, a newly converted Jew raised doubts about the "miracle". He was literally torn to pieces and then burned. The crowd, led by two Dominican monks, proceded to ransack Jewish houses and kill any Jews they could find. During the next few days countrymen, hearing about the massacre, came to Lisbon to join in. Over two thousands Jews were killed during these three days.

1506 August 9, PRINCE FEODOR YAROSLAVITCH (Lithuania)

Established the community of Pinsk. At the same time, he reconfirmed the rights given to the Jews by King Alexander Jagello, king of Lithuania/Poland. By the beginning of the 18th century Jews became the majority of the town and remained such until July 4, 1941 when the Germans entered the city. The final "aktion", which took place on Oct. 28, 1942, left alive only 150 artisans, who were killed a few months later.


Complained that "Practically every ship [is] field with Hebrews and New Christians."

1509 - 1564 JOHN CALVIN (France-Switzerland)

Founded his own form of Protestantism which led to Puritanism in England. Calvinism spread to the Netherlands, where its humanism helped establish a refuge for Spanish and Portuguese Jews. Although he often accused his opponents of Judaizing - and one Servetus was actually burned at the stake due to a dispute with him - Calvin placed unusual emphasis on the Old Testament and the Ten Commandments.

1509 August 19, FRANKFURT (Germany)

Battle of the Books. Johann Pfefferkorn, an apostate Jew, convinced Maximillan I to destroy all Jewish books, especially the Talmud. A gentile, Johann von Reuchlin, who was a noted humanist, scholar and student of the Zohar, defended the books. The battle was decided in von Reuchlin's favor, and the decree was voided. Such challenging of the Church by Christian scholars - on its own ground - helped bring about the Reformation and the revolt against the Church.

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