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Known Jewish Figures in Izmir

Two of the most known Jewish figures in Izmir are Shabtai Zvi and Rabbi Haim Palaggi.

Shabtai Zvi
Shabtai Zvi was a mystic from Izmir who lived in the 17th century and thought himself to be the Messiah. After his forced conversion to Islam some of his followers, called 'Shabtaim,’ secretly remained loyal to his ideas. The Jews of Izmir do not like to discuss this painful topic, and often denied any knowledge of the Shabtaim. When urged, they admitted to their existence but did not want to talk about the subject.


Rabbi Haim Palaggi

Rabbi Palaggi was the 'Haham Bashi' of Izmir in the middle of the 19th century, and founder of the 'Beit Hillel' Synagogue and beit midrash (study hall). He was very knowledgeable, and received letters from all over the world with questions about Halacha. He wrote 82 books addressing important issues in Jewish life. The community today is very proud of his legacy, and speak of him with great respect. In the synagogue, when his name is mentioned or cited, the congregation stands up and bows with respect.
 

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