Senior Honors Theses
History Department Honors Program

Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version



The Jewish communities of seventeenth-century Istanbul comprised coherent societies featuring religious and judicial structures apart from Ottoman administration. Members of these Jewish enclaves typically interacted with members of the surrounding Ottoman society in their everyday lives. Using the available responsa literature, documents comprising anonymous questions to which notable rabbis would issue responses rooted in Jewish law, this paper explores financial, legal, and ethical conflicts between Jews and Muslims, including new Muslims who had converted from Judaism. The paper argues for a conceptualization of Jewish society in the Ottoman world as fluid and open to exchange with neighboring Ottoman and Muslim identities. Furthermore, the paper also argues for the conceptualization of Jewish communities in the Ottoman Empire as a network of smaller enclaves with nuanced differenced that maintained interaction with each other, rather than as a singular, monolithic community. The conclusions and conjectures found in the paper, based on this argument, produce material for further research on the relationship between a governing society and a network of communities within the Ottoman Empire and the broader early modern world.


Jewish, Ottoman, Istanbul, Jewish history, rabbis, responsa, Jewish law, communities, early modern, seventeenth century

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Date Posted:30 March 2022