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Feodosiya

FEODOSIYA

FEODOSIYA (Theodosia ; Black Sea port in Crimea, Ukraine; one of the most ancient towns). Founded during the Hellenistic period as the Greek colony of Theodosia, it was called Kaffa (Caffa) until the Russian conquest (1783). The Jewish settlement was also one of the oldest on Russian territory, its beginnings dating from the Hellenistic period. The old synagogue of Feodosiya, thought to be the most ancient in Russia, had an inscription which testified to its construction in 909. Under the rule of the Republic of Genoa from 1266, Feodosiya became the center of the Genoese colonies on the Black Sea. In order to attract merchants from all nations there, freedom of religion was granted for all Christian sects, Muslims, and Jews. The traveler Schiltberg, who visited Feodosiya at the beginning of the 15th century, relates of the existence of two communities in the town – a *Rabbanite and a *Karaite one. The Jews engaged in commerce and maintained relations with the Near East and Poland. The constitution of the town, proclaimed in Genoa in 1449, called on the consul and city elders to protect the Jews as all members of other religions, "from any robbery, from scheming against their property when one of them died intestate, and from other molestations of the bishop."

The situation of the Jews remained unchanged when the government of the town was transferred to the Bank of San Giorgio, a powerful financial company that administered the eastern colonies of Genoa (1453–75). The community continued to develop under Turkish rule also (1475–1783). At the beginning of the 16th century *Moses b. Jacob of Kiev, of Lithuanian origin, held rabbinical office in Feodosiya. He composed a uniform siddur for all the Jews of Crimea (the Kaffa rite) and instituted 18 takkanot for the community.

After annexation by Russia, Feodosiya was incorporated in the *Pale of Settlement. In 1897 there were 3,109 Jews in the town (12.9% of the total population), mainly Ashkenazim who had emigrated from Lithuania and Ukraine. On Oct. 17, 1905, pogroms accompanied by murder and looting broke out. The Jewish population of Feodosiya numbered 3,248 (11.3% of the total) in 1926 and 2,922 (6.5%) in 1939. After the February Revolution (1917) three Jews (Zionists) served on the local council. Between the wars there was a Yiddish school and a Jewish section in the local Teachers College. Feodosiya was occupied by the Germans on November 2, 1941. A ghetto was organized, and on December 4, 1941 Einsatzkommando 10b murdered 1,700 Jews (according to another document, 2,500). In February-May 1942 the last 200 Jews were killed. In 1970 the Jewish population of Feodosiya consisted of Crimean and Russian Jews and Karaites. There was no synagogue. Many left during the mass emigration of the 1990s.

bibliography:

I. Markon, in: Zikkaron le-Avraham Eliyahu Harkavy (1908), 449–69; E. Farfel, Beit Keneset ha-Attik ha-Nimẓa be-Ir Feodosiya (1912).

[Yehuda Slutsky /

Shmuel Spector (2nd ed.)]

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