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April 27: Suleiman the Magnificent

April 27, 2013

220px-EmperorSuleimanThe Ottoman Empire’s Sultan Suleiman I, whom Europeans called “the Magnificent” and Jews called “King Solomon,” was born on the Black Sea coast of Turkey on this date in 1495 (some sources say November 6, 1494). Suleiman extended the Ottoman Empire into Hungary, North Africa, and much of modern day Iraq and Yemen; his European conquests were checked at the Siege of Vienna in 1529. As a ruler, he was especially helpful to the Jews, in sharp contrast to European monarchs. He willingly absorbed Jews from the Iberian Peninsula who were fleeing expulsions; he encouraged Jewish settlement in the Land of Israel, especially in Sfat, and built the wall around the Old City of Jerusalem; he forbade provincial judges from trying cases of blood libel; he welcomed Jews to his court as diplomats, financiers, physicians, and advisors, in particular Don Joseph Nasi and Gracia Mendes Nasi; he intervened with Pope Paul IV to try to prevent the burning at the stake of Ottoman Jewish subjects in Ancona (Italy). Suleiman was an accomplished poet, linguist, and goldsmith. He reigned from 1520 to 1566, and during those decades the Jews of his realm achieved their highest economic, political, and cultural status.

“While he may have been seen as dangerous to the outside world, he was known as a fair ruler within the empire who fought corruption and who was a great patron of artists and philosophers. Many Muslims regards his rule as one of the best examples of good governance.” —New World Encyclopedia

JEWDAYO ROCKS! 15-Year-Old Little Peggy March’s hit song, “I Will Follow Him,” became #1 on the charts on this date in 1963. The song was adapted by Arthur (“All or Nothing at All”) Altman from a French song, with English lyrics by Norman (“Girl from Ipanema”) Gimbel. Hear it below.