Rabbi Elijah Capsali was born in Heraklion in 1490 into a well-known wealthy Cretan Jewish family, some of whom had distinguished themselves as community leaders and as scholars of the Torah and Talmud. As a prominent political and religious leader of Heraklion’s Jewish community, Capsali is best remembered for his testimonies recalling particular historical events involving Heraklion’s Jews that are described in the Takkanoth Kandiyah. For instance, in June 1541, Capsali recounted a dramatic incident that could have led to the massacre of the community during one of the Turkish invasions in 1538. Capsali’s intervention spared the Jews from this fate and their escape was then celebrated in the “Purim of Candia”.

As a Jewish chronicler of 16th century historical events, he also wrote at length about the history of Islam, and more specifically about the history of the Ottoman Turks, Venice’s main Mediterranean rivals, for example, in his Seder Elijahu Zuta.

Photo 1
Source: public domain

Capsali’s Seder Elijahu Zuta, 1977 edition

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