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Rescue the Surviving SoulsThe Great Jewish Refugee Crisis of the Seventeenth Century$
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Adam Teller

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691161747

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691161747.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM PRINCETON SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.princeton.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Princeton University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in PRSO for personal use.date: 28 June 2022

The Role of Italian Jewry

The Role of Italian Jewry

(p.142) Chapter Fourteen The Role of Italian Jewry
Rescue the Surviving Souls

Adam Teller

Princeton University Press

This chapter studies the role of Italian Jewry in ransoming Polish Jewish captives. In truth, the most important use for the pidyon shevuyim money as far as Italian Jewry was concerned had nothing to do with Polish Jews and their problems. Instead, ransom money was used primarily to redeem Jewish maritime merchants and travelers who were preyed on by pirates, particularly the Knights of St. John on Malta. This desire to prioritize the needs of the captives on Malta did not mean, however, that Venice totally ignored all other causes. Moreover, the Italian communities in general, though they seem to have understood the benefits of having Venice manage the ransoming on Malta, were not willing entirely to give up their autonomy in how they used their philanthropic funds. This was good news for Polish Jews because it improved their chances of receiving financial support from Italian Jewry. Their requests for that can be divided into two main groups. The first were made by individuals, asking for help with their personal issues. The second were requests for larger groups, most often communities in Poland–Lithuania that were struggling with the costs of recovering from the war or communities outside eastern Europe that were dealing with an influx of Polish Jewish refugees.

Keywords:   Italian Jewry, Polish Jewish captives, pidyon shevuyim, ransom money, Jewish maritime merchants, Venice, Polish Jews, Poland–Lithuania, Polish Jewish refugees

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