The rise and fall of Jews in the Ottoman Empire

Fleeing the massacres and forced conversions of Christian Europe in the Middle Ages, tens of thousands of Jews found a new safe haven in the Ottoman Empire. For the next few centuries, the Muslim-run empire became home for Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews alike. Though relegated to second-class citizens called “dhimmis,” Jews brought with them useful skills in medicine, finance and trade, and flourished.

However, over time the Ottoman Empire began to crumble. Once more, the Jews faced antisemitism and suffered from poverty and violence. By the end of the 19th century, it was clear that the safe haven of the Ottoman Empire was no longer safe. Over the first half of the 20th century, the empire had collapsed and Jews fled to Israel, America and France in the hopes of finding the safety and prosperity they had had in the Muslim world.

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