CYPRUS

CYPRUS, an island in the eastern Mediterranean, opposite the coast of northern Syria; c. 40 mi. south of Turkey and c. 65 mi. west of Syria. -Ancient Period According to many scholars, the name Alashiya (Elishah, אֱלִישָׁה Gen. 10:4; I Chron. 1:7; Ezek. 27:7) refers to the island of Cyprus or a part of it. Alashiya is described in sources of the second millennium B.C.E. (Mari, Amarna, Ugarit, and Egyptian documents) as a place from which copper was exported – parenthetically it should be noted that Greek sources also bear witness to the fact that Cyprus was a source of copper for the Mediterranean countries (see metals ). A stele of sargon ii has been unearthed at Citium in Cyprus (Kitti in Phoenician, kittim in Isa. 23:1, and Ezek. 27:6). Sargon and Esarhaddon mention ten kings of the land of Iadnāna (or āʾā) who paid them tribute. The names and residences of these kings indicate that the Cypriot population was not Semitic, and a relationship with indigenous peoples of Anatolia has been suggested. The Cypriot native language and the so-called Cypro-Minoan script or Cypro-Mycenean script from the Bronze Age remain undeciphered. The majority of the inscriptions in the so-called Cypriot syllabic script – which seems to have been   \<!   \> \!major jewish communities on cyprus in medieval and modern times. Major Jewish communities on Cyprus in medieval and modern times.   employed from about the sixth to the first centuries B.C.E. – is couched in Greek, and a few are in an undeciphered language. (Bustanay Oded) Like Ereẓ Israel, Cyprus came under Ptolemaic rule at the beginning of the third century B.C.E., at which period a Jewish settlement on the island apparently began to develop on a large scale. Actual evidence of such settlement, however, dates from the middle of the second century B.C.E., Cyprus being among the places to which the Romans sent letters in 142 B.C.E. requesting that the rights of the Jews there be safeguarded (I Macc. 15:23). In the days of John Hyrcanus the Jewish settlement in the island flourished (Jos., Ant., 13:284). Apart from the literary evidence that Jews lived in Cyprus in this period, Hasmonean coins have been discovered on the island. In 58 B.C.E. the island was annexed to the Roman province of Cilicia. During the Roman period there were contacts between Ereẓ Israel and Cyprus: Herod received from Augustus a portion of the revenue from the copper mines there and was entrusted with the management of some of them (ibid., 15:128). It is possible that Jews were employed at the mines in an administrative capacity, or that they were sent to work there as a punishment for criminal offenses. After the death of Herod, his granddaughter Alexandra married an aristocratic Cyprus Jew, Timius of Cyprus (ibid., 18:131). The existence of a large Jewish settlement in Cyprus is attested by a letter of agrippa i to the emperor Caligula in which he states that Jerusalem is the capital not of Judea alone, but of all Jews, including those in Cyprus (Philo, Legatio ad Gaium, 282). The Acts of the Apostles (4:36; 13:4–6; 15:39) also bear witness to a large Jewish population on the island. The apostles Paul, Barnabas of Cyprus, and John preached in the synagogues at Salamis and other places. The Jews were not favorably disposed to the spread of Christianity, and a certain Bar Joshua (Barjesus) attempted to obstruct the apostles' efforts to exert their influence on the Roman governor (Acts 13:6–8). There is some evidence, though sparse, of Cyprus Jews in Ereẓ Israel: a Jew of Cyprus helped to persuade Drusilla, the daughter of Agrippa, to marry the procurator Felix (52–60 C.E.; Jos., Ant., 20:142); a certain Mnason of Cyprus lived at Caesarea (Acts 21:16); and there was apparently something of a community of Cyprus Jews in Jerusalem (ibid., 11:19). Products of Cyprus were imported into Ereẓ Israel (TJ, Dem. 2:1, 22b, "cumin from Cyprus"; TJ, Yoma 4:5, 41d, "wine of Cyprus"; Jos., Ant., 20:51, "dried figs imported from Cyprus by Queen Helena of Adiabene during a famine"). Under Trajan, probably in 116/7 C.E., the Jews of Cyprus, led by artemion , together with those of Cyrene, Egypt, and Mesopotamia revolted (Dio Cassius 68:32; Jerome, Chronica, 196; et al.). The causes of the revolt in Cyprus are not entirely clear, but it was apparently due in part to the friction between Jews and non-Jews and not necessarily to their relations with the Roman administration. The Jews of Cyprus are reported to have killed 240,000 people and to have destroyed the city of Salamis. Jewish losses are not mentioned. After the revolt had been suppressed by Lusius and other generals sent by Trajan, Jews were strictly forbidden to set foot on the island, but this prohibition was not apparently in force for long. The belief held by some (on the basis of an inscription on a pillar) that Jews had already returned to the island in the second century is borne out by Jewish sources that mention R. akiva 's visit to Ẓifirin (TJ, Av. Zar. 2:4; 41b; 113a; et al. – if Neubauer's identification of Ẓifirin as a place in Cyprus is to be preferred to that of Alon, who locates it in Cilicia). Another inscription, dating probably from the fourth century, refers to the renovation of a synagogue, apparently in the third century (Frey, Corpus, 2 (197), 735). In addition, a third century Jewish candelabrum with designs of a lulav and etrog have been found there. Jews, then, had resettled in the island by that time. (Lea Roth) -Medieval Period In the early seventh century there was a large community in Famagusta. The 12th-century traveler benjamin of Tudela mentions the existence of Rabbanite and Karaite Jews and a Jewish sect that apparently celebrated Sabbath on Sunday instead of Saturday. Under the Lusignan kings (1192–1489), Cyprus had the largest Jewish settlement in the islands off Greece. It included communities in Nicosia, Famagusta, Paphos, and Limassol. (See Map: Cyprus). Jews were discriminated against in law; however, attempts by the church to forbid Christians from visiting Jewish physicians were unsuccessful. Archbishop Giovanni del Conte (1319–1332) introduced the distinguishing yellow badge for Jews. King Peter I (1359–1369) attracted Egyptian Jewish traders to Cyprus by promising equal treatment to Jews and non-Jews. The Genoese (1373–1463) plundered Jewish property in Famagusta and Nicosia. During the 16th century 2,000 Jews are said to have lived in Famagusta. One of the island's governors during Venetian rule (1489–1571) ordered the punishment of Jews who did not pay due respect to a religious procession. In 1495 a pupil of R. Obadiah of bertinoro mentioned the existence of many Jews who were artisans and traders in Cyprus. In 1552 R. moses basola found 12 householders, originally from Sicily, in Famagusta. An attempt in 1568 to foment a rebellion on the island in favor of the Turks was attributed to the statesman joseph nasi , who in 1563–64 set on foot an intrigue to offer the crown of Cyprus to the Duke of Savoy. Thanks to the efforts of solomon ashkenazi a peace treaty was signed, in 1573, between Venice and Turkey which had conquered the island in 1561. The sultans tried to settle Jews from Safed on the island in order to counterbalance the Christian element in the population, but subsequently the Jewish settlement on the island was insignificant. -Modern Period In 1878, the English statesman Benjamin disraeli succeeded in having Cyprus placed under British administration. The few Jews who lived in Cyprus under British rule were mainly silversmiths and peddlers. Between 1883 and 1897 there were attempts to settle Jews from Romania elsewhere on the island. In 1900, the economist Davis trietsch made an attempt to settle Jews there after Herzl had failed in negotiations over Ereẓ Israel with the Turks. In 1902 and 1903 Herzl discussed with chamberlain a plan to settle Jews in Cyprus, but without success. Between 1933 and 1939 Cyprus was a sanctuary for 500 Jewish refugees from Germany. In 1941 the British began to evacuate the island, mainly women and children, for fear of a German invasion, and its Jews were also evacuated. After World War II, when the stream of "illegal" immigration to Palestine of the survivors in Europe assumed mass proportions, the British government forcibly transferred many thousands of them to deportation ships and sent them to detention camps in Cyprus. Their total number, from 1946 until 1948, was about 51,500. In the camps they were assisted by sheliḥim (emissaries) of the jewish agency and the haganah to organize health and education services as well as some military training. With the establishment of the State of Israel they were released and quickly absorbed in the mainstream of mass immigration which began to arrive in the country (see "Illegal" Immigration ). In 1951 the Jewish population numbered only 165 persons who lived in Nicosia, Larnaca, Limassol, and Famagusta. They engaged in citrus growing, trade, industry, and farming; a few were mine owners. By 1970 there were only 25 Jews on the island and there was virtually no communal life. A cemetery was maintained at Margo and second one at Larnaca was no longer used. The community began to revive in the early 21st century as the Jewish population grew to around 1,500 (300 families), mostly consisting of Israelis working in the burgeoning information and telecom industries there, as well as Jews from South Africa and the former Soviet Union. A community center was inaugurated in Larnaca in 2005 under the auspices of Chabad, with the island's only synagogue. Israeli-born Aryeh Ze'ev Raskin, who originally arrived as a Chabad emissary to stimulate the revival, became the community's rabbi. Sunday school classes were also inaugurated. -Relations with Israel After the establishment of the State of Israel an Israel Consulate was opened in Nicosia. When Cyprus reached independence, in 1960, diplomatic relations were established on ambassadorial level, Israel being represented by a resident ambassador, Cyprus by a non-resident one. In its relations with Israel the government of Cyprus assumed a complex and sometimes contradictory attitude. While at the United Nations its representatives mostly sided with the Arab states against Israel, mainly under Egyptian pressure and under the influence of the Greek government (see greece ), it simultaneously fostered mass-tourism from Israel to Cyprus, which reached around 60,000 Israelis a year by the beginning of the 21st century, and non-governmental ties (e.g., between labor movements, trade unions, agricultural organizations, etc.). Trade relations developed satisfactorily. There was also some technical cooperation between the two states. At the same time, from the 1980s on, Cyprus modified its pro-Arab stance and political relations with Israel began to warm. (Simon Marcus) -BIBLIOGRAPHY: ANCIENT PERIOD: J.A. Knudtzon (ed.), Die El-Amarna Tafeln…, 2 vols. (1915), 279–98, 1076–86; C.F.A. Schaeffer, Enkomi-Alasia, 1 (1952); W. Helck, Die Beziehungen Aegyptens zu Vorderasien (1962), index, S.V. Alasia, Cypern; H.W. Catling, in: cah2 (1966), fascicle 43, pp. 58ff.; C.F.A. Schaeffer et al., in: Ugaritica, 5 (1968), index S.V. Alasia, Chypre; D. Diringer, The Alphabet, 1 (1968), 120–3; Neubauer, Géogr, 369–70; Schuerer, Gesch, 1 (19014), 662ff.; 3 (19094), 56; G. Hill, A History of Cyprus, 1 (1940), 241–3, 247; A. Tcherikover, Ha-Yehudim be-Miẓrayim… (1963), 160ff.; A. Schalit, in: Sinai, 6 (1940), 367ff. 81; S. Shapira, Ha-Aliyyah la-Regel bi-Ymei Bayit Sheni (1965), 66–67; S. Appelbaum, Yehudim vi-Yvanim be-Kirenyah ha-Kedumah (1969), 231, 253–4; B. Lifshitz, Donateurs et fondateurs dans les synagogues juives (1967), 73–76; Reifenberg, in: jpos, 12 (1932), 209–15. MEDIEVAL PERIOD: J. Starr, Romania: Jewries of the Levant… (1949), 101–10 (incl. bibl.); C. Roth, in: Sefunot, 8 (1964), 283–98; idem, Duke of Naxos (1967); J.M. Shaftesley, in: jhset, 22 (1968/69), 88–107. MODERN PERIOD: O.K. Rabinowicz, A Jewish Cyprus Project (1967), 460ff.

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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