This Day in Jewish History The Sultan Orders Transfer of Safed Jews

The Ottoman ruler wanted to move Jews from Safed to recently conquered Cyprus, but carrying out the order was another matter.

On October 8, 1576, the Ottoman sultan, Murad III, issued an order to the governor of Safed instructing him to carry out the transfer of 1,000 Jews from the region to Cyprus. The move was not intended as a punishment for the Jews, nor was it an especially unusual occurrence. Such population transfers, called “surgun” in Turkish, were, rather, expressions of a policy intended to encourage the economic...