Montenegro-Ulcinj, July 29 – August 03, 2015
The Moshe David Gaon Center for Ladino Culture and Hebrew Literature Department of the Ben-Gurion University, NGO Likud – Montenegro from Podgorica and Lika Foundation from Ulcinj are organizing a joint international congress in Ulcinj, who’s title is Sabbatai Sevi, Sabbatianns and Sabatianism in History and Literature.
The 17th century of Jewish, Ottoman and Balkan history is marked by the ecstatic and melancholic personality of Sabbatai Sevi. In the peak of his mission he was seen as the long waited Messiah by the overwhelming majority of Jews, including the contemporary rabbis.
However, when offered, by sultan Mehmed the IV, the choice between a death of a martyr for his own cause and conversion to Islam, Sabbatai opted for the later. Consequently, most of the Jews saw in his apostasy an act of treason, and ever since see him as false Messiah. However, a small group of ardent believers, will ascribe to Sabbatai’s apostasy metaphysical and spiritual meaning of cosmic importance – and follow him in apostasy, converting to Islam en masse, and establishing thus a new religious group in the Ottoman state: the Sabbatians, outward Muslims and inward adherent of Sabbatai’s radical interpretation of Rabbinic Judaism. Seeing Sabbatai’s
unorthodox interpretation of Judaism and of Islam as a treat, the Ottoman regime sought a way to effectively isolate him from the Jewish population, and to remove him from the capital.
Finally, Ulcinj, a city under Istanbul’s close surveillance, but without a Jewish community was singled out as ideal place for neutralization of Sabbatai’s teachings and charisma. However, the expulsion and the confinement were presented as job assignment, and Sabbatai was appointed as dizdar (comander) of Ulcinj’s fortress. Thus the most central Jewish figure of 17th century spend his last days in Ulcinj. It is there that he died and was buried, and one of local venerated turbe’s (mausoleums) is believed by many to be Sabbatai’s grave.
• Advancing Sabbatian studies and our knowledge of Sabbatai Sevi, his movement and its
Balkan and Ottoman, historical, sociopolitical and ideological context.
• Encouraging exchange of ideas between scientists from different related fields:
Ottoman, Balkan, Sephardic, Slavic and Albanian studies; history, literature, religion,
study of mysticism etc.
• Bringing the city of Ulcinj to the consciousness of the researchers in the field of
Sabbatian studies and different neighboring research fields.
July 29, arrival
July 30 and 31, sessions
August 1, guided excursion to Kula Balsica, “Mehmed Dedai”’s turbe, Ulcinj’s old city
August 2, guided excursion in nearby monasteries and historical sites
August 3, departure