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12 THE CRUSADER CONQUEST

EnglishHebrew
by Joseph Yahalom
12 THE CRUSADER CONQUEST OF JERUSALEM AND ITS IMPACT The Karaites’ attachment to Jerusalem and the site of its temple intensified in the wake of the Seljuk invasion in the middle of the eleventh century and in a sense surpassed rabbinic Judaism’s connection to the Holy City. The Crusaders, who set out to wrest Jerusalem and other holy sites from Muslim rule in 1099, slaughtered the Jews of Jerusalem, as it were, incidentally. According to Muslim sources the Crusaders gathered the Jews – including numerous Karaites – into the Synagogue which they then burned to the ground. This story was readily available to the Jews of Spain. Halevi was about twenty years old when the awful rumor reached him of the fate of the Jerusalemites. His response to the events is extremely important to us in the light of later developments in his life and his unique relationship to Jerusalem. Hundreds of testimonies from the same period have come into our hands from the Cairo Genizah, but few among them are literary testimonies. One of them was included in a letter of recommendation written to Ovadia the Norman proselyte by the esteemed Aleppo rabbi, Baruch Ben Yitzh ˙ ak. Written in the customary flowery rabbinic style, Ben Yitzhak description of the Crusades is sprinkled with a wide range of biblical citations meant to convey the spirit of the events and the extent of the plunder and disgrace. Thus he combined the legal style of “ You shall not bring the fee of a prostitute or the wages of a dog into the house of the Lord your God” ( Deuteronomy 23: 11) with that of the page TOC Home

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