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"Donmeh" is the Turkish word for "apostate" and refers to the Jews of the Near East who followed Sabbatai Zevi into Islam in 1666, but secretly remained Jews who continued practicing Jewish rituals but worshipped Sabbatai Zevi as the Messiah and an incarnation of God.
As of 1970 there were an estimated 15,000 members of the Donmeh in the Near East -- mostly the cities of Adrianople, Constantinople, Salonika and Smyrna -- but none were known to exist in the Western Hemisphere.
Although outwardly Muslims and, to a lesser extent, Christians, the Donmeh secretly continues to observe Jewish rituals (such as circumcision, but at the age of three rather than eight days), pray in Hebrew as well as Aramaic and Ladino (a Sephardic dialect of Yiddish, Hebrew and Spanish), and have clandestine festivals and fast days that are Jewish survivals. They also practice unique Sabbatian rites, probably instituted by Reb. Berechia after Sabbatai's death, such as "The Darkening of the Light."
There were, and still may be, five main branches of the Donmeh:
Please see this website for more details - MAK
by Yakov Leib HaKohain
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page historypage uploaded 19 October 1998