Research on the secret internal communal writings of the Sabbatian “Ma’aminim” of Salonica—known derogatorily in Turkish as “Dönme”—has to date mostly been focused on intra-Jewish questions. The initial and partial research on the Sabbatians’ interaction with their non-Jewish environment, as reflected in their writings, invites a complementary, systematic, and cross-cultural analysis. This is especially true concerning a corpus of hundreds of songs, contained in five manuscripts, which are a precious and rare source for the study of the secret community of the Ma’aminim. This essay focuses on incipits appearing in manuscripts of the Sabbatian songs; these incipits indicate the title of the Ottoman Turkish song according to whose melody each Sabbatian song is to be sung. I analyze the incipits to illustrate various aspects of cultural appropriation and interpretation, and to uncover from them historical information that contributes to a more accurate periodization of specific Sabbatian texts and poets. Taking the Ottoman sources of inspiration of the Sabbatian songs into consideration illuminates them in terms of their ideas and poetic characteristics, performance, and cultural-historical context.


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pp. 567-597
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