Three new congregations were founded – Shalom, Bikur Holim, Etz Haim – on rented land.
There was a very active Jewish communal life in Izmir in the 17th century, which consisted of six different congregations, including Kahal Bakish (Sason), built in the Kish yard in the 16th century; Kahal Portugal and Neve Shalom, presided over by Rabbi Haim and his son Israel Benbenishti, and included some friends of Shabbatei Zvi that helped shape his ideology; Kahal Pinto, built in the 1640s or 1650s and included an adjacent yeshiva; Kahal Giveret (Senvora), founded in 1660 which still exists today; Kahal Algazi, built in the 1660s, and was the location of the “Affair on Shabbat,” when Shabbatei Zvi declared his control of the community; and Kahal Orchim, which was destroyed during an earthquake in 1688 and subsequently rebuilt, and was one of Rabbi Haim Abulafia’s synagogues in the 1830s.In addition to the destruction of the synagogues, the breaking down of the Jewish social structure was exacerbated by the growing gap between the rich and poor.In the 1840s, communities began to form on the basis of a certain guild, called gildas, rather than a certain congregation, and social divisions based on class began to develop.With the conquest of the area by the Ottoman Empire in the year 1424, many Jews began settling in Ottoman cities.Two Ottoman sultans extended invitations to the Jews persecuted in Western Europe, mostly from Spain and Portugal – from Muhammad II in the mid-15th century and from Bayazid II in 1492, during the time of the Spanish Expulsion.This began a process of the breaking down of the Jewish social structure, when many Jewish families were forced to move to new areas of the city, away from their original congregation.
It was not until 1792 that new synagogues were built to replace the old ones.
Sephardic Jewish life dominated the culture of Izmir during this time, and the Jewish communal structure was extremely vibrant.
In 1772, a huge fire ravished Izmir, and all of the synagogues were destroyed.
Other Jews in Izmir at this time were Portuguese converts who had left the Iberian Peninsula and returned to Judaism.
In the 1620s and 1630s, they set up their own synagogue called Portugal-Neve Shalom, which later split into two congregations, Portugali and Neve Shalom.
By the beginning of the 17th century, Jews had set up their own synagogues, established their own leadership institutions, and had made contact with other Jewish communities of the Ottoman Empire.