c 75 BCE- Torah Sages Escape. In the year 91 B.C.E., Alexander Yannai of the Hasmonean family succeeded his brother Yehuda Aristoblus to the throne of Judea. Alexander Yannai was a Sadducee who virulently persecuted the Pharisees. At one point during his bloody reign, following a victory he scored on a battlefield, he invited all the Torah scholars for a celebratory feast. During this feast he was slighted by one of the guests, which led him to execute all the Torah scholars in attendance. A few of the sages managed to escape to the town of Sulukus in Syria. There, too, they encountered anti-Semitic enemies who murdered many of the exiled sages. The handful of surviving Torah scholars went in to hiding, finding refuge in the home of an individual named Zevadai. On the night of the 17th of Adar they escaped the hostile city of Sulukus. Eventually these surviving scholars revived Torah Judaism. The date they escaped the clutches of death was established as a day of celebration.
1147- Crusader massacre of the Jews of Wurtzburg.
1349- In Strasbourg, a riot ensued in the town after corn prices fell. Despite the protests of the city council, the Jews were accused of a conspiracy. The entire Jewish population of 2000 were dragged to the cemetery and burned to death. Only those who accepted Christianity were allowed to live.
1563- Rav Yosef Karo finished writing the Shulchan Aruch - Code of Jewish Law. This concise codification of all Jewish law which is germane today was an extension of his Beit Yosef commentary (see 11 Elul). The Shulchan Aruch is divided in to four sections: Orach Chaim -- details the laws pertaining to daily life, lifecycle events, and holidays. Yoreh De'ah -- laws which a practicing rabbi must be proficient in, such as complex nuances of the kosher laws, laws of mikvah, and laws of slaughtering. Even Ha'ezer -- laws of marriage, divorce, reproduction, and the like. Choshen Mishpat -- monetary and judicial laws; required study for a member of a rabbinical court. To this very day, the Shulchan Aruch serves as the primary halachic guide for Jewish life.
1902- The Romanian government prohibited Jews from engaging in handicrafts or trade.
March 11, 1917- British troops captured Baghdad after a 2-year campaign, ending the cruel rule of the Turkish Empire. Jews of Baghdad established this day as a Purim.
1943- The Bulgarian commissar for Jewish affairs, Alexander Belev, signed an agreement permitting Germany to deport 26,000 Jews to extermination camps. Already prominent in the Bulgarian Ministry of Interior and National Health, he was sent to Nazi Germany in December 1941, to study the antisemitic laws. After the Soviet Invasion in Bulgaria, in September 1944, Belev tried to escape to Germany, was recognized by a Jewish communist guerrilla, and killed.
1948- Arab forces laid siege to Yerushalayim's Old Jewish quarter, cutting off the residents from their brethren outside the Old City when access to the gates in the walls of Yerushalayim was barred to them.
March 16, 1979- A peace treaty was signed by Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat at the White House.