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Intrigue and RevolutionChief Rabbis in Aleppo, Baghdad, and Damascus, 1774-1914$
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Yaron Harel

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781904113874

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781904113874.001.0001

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The Baghdad Community Torn between Rabbis Samoha and Dangoor

The Baghdad Community Torn between Rabbis Samoha and Dangoor

(p.79) Chapter Four The Baghdad Community Torn between Rabbis Samoha and Dangoor
Intrigue and Revolution

Yaron Harel

, Yehonatan Chipman
Liverpool University Press

This chapter investigates the chaos that ensued in the Baghdad community for more than a decade in the wake of the struggle between the supporters of Rabbi Sason Elijah Halevi (Samoha) and those of Rabbi Elisha Dangoor. Rabbi Samoha was the first ḥakham bashi of Baghdad to have been born and brought up in the city. Samoha, who initially drew his authority both from the Ottoman government and from the Jewish community, was a forceful leader, who did not hesitate to confront its wealthy members when he judged their behaviour improper. This dictatorial attitude created enemies within the moneyed elite, who had become accustomed to running things themselves during the twenty-five years that Rabbi Obadiah Halevi, an outsider and a weak leader, had served as ḥakham bashi. These wealthy men soon came to regret Rabbi Samoha's appointment and to look for a propitious moment to get rid of him and to appoint another rabbi in his place. The chapter then looks at the involvement of the ḥakham bashi in Istanbul, as well as that of Rabbi Joseph Hayim, in the deposition of Rabbi Samoha. Ultimately, the removal of Rabbi Samoha markedly lowered the status of the chief rabbinate in Baghdad.

Keywords:   Baghdad Jewish community, Sason Elijah Halevi, Elisha Dangoor, ḥakham bashi, Ottoman government, moneyed elite, Joseph Hayim, chief rabbinate, Baghdad, Obadiah Halevi

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