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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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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 27 June 2022

The Appointment and Deposition of Rabbi Yitshak Abulafia

The Appointment and Deposition of Rabbi Yitshak Abulafia

(p.168) Chapter Seven The Appointment and Deposition of Rabbi Yitshak Abulafia
Intrigue and Revolution

Yaron Harel

, Yehonatan Chipman
Liverpool University Press

This chapter describes the events that led to the removal of Rabbi Yitshak Abulafia not long after he finally overcame the obstacles to his appointment to the office of ḥakham bashi. Rabbi Abulafia's relations with the government were excellent, as were his relations with the leaders of the Christian and Muslim communities. Nevertheless, the rabbi still had to negotiate a path among various groups both within and outside the community. These groups included, on the one hand, the supporters of the Alliance Israélite Universelle (AIU) in Damascus and, on the other hand, some of the more zealous Torah scholars. The chapter then looks at Rabbi Abulafia's tenure in relation to the activity of the Alliance and to the issue of modern education, as this manifested itself with the renewal of the society's activity in Damascus in 1880. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, the internal dynamic of religious zealotry in Damascus eventually led to confrontation between the zealots and the established religious leadership — the ḥakham bashi. The relations of Jews with Christians, which had fluctuated during the years since the 1840 Damascus blood libel, reached a new nadir in the early 1890s, expressed in the renewal of the blood libel. Rabbi Abulafia's way of dealing with this problem attracted sharp criticism from his opponents, leading even to acts of violence and calls for his removal from office.

Keywords:   Yitshak Abulafia, ḥakham bashi, Alliance Israélite Universelle, Torah scholars, Damascus, modern education, religious zealotry, religious leadership

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