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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, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 04 August 2021

The Appointment and Removal of Rabbi Solomon Eli’ezer Mercado Alfandari in Damascus

The Appointment and Removal of Rabbi Solomon Eli’ezer Mercado Alfandari in Damascus

(p.201) Chapter Eight The Appointment and Removal of Rabbi Solomon Eli’ezer Mercado Alfandari in Damascus
Intrigue and Revolution

Yaron Harel

, Yehonatan Chipman
Liverpool University Press

This chapter assesses the appointment and removal of Rabbi Solomon Eli'ezer Mercado Alfandari as ḥakham bashi in Damascus. At the end of October of 1894, Rabbi Alfandari arrived in Damascus, where the community had great hopes of him. But, great as the hopes were, so were the disappointments. Just two weeks after Rabbi Alfandari's arrival in Damascus, complaints were already beginning to be heard regarding his shortcomings and his comprehensive lack of ability in modern community administration. He was not fluent in Arabic, the language of the country, in which most of the community's business was conducted, both internally and between itself and its immediate environment. Nor did he have proper command of Turkish, the language of the senior government officials. Thus from the outset there was a gulf between himself and the community on the one hand, and between himself and the local officials on the other hand. Members of the community were also troubled by the considerable expense involved in the appointment of Rabbi Alfandari. The Damascus community might nevertheless have borne the cost had it not been for the fact that Rabbi Alfandari became embroiled in arguments and disputes with nearly all the groups around him, both within and outside the community. The opposition to Rabbi Alfandari was of course led by Rabbi Yitshak Abulafia.

Keywords:   Solomon Eli'ezer Mercado Alfandari, ḥakham bashi, Damascus, modern community administration, Damascus Jewish community, government officials, Yitshak Abulafia

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