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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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(p.334) Epilogue
Intrigue and Revolution

Yaron Harel

, Yehonatan Chipman
Liverpool University Press

This epilogue studies how the Young Turk Revolution further weakened both Jewish autonomy within the Ottoman Empire and, along with growing secularization, the official recognition and legal authority hitherto accorded to the law of the Torah and to the religious leadership. In the controversies that broke out after the Young Turk Revolution, the call to remove the chief rabbis in a number of Jewish communities drew on revolutionary, reformist, and Enlightenment arguments, including the idea of free expression. Struggles over power in the community began to assume the character of a confrontation between those who were defined as enlightened liberals and their opponents, who were seen as benighted conservatives. Ultimately, the ‘secularization of the rabbinate’ — that is, the involvement of the ḥakham bashi in political matters and his role as a government official fulfilling explicitly administrative functions — led to a ‘cheapening of the rabbinate’. Modernization, and especially the expansion of education, disseminated ideas of secularism and individualism, and facilitated the emergence of new kinds of leader. During the first decade of the twentieth century, patterns of leadership that had been accepted in the Ottoman Empire for generations, including the placing of a religious figure at the head of the community, were increasingly perceived as outdated.

Keywords:   Young Turk Revolution, Jewish autonomy, Ottoman Empire, secularization, chief rabbis, Jewish communities, rabbinate, ḥakham bashi, modernization, secularism

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