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Chief Rabbi is a title given in several countries to the recognized religious leader of that country's Jewish community, or to a rabbinic leader appointed by the local secular authorities. Since 1911, through a capitulation by Rabbi Uziel, Israel has had two chief rabbis, one Ashkenazi and one Sephardi.[1]

Cities with large Jewish communities may also have their own chief rabbis; this is especially the case in Israel but has also been past practice in major Jewish centers in Europe prior to the Holocaust. North American cities have rarely had chief rabbis, although some do have them: Montreal, in fact, has two — one for the Ashkenazi community, the other for the Sephardi.

The Chief Rabbi's name is often followed by ABD, which stands for Av Beth Din.

Chief rabbis by country/region

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Argentina Argentina

Ashkenazi

  • Shlomo Ben Hamu (though he is Sephardi)

Sephardi

  • Yosef Chehebar[2]

Australia Australia

Austria Austria

  • Akiva Eisenberg
  • Paul Chaim Eisenberg

United Kingdom British Empire and Commonwealth

Bulgaria Bulgaria

  • Gabriel Almosnino (1880-1885)
  • Presiado Bakish (1885-1889)
  • Shimon Dankowitz (1889-1891)
  • Moshe Tadjer (1891-1893)
  • Mordechai Gruenwald (1893-1895)
  • Presiado Bakish (1895-1898)
  • Moshe Tadje (1898-1900)
  • Mordekhay Ehrenpreiss (1900-1914)
  • M. Hezkeya Shabetay Davidov (1914-1918)
  • David Pipano— (1920-1925)
  • Asher Hannanel (1945-1949)

Chile Chile

People's Republic of China China

See chief Rabbis of Hong Kong, China.

Cuba Cuba

Cyprus Cyprus

Egypt Egypt

  • Refael Aharon Ben Shimon (1891-1921)
  • Masoud Hai Ben Shimon (1921-1925)
  • Chaim Nahum — (1925-1960)
  • Haim Douek — (1960-1972)

Estonia Estonia

  • Michael Alony — (1995-1996)
  • Shmuel Kot — (2000-present)

Finland Finland

  • Uri Ove Schwarz - (1982-1987)
  • Michael Alony — (1995-1996)

France France

  • Jacob Kaplan — (1955-1981)
  • René Samuel Sirat — (1981-1987)
  • Joseph Sitruk — (1987-2008)
  • Gilles Bernheim- (2009- ) (elected June 22, 2008)

Guatemala Guatemala

  • Meir Rosenbaum — (Son of Rabbi Issamar of Nadvorna, Later Chief Rabbi of Cuba)

Hungary Hungary

Note that this list is out of order.
  • Meir Eisenstadt known as the Panim Me'iros (1708-), rabbi of Eisenstadt and author of "Panim Me'irot"
  • Alexander ben Menahem
  • Phinehas Auerbach
  • Jacob Eliezer Braunschweig
  • Hirsch Semnitz
  • Simon Jolles — (1717-?)
  • Samson Wertheimer — (1693?-1724)(also Eisenstadt and Moravia)
  • Issachar Berush Eskeles — (1725-1753) [6]
  • Joseph Hirsch Weiss — (Grandfather of Stephen Samuel Wise.)[1] [2]
  • Samuel Kohn
  • Ferenc Hevesi
  • Moshe Kunitzer — (1828-1837), a pioneer of the Haskalah movement in Hungary.
  • Alfréd Schöner
  • Koppel Reich
  • Chaim Yehuda Deutsch
  • József Schweitzer

Iran Iran

Republic of Ireland Ireland

Israel Israel

The position of chief rabbi of the Land of Israel has existed for hundreds of years. During the mandatory period, the British recognized the chief Rabbis of the Ashkenazi and Sephardi communities, just as they recognized the Mufti of Jerusalem. The offices continued after statehood was achieved. Haredi Jewish groups (such as Edah HaChareidis) do not recognize the authority of the Chief Rabbinate. They usually have their own rabbis who do not have any connection to the state rabbinate.

Please note that under current Israeli law, the post of Chief Rabbi exists in only four cities (Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa and Beersheba). In other cities there may be one main rabbi to whom the other rabbis of that city defer, but that post is not officially the "Chief Rabbi".

Many of Israel's chief rabbis were previously chief rabbis of Israeli cities.

Ashkenazi

Sephardi

Military Rabbinate

Mandate of Palestine

Ashkenazi
Sephardi

Italy Italy

Lebanon Lebanon

  • Rabbi Danon — (1908-1909)
  • Jacob Maslaton — (1910-1921)
  • Salomon Tagger — (1921-1923)
  • Shabtai Bahbout — (1924-1950)
  • Benzion Lichtman — (1932-1959)
  • Jacob Attiyeh — (1949-1966)
  • Chaoud Chreim — (1960-1978)

Mexico Mexico

  • Shlomo Tawil- present -

Morocco Morocco

  • Mardo Chee Bengio - click here for a letter written by Rav Bengio [9]
  • Rabbi Mikail Encaoua
  • Chalom Messas

Poland Poland

  • Ber Percowicz — (1945-1961)
  • Uszer Zibes — (1961-1966)
  • Zew Wawa Morejno — (1966-1973)
  • Pinchas Menachem Joskowicz — (1988-1999)
  • Michael Schudrich — (2004–present)

Russia Russia

Serbia Serbia

  • Isak Asiel

Singapore Singapore

  • Mordechai Abergel

South Africa South Africa

Thailand Thailand

  • Yosef Kantor

Transylvania (before 1918)

Note: The chief rabbi of Transylvania was generally the rabbi of the city of Alba Iulia.

  • Joseph Reis Auerbach — (d. 1750)
  • Shalom Selig ben Saul Cohen — (1754-1757)
  • Johanan ben Isaac — (1758-1760)
  • Benjamin Ze'eb Wolf of Cracow — (1764-1777)
  • Moses ben Samuel Levi Margaliot — (1778-1817)
  • Menahem ben Joshua Mendel — (1818-23)
  • Ezekiel Paneth — (1823-1843)
  • Abraham Friedmann — (d. 1879), the last chief rabbi of Transylvania

Tunisia Tunisia

Turkey Turkey

  • Eli Capsali — (1452 - 1454)
  • Moses Capsali — (1454 - 1497)
  • Elijah Mizrachi — (1497 - 1526)
  • Mordechai Komitano — (1526 - 1542)
  • Tam ben Yahya — (1542 - 1543)
  • Eli Rozanes ha - Levi — (1543)
  • Eli ben Hayim — (1543 - 1602)
  • Yehiel Bashan — (1602 - 1625)
  • Joseph Mitrani — (1625 - 1639)
  • Yomtov Benyaes — (1639 - 1642)
  • Yomtov Hananiah Benyakar — (1642 - 1677)
  • Chaim Kamhi — (1677 - 1715)
  • Judah Benrey — (1715 - 1717)
  • Samuel Levi — (1717 - 1720)
  • Abraham Rozanes — (1720 - 1745)
  • Solomon Hayim Alfandari — (1745 - 1762)
  • Meir Ishaki — (1762 - 1780)
  • Eli Palombo — (1780 - 1800)
  • Chaim Jacob Benyakar —( 1800 - 1835)
  • Abraham Levi Pasha — (1835 - 1839)
  • Samuel Hayim — (1839 - 1841)
  • Moiz Fresko — (1841 - 1854)
  • Yacob Avigdor — (1854 - 1870)
  • Yakir Geron — (1870 - 1872)
  • Moses Levi — (1872 - 1909)
  • Chaim Nahum Effendi — (1909 - 1920)
  • Shabbetai Levi — (1920-1922)
  • Isaac Ariel — (1922-1926)
  • Haim Bejerano — (1926-1931)
  • Haim Isaac Saki — (1931-1940)
  • Rafael David Saban — (1940-1960)
  • David Asseo — (1961-2002)
  • Ishak Haleva — (2003-present)

Uganda Uganda

Ukraine Ukraine

  • Yaakov Dov Bleich - (1992-present) - original post-communism chief rabbi, still widely recognized Chief Rabbi of Ukraine and Kiev
  • Alex Dukhovny - The Progressive (Liberal/Reform) Chief Rabbi of Kiev and Ukraine
  • Azriel Haikin - (2003-present) - Chabad affiliated - not fully recognized as Ukraine Chief Rabbi, but heads the Ukrainian Chabad [3]
  • Moshe Reuven Azman - (2005-present) - rabbi from Chabad, though elected mostly by secular Jewish leaders and not by any rabbinical authority [4]

United States United States

A chief Rabbinate never truly developed within the United States for a number of different reasons. While Jews first settled in the United States in 1654 in New Amsterdam, Rabbis did not appear in the United States until the mid-Nineteenth Century. This lack of Rabbis, coupled with the lack of official colonial or state recognition of a particular sect of Judaism as official (e.g. Ottolengui v. Ancker) effectively led to a form congregationalism amongst American Jews. This did not stop others from trying to create a unified American Judaism, and in fact, some chief Rabbis developed in some American cities despite lacking universal recognition amongst the Jewish communities within the cities (for examples see below). However, Jonathan Sarna argues that those two precedents, as well as the desire of many Jewish immigrants to the US to break from an Orthodox past, effectively prevented any effective Chief Rabbi in America.[10]

Uruguay Uruguay

Venezuela Venezuela

Ashkenazi

Sephardi

Chief rabbis by city

The Netherlands

Interprovincial Chief Rabbinate

  • Elieser Berlinger 1960-1985

Amsterdam

  • Menashe Ben Israel
  • Aron Schuster
  • Meir Just 1970-1978 (shlita)
  • Aryeh Ralbag (2008-recent)

Rotterdam

Antwerp, Belgium

Baltimore, United States

  • Abraham N. Schwartz — (d. 1934)
  • Joseph H. Feldman — (retired 1972, d. 1992)

Birobidzhan, Russia

Budapest, Hungary

Caracas, Venezuela

Ashkenazi

Sephardi

  • Isaac Cohén — ( –present)

Chicago, United States

  • Yaakov Dovid Wilovsky known as the Ridbaz, served as chief rabbi of the Russian-American congregations in the city from 1903-1905.

Frankfurt, Germany

  • Menachem Klein

Haifa, Israel

Ashkenazi

Sephardi

Hebron, Israel

Hoboken, United States

Hong Kong, China

Jerusalem, Israel

Ashkenazi

Since Rav Kolitz stepped down for reason of ill health (of which he died within a year), the position of Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem has gone vacant.

Sephardi

Since Rav Messas died in office, the position of Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem has gone vacant.

Edah HaChareidis

Note: The Edah HaChareidis is unaffiliated with the State of Israel. It is a separate, independent religious community with its own Chief Rabbis, who are viewed, in the Haredi world, as being the Chief Rabbis of Jerusalem.

Leiden, the Netherlands

  • Simon de Vries

Montreal, Canada

Ashkenazi

  • Pinchas Hirschprung — (1969-1998) [12]
  • Avraham David Niznik — (1998-2006) [12][13]

Sephardi

Present Av Beis Din Montreal Rav Binyomin Weiss, head of the city's Vaad Hair.

Toronto, Canada

Moscow, Russia

Munich, Germany

  • Pinchos Biberfeld, moved back to Germany from where he had emigrated to Israel over 50 years earlier. (1980-1999)
  • Steven Langnas, the first not German born (yet of German descent) Chief Rabbi and Av Beis Din of Munich — (1999-present)

New York City, United States

  • Jacob Joseph was the only true Ashkenazi chief rabbi of New York City; there was never a Sephardi chief rabbi, although Dr. David DeSola Pool acted as a leader among the Sepharadim and was also respected as such. Others it has been said claimed the title of Chief Rabbi; eventually, the title became worthless through dilution.
  • Yosef Yitzchok Parnes, the Brooklyner Rebbe, was also considered as such, arriving in Borough Park, Brooklyn in approximately 1913; due to the many non-observant Jews then working for the local utility companies, he did not use any electricity on the Sabbath. Many religious Jews in America in the early 1900s were his adherents.

Nové Zámky, Slovakia

Rome, Italy

Milan, Italy

  • Avraham David Shaumann —
  • Elia Kopciovsky — (195-1980)
  • Giuseppe Laras — (1980-2005)
  • Alfonso Arbib — (2005-present)

Rotterdam, the Netherlands

  • Josiyahu Pardo
  • Arye Leib Breslau
  • Dr. Joseph Isaacsohn
  • Dr. Bernhard Löbel Ritter
  • A.B.N. Davids
  • Justus Tal
  • S.A. Rodrigues Pereira
  • Lou Vorst — (rabbi 1945-1959; chief rabbi 1959-1971)
  • Daniel Kahn
  • Albert Hutterer
  • L.B. van de Kamp
  • Raphael Evers

Sofia, Bulgaria

  • Daniel Zion — in World War Two
  • Asher Hannanel — in World War Two

St. Louis, Missouri

  • Chaim Fischel Epstein
  • Menachem Zvi Eichenstein 1943-1982
  • Sholom Rivkin [15] ( -present)

Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Israel

Sephardi

Vienna, Austria

  • Akiva Eisenberg
  • Paul Chaim Eisenberg

Warsaw, Poland

  • Pinchas Menachem Joskowicz — (1988-1999)
  • Baruch Rabinowitz (1999-2000)
  • Michael Schudrich — (2000–present)

Zurich, Switzerland

References

  1. ^ Rabbi Ovadia Yosef And His Culture War In Israel
  2. ^ Jewish Travel Advisor
  3. ^ Rabbis of Chilean Masorti Forum meet with Mr. Zeev Bielsky Masorti World
  4. ^ The Virtual Jewish History Tour Cuba Jewish Virtual Library
  5. ^ The Jewish Traveler: Havana Hadassah Magazine
  6. ^ "Personality of the week: Issachar Berush Eskeles". Beit Hatefutsot. http://www.bh.org.il/NAMES/POW/Eskeles.asp.  
  7. ^ http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jspartid=2123&letter=A&search=auerbach?
  8. ^ CHIEF RABBI SALANT DIES IN JERUSALEM; Head of the Ashkanezic Congregat... - Article Preview - The New York Times
  9. ^ http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=9B02EFDD173EE733A25753C1A9609C946797D6CF
  10. ^ Jonathan Sarna, 'American Judaism: A History', New Haven: Yale University Pres, 2004.
  11. ^ Title page of Malki Ba-Kodesh, vol. 2; Hoboken, 1921
  12. ^ a b Bnei Brak rabbi named to new beit din post
  13. ^ The Yeshiva World - Frum Jewish News
  14. ^ Grand Rabbinat du Québec
  15. ^ Meet Rabbi Moshe P. Weisblum

External links


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