SephardicGen Resources -> Databases -> Sephardic Chief Rabbis

Sephardic Chief-Rabbis
in Erets Yisrael
for the Period: 1665-2007

Compiled by Mathilde Tagger

  The Sephardic Community Council in Jerusalem had a major role in the country not only in relation with the organization of the local Jews' life in Eretz Israel but also in relation with the ruling authority of the country: the Ottoman ruler till 1917 and the British mandatory government that ended in 1948 with the foundation of the State of Israel.

Its main functions were:

1. Being the official representative of the Sephardic community to the Ottoman and British rulers of Eretz Israel
2. Being the municipal institution that was responsible for providing all the needs of the Sephardic community in Jerusalem including assistance to the needy
3. Being in charge of the Sephardic rabbinic court that handled marriages, divorces and adjudication in monetary matters
4. Holding a Burial Society in charge of burying the deceased in the Mount of Olives Cemetery

Some explanations about the three titles Chief Rabbis had during the last 350 years:

The Rishon LeTsion literally means "The First in Zion". It derives from from the expression found in the Bible verse: "A harbinger unto Zion will I give…" (Isaie 41:27) . This title was first taken in 1665 by Rabbi Moshe Galante and lasted in 1836.

The Hakham Bashi is the Turkish exact translation of "Chief Rabbi". In 1842 the Turks combined the roles of the Constantinople Hakham Bashi and of the Rishon leTsion, while this last was in fact the representative of the Erets Yisrael Jewish population. That unification happened when R' Yona Moshe Navon was functioning as Rishon LeTzion. In fact this Hebrew title remained in used in the Hebrew language till our days.

The Sephardic Chief Rabbi: The Hakham Bashi title continued to be used under the British Mandate till 1921 when a new body was created "The Chief Rabbinate of Erets Yisrael" in which the function of Rishon LeTzion continued to exist for the Sephardic Chief Rabbi, but to it was added an Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi. In the State of Israel, from 1948 and till our days, the Chief Rabbinate of the Country is managed by two Chief Rabbis, one Sephardic and the second Ashkenazi.


Given Name

Function Period



Galante Moshe 1665-1689 Erets Yisrael Rishon LeTsion
Ben Habib  Moshe ben Shlomo 1689-1696 Erets Yisrael Rishon LeTsion
Yitzhaki  Abraham ben David  1715-1722 Erets Yisrael Rishon LeTsion
Nahum Eliezer 1730-1748 Erets Yisrael Rishon LeTsion
Mizrahi  Haim Moshe  1748-1754 Erets Yisrael Rishon LeTsion
Algazi  Israel Yaakov 1754-1756 Erets Yisrael Rishon LeTsion
Meyuhas  Rafael ben Shemuel  1756-1771 Erets Yisrael Rishon LeTsion
Ben-Asher  Haim Rafael Abraharn  1771-1772 Erets Yisrael Rishon LeTsion
Algazi  Yom-Tov  1772-1802 Erets Yisrael Rishon LeTsion
Meyuhas  Moshe Yosef Mordekhai  1802-1806 Erets Yisrael Rishon LeTsion
Ayash  Yaakov Moshe  1806-1817 Erets Yisrael Rishon LeTsion
Korah  Yaakov  1817-1819 Erets Yisrael Rishon LeTsion
Hazan  Rafael Yosef  1819-1822 Erets Yisrael Rishon LeTsion
Danon  Yom Tov  1822-1824 Erets Yisrael Rishon LeTsion
Suzin  Shelomo Moshe  1824-1836 Erets Yisrael Rishon LeTsion
Navon  Yona Moshe  1836-1841 Erets Yisrael Hakham Bashi
Navon  Yehuda Rafael  1841-1842 Erets Yisrael Hakham Bashi
Gagin Abraham Haim  1842-1848 Erets Yisrael Hakham Bashi
Covo Yitzhak ben Hizkiya  1848-1854 Erets Yisrael Hakham Bashi
Abulafia Haim Nissim  1854-1861 Erets Yisrael Hakham Bashi
Hazan Haim David  1861-1869 Erets Yisrael Hakham Bashi
Ashkenazi Abrabam  1859-1880 Erets Yisrael Hakham Bashi
Panigel Rafael Meir  1880-1893 Erets Yisrael Hakham Bashi
Eliashar Yaakov Shaul  1893-1914 Erets Yisrael Hakham Bashi
Eliashar Haim Moshe  1914-1921 Erets Yisrael Sephardic Chief-Rabbi
Meir Yaakob  1921-1939 Erets Yisrael Sephardic Chief-Rabbi
Uziel  Ben-Tsion Hai  1939-1955 Erets Yisrael Sephardic Chief-Rabbi
Nissim  Yitzhak  1955-1973 Erets Yisrael Sephardic Chief-Rabbi
Yosef  Ovadia  1973-1983 Erets Yisrael Sephardic Chief-Rabbi
Eliahu Mordekhai  1983-1993 Erets Yisrael Sephardic Chief-Rabbi
Bakshi Doron  Eliahu  1993- 2003 Erets Yisrael Sephardic Chief-Rabbi
Amar Shlomo Moshe 2003- Erets Yisrael Sephardic Chief-Rabbi

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