Tiberias Ottoman Rule 18th 19th Centuries

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Tiberias of the Ottoman Era
Abuhav Synagogue
טבריה בתקופת האוטומנים
Other Names
Tiberias of the 18th and 19th centuries
After the 1660 attack on Tiberias, the Jews abandoned the city but it began to grow again in the mid-18th century.

Jewish settlement in Tiberias was restarted with the arrival of the great Turkish rabbi, Rabbi Chaim Abulafia.


[edit] Dhaher al-Omer

The Bedouin ruler Dhaher al-Omer took control of Tiberias in the 1720s. He acted forcefully against banditry on the roads and signed an agreement with the neighboring Bedouin tribes to prevent looting in Tiberias. He strengthened the old walls of Tiberias. By 1740 al-Omer had solidified his rule over Tiberias and was anxious to repopulate the city.

[edit] Repopulating Tiberias

Dhaher al-Omer realized that the best way to develop the region was to involve the Jewish community in his plans. He wanted the Jews to settle in Tiberias and invest, create jobs and build an infrastructure that would allow the area to flourish. This, al-Omer realized, would also allow him to increase his own political standing and power base in his struggles against the Turkish-appointed ruler, the Pasha, based in Damascus.

[edit] Rabbi Chaim Aboulafia

Al-Omer began his campaign to bring Jews to Tiberias by encouraging one of the era’s great rabbis, Rabbi Chaim Abulafia, to move to Tiberias. He promised to grant the rabbi and all the Jews who moved to Tiberias rights and protection. Rabbi Abulafia, then Chief Rabbi of Izmir, Turkey, was encouraged and collected funds to facilitate the move. He brought his family and many of his students to Tiberias to settle under the patronage of al-Omer.

[edit] New Settlement

Rabbi Aboulafia began to construct synagogues and “yeshivas” -- rabbinical academies -- in Tiberias along with homes for the new Jewish residents. He established the Rabbi Meir Baal Haness fund to assist the city’s poor and restored the city wall at his own expense. Rabbi Aboulafia built the Etz Chaim Synagogue for all of Tiberias's Jewish residents.

In 1745 Dhaher al-Omer’s son , Chulibe, built a citadel on a hill in the northwest corner of Tiberias.Rabbi Aboulafia was named city head, a title approved by both the Jews and the Muslims of Tiberias.

[edit] Ashkanazi Immigration

Beginning in 1740 Ashkanazi immigrants began to move to Israel from Russia and Poland. At this time Jerusalem was closed to Ashkanazim due to a large unpaid debt that the previous Ashkanazi community owed to the Turks. Immigration from Eastern European countries of both Hassidim and “Mitnagdim” -- non-Hassidic Jews -- increased in the late 1700s and many of these immigrants moved to Tiberias.

[edit] Pogrom

In 1834 Tiberias and Safed were attacked by Arab rebels who were revolting against the Egyptian governor, Muhammed Ali. Ali had wrested power from the Turks in 1831 and the Arab tribes of northern Israel took advantage of the lack of a strong ruler to attack the Jews. While the Jews of Safed were driven out of their city for over a month, the Jews of Tiberias, at the advice of their rabbi, turned over all of their money to the Arabs who then left them. The Jews recouped much of their losses when the Ottoman governor, Abraim Pacha, regained power.

[edit] Earthquake

Tiberias was almost completely destroyed by the January 1837 earthquake which devastated Safed as well. The wall surrounding the city collapsed.

[edit] Community

By the 19th century Tiberias had two Jewish communities, Sepharadic and Ashkanazic. The Sephardic community had approximately 80 families and the Ashkanazic community had about 100 families.

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