Haim Palachi

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Hakham Bashi
Haim Palachi
Tomb of Rabbi Chaim Palagi.jpg
Tomb of Haim Palachi in İzmir, Turkey
Born Ḥayyim ben Jacob Pallache
(1788-01-28)January 28, 1788
Smyrna (İzmir)
Died February 10, 1868(1868-02-10) (aged 80) (Hebrew calendar 17 Shvat 5628)
Smyrna (İzmir)
Burial place Bahri Baba Jewish cemetery, Izmir; relocated to Gürçeşme cemetery, 86-116 Gürçeşme Caddesi, Izmir
Other names alternative spellings: Haim Palacci, Ḥayyim Pallache, Hayim Palacci, Hayyim Palaggi, Chaim Palagi; also Palache, Falaji
Ethnicity Sephardic
Years active 1813–1868 (death)
Era Tanzimat period
Notable work Tokhahot Hayyim (Reproofs of Life)
Denomination Sephardic
Spouse(s) Esther Palacci
Children Abraham, Yitzak/Isaac (Rahamim Nissim), Joseph
Parent(s) Jacob Pallache, Kali Kaden Hazen
Family Pallache family
Awards Mecidiye Order Third Class

Haim Palachi (Hebrew: חיים פלאג'י‎‎ Yiddish: חיים פאלאדזשי‎; Acronym: MaHaRHaF or HaVIF) (January 28, 1788– February 10, 1868)[1] was a Jewish-Turkish chief rabbi of Smyrna (İzmir) and author in Ladino[2] and Hebrew. His titles included Hakham Bashi[3] and Gaon.[4] He is likely a descendant of Samuel Pallache of 16th-Century Fez and early 17th-Century Amsterdam. He was also father of grand rabbis Abraham Palacci and Isaac Palacci (Rahamim Nissim Palacci). He was a member of the Pallache family.

(Alternative spellings include: Hayim Palachi,[5] Hayyim Pallache,[3] Hayyim Palache,[6][7] Haim Palacci,[8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15] Hayim Palacci,[8][16] Hayyim Palaggi (and Falaji),[17] Chaim Palagi,[18][19] and Haim Palatchi with mother Kaden and date of death 17 Shvat 5628.[20])


Pallache was born in İzmir, Turkey, then known internationally as Smyrna, part of the Ottoman Empire. His parents were Jacob Pallache (a rabbi and kabbalist) and Kali Kaden Hazan. His maternal grandfather was Joseph Raphael ben Hayyim Hazzan (1741-1820), chief rabbi of İzmir.[3] He studied under his grandfather and also Isaac ben Elyakim Gatigno.[1]


Early years[edit]

By 1813, aged 25, Palacci was already a rabbi. In 1828, aged 40, he became head of the Bet Yaakov rabbinical seminary.[3]

In 1837 or 1838, he became head of a religious court and then became dayan (jurist), marbiš torah (teacher of Torah), and rav korel (head rabbi).[1][3]

By 1854 or 1856, he had became Hakham Bashi or Chief Rabbi) of Smyrna, appointed by Sultan Abdülmecid I during the Tanzimat period. He served as chief rabbi until his death in 1868.[1][3]

In 1864, he received award of Mecidiye Order, third class.[1]

"Haim Palacci Dispute"[edit]

By 1865, attempts by secular leaders of Izmir's Jewish community to exploit Palachi's declining health led to communal conflict.[1]

Historian D. Gershon Lewental describes the conflict as follows. In November 1865, an administrative committee forced Pallache to accept is oversight, after which a group of lay leaders purchased at reduced cost the concession for gabelatax on kosher food and alcohol. The concessionaires refused audit; Pallache repealed the tax completely. The concessionaires went over Pallache as Izmir's hakham bashi to the regional head (hakham bashi kayakami), whose representative conducted an investigation that recommended Pallache's removal in favor of himself (the representative). The Ottoman government accepted the recommendation. Widespread opposition to the Ottoman decision led to delay, repeal, and finally reinstitution of Pallache by October 1867. Pallache agreed to some reforms but died before they took effect.[1]

Historian Stanford J. Shaw describes the conflict in his book The Jews of the Ottoman Empire and the Turkish Republic (1991). He recounts that Palacci was more conservative than other religious leaders during the Tanzimat period. However, the dispute started in November 1865, when other members of the Jewish religious council speculated on the gabelle (food tax) on wine, alcohol, and salt; Palacci annulled the tax. In December 1866, Yakir Geron, grand rabbi of Adrianople, intervened by sending an emissary, rabbi Samuel Danon to resolve the matter; he recommended that Geron dismiss Palacci (and appoint himself, Danon, instead). Jewish members of the Izmir community asked their vali (governor) to hold off, while they sent a mission to Istanbul. The decision that came back was to appoint Palacci as chief rabbi for life.[8] (A longer description appeared in the French L'Histoire des Israelites de l'Empire Ottoman by Moïse Franco in 1897.[21])

Personal and death[edit]

Palachi had three sons: Abraham, Isaac, and Joseph, all three of whom were rabbis and the first two of whom succeeded him as grand rabbi.[1]

He was conservative in his views and opposed innovations, e.g., adoption of European dress.[1]

He died on February 10, 1868. "His funeral hearse was attended by all of the city's dignitaries."[1] escorted by a battalion of troops, an honor given by the Turkish authorities to only two or three chief rabbis.[1]


"Haim Palacci Dispute"[edit]

The Pallache dispute (above) led to a fifty-year delay in implementation of the Organic Statute of 1865 [sic – (1856?)] in Izmir, according to Shaw.[1]


Some dispute arose over Palachi's succession. A minority in the local community championed Rabbi Joseph Hakim of Manissa to succeed. A majority wanted son Abraham to succeed him, including Jews with foreign citizenship. Abraham succeeded his father on October 7, 1869.[1]

Second son Isaac (Rahamim Nissim) succeeded his brother Abraham.[1]

Third son Joseph was unable to succeed his brothers because his age he was too young (in this case, under the age of seventy-five).[1]

Personal reputation[edit]

Journey into Jewish Heritage states:

Rabbi Haim Palaggi... was the 'Haham Bashi' of Izmir in the middle of the 19th century, and founder of the 'Beit Hillel' Synagogue and beit madras (study hall). He was very knowledgeable, and received letters from all over the world with questions about Halacha. He wrote 82 books addressing important issues in Jewish life. The community today is very proud of his legacy, and speak of him with great respect. In the synagogue, when his name is mentioned or cited, the congregation stands up and bows with respect.[22]


His rabbinical opinions continue to receive attention worldwide today, e.g., his 1869 opinion "On the Possibilities of Synagogue Reform: An Ottoman Rabbi's Answer to a Query in Paris," reprinted in 2014.[7]

He has been called a Gaon in memory of the Geonim, e.g., "And the Lion of the gaonim, the elderly Gaon Chaim Palaji of Izmir..."[4]

Pilgrimage gravesite[edit]

A main attraction of Gurcesme is "the grave of Rabbi Palaggi, which was moved to this cemetery from its original burial place, in the 1920's... and people from all over the world come to pray at his grave" as "pilgrimage to Rabbi Palaggi's grave."[23]

Journey into Jewish Heritage (Zalman Shazar Center) recommends that "Rabbi Haim Palaggi's grave should be marked as a landmark for orientation, and the building of a pergola should be considered for the visitors’ comfort."[24][25]

Palacci's grave lies in Plot B.4 of the and that it is one of the graves "brought over from the old cemetery and put in between the existing graves. This is the reason why the grave is at right angles to all the rest."[26][27]


A synagogue in Izmir is named after him (Beth Hillel Synagogue according to Shaw,[8] Beyt Hillel Pallache according to Lewental[1]) or his son Abraham.

According to Jewish Izmir Heritage, "In the 19th century, Rabbi Avraham Palache founded in his home a synagogue named Beit Hillel, after the philanthropist from Bucharest who supported the publication of Rabbi Palache's books. However, the name 'Avraham Palache Synagogue' was also used by the community."[28] This synagogue forms a cluster of eight extant (from a recorded peak of 34 in the 19th Century), all adjacent or in the Kemeraltı Çaršisi (Kemeraltı marketplace) in Izmir. The heritage organization states, "Izmir is the only city in the world in which an unusual cluster of synagogues bearing a typical medieval Spanish architectural style is preserved ...[and] creating an historical architectural complex unique in the world."[29]

In its record, Journey into Jewish Heritage calls the Beit Hillel synagogue "Avraham Palaggi's synagogue" but then states that "the synagogue was founded by Palaggi Family in 1840" and that Rav Avraham Palaggi "used" it. "The building had been used as a synagogue and a Beit Midrash. The synagogue has not been used since 1960's." It concludes, "The synagogue was founded by the Palaggi family and is therefore very important."[30]

Beit Hillel Yeshiva[edit]

Journey into Jewish Heritage states that Palacci founded the Beit Hillel Yeshiva in the middle of the 19th century.[31] Current sources are unclear, but it is likely the same as the Beit Midrash mentioned above.[30]

Bnei Brak yeshiva[edit]

A seminary was named in Palachi's honor in Bnei Brak, Israel.[1]

Family members[edit]

An index for Abraham Galante's Histoire des Juifs de Torque (Jews of Turkey)[2] includes the following details about Palacci family members:

Samuel Palacci, died 1732, "among the most ancient graves in Kuşadası cemetery"[2]


Isaac Palacci, brother of Haim[2]
Haim Palacci (1788–1869) ("Effendi"), chief rabbi, member of Communal Council in Istanbul, died February 9, 1869[2]
Abraham Palacci (1809–1899), funded for Beit Hilel yeshiva 1840, chief rabbi 1869, died 1899[2]
Salomon Palacci, eldest son of Abraham, whose candidacy for grand rabbi failed[2]
Nissim Palacci, son of Abraham, who supported his brother Salomon for grand rabbi[2]
Isaac Palacci, son of Haim[2] AKA Rahamim Nissim Palacci (1813–1907), grand rabbi after Haim and Abraham and author of Avot harosh at Isaac Samuel Segura printing house Izmir 1869[2]
Joseph Palacci (1819–1896), printed book Yosef et ehav at Mordekhai Isaac Barki printinghouse in Izmir 1896[2]


Benjamin Palacci 1890, later rabbi in Tire (a district of Izmir)[2]
Hilel Palacci, member of Izmir communal council 1929–1933[2]
Jacob Palacci, director of choir Choeur des Maftirim in Istanbul 19th-20th century[2]
Nissim Palacci, helped Jewish Hospital Istanbul early 20th Century, member of Galata community committee 1928–1931, member Haskeuy community committee 1935–1939[2]

(The first name "Nissim" appears with "Palacci" four times in the Galante index cited. Specifically, it names Nissim ben Abraham ben Haim and Nissim ben Isaac (ben Jacob and brother of Haim), but the other two mentions of "Nissim" have no patronymic or clear reference to other family members. The Nissim of 1928-1931 and 1935–1939 must a third person, as the previous must have died by then. Unassigned are the details for a Nissim who was "ca1895:Member of First Instance Court in Izmir."[2])


Palacci began writing at the age of sixteen and wrote more than 80 religious works, published in Salonica, Istanbul, Jerusalem, and Izmir.[3] Of these, he wrote: 7 works on the Bible, nine essays on the Talmud, 15 books of Midrash and homiletics, moral books, and 24 connected to law, acceptance, Q&A, and other subjects. Some of his works were handwritten. Many remain in print (reprinted) to this day.

Major works named in transliterated English[3] include:

  1. Tokhahot Hayyim (Reproofs of Life)
  2. Collected homilies
  3. Hayyim be-Yad, halachic responsa
  4. Nishmat Kol Hay (Soul of Every Living Thing) (2 volumes, 1832–1837), responsa
  5. Massa Hayyim or Masa Hayim (Burden of Life) (1834)–in Ladino[5]
  6. Responses on taxation (1877)
  7. Arsot ha-Hayyim (Lands of the Living) (1877)
  8. Qol ha-Hayyim
  9. Mo'ed le-Khol Hay (Appointed Place for All Living, laws of the festivals
  10. Hiqeqe Lev (Resolves of the Heart) (2 vols., Salonica, 1840–49), responsa
  11. Kaf ha-Hayyim (Power of Life), halachic rulings and morals

Other works found named in transliterated English include:

  1. Sefer Shoshanim Le’David (Salonica, 1815), halachic response[31][32]
  2. Darche Hayyim 'al Pirke Abot (Smyrna, 1821), commentary on Pirke Avot
  3. Leb Hayyim (vol. i, Salonica, 1823; ii.-iii., Smyrna, 1874-90), responsa and comments on the Shulchan Aruch
  4. De-Rahamim le-Hayyim
  5. Semichah le-Hayyim (Salonica, 1826)
  6. Tsedakah Hayyim (Smyrna, 1838)
  7. Tochahat Hayyim (2 vols., ib. 1840-53), moral counsel and sermons
  8. Ateret Hayyim
  9. Yimmatse le-Hayyim, prayers for different needs
  10. Nefesh Hayyim (ib. 1842)
  11. Torah ve-Hayyim
  12. Hayyim Tehillah
  13. Treatises on various subjects plus eulogy of Sir Moses Montefiore with appendix "Derachav le-Mosheh" on Damascus affair (ib. 1845)
  14. Hayyim Derachav (ib. 1850)
  15. Hayyim la-Roshe
  16. Re'e Hayyim (3 vols., ib. 1860)
  17. Hayyim ve-Shalom (Smyrna, 1862)
  18. Katub le-Hayyim
  19. Sippur Hayyim
  20. Birkat Mordekai le-Hayyim (ib. 1868)
  21. Sefer Hayyim (Salonica, 1868)
  22. Ginze Hayyim (Smyrna, 1872)
  23. Eine Kol Hai' (Izmir, 1878, photo[33])
  24. Refuat Hayyim, spiritual remedies for diseases
  25. Mismatch Hayyim, on significance of names


Palacci's professional stamp survives in a book (see photo).[33]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Lewental, D Gershon (2010), "Pallache Family (Turkish Branch)", in Stillman, Norman A., Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World, 4, Brill 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p "Index for Abraham Galante's Jews of Turkey". SephardicGen. Retrieved 6 September 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Ben Naeh, Yaron (2010), "Pallache, Ḥayyim", in Stillman, Norman A., Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World, 4, Brill, pp. 38–39 
  4. ^ a b Wallach, Shalom Meir (1996). Ben Ish Chai Haggadah. Feldheim Publishers. pp. 11 ("And the Lion of the gaonim, the elderly Gaon Chaim Palaji of Izmir"). 
  5. ^ a b Romeu Ferre, Pilar (2006). "Masa Hayim: Una Homilía de Hayim Palachi" (PDF). Miscelánea de Estudios Árebes y Hebreos (MEAH): Revista del Dpto. de Estudios Semíticos (in Spanish). Granada: Universidad de Granada: 259–273. Retrieved 27 September 2016. 
  6. ^ Skolnik, Frank; Berenbaum, Michael, eds. (2007). Encyclopaedia Judaica, Volume 15. Macmillan Reference. p. 574. 
  7. ^ a b Palache, Haim ben Jacob (2014). "On the Possibilities of Synagogue Reform: An Ottoman Rabbi's Answer to a Query in Paris (1869)". In Cohen, Julia; Stein, Sarah. Sephardi Lives: A Documentary History, 1700 1950. Stanford University Press. pp. 55–49. 
  8. ^ a b c d Shaw, Stanford J. The Jews of the Ottoman Empire and the Turkish Republic. p. 67 (synagogue), 170, 173–175 (dispute), 180, 183. 
  9. ^ Rodrigue, Aron (1990). French Jews, Turkish Jews: The Alliance Israélite Universelle and the Politics of Jewish Schooling in Turkey, 1860-1925. Indiana University Press. p. 52. 
  10. ^ Records , 1882-85, Volume 6. United States. Court of Commissioners of Alabama Claims. p. 43. Retrieved 2 September 2016. 
  11. ^ Zandi-Sayek, Sibel (2001). Public Space and Urban Citizens: Ottoman Izmir in the Remaking, 1840-1890. University of California, Berkeley. p. 218. 
  12. ^ Capuia, R. (1997). Los Muestros, Issues 22-1997. p. 6. 
  13. ^ Allgemeine Zeitung des Judenthums. Engel. 1867. p. 640. 
  14. ^ Gallanté, Abraham (1948). Collection of articles and pamphlets on the Jews in Turkey. p. 15. 
  15. ^ Emecen, Feridun Mustafa (2009). Eski Çağ'dan günümüze yönetim anlayışı ve kurumlar. Kitabevi. p. 74. 
  16. ^ Spastics, Okşan; Demirel, Monika. Jüdisches Istanbul. p. 183. 
  17. ^ Palaggi, Hayyim. The Jewish Encyclopedia. p. 467. 
  18. ^ Klein, Reuven Chaim; Klein, Shira Yael (2014). Lashon HaKodesh: History, Holiness, & Hebrew. p. 276. 
  19. ^ Benaim, Annette (2011). Sixteenth-Century Judeo-Spanish Testimonies. p. 517. 
  20. ^ "Rabbis Buried in Izmir, Turkey, During the Years: 5300 - 5620 (1540 - 1860 C.E.)". SephardicGen Resources. Retrieved 6 September 2016. 
  21. ^ FRANCO, Moïse (1897). L'Histoire des Israelites de l'Empire Ottoman depuis les origines jusqu'a nos jours. Paris: Librarie A. Durlacher. pp. 165 (grands–rabbins), 182–183 (Haïm), 193, 197–202 (Haïm Palacci dispute). Retrieved 7 September 2016. 
  22. ^ "Known Jewish Figures in Izmir". Journey into Jewish Heritage - Zalman Shazar Center. Retrieved 2 September 2016. 
  23. ^ "The Jewish Cemetery in Gurcheshme" (PDF). Journey into Jewish Heritage - Zalman Shazar Center. Retrieved 10 September 2016. 
  24. ^ "Recommendations for Future Work". Journey into Jewish Heritage - Zalman Shazar Center. Retrieved 10 September 2016. 
  25. ^ "Recommendations for Future Work (PDF)" (PDF). Journey into Jewish Heritage - Zalman Shazar Center. Retrieved 10 September 2016. 
  26. ^ "Description of Plots Acording to Parcellation". Journey into Jewish Heritage - Zalman Shazar Center. Retrieved 2 September 2016. 
  27. ^ "Description of Plots Acording to Parcellation (PDF)" (PDF). Journey into Jewish Heritage - Zalman Shazar Center. Retrieved 2 September 2016. 
  28. ^ "Beth Hillel Synagogue". Izmir Jewish Heritage. Retrieved 2 September 2016. 
  29. ^ "Synagogues". Izmir Jewish Heritage. Retrieved 2 September 2016. 
  30. ^ a b "Index Card #7 BEIT HILLEL" (PDF). Journey into Jewish Heritage - Zalman Shazar Center. Retrieved 2 September 2016. 
  31. ^ a b "Izmir's Jewish Community Book Collection". Journey into Jewish Heritage - Zalman Shazar Center. Retrieved 2 September 2016. 
  32. ^ "Izmir's Jewish Community Book Collection (PDF)" (PDF). Journey into Jewish Heritage - Zalman Shazar Center. Retrieved 2 September 2016. 
  33. ^ a b "Known Jewish Figures in Izmir" (PDF). Journey into Jewish Heritage - Zalman Shazar Center. p. 4. Retrieved 2 September 2016. 

External sources[edit]