Haluka - Among The Ashkenazim

Among The Ashkenazim

The Ashkenazim at that time formed but a small minority of the Jewish settlers in Palestine. The efforts of Yechiel of Paris to maintain a yeshiva in Palestine in the thirteenth century, as already observed, had failed; and a second attempt, by Rabbi Judah ha-Hasid of Siedlce, Poland, who with many followers emigrated to the Holy Land in 1701, was likewise futile. Not till the middle of the eighteenth century was the presence of the Ashkenazim felt. They came from the ranks of the Hasidim in Poland and South Russia; using the same liturgy and ritual as the Sephardim, they were easily assimilated with them, and received a share of the halukkah. The share, however, they asserted, was not in proportion to their numbers. They complained to the Ashkenazic gabbaim in Europe, and finally seceded from the Sephardim. With the aid of the Council of the Four Lands, they established headquarters for their separate halukkah at Lublin, Poland. Later, Rabbi Abraham Gershon Kutawer, leader of the Hasidim in Hebron, sent meshullahhim to Metz and diverted the halukkah revenue from that source to his own section of the Holy Land. In a letter of Aryeh Judah Meisels of Apta, written in Jerusalem, the Ashkenazim accused the Sephardim of bad faith, declaring that, in spite of assurances to the contrary, the Ashkenazim were discriminated against and compelled to rely entirely upon their own resources.

While the Ashkenazim at Jerusalem and Hebron separated from the Sephardim and managed their own halukkah, the Ashkenazim at Safed were still united with the Sephardim and drew from the general halukkah, the headquarters for which were in Constantinople. A letter dated 1778, and written from Safed by Israel Perez Polotzker to the gabbaim of Vitebsk, Russia, states that their meshullahim came to the house of Baruch Ananio, the head gabbai of the central committee at Constantinople, and received 3,000 lire. Out of this sum they paid 2,000 lire to the pasha for taxes and 250 lire for expenses of the meshullahim, the balance (750 lire) going to the halukkah. In the credentials issued to Rabbi Abraham ha-Kohen of Lask, a Jerusalem meshullah sent to Poland in 1783, the Sephardic central committee writes that Ashkenazim in the Holy Land were taken care of and given a proportionate share of the halukkah.

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