Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World

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Haham Başı (Chief Rabbi)
(2,524 words)

Haham başı, also spelled hahambaşı, has been the title of a government-appointed chief rabbi in the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey since 1835. The title, of Ottoman Turkish provenance, combines haham, the Turkish form of Hebrew ḥakham (wise man, sage), used by Sephardi Jews as a title for their rabbis, and Turkish baş (head, chief) in the qualifying relationship construct başı. The Hebrew counterpart of haham başı is ḥakham bashi.

The Christian communities in the Ottoman Empire were under the religious and civil leadership of their ecclesiastical heads, the patri…

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Avigdor Levy, “Haham Başı (Chief Rabbi)”, in: Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World, Executive Editor Norman A. Stillman. Consulted online on 27 March 2023 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/1878-9781_ejiw_COM_0008940>
First published online: 2010

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