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HAIFA:

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Pilgrimages.

Syrian seaport, at the foot of Mount Carmel, and ten kilometers from Acre. Near Haifa are two grottos, one associated with the name of the prophet Elijah, the second with that of Elisha. In Biblical times this region belonged to the tribe of Asher (Judges v. 17). Haifa had a Jewish community during the Talmudic period; the following rabbis are mentioned as having lived there: Abba of Haifa, Ami, Isaac Nappaḥah, and Abdima. The Jews of Haifa make a pilgrimage once every year to the tomb of the above-mentioned rabbi Abdima, which is in their cemetery. From the fifth to the thirteenth century the community was frequently broken up by the numerous conquerors of Palestine, but began to enjoy fairly settled and regular conditions of existence under the comparatively tolerant rule of the Mameluke sultans, at the beginning of the thirteenth century (1221).

In 1084 Elijah ha-Kohen, gaon of Palestine, held a council at Haifa ("J. Q. R." xv. 85). In 1259 R. Jehiel, head of the rabbinical academy of Paris, after making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, settled at Acre; he died there, and was buried at Haifa. Jacob Baruch, a Jewish traveler from Leghorn, who visited Haifa in 1799, says ("Shibḥe Yerushalayim") that he found a synagogue there. In the middle of the nineteenth century there were but seven Jewish families at Haifa. In 1857 Eleazar Cohen Ḥimsi, a rabbi of Smyrna, who was on his way to Tiberias by way of Haifa, consented to remain at Haifa as spiritual head of the community. He died after officiating twelve years (1857-69). Meanwhile the community was enlarged by the arrival of Jews from Constantinople, Smyrna, Syria, and Morocco. In 1870 Abraham Ḥalfon, a rabbi of Tiberias, but originally from Tetuan, accepted the title of grand rabbi of Haifa, but resigned after one year. Since 1878 two Moroccan rabbis, Mas'ud Haḥuel and Abraham Cohen, both from Tetuan, have acted conjointly as rabbis. About 1882 Abraham Raphael de Léon, originally from Smyrna, acted at Haifa as consular agent of Holland. At the end of 1882 Laurence Oliphant took up his abode at Haifa, which he intended to be the center of the Palestine settlement which he had planned. He found in the town about thirty families who were waiting for government permission to colonize the proposed settlement.

In a population of 4,000 Haifa has 1,000 Jews, who are for the most part poor, and are occupied chiefly with commerce. Some are engaged as carpenters, coppersmiths, blacksmiths, and wheel-wrights. In 1881 the Alliance Israélite established two schools, one of which is attended by 180 boys, and the other by 105 girls.

The community has quite an old synagogue and a bet ha-midrash. One half-hour's journey from Haifa there is a Jewish agricultural colony, Zikron Ya'aḳob, or Zammarin.

Bibliography:
  • Estori Farḥi, Kaftor u-Feraḥ, ed. Luncz, p. 797, Supplement;
  • J. Baruch, Shibḥe Yerushalayim.
G. M. Fr.
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