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KIHAYA or KAPU KIHAYA:

Title of the political representatives of the rayas, i.e., the non-Mohammedan Turkish subjects, at the Porte. The Jewish representative is proposed by the chief rabbi of the central consistory of the Jews of Constantinople, his nomination being confirmed by the minister of public worship. The Jewish Kapu Kihaya accompanies the chief rabbi on all his visitsto the palace or to the ministers, speaking in his name and presenting the official petitions of the Jewish community to the grand vizier or to the other ministers at the palace. At the instance of his colleagues he receives honorary insignia from the sultan. Formerly, when the chief rabbis were unable to speak Turkish, the functions of the Kapu Kihaya were more important than at present.

The office was created about 1530 by Sultan Sulaiman the Magnificent; and the first incumbent was Rabbi Shalṭiel, who rendered invaluable services to the Ottoman Jews on various occasions by making use of his privilege of free entry into the palace. No list of the Jewish Kapu Kihayas has been preserved. A certain Jacob Gabbai held the office in the reign of Sultan 'Abd al-'Aziz (1861-73) and at the beginning of that of Sultan 'Abd al-Ḥamid II. He was succeeded by Joshua Agiman, who is still in office (1904). See also Kahiya.

Bibliography:
  • M. Franco, Hist. des Israélites de l'Empire Ottoman, pp. 46, 47.
S. M. Fr.
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