Bulgaria Chief Rabbis

by Mathilde Tagger & S. Alfassa Marks

During the Ottoman rule over Bulgaria, the Chief Rabbi of Adrianople (Edirne) was also that of Bulgaria. With the independence in 1878, the Bulgarian Jewish communities remained without any supreme rabbinical institution. The local government considered the Chief Rabbi of Sofia and its surroundings, then Rab. Gabriel Almosnino, as the legal representative of the Bulgarian Jews.

Fig. 1. Map of Modern Bulgaria demonstrating the proximity of the Turkish Republic and Greece

Only in 1880, Rab. Gabriel Almosnino was officially nominated Chief Rabbi of Bulgaria. The Great Rabbinate was in fact a one-man institution representing the whole Jewish community. In 1884 the Central Consortium of the Bulgarian Jews was created in order to manage the local Jewish affairs and to serve as an administrative body to the Chief Rabbi.

Fig 2.The Great Synagogue" (Sephardic rite)

Here is the chronological list of the Bulgarian Chief Rabbis from 1880 till 1949, when 45,000 out of 50,000 Jews immigrated to Israel. Most of the Jews who remained, lived in Sofia, some in Plovdiv while all the other communities just disappeared. In the post-war communist context, the Chief Rabbinate and the Central Consortium were dissolved. A Cultural and Educational Organization of the Jews of Bulgaria took their place and is functioning till today, while Sofia and Plovdiv communities have each one its own Rabbi..

Fig 3. Rabbi Moshe Tadjer - Interim Chief Rabbi (Sofia 1832- Kiustendil 1913)

1880- 1885 - Rab. Gabriel Almosnino (Nikopol 1805 - Sofia 188?).
1885- 1889 - Rab. Presiado Bakish- interim Chief Rabbi.
1889- 1891 - Rab. Shimon Dankowitz, former Bohemia Chief Rabbi.
1891- 1893 - Rab. Moshe (Moshonachi) Tadjer- interim Chief Rabbi (Sofia 1832- Kiustendil 1913).
1893- 1895 - Rab. Dr. Mordekhay Gruenwald (1853 - London 1895)
1895- 1898 - Rab. Presiado Bakish - interim Chief Rabbi.
1898- 1900 - Rab. Moshe (Moshonachi) Tadjer - interim Chief Rabbi.
1900- 1914 - Rab. Mordekhay Ehrenpreiss, former Bohemia Chief Rabbi.
1914- 1918 - M. Hezkeya Shabetay Davidov - interim Chief Rabbi.(Consitorium President) (Sofia1880- 1950)
1920- 1925 - Rab. David Pipano, formerly Sofia Rabbi ( Salonica- ??).
1925- 1945 - No Chief Rabbi.
1945- 1949 - Rab. Dr. Asher Hannanel .(Shumen 1895- Israel 1964)

Fig 4. Rabbi ben Abraham David Pipano 1851 - 1925, formerly Chief Sofia Rabbi 1920 -1925 ( Salonica-1891-?) Author of Hagor ha-Efod (1925) and other books. He served as the head of the rabbinical court of Sofia.


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