Chief Rabbis of the Ottoman Empire and Republic of Turkey

The Hebrew term for "wise man" Haham has been adopted in Turkish to mean "Rabbi." This is to avoid the use of the word "Rabbi" since in Arabic the word "Rab" is one of he names of God and may not be applied to a human.

Still today the Grand Rabbi is called the "Hahambasi." (Head of Rabbis).

Years Served
Eli Kapsali
1452-1454 CE
Fatih Sultan Mehmed
Moiz Kapsali
1454-1497 CE
Fatih Sultan Mehmed-Sultan Beyazid II
Eliyahu Mizrahi
1497-1526 CE
Sultan Beyazid II-Yavuz Sultan Selim-Kanuni Sultan Suleyman
Mordehay Komitano
1526-1542 CE
Kanuni Sultan Suleyman
Tam Ben Yahya
1542- ?
Kanuni Sultan Suleyman
Eli Rozanes Halevi
1543- ?
Kanuni Sultan Suleyman
Eli Ben Hayim
1543-1602 CE

Kanuni Sultan Suleyman-Sultan Selim II-Sultan Murad III-Sultan Mehmed III

Yehiel Bassan
1602-1625 CE
Sultan Mehmed III- Sultan Ahmed I-Sultan Mustafa I-Sultan Osman II-Sultan Murad IV
Yasef Mitrani
1625-1639 CE
Sultan Murad IV
Yomtov Benyaes (Ibn Yaish)
1639-1642 CE
Sultan Murad IV-Sultan Ibrahim
Yomtov Hananya Benyakar
1642-1677 CE
Sultan Ibrahim-Sultan Mehmed IV
Hayim Kamhi
1677-1715 CE
Sultan Mehmed Iv-Sultan Suleyman II-Sultan Ahmed II-Sultan Mustafa II-Sultan Ahmed III
Yehuda Ben Rey
1715-1717 CE
Sultan Ahmed III
Samuel Levi
1717-1720 CE
Sultan Ahmed III
Abraham Rozanes
1720-1745 CE
Sultan Ahmed III-Sultan Mahmud I
Salomon Hayim Alfandari
1745-1762 CE
Sultan Mahmud I-Sultan Osman III-Sultan Mustafa III
Mayir Ishaki
1762-1780 CE
Sultan Mustafa III-Sultan Abdulhamid I
Eliyaho Palombo
1780-1800 CE
Sultan Abdulhamid-Sultan Selim III
Hayim Yakup Benyakar
1800-1835 CE
Sultan Selim III-Sultan Mustafa IV-Sultan Mahmud II
Abraham Levi *
1835-1839 CE
Sultan Mahmud II-Sultan Abdulmecid
Samuel Hayim *
1839-1841 CE
Sultan Abdulmecid
Moiz Fresko *
1841-1854 CE
Sultan Abdulmecid
Yakup Avigdor *
1854-1870 CE
Sultan Abdulmecid-Sultan Abdulaziz
Yakir Geron *
1870-1872 CE
Sultan Abdulaziz
Mose Levi *
1872-1909 CE
Sultan Abdulaziz-Sultan Murad V-Sultan Abdulhamid II
Hayim Nahum *
1909-1920 CE
Sultan Abdulhamid II-Sultan Mehmed Resad
Sabetay Levi **
1920-1922 CE
Sultan Mehmed Vahdedin
Isak Ariel **
1922-1926 CE
Republic of Turkey
Hayyim Moshe Bejerano +
1926-1931 CE

Republic of Turkey

Source: Mrs. Baratz-Bejerano, Paris: Sephardic Jews in the Ottoman Empire, 1990.

Hayim Izak Shaki + **
1931-1940 CE
Republic of Turkey
Rafael David Saban +
1940-1960 CE

Republic of Turkey

David Asseo +
1961- 2002 CE

Republic of Turkey

Isak Haleva 2002-Present Republic of Turkey

* Officially recognized by the Turkish government as representing the Jewish community. Other Hahambashis headed the rabbinate in Istanbul and led the entire Jewish community, but received no official recognition from the Ottoman Empire.

** Interim position while Haham Nahoum was outside Turkey.

+ Served under the Republic of Turkey


Galante, Abraham. Histoire des Juifs d'Istanboul.
Maimon, Sam Bension. The Beauty of Sephardic Life, 1992.
Encyclopedia Judaica
Quincentennial Foundation of Istanbul

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