The first document, printed in Jerusalem in 627 (1867), requests donations from the communities of Bukhara and Samarkand (whose names were filled in by hand) and features the seal of the Sephardic community of Tiberias as well as the printed signatures of eighty-four Sephardic rabbis in the city, headed by Hayyim Samuel ha-Kohen Conorti (1810-1873), the Sephardic av beit din and chief rabbi of Tiberias. Conorti also signed by hand. This missive is followed by letters of support from eight Sephardic rabbis of Safed; Rabbi Samuel Heller (ca. 1803-1884), av beit din of the Ashkenazic community of Safed; three Sephardic rabbis of Hebron; Rabbi Hayyim David Hazzan (1790-1869), the Rishon le-Tsiyyon (with his seal); and Rabbis Jedidiah Raphael Hai Abulafia (ca. 1806-1869) and David ben Simeon (1826-1879) of Jerusalem (with the latter's seal).
The second, handwritten document was sent to the communities of Bukhara, Samarkand, Karmina, Kattaqo‘rg‘on, Shahrisabz, Kokand, Tashkent, and Margilan. It discusses the financial hardships of the Jews of Tiberias in light of rising taxes and the need to renovate the community’s religious institutions and was signed by hand in 649 (1889) by Rabbis Joseph David Abulafia (d. 1898), chief rabbi of Tiberias (with his seal); David Nathaniel Rofe (1830-1903); Isaac ha-Kohen; Isaac Abraham Bakiriya (1827-1897); Baruch Toledano (1842-1901); and Solomon Rahamim Abulafia (d. 1907), future chief rabbi of Tiberias. Also included are the seals of the Sephardic rabbis of Tiberias and of the Sephardic Jewish community of Tiberias.
The final, handwritten document requests donations of ten francs per year, five given around Purim and five around Yom Kippur, specifically to support those studying in the Tiberias yeshivah, Me’ir Bat Ayin. Those who donated money would have their names written on plaques that would be read from every Sabbath. It was signed by hand by the same group of rabbis, with the same seals, that appeared on the previous handwritten letter, on letterhead from the 1880s. One hundred fifty leaves of printed receipt slips, five receipts to a page, follow.
The existing scholarship of Oded Avissar, Avraham Yaari, and Avraham Rabin appears to have been unaware of these early journeys of Assudri’s to the Jews of Uzbekistan on behalf of the community in Tiberias.
Oded Avissar, Sefer teveryah: ir kinrot ve-yishuvah bi-re’i ha-dorot (Jerusalem: Keter, 1973), 191 (no. 131).
Michal Ben Ya’akov, “Yehudei tsefon afrikah bi-teveryah ba-me’ah ha-tesha-esreh ve-hashpa‘atam al battei ha-keneset ha-sefardiyyim ba-ir,” Mi-tuv teveryah 9 (March 1994): 42-58, at pp. 51-52.
Shoshana Halevy, Sifrei yerushalayim ha-rishonim: ha-sefarim, ha-hoverot ve-ha-dappim ha-bodedim she-nidpesu be-otiyyot ivriyyot ba-hamishim ha-shanim ha-rishonot li-defus ha-ivri bi-yerushalayim (601-650 / 1841-1890) (Jerusalem: Ben-Zvi Institute, 1976), 247-248 (no. 747).
Avraham Rabin, “Sheluhei erets-yisra’el be-bukhara 641-674,” Pe‘amim 35 (1988): 139-155, at p. 145.
Avraham Yaari, Sheluhei erets yisra’el: toledot ha-shelihut me-ha-arets la-golah me-hurban bayit sheni ad ha-me’ah ha-tesha esreh (Jerusalem: Mossad Harav Kook, 1977), 659.
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