CASTELLAZZO, family of German origin once settled in Castellazzo Bormida, near Alessandria, N. Italy. The most important members of this family were the artist Moses Da *Castellazzo and R. JEHIEL B. MOSES SAKS DA CASTELLAZZO, also known as R. JEHIEL ASHKENAZI, a 16th-century rabbi and kabbalist, who may have been the son of Moses Castellazzo. Jehiel was in Austria until after 1529. He was also in Salonika and Safed, and finally settled before 1565 in Jerusalem, where he died. He violently criticized Joseph Caro's assumption that the bet din of Safed had the authority of a great bet din, and also condemned the activities of the city's religious leadership and rabbinic tribunals. He was probably the editor of Heikhal ha-Shem (Venice, 1601), a collection of essays by early kabbalists. Two of Jehiel's sons are known: SIMEON (d. 1588), rabbi and kabbalist, pupil of R. *David b. Solomon ibn Abi Zimra, and friend of R. Bezalel *Ashkenazi and R. Isaac *Luria. He was also rabbi in Cairo. Simeon's decisions and novellae are mentioned in the works of his contemporaries. He was one of those who excommunicated Da'oud, the disloyal agent of Joseph *Nasi between the years 1570–1573. He left a collection of responsa and also wrote a kabbalistic commentary to the Book of Esther, entitled Megillat Setarim. Simeon's son AVIGDOR (d. 1659), rabbi in Cairo, was an associate of R. Aaron *Ibn Ḥayyim and the teacher of R. Isaac b. Abraham Isaac b. Abraham *Azulai. Another son of Jehiel, R. MOSES (d. after 1621), exchanged halakhic opinions with the rabbis of Safed, where he settled after 1601. By 1610 Moses was the most prominent rabbi and leader in the Ashkenazi community of Safed and a member of the local council of dayyanim; though an attempt in 1621 was made to replace him with R. Issachar Baer Eulenburg of Gorizia. However, it seems he retained his position until his death.
Neubauer, Chronicles, 159, 162; Kaufmann, in: REJ, 23 (1891), 139–43; Scholem, in KS, 1 (1925), 45–52; S. Assaf, Mekorot u-Meḥkarim be-Toledot Yisrael (1946), 222–3, 225–8; Benayahu, in: Tarbiz, 29 (1959/60), 71–5; David, in: Sinai, 64 (1969), 282–7; 65 (1969), 336.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.