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Jacob Moses Toledano

TOLEDANO, JACOB MOSES (1880–1960), rabbi and scholar. Toledano's father Judah had immigrated to Ereẓ Israel from Morocco. Jacob was born, educated, and ordained in Tiberias. During 1899–1909, his first articles appeared in the Jerusalem Hebrew paper Ḥavaẓẓelet, under the title Ḥiddushei Torah. They were written in elegant Hebrew and in a scholarly style. Toledano was also interested in ancient manuscripts preserved in the libraries and yeshivot of Oriental countries. He conceived the idea of founding a society to publish them and with this aim in mind entered into correspondence with scholars in western countries who encouraged him to implement the project. As a result of the cholera epidemic in Tiberias in 1903, he and his family left the town and settled in Peki'in. During the seven years he lived there he devoted himself to the study of the history of Oriental Jewry and its personalities, as well as to the affairs of the Peki'in community, and published his Ner ha-Ma'arav. At the beginning of World War I, together with 700 "French" Jews (of North African descent) from Galilee, he was exiled from Ereẓ Israel to Corsica because of his French citizenship. As the representative of the Alliance Israélite Universelle and the French government, he headed the committee of exiles and worked for their material and spiritual benefit. In 1920 he returned to Tiberias and took part in activities to revive communal life in the town; he represented it in 1921 at the rabbinical conference held in Jerusalem to establish the chief rabbinate of Ereẓ Israel. In 1926 he was appointed a member of the Tangier rabbinate, and in 1929 av bet din and deputy chief rabbi of Cairo. In 1933 he was appointed to the similar office in Alexandria, as well as deputy head of the rabbinical court of appeals in Cairo, and in 1937 he became chief rabbi of Alexandria. In 1942 he was elected Sephardi chief rabbi of Tel Aviv-Jaffa, succeeding Ben Zion *Ouziel. In 1958, when the religious parties had left the government coalition, he was appointed minister of religious affairs.

His Ner ha-Ma'arav (1911), the history of the Jews in Morocco from the commencement of their settlement and the biographies of its great rabbis, is a basic work for research into the origins of Jewry in North Africa. His other books included Appiryon (Jerusalem, 1905), a bibliography of the supercommentators to Rashi's commentary to the Pentateuch; Yedei Moshe (Safed, 1915), a commentary on the Mishnah Pesaḥim by Maimonides from a manuscript; Yam ha-Gadol (Cairo, 1931), responsa; Sarid u-Falit (Tel Aviv, 1945), giving passages from manuscripts on ancient works dealing with the Talmud, Jewish scholarship, the history of the settlement in Ereẓ Israel, and bibliography; and Oẓar Genazim (1960), a collection of letters on the history of Ereẓ Israel from ancient manuscripts, with introductions and notes.


M.D. Gaon, Yehudei ha-Mizraḥ be-Ereẓ Yisrael, 2 (1938), 268–72; Tidhar, 3 (19582), 1322–24.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.