English Translation of Firman 1311 of the Ottoman Empire
Upon the Death of Rabbi Meir Panigel and his Successor
Including Rights of the Jews in Eretz Israel
The Noble, Glorious, and Sublime Imperial Firman, and the Brilliant
Tughra of the Emperor, Conqueror of the World.
Tughra of Sultan Abdul Hamid II (1876-1909)
Whereas the acting Chief Rabbinate of Constantinople (literally: my Gate of Felicity) has applied by a memorandum saying that upon the occurrence of the death of [Raphael] Meir Panigel Effendi who was the Chief Rabbi (Hahambashi) of Jerusalem it was necessary to appoint some suitable person in his place and that inasmuch as this holder of my Imperial Brevet, Yaco Shaoul Elyashar Effendi, one of the subjects of my Sublime Empire and one of the local spiritual heads, has been elected as being capable of administering religious affairs, my Glorious Brevet containing his appointment may be given, and the matter has also been notified and communicated by Our Ministry of Affairs of Justice and Cults, I have given this my Imperial Brevet with the insertion of the ancient conditions and I have ordered that the aforesaid Yaco Shaoul Elyashar Effendi shall administer the above-mentioned Chief Rabbinate of Jerusalem, that in the places within the jurisdiction of (lit.: appertaining to, or: dependent on) his Chief Rabbinate the Rabbis and the heads of the congregations and all other notables and common people (lit.: big and small) of the Jewish community shall know the above-mentioned as Chief Rabbi over them and in their affairs regarding his Chief Rabbinate shall apply to him and they shall not contravene his word which is right and they shall do their utmost with regard to obedience and submission him in accordance with their rites.
And whereas the above-mentioned Chief Rabbi does not oppose to the ritual of Tora reading (or: Tora study) being practiced in his house or (lit.: and) in other houses, (or: And Whereas nobody opposes to the ritual, etc., in the house of the above-mentioned Chief Rabbi or in other houses) there shall be no molestation and injustice (or: oppression) on the part of officers contrary to the Sacred Shari Law and without any right interfering with their worshipping (lit.: the practice of their ritual) with the only purpose of annoying and of getting money by pretexts as "You are worshipping (lit.: practicing rituals) in your private property dwellings and you read (study) the Tora and have hanged screens and candles".
And there shall be on the part of officers and officials making inspections of registrations and orders (or: registering orders and inspections) no oppression to, and no imposition of fines upon, the synagogues and schools destined ab antiquo to the said Community; these shall remain (lit.: be) in their possession and under their control.
And no outsider shall interfere and meddle with their repairs and structural improvements made with the permission of the Shari authority.
And there shall be no meddling by whomsoever with the chattels (or: things) of their synagogues and their schools for the debt of another, and they (i.e., these things) shall not be suffered to be taken and seized as a pledge, and if by some means or other they have been taken they shall be caused to be returned by the Shari authority and handed over to whom they belong (lit.: to their places).
And when the above-mentioned Chief Rabbi or his substitutes whom he may (lit.: will) appoint on his behalf make peace in accordance with their rites between two disputing Jews with the consent of both parties in matters of contracting a marriage or dissolving a marriage as well as in other matters in accordance with their rites, and when they administer in their synagogues an oath in accordance with their rites, as may be necessary, (or: as occasion requires) for the purpose of investigating a matter, also with regard to their papers for the removal and banishment, as required by the rites, of certain accused, there shall be no interference or oppression contrary to old custom, on the part of the judges ("Kadis") and judges-substitutes ("Naibs") of the Shari Law or any other person, and they shall not be made subject to any imposition and fine whatsoever. And without the knowledge and permission of the aforesaid Chief Rabbi or (lit.: and) his substitutes, the Rabbis who are under his jurisdiction (or: protection) shall not perform the ceremony of marriages which are not allowed according to their rites, and if a member (lit.: somebody) of the Jewish Community intends to marry a woman or divorce a woman or to take a woman more (lit.: a woman upon a woman) and to go to other places and have it performed there, they shall not carry out and perform the ceremony of marriage as long as there is no permission of the aforesaid Chief Rabbi, and men of influence (lit.: power, fortune) shall not constrain their Rabbis in contravention of their rites by saying "make the marriage ceremony of this woman to this Jew".
And as their rites require their Rabbis not to bury (lit.: lift up) the Jews who died while acting in contravention of their rites, the "Kadis", "Naibs", officers or other influential (or: powerful) persons shall not make constraint and injustice by saying to the Rabbis "You shall lift up".
And with regard to the eatables and beverages of the said Religious Community in connection with "Kasher" and "Taref" there shall be no imposition by any person who is unauthorized (or: who meddles in affairs which do not regard him) such as "You shall say this is 'Taref' and that is 'Kasher'."
And if it happens that the afore-said Chief Rabbi comes for a certain affair to Constantinople (lit.: to my Sublime Port) there shall in no way be any interference with his substitute whom he may appoint on his place.
And the agent and men whom the aforesaid Chief Rabbi will send for the collection of fiscal (or: Government) taxes shall be given a guide, and when they will change their garment and dress in order to pass in the best manner through the places where they travel, and when they will carry weapons (lit.: instruments of war) in order to repel mischief and to save themselves (lit.: their souls) from bandits, there shall be no interference and opposition on the part of officials and officers, and they shall not be molested contrary to the Sacred Shari Law by the demand of anything whatsoever under the denomination of a present or (lit.: and) revenue.
And if there arises any claim whatsoever of the aforesaid Chief Rabbi and the other Rabbis and their substitutes and men in connection with the Sacred Shari Law, it shall be referred to Constantinople. And when a Rabbi has to be detained with the permission of the Shari authority, he shall be so detained through the means of the aforesaid Chief Rabbi.
And they shall not convert (lit.: make) by force a Jew into a Moslem without his consent. And the Jewish Community shall not be suffered to refuse (lit.: to be obstinate) or (lit.: and) to hesitate to pay (lit.: give) the fiscal (or: Government) taxes the payment of which is yearly incumbent upon them and the charity moneys and the taxes and expenditures of the cash which is called "Gabella" and the revenue of the Chief Rabbinate.
And when the aforesaid Chief Rabbi or his substitutes which he may appoint on his behalf will take and seize for the Government the chattels and moneys or the horses and any other thing which the Rabbis dying without heirs may be possessed of, there shall be no interference on the part of the Treasury or (lit.: and) the "Kassam (Shari Moslem official charged with the distribution of the estate of a deceased person to its heirs) or (lit.: and) the "mutavallis" (Administrators, Trustees) and other people saying: "It has been inscribed in the general and special 'Defter Hakani' (Imperial Register) as revenue for us".
And it shall not be suffered that possession be taken of (lit.: a hand be put on) the moneys or other property and thing of those who have heirs,
And whatever deceased Rabbis may shave bequeathed in pursuance of their own rites for their synagogues, their poor, or (lit.: and) their Chief Rabbis shall be valid (lit.: accepted) and shall be heard by the Shari authority from (lit.: with) Jewish witnesses of their own Religious Community in conformity with their rites and rules.
And when some people of the aforesaid (community are punished (or: reprimanded) in accordance with their rites upon the occurrence of a fault in contravention of their rites, nobody else shall meddle.
And there shall be no interference on the part of the couriers or soldiery with the horses or mules which he or his men ride.
And the aforesaid Chief Rabbi and the heads of their Congregations shall not be suffered to be molested by soldiery or others by imposing lodging on the houses in which they dwell. And there shall be in no way any interference with their synagogues and with their places of devotional visits and pilgrimage situated in the places (or: localities) within the jurisdiction of (lit.: appertaining to, or: dependent on) his Chief Rabbinite and with their ceremonies of the practice of their ritual by pretexts saying "You must lift up (bury) your dead this way, you must pray (or: read) that way" and in no other manner whatever. He shall take possession of and hold the said post of Chief Rabbi (lit.: the said Chief Rabbinate) according to the requirements of the conditions of this My Sublime Brevet, and nobody shall in any way whatsoever and for any reason whatsoever interfere and make injustice in contradiction with its conditions and obligations.
Written on the fifth day of the month of Muharram Alharam of the year 1311 (lit.: eleven and three hundred and thousand) A.H.
In the Residence of Constantinople the safeguarded, the protected.
On the reverse:
The High Brevet of the Chief Rabbinate of Jerusalem.
Registered textually in the Archives Office of Jerusalem 5th August, 1309 (Financial year).
Inscribed in the Register of the Shari Court of Jerusalem 16th August, 1309 (Financial year).
(SEAL) MUSSA SHAFIK.
firman \Fir"man\ n.; pl. Firmansor. [Pers. ferm[=a]n.] In Turkey and some other Oriental countries, a decree or mandate issued by the sovereign; a royal order or grant
Source of document and translation: United Nations Security Council Archives 23 February 1968.