Hacham Moshe Herrera

< Tammuz 5784 July 2024 >

A Short Tribute

Hacham Moshe Herrera, son of Abraham, was born in 1878, in Salonica, which was under Ottoman rule at the time. He studied Torah with the sages of his city, excelled in his studies, and began to teach at the Or HaHaim yeshiva.

After Salonica came under Greek rule in 1912, the Jewish community of Salonica, once called "Jerusalem of the Balkans", began to dwindle. The Jews, who had once been a majority in the city and had controlled all areas of its commerce, lost their status and were subjected to robbery and looting. In 1917 a huge fire broke out in the lower city, incinerating 34 of the city's 37 synagogues, all the buildings housing the community's institutions, including ten Jewish schools, and many business companies. Seventy thousand people, fifty-six thousand Jews among them, were left homeless. Instead of providing assistance to the Jewish community, the Greek government seized the burnt areas of land from their owners, effectively stripping the Jews of the ownership of their property.

In 1922, after the end of the Turkish-Greek War, the immigration of 117,000 Greek Christians to Salonica made them the new majority. A Greek law making Sunday an obligatory day of rest was adopted in Salonica in 1924. In 1930, the National Union of Greece fascist and anti-Semitic party was founded and, in 1931, a mob of 2000 participants surged upon the Campbell Jewish neighborhood and set it afire.

During that period some 30,000 Salonica Jews left the city, 20,000 of whom immigrated to the Land of Israel.

In 1932 Hacham Moshe Herrera immigrated to the Land of Israel, settling in Tel Aviv. He officiated as rabbi of the Eliyahu HaNavi synagogue on Levinski Street and served as the city's Salonica community's rabbi. His wife, Plata, died in 1934; the couple had a family five children. Their son, Hacham Abraham, died at a young age.

Hacham Moshe Herrera was appointed to the Tel Aviv rabbinic court by Rishon LeZion Hacham Ben Zion Meir Hai Uziel, who had already become acquainted with him while he was the rabbi of Salonica in 1921. Hacham Moshe Herrera taught a Talmud class on a regular basis in the Salonica community center in Tel Aviv.

Hacham Moshe Herrera passed away on 27 Sivan 5718 (1958). His writings were stored in the Porat Yosef yeshiva vaults in manuscript form until his grandson, Hacham Moshe Harrari, had the privilege of having them publishing as Rulings and Sermons – Writings of Our Master Rabbi Moshe Herrera.


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