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ABULAFIA (Heb. אַבּוּלְעֲפְיָה; Arabic for "father of health"; also Abulaffia, Abulefia, Abualefia, Abu Alafia , etc.), widespread and influential family, members of which were rabbis, poets, statesmen, and communal leaders in Spain. After the expulsion of the Jews from Spain the name became common in some Oriental countries. A distinguished rabbinical family was established in Palestine and Syria after Ḥayyim ben Moses (?) Abulafia moved from Smyrna to Tiberias. The most important Spanish branch, centered in Toledo from the 12th century, were levites and generally called Levi (Arabic Al-lavi) Abulafia, etc. The epitaphs of many members of the family, sometimes obsequiously phrased, are preserved; they included (beside those subsequently mentioned in individual articles) the physician Moses ben Meir (1255); Joseph ben Meir, rabbi in Seville, perhaps his grandson (1341); the communal leaders and royal officials Meir ben Joseph, Samuel, and Meir ben Solomon (victims of the Black Death, 1349–50); and Samuel ben Meir (1380). Samuel Abolafia of Almeria was in charge of the commissariat for the Catholic monarchs during the campaign against Granada in 1484. The New Christian magistrate Juan Fernandez Abolafia participated in the plot against the *Inquisition in Seville and was a victim of the first *auto-dafé there in 1481. Joseph David Abulafia (i) (d. 1823), was av bet din in Tiberias before 1798 and later rabbi in Damascus. He signed letters of introduction for the emissaries of Tiberias as did his grandson Joseph David Abulafia (ii) (d. 1898), who was also rabbi in Tiberias. Moses and Jacob Abulafia were among the Jews arrested in Damascus in 1840 in connection with the *Damascus blood libel: the former, designated as a rabbi, informed against his coreligionists. Isaac Abulafia was rabbi in Damascus (1876–88). In Italy in modern times the name was rendered as Bolaffio, Bolaffi, etc. It is said that the first Jew to settle in Spain in the modern period was an Abulafia from Tunis.


Baer, Spain, index; Baer, Urkunden, index; Sefarad (1957), index volume; Cantera-Millás, Inscripciones, index. add. bibliography: J.C. Gómez Menor, in: i Congreso internacional "Encuentro de las tres culturas" (1983), 185–93.

[Cecil Roth]

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