ḤALUKKAH (Heb. חֲלֻקָּה), financial allowance for the support of the inhabitants of Ereẓ Israel from the contributions of their coreligionists in the Diaspora. In a wider sense, ḥalukkah denotes the organized method of this support and the institutions responsible for it, especially after the end of the 18th century. The support given by the Jews of the Diaspora to their brothers in Ereẓ Israel was customary even in ancient times and there are references to it in the periods of the Mishnah and the Talmud. Rabbis left Ereẓ Israel to seek contributions abroad for the support of Torah scholars. During the Middle Ages and especially during the following centuries, this method of support for the inhabitants of Palestine became widespread and encompassed the whole of the Jewish world. The fundamental idea on which the ḥalukkah is based is the conviction that Ereẓ Israel held the central position in the religious and national consciousness of the people, hence the special importance accorded to the population residing there. This population is not to be considered as any other entity of Jews, but rather as the representative of the whole Jewish people, the guardian of all that is sacred in the Holy Land; in this role it merits the support of the whole people. The Jews, in the lands of their dispersion, both communities and individuals, were conscious of their duty toward the yishuv and considered their support of it as an act of identification with it.
In the 16th century organized methods for the collection of contributions were established in large Jewish centers; the charity-boxes named for R. Meir Ba'al ha-Nes ("The Miracle-Worker") were a popular instrument for the collection of contributions. Communities and national communal organizations urged the public to fulfill its duty and contribute toward the yishuv. The communal organizations of Poland, Lithuania, Moravia, and elsewhere included special clauses in their regulations concerning the Palestinian funds and their collection, and even appointed officials for this purpose. The contributions were usually transferred to Palestine through commercial centers and harbor towns which maintained relations with the Orient. From the beginning of the 17th century, Venice was such a center and funds from Poland and Germany passed through there. In the 17th–18th centuries Leghorn also served this purpose. Amsterdam became a center for the contributions of Western Europe from the 17th century onwards. The most important center for the Palestinian funds was Constantinople; it was near Palestine and the capital of the Turkish government. There was also a spiritual affinity between its rabbis and those of Palestine. Contributions from Eastern Europe also passed through there. The Constantinople center not only handled contributions but also intensively encouraged their collection. During the first quarter of the 18th century, the community in Constantinople undertook the improvement of the financial position of the Jerusalem community and tried to extricate it from its heavy debts. A special tax was levied for this purpose and the expenses of Jerusalem were subject to the control of Constantinople.
From the beginning of the 19th century, Vilna attained a special importance as the center for the collection of contributions from Russia, and the Ashkenazi Perushim (followers of the Gaon R. Elijah of Vilna) community in Jerusalem depended on this center. In accordance with the (internal) Jewish regulations of 1823, this center had exclusive authority for the collection of all contributions in Russia; its decisions on the distribution of funds to beneficiaries and general expenses were binding. The Amsterdam center, which was reorganized at the beginning of the 19th century under the leadership of Ẓevi Hirsch *Lehren (1784–1853), was also of great importance. It appointed collectors in the important communities of Western Europe and received annual pledges from them. These funds were then distributed between the various communities of Palestine, according to a fixed scale and with the consent of the leaders of the yishuv. Besides these centers, which in their time served several countries, there were similar national centers at Frankfurt, Vienna, Prague, Pressburg, etc. The collection of contributions was made more efficient by special emissaries who left Palestine for the Diaspora and who described the difficulties in Ereẓ Israel in order to encourage the public in their duty toward the yishuv. These missions from Palestine, together with the support of the yishuv, were an ancient institution and played an important part in the mutual relationship and binding ties between the Diaspora and the Holy Land. The emissaries of Palestine reached the most far-flung areas of the Jewish world. Apart from this main object, they also gave religious and spiritual guidance, some of these emissaries being prominent scholars.
After the beginning of the 17th century, objections were raised against these missions in order to reduce the expenses involved in them. It was suggested that the collection of funds and their transfer be carried out by the communities themselves. The leaders of the yishuv opposed this plan for fear that the living relationship between Palestine and the Diaspora would be ruined, and with the absence of personal contacts, the needs of Palestine Jewry would not be satisfied. In spite of the objections, emissaries continued to visit the Oriental countries. On the other hand, the objections of the Amsterdam center were more determined and these missions were stopped in 1824. The leaders of the yishuv agreed to this arrangement but tried to circumvent it periodically by sending emissaries to Western Europe for special needs. Lehren was, however, adamant in his decision. At first, the contributions collected were destined for the scholars and the needy, without any distinction as to their land of origin. With time, however, especially during the last third of the 18th century, a tendency to allocate contributions to a defined section of the yishuv came into existence. This development was connected with the new Ashkenazi settlement in the country, and from then onward became a characteristic of the ḥalukkah. The first *Ḥasidim to emigrate to Palestine during the last quarter of the 18th century regularly received support from their colleagues in their country of origin. Similar arrangements existed for the Perushim who emigrated to Palestine and formed their own community at the beginning of the 19th century. As the Ashkenazim were a small minority and the funds contributed, according to prolonged tradition, were remitted to the Sephardi community, the former felt the necessity to assign the incomes from Eastern Europe for themselves alone. Once their numbers increased, the Ashkenazim requested that a portion of the contributions from the rest of Europe also be given to them. After the 1820s these demands were accepted and from that time regular arrangements were made between the two communities concerning ratios for dividing the income from Western Europe and other countries where Ashkenazi and Sephardi communities existed.
Until the end of the first third of the 19th century, there were two principal sections within the Ashkenazi community, the Ḥasidim and the Perushim. In the late 1830s, the Ashkenazi community began to break up into organizations based on the countries and regions of origin in Europe. One such organization, known as *kolel, was characteristic and exclusively confined to the Ashkenazi yishuv in Palestine of the 19th and early 20th centuries. This sub-division into kolelim was due to economic factors, especially the desire of the emigrants of a given country to ensure themselves the incomes from their country of origin. The sub-division into kolelim was almost nonexistent among the Sephardim because they were not dependent on the ḥalukkah to the same extent as the Ashkenazim. However, even among them there were some who considered themselves to be discriminated against. Thus, the Georgians and the North Africans broke away from the general Sephardi community. The breaking-up process began in the 1830s when the immigrants from Germany and Holland formed their own kolel, the kolel Hod (abbreviation for Holland ve-Deutschland). In 1845 the kolel Varsha (Warsaw) was established and consisted of members of Polish origin who were dissatisfied with the leadership of the Perushim and who felt themselves discriminated against.
The fragmentation process was especially intensified in the 1850s when six kolelim were founded by emigrants of Eastern and Central European countries and regions. In 1858 the kolel Hungaryah (Hungary; Kolel Shomerei ha-Ḥomot, "Kolel of the Guardians of the Walls"), the most important one of the period, was established. The pupils of R. Moses Sofer, who had immigrated to Palestine, and those immigrants who had come from the countries of the Austro-Hungarian Empire during the 19th century belonged to this kolel. It was one of the largest kolelim, both numerically (about 2,500 souls in 1913), and in its real estate holdings; as such it was an influential factor in Jerusalem's communal life. Many of the members of this kolel stood out because of their religious zealotry and their opposition to any innovation. The Neturei Karta ("Guardians of the City"), the zealous faction of Jerusalem's religious Jews, emerged from this group. On the other hand, the first agricultural pioneers also came from this kolel. A further wave of subdivisions occurred in the 1870s, when another five kolelim were established. All of these, except one, separated themselves from the ḥasidic kolel, whereas those of the 1840s and 1850s had broken away from the old Ashkenazi community. In 1913 there were 26 Ashkenazi kolelim in Jerusalem.
The leadership of the kolelim was composed of rabbinical personalities. Abroad, a president, who was generally the most prominent rabbi of that country, was the head of the kolel. With the ḥasidic kolelim, it was the rebbe of that trend. Wealthy volunteers worked under the guidance of the president; the kolel leaders in Palestine, also prominent rabbis, were appointed by the leaders abroad, as were the communal workers and officials. The kolel, which functioned according to set regulations, was in close relationship with the country of origin of its members. The Sephardi kolel was led by the Sephardi chief rabbi, assisted by a council of rabbis.
The ḥalukkah arrangements were different with the Sephardim and the Ashkenazim. With the former ḥalukkah was only distributed to such scholars whose study was their profession, in accordance with the principle that the purpose of ḥalukkah was to support those who studied the Torah. The poor of the community only benefited from the ḥalukkah indirectly. The justification for this system was that the Sephardim were integrated in the country. They could earn their livelihood and were not dependent solely on ḥalukkah. In practice, with the absence of regular support, there were many poor in the community. In addition to the ḥalukkah for individuals, the Sephardi kolel also set aside a part of its income for general community expenditure. The ḥalukkah of the Ashkenazim was divided on the basis of a fixed sum per head. In addition to this, scholars received an additional allocation in accordance with their status. Occasionally, there were supplementary allocations derived from special contributions which the kolel received apart from its regular income. The ḥalukkah allocations differed from kolel to kolel, according to the income and the number of members. In 1913 the ḥalukkah of the Hungarian kolel was 100 francs for every person each year, while that of the Holland-German kolel was 360 francs for a couple with a further 80 francs for a child. These were the two most firmly established kolelim. Generally, the ḥalukkah allocation was far from sufficient to provide for the requirements of those who received it, and as the possibilities of gaining a livelihood were extremely limited in Jerusalem, most of the ḥalukkah beneficiaries lived in poverty. They and their kolelim were generally in debt. In light of this, there was a great deal of friction between the individual members of kolelim and between the kolelim themselves. Furthermore, the kolel leaders were targets for attack. The echoes of these kolel and ḥalukkah controversies were also heard abroad; there were many discussions in halakhic literature over these questions.
The division within the Ashkenazi community required the establishment of a body which would concern itself with the general interests of the community and deal with such matters the kolelim were not involved in. Consequently, the Va'ad ha-Kelali ("General Committee") of the Ashkenazi kolelim, on which each kolel had a representative, was established in 1866. The committee preoccupied itself with the general requirements of the community, such as the rabbinate, religious education, welfare, taxes, payments to the government, and the support of scholars. The committee also distributed ḥalukkah to persons who were not members of any kolel. Later its income came principally from America but also from other regions in accordance with arrangements made with various kolelim, though these were not always honored by the kolelim, who generally gave preference to their own particular interests.
The ḥalukkah was a decisive factor in the existence and the development of the Jewish population in Palestine. Its importance grew during the 19th century, when immigration reached serious proportions. At that time Palestine was economically poor and was ruled by a backward and corrupt government. Under these circumstances the yishuv could not have existed, much less have grown, had it not been organized within the framework of the kolelim, who provided for their people and gathered money from abroad. (The other non-Muslim communities in Palestine were also supported to a large extent from abroad.) The kolelim, which were responsible for the ḥalukkah distributions, played an important role in the development of urban settlement, especially outside the walls of the Old City in Jerusalem. The Jewish quarters, which were built after 1869 on the initiative of the kolel leaders, were an important factor in the territorial expansion of the Jewish population of Jerusalem. The Jewish population in the other three "holy cities" – Hebron, Safed, and Tiberias – also was essentially reliant on the ḥalukkah.
From the middle of the 18th century, criticism of the way and manners of life of the yishuv increased in the Jewish world of Western Europe. The ḥalukkah and its arrangements were the center of criticism in the writings of L.A. *Frankl, who visited Palestine in 1856, the historian *Graetz (1872), and Samuel *Montagu, in his report in 1875. The principal objection was that the ḥalukkah was also distributed to those who were neither scholars nor needy.
The criticism of the ḥalukkah intensified when the Ḥibbat Zion movement, which sought to build a society based on its own labor, was established. It challenged the very system of ḥalukkah and belittled its importance. The heads of the kolelim rejected this criticism and explained the necessity of the ḥalukkah in the prevailing social and economical situation. They also stressed its merits for the maintenance of the yishuv, the integration of immigrants, and the construction of new quarters. Even so, the deficiencies of the ḥalukkah were not unknown to members of the old yishuv, and calls for reform were voiced. The public discussion of this matter became one of the principal topics of the Hebrew writers in Palestine and abroad. The negative attitude toward ḥalukkah held by the Ḥovevei Zion was passed on to Zionist ideology, which regarded the old yishuv unfavorably. Current historical literature has been more favorable toward the old yishuv in light of its place as an important link in the renewal and revival of Ereẓ Israel. Consequently, the ḥalukkah is also looked upon with less criticism. With the beginning of the new yishuv, the importance of the ḥalukkah decreased continually, and after World War i it was limited to the circles of the old yishuv. In these circles, some kolelim still exist, but they have lost their former public importance. In practice, they have become charitable societies and their principal income is derived from their property and contributions given out of traditional sympathy.
Ḥalukkah and Women
Ḥalukkah payments were originally intended to enable Jewish men in the old yishuv to devote their lives to Torah study and prayer. Yet demographic data demonstrate that women, who were the majority of the Jewish population of Jerusalem (by far the largest Jewish community in the Holy Land) in the 19th century, also benefited significantly from ḥalukkah. Many of the Jewish women in the old yishuv were widows, poor and wealthy, who had come to the Holy Land to spend their remaining days visiting sacred sites and preparing themselves for the next world.
Ḥalukkah was distributed separately by the Ashkenazi and Sephardi authorities. All members of the Ashkenazi community, men and women, infants and children, received ḥalukkah; men who devoted themselves to Torah study were entitled to an extra allowance. In the Sephardi community ḥalukkah was distributed only to learned men and the impoverished. Thus, poor Ashkenazi women who had immigrated to the Holy Land could rely on this income.
In the course of the 19th century, an effort was made to link ḥalukkah to pious behavior by the enforcement of bylaws (Takkanot Yerushalayim) that applied to men and women alike. Transgressions meant loss of ḥalukkah. A number of these bylaws were directed at women; they prescribed certain forms of dress and forbade unchaperoned women from using the communal oven. Women were forbidden to attend synagogue at night and were forbidden to stay in synagogue courtyards after the Sabbath morning prayers. Any mingling between men and women was looked upon as a sin. A betrothed girl was forbidden to meet her fiancé, and a woman was not allowed to sell anything to gentile men. Husbands and fathers were expected to supervise the women of the family to preserve the sanctity of the community and to ensure that the family received its allotted share of ḥalukkah. According to these regulations every grown male was instructed to marry, and, if not, he was expelled from the city. Thus, ḥalukkah money not only provided for the material existence of the community, it was also used to regiment the behavior of all Jewish residents of the Holy Cities who relied on it for their daily needs.
[Margalit Shilo (2nd ed.)]
Luncz, in: Yerushalayim, 7 (1906), 25–40, 181–201; 8 (1907), 306–21; 9 (1911), 1–62, 187–213; Malachi, in: Lu'aḥ Ereẓ Yisrael, 18 (1912/13), 81–102; Yaari, Sheluḥei, passim; L.A. Frankl, Nach Jerusalem, 2 (1858), 43–51, 58–60; S. Montagu, Report… to the Sir Moses Montefiore Testimonial Fund (1875); Eberhard, in: Mitteilungen und Nachrichten des Deutschen Palaestina Vereins, 14 (1908), 17–29; A.M. Hirsch, in: Historia Judaica, 14 (1952), 119–32; Rivlin, in: Zion, 2 (1927), 149–72; Frumkin-Rivlin, 138–57; Baron, in: Sefer ha-Shanah li-Yhudei Amerikah, 6 (1942), 167–79; idem, in: jsos, 5 (1943), 115–62, 225–92; E. Hurwitz (ed.), Mosad ha-Yesod (19582); Y.Z. Kahana, in: Sinai, 43 (1958), 125–44; B. Gat, Ha-Yishuv ha-Yehudi be-Ereẓ Yisrael, 1840–1881 (1953), passim; Rivlin, in: Yad Yosef Yiẓḥak Rivlin (1964), 108–50; J.J. Rivlin and B. Rivlin (eds.), Iggerot ha-Pekidim veha-Amarkalim me-Amsterdam (1965); J. Rivlin, Megillat Yosef (1966), 149–216; Weinstein, in: Bar Ilan Yearbook, 6 (1968), 339–56 (Heb.); M.M. Rothschild, Ḥalukkah (1969); J. Meisel, Heinrich Graetz (1917), 142–51. add. bibliography: M. Shilo. Princess or Prisoner? Jewish Women in Jerusalem, 1840–1914 (2005).
"Ḥalukkah." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 9, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/halukkah
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