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Meldola, Raphael

MELDOLA, RAPHAEL

MELDOLA, RAPHAEL (1754–1828), British rabbi; son of Moses Hezekiah Meldola (1725–1791), professor of Oriental languages in Paris. Raphael was born in Leghorn, received rabbinical ordination there from Ḥ.J.D. *Azulai in 1796, became a dayyan in 1803, and in 1804/05 was appointed haham of the Sephardi community in London – an office vacant since the death of Moses Cohen d' *Azevedo in 1784. Energetic and capable, he helped to reform the educational institutions of his community in the face of missionary activities, introduced a choir into the synagogue, and cooperated cordially with Solomon *Hirschel, the Ashkenazi chief rabbi. On the other hand, his belligerent nature was responsible for periodic friction with the members of his community. Notwithstanding his imperfect knowledge of English he corresponded extensively with Christian scholars. Before leaving Leghorn, he had published there Ḥuppat Ḥatanim (1797), a handbook on the laws of marital life. He also published sermons and memorial poems: part of his catechism Derekh Emunah (The Way of Faith) appeared with his English translation after his death (1848). His son david (1797–1853), who succeeded him as presiding rabbi though not as haham of the Sephardi community in London, was one of the founders of the *Jewish Chronicle, and ineffectively opposed the movement for religious reform among London Jewry in 1840. A grandson of Raphael's was the British scientist, Raphael *Meldola.

bibliography:

dnb, s.v.; Roth, Mag Bibl, index; M. Gaster, History of the Ancient SynagogueBevis Marks (1901), 159–64; A.M. Hyamson, Sephardim of England (1951), index; Barnett, in: jhset, 21 (1968), 1–38 (bibl. of Meldola's publications 13–14).

[Vivian David Lipman]

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