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Haim Amzlag

1828 - 1916.


Haim Nissim Amzlag was a Jewish businessman and community leader during the Yishuv period.


He was born in Gibraltar to a Moroccan family.

Haim Amzlag as a Portuguese Consul. Source: Geni.com

In 1834 his family immigrated to the Land of Israel and settled in Jerusalem. Haim Amzlag's father, Yosef Amzlag, was a rich merchant from Morocco who visited Jaffa in 1816. He was Moshe Montefiore's personal friend, who stayed with him during his visits to Israel.


As a child, he received a traditional education and studied European languages. He moved to Jaffa in the 50's of the 19th century.


He arrived in Jaffa at the beginning of the city's development. The port of Jaffa welcomed Jewish pilgrims and immigrants and was also dedicated to citrus exports. In the middle of the 19th century, the Jewish community in Jaffa was made up of immigrants from North Africa and Ashkenazim (who came after them). In the 50s of the 19th century, the city saw rapid economic and physical development. Jaffa was also the scene of intensifying European intervention, which was reflected in the establishment of consular missions, churches, schools, welfare services, and commercial institutions.


In 1852 he started his journey through countries in the eastern basin of the Mediterranean Sea as part of his international trade business. Among other things, he received a transit certificate from the Consul General of Great Britain allowing him to pass freely "without obstacles and restraints."


Gradually he became a prominent figure in the Jewish community of Jaffa. For example, when a Jew from Alexandria was attacked by a Muslim mob because he allegedly slandered Islam, the community first came to Haim Amzlag's house and asked for his advice. After that, they sent telegrams to the governor and to various consuls in Jerusalem and the incident was over.


Amzlag also served as a Mohel in Jaffa. According to the writings of the Milot (circumcision) family book, he circumcised 19 boys, most of them members of his family. In one case, he circumcised a Muslim child in the synagogue in Jaffa, in the presence of many Muslims who gathered to witness the event. They included prominent Muslim figures. This event enriched his status and the status of the Jewish community in Jaffa.


The Jewish community in Jaffa began to organize in 1863, when Yehuda Halevi initiated the first public committee, called the "Jaffa City Committee". The committee's first action was the establishment of a branch of the "Kol Israel Khaverim" ('Universal Israelite Alliance') organization, and the appointment of Haim Amzlag as its president. The Committee opened a school for boys in Jaffa in 1868.


In 1876 he was appointed deputy consul of Britain in Jaffa. He was involved in many businesses, including the Jaffa-Jerusalem railway initiative. He represented British companies, including Lloyds of London (an insurance company). In 1884 he was also appointed consul of Portugal in Jerusalem, but after a few years, he transferred the position to his relative Yosef "Bey" Navon.


In 1905-1906 he retired from his many positions due to old age. At the beginning of World War 1, he was deported to Egypt, like others from the Jewish settlement who held foreign possessions. He died in Alexandria in February 1916. He had 9 children.


During his life, Haim Amzlag purchased lands in Petah Tikva and Rishon LeZion. He was also the head of the Hovevei Zion Movement in the Land of Israel.


On the land of Rishon LeZion, he conducted negotiations with the local Arabs on behalf of Levontin and his friends. This was because they were not familiar with all the details of purchasing land in the Land of Israel.

Amzlag helped circumvent an Ottoman government decree that prohibited the settlement of Jews of foreign origin, by purchasing the lands of Ayun-Kara (south of Jaffa) from Mustafa Abdullah Ali Dejan and registering them in his name. Rishon LeZion's lands were registered in Amzlag's name and the settlers received unofficial Hebrew certificates.


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