Tzvi Ashkenazi - Amsterdam - Appointment and Welcome

Appointment and Welcome

Less than a year later, on 10 January 1710, he received a letter of appointment to the chief rabbinate of the Ashkenazi congregation of Amsterdam. In addition to free residence, the office carried with it a yearly salary of 2,500 Dutch guilders (a large sum, in view of the fact that fifty years later 375 guilders was the usual salary of the chief rabbi of Berlin). Unselfish and independent by nature, Ashkenazi renounced the perquisites of his office, such as fees in civil suits, in order to maintain his independence, and accepted the high position only upon the condition that under no circumstances was he to be required to subordinate himself to the congregation, or to be obliged to receive gifts, and that he should be permitted to preserve absolute freedom of action on all occasions.

From the very beginning he encountered in Amsterdam a hostile party, whose principal leader was Aaron Polak Gokkes. Indeed, the difficulties with the directors became so serious that, on 26 May 1712, it was decided to dismiss the chief rabbi at the end of the term (three years) mentioned in his letter of appointment. Ashkenazi announced that he would not under any circumstances accept this dismissal, which he regarded as unjust. Serious difficulties arose. The rabbi's salary does not seem to have been paid, for in the register of the records of the congregation it is stated that on Saturday 4 Nisan 5472 (12 April 1712), the parnasim sent a secretary and two attendants of the congregation to Ashkenazi to inform the latter that upon the return of the letter of appointment he would be paid the money to which he was still entitled. Ashkenazi, however, naturally declined to return this piece of evidence, a copy of which has been preserved among the official documents of the congregation.

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