Rabbi Benzion Meir Hai Uzziel (1880-1953) was one of the most original and independent rabbis of the 20th century.
Scion of an 'aristocratic' Sephardic family, he was born and educated in the Jewish quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. He served as chief rabbi of Jaffa, Salonica and Tel Aviv, and (from 1939) as 'Rishon LeTsiyyon', Sephardic Chief rabbi of the Holy Land. In this capacity, he also served as chief rabbi of the State of Israel from 1948 until his decease. He combined traditional Sephardic rabbinic learning with openness to the contemporary world of his time, and was involved in both halakhic and ideational writing and in public, communal and Zionist leadership. His written legacy includes eight volumes of response Mishpetei Uzziel, monographs on halakhic topics, works on Jewish Thought, tens of articles in journals and newspapers, judicial rulings, taqqanot [halakhic enactments], speeches, et.al.
In the late summer of 2003, a half century will have passed since his decease. Bar Ilan University (the Faculty of law and the Faculty of Jewish Studies) and the Shalom Hartman Institute have decided to convene an International conference devoted to New Research in the Legacy and Life of Rabbi Uzziel: Halakha, Jewish Thought, Zionism and Public Leadership.
The conference will take place on 22 October 2003 to 23 October 2003 in Bar Ilan University Ramat Gan and in the Shalom Hartman Institute, Jerusalem Israel.
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