ABENAFIA, JOSEPH (d. 1408), rabbi and physician. Abenafia, who was born in Catalonia, accompanied Martin I of Aragon to Sicily as his personal medical attendant and settled there in 1391. In 1396 he was appointed dienchelele (dayyan kelali). In 1399 he petitioned the king on behalf of all the Sicilian communities about certain proposed reforms. In 1404 he was nominated examiner of Jewish medical practitioners. Probably because his activities were connected with the king's interests, they encountered opposition within the community and in 1406 the Palermo community asked to be exempted from his authority. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: Roth, Italy, 236–8; Milano, ltalia, 176, 482, 624; Baer, Urkunden, 1 (1929), index; B. and G. Lagumina (eds.), Codice diplomatico dei giudei di Sicilia, 1 (1884). (Attilio Milano)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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  • DIENCHELELE — DIENCHELELE, from the Hebrew דיין כללי, dayyan kelali ( general judge ), an office instituted in Sicily in 1396 by King Martin I of Aragon. The holder of the office was both the judgeand final court of appeal in cases judged according to Jewish… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • SICILY — SICILY, largest island in the Mediterranean, S.W. of the Italian peninsula. History There were probably Jews living in Sicily in the period of the Second Temple; the great Jewish rhetorician caecilius of calacte moved from Sicily to Rome about 50 …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • PALERMO — PALERMO, capital of Sicily. Jews apparently lived there in Roman times. Evidence of their presence is first supplied by pope gregory I. His intervention in 598 with Bishop Victor of Palermo, who had requisitioned the synagogue and hospice,… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • SYRACUSE — SYRACUSE, city in S.E. Sicily. Inscriptions and other archaeological evidence attest the presence of Jews in Syracuse from Roman times. Toward the middle of the fifth century, the Vandals destroyed the synagogue there, and in 655 the Jews asked… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

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