Rabbi Haim Abulafya was the leading rabbi to promote the Jewish settlements in Tiberias from 1740 onwards. He had been the Rabbi of Izmir, and was called to duty by the then governor of Galilee at the time to promote the resettlement of Tiberias by Jews.
Rabbi Chaim Abulafia the Second was born in Chevron and was a descendant of Rabbi Chaim Abulafia the First. After serving as the Chief Rabbi of Tzfat, Rabbi Chaim Abulafia moved to Izmir, Turkey, serving as its Rav. In 1740 he returned to Eretz Yisroel and at that request of Dahar El Omar, ruler of the Gallil, re-established the then desolate city of Tiberias.
Daher encouraged Jews to return to Tiberias hoping they would help rebuild the city. Rabbi Abulafia brought his community from Turkey and established the Etz Chaim, ‘Tree of Life’ synagogue.
ln 1742 word came that the Turkish army was about to attack Tiberias. The Jews got ready to flee, but Rabbi Abulafia persuaded them to stand by Daher in gratitude for the Sheik’s past support. Legend has it that because of the power of Rabbi Abulafia’s prayers, the Turkish cannon balls all missed Tiberias and landed in the lake. The day the Turkish siege ended Rabbi Abulafia declared a holiday to be celebrated for all generations.
Rabbi Chaim Abulafia is buried in the old cemetery of Tiberias, his hillula is on the 6th of Nisan.
Location:The old Tiberias cemetery, approximately 2km after ‘Hamei Tverya’ spa