||Advising Sassoon that his donation has enabled the acquisition of the cave and adjoining land in Jerusalem where Simeon the Just is interred. The letter seeks additional funds for related projects.
Simeon the Just, high priest in the time of Alexander the Great who was surnamed the Just both because of his piety toward G-d and his benevolence to his countrymen. Simeon the Just is referred to in Avot (1:2) as "one of the survivors of the Great Assembly," and he is the author of the saying, "Upon three things the world is based: upon the Torah, upon divine service, and upon the practice of gemilut hasadim [charity]." In the same source he is indicated as the first in a chain of scholars descending to Hillel and Shammai. His cave attracts thousands of Jews who come to pray for his intervention in the Heavenly Court.
Sir Jacob Elias David Sassoon (1844–1916), expanded his father's business enterprise in India by building a large textile company, which comprised six mills and the country's first dye works. The company was instrumental in developing the cotton textile industry in western India, and in the peak year of 1916 the Jacob Sassoon Mill, India's largest, employed 15,000 workers. In Bombay his philanthropic activities included building the Central College of Science, a general hospital, and the Keneseth Eliyahu synagogue.
The document is signed by:
R. Raphael Meir b. Judah Panigel (1804–1893), chief rabbi of Jerusalem. R. Panigel was born in Bulgaria, but when he was three years old his parents, who were well-to-do, immigrated to Erez Israel. In 1828 and in 1863 he went as an emissary of Jerusalem to the countries of North Africa, remaining there on both occasions for several years. In 1845 he went to Italy as an emissary of Hebron. While in Rome he succeeded in making peace between two rival factions in the community. He was also received with great respect at the Vatican by Pope Gregory XVI. In 1880 he was appointed rishon le-Zion, and in 1890 the Turkish authorities appointed him hakham bashi (head of the Jewish community of Erez Israel). He was acceptable to all the communities and esteemed by the authorities. He was the author of Lev Marpe (the initials of his name; 1887), talmudic novellae, responsa, and homilies. Some of his novellae were published in the Jerusalem Me'assef and in Torah mi-Ziyyon. His other works have remained in manuscript.
R. Jacob Saul b. Eliezer Jeroham Elyashar (1817–1906), Sephardi chief rabbi of Erez Israel (rishon le-Zion). A grandson of R. Jacob ben Hayyim Elyashar, he was born in Safed. His father, a dayyan, shohet, and cantor there, was arrested by the Turkish authorities, but succeeded in escaping and settled with his family in Jerusalem. When R. Jacob Saul was seven, he lost his father, and his mother remarried in 1828. His stepfather, R. Benjamin Mordecai Navon, became his teacher and supported him for many years. R. Elyashar married the daughter of hakham bashi, R. Raphael Meir Panigel. He was appointed a dayyan in Jerusalem in 1853, and in 1869 head of the bet din. He succeeded his father-in-law as hakham bashi and rishon le-Zion in 1893.
R. Moses Benveniste, official of the Jerusalem government, and member of the distingushed family bearing the name; R. Joseph Joshua Caryo, Prerident of the Jerusalem Benevolent Society; and several other prominent members of the community.