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STEBLICKI (SEBLITZKY), JOSEPH ABRAHAM:

German convert to Judaism; son of a Catholic butcher; born at Nikolai, Upper Silesia, about 1726; died there May 16, 1807. He received a good education in Jesuit colleges, and became teacher and later city treasurer in his native town,and finally a member of the city council. Retiring from active life in 1780, he occupied himself with religious studies, and began to observe the Sabbath and the dietary laws; then he circumcised himself, as he stated later; and on the Day of Atonement in 1785 he attended services in the Jewish synagogue dressed in a white gown, like other worshipers.

When the authorities were informed of Steblicki's conversion, proceedings against him were immediately instituted which, according to the law of Leopold I., of 1709, then still in force, should have led to a sentence of death. But the king, Frederick II., ordered the proceedings to be suspended (Dec. 12), and left to the revenue authorities the questions as to whether Steblicki, as a Jew without right of residence ("unvergleiteter Jude"), should be tolerated, and whether he should be required to pay the special Jewish taxes. On July 28, 1786, the authorities decided that he should not be molested, on the ground that he must be mentally unbalanced. Steblicki lived more than twenty years after his conversion in harmony with his wife and his son, and was highly respected by the small Jewish community of Nikolai. His life was made the subject of legendary exaggerations in David Samosez's "Ger Ẓedeḳ" (Breslau, 1816) and in M. A. Hertzberg's "Der Neuc Jude" (Gleiwitz, 1845).

Bibliography:
  • Berlinische Monatsschrift, Aug., 1786, pp. 152-173;
  • Brann, in Jüdischer Volks- und Hauskalender, 1892, p. 56;
  • Biberfeld, Josef Abraham Steblicky, ein Ger Ẓedeḳ des 18. Jahrhunderts, in Berliner's Magazin, xx. 181-198;
  • Neustadt, Josef Steblicki, ein Proselyt Unter Friedrich dem Grossen, Breslau, 1894 (comp. review of this work by Brann in Monatsschrift, xxxix. 379-384, Breslau, 1895).
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