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ASCHER, BENJAMIN HENRY:

Hebrew scholar and author; born in 1812 at Peisern (grand duchy of Posen); died Feb. 24, 1893, in London. His father, a corn-merchant, gave his son a careful religious and secular education. In 1840 Ascher went to England, where he soon mastered the English language, and, in 1843, was elected "ḳabranim rabbi" (funeral preacher) of the Great Synagogue. In 1847 he published a new edition of the well-known "Sefer Ḥayyim" (The Book of Life), with an English translation. In 1859 he published Solomon ben Gabirol's "MibḦar ha-Peninim" (A Choice of Pearls), embracing a collection of ethical aphorisms, maxims, and reflections, accompanied by an English text and explanatory notes. He wrote two other works of minor importance, "Initiation of Youth" (1850), a small catechism, and the ritual for the "Dedication of the House." In 1884 he resigned his office, which he had held for over forty years. Ascher obtained from Sir George Grey several concessions for Jewish prisoners, to enable them to observe their religion.

Bibliography:
  • Jew. Chron. March 3, 1893, p. 8;
  • H. A. Löwy, Catalogue of Hebraica and Judaica in the Guildhall Library, pp. 93, 147, London, 1891.
J. B. B.
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