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BAK:

A family of Hebrew printers in Italy and Prague, who exercised their craft for two centuries. The name is said to be an abbreviation of "Bene Ḳedoshim" (Children of the Holy), an assumption, however, which is somewhat improbable. The principal members of the family were the following:

1. Gerson Bak:

Progenitor of the family; flourished during the first quarter of the sixteenth century in Italy.

2. Israel ben Joseph Bak:

Son of Joseph. Pressman from 1686 to 1691 with the firm of Judah Bak's Sons, and in 1695 with that of Judah Bak's Grandsons. The last-mentioned establishment, also called "Bakische (or Pakische) Buchdruckerei," flourished after 1697, and was conducted by Israel and Moses Bak (No. 9). Afterward the business was carried on by the sons of Judah Bak (No. 8) and of Yom-Ṭob Lipman Bak (No. 11).

3. Jacob ben Gerson Bak (also called Wal or Wohl):

Son of Gerson. Printer; died in 1618. In 1595 he published at Verona the Midrash Tanḥuma, with an elaborately embellished title-page. After 1605 he was engaged in printing at Prague. His first work published there (1605) was the "Sabbat-Yoẓerot," based upon the Polish ritual and written in the Judæo-German dialect. Until 1615 he was occasionally associated with Jacob Stabnitz. Jacob left two sons, Joseph (No. 5) and Judah (No. 7).

4. Jacob ben Judah Bak: Son of Joseph. Pressman at Lublin about 1648; died in 1685. In 1680 he completed, at Weckelsdorf, the "Maḥzor," based on the German ritual, which had been begun at Prague in the previous year—the only Hebrew work ever published at the former place.

5. Joseph ben Jacob Bak:

Brother and partner of Judah (No. 7). Together, under the firmname of "The late Jacob Bak's Sons," they conducted the business from 1620 to 1660.

6. Joseph ben Judah Bak:

Son of Judah. Printer of the seventeenth century. In 1679 and 1684 he was in the printing business by himself and in 1686 in association with his nephew Moses (No. 9).

7. Judah ben Jacob Bak:

From 1661 to 1669 sole proprietor of the printing business formerly carried on by himself and his brother Joseph (No. 5). He died in 1671 and left the establishment to his sons Jacob (No. 4) and Joseph (No. 6) who, under the firm-name of Judah Bak's Sons, conducted it from 1673 to 1696.

8. Judah ben Moses Bak:

Compositor of the eighteenth century. He was first engaged in the printing-house of his father, from 1705 to 1720, but carried on an independent establishment from 1736 to 1756, when he became associated with his brother,Yom-Ṭob Lipman (No. 11). His wife died in Elul, 1760, and he was already advanced in years when he lost his son Moses Löb (No. 10).

9. Moses ben Jacob Bak:

Printer, and partner of Joseph ben Judah (No. 7). Died Tammuz 14, 1712.

10. Moses Löb Bak:

Compositor in the printing-office of his father, Judah (No. 8), in 1757, and son-in-law of Mendel Steinitz.

11. Yom-Ṭob Lipman Bak:

Printer from 1757 to 1789. The firm of Bak was still in existence in 1784 under the title of "Bakische und Cazische Privilegirte Buchdruckerei."

Bibliography:
  • Zunz, Z. G. p. 264;
  • Steinschneider, Cat. Bodl. Nos. 7835-7844;
  • Hock, Die Familien Prags, s.v. Back;
  • Simonsen, Hebraisk Bogtryk i Oeldre og Nyere Tid, p. 20, Copenhagen, 1901;
  • Grünwald, in Jüdisches Literaturblatt, xxii. 35.
G. A. F.
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