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BREST-LITOVSK (in Polish, Brzesc; in Russian documents, Brestye, and, later, Berestov; and in Jewish writings, Brisk [] or Brisk de-Lita = "Brisk of Lithuania"):

A fortified town in the government of Grodno, Russia, at the junction of the Mukhovetz river with the western Bug; capital of the district of the same name. The Jewish population of the city in 1897 was 30,252, in a total population of 46,542; that of the district (including the city) was in the same year 45,902, in a total of 218,366, or 21.02 per cent.

Brest was the largest and the most important of the first five Jewish settlements in Lithuania, dating from the second half of the fourteenth century, and continued in that leading position till the rise of Wilna in the seventeenth century. According to Bershadski, the well-known charter of Grand Duke Vitold, dated July 2, 1388, was originally granted to the Jews of Brest only, and was extended subsequently to the other Jewish communities of Lithuania and Volhynia. Brest-Litovsk soon became the center of trade and commerce, as well as of rabbinical learning, and the seat of the administration of the Jewish communities of Lithuania and Volhynia.

Early History.

The fifteenth and sixteenth centuries must be regarded as the golden age in the history of the Jewish community of Brest. In the charter of Casimir Jagellon, granted Aug. 14, 1447, to all Jews in Lithuania and Poland, Brest is mentioned, among other important provincial towns, as controlling many territories. In 1463 the same king presented a Jew named Levan Shalomich with several estates in the district of Brest, and leased to him certain villages ("Russko-Yevreiski Archiv," i., No. 5).

When, in 1472, merchandise belonging to Itzek (Isaac) of Brest, collector of taxes, was arbitrarily seized in Prussia, the bishop of Wilna and six secularcouncilors of the king interceded in his behalf before the grand master Henry Richtenberg (ib. No. 6). From the edicts of King Casimir IV., dated May 30, 1487, and May 12, 1489, and of Grand Duke Alexander Jagellon, Oct. 14, 1494, it appears that the customs duties of Brest and its districts were farmed by Jews of Brest and Lutzk (ib. Nos. 14-25). During the reign of Casimir all the important commercial and financial operations of Lithuania were concentrated in the hands of the Jews, especially of those of Brest, among them the brothers Danke, Pesaḥ, and Lazar Enkovich (ib. Nos. 34,46). In 1495 Alexander banished the Jews of Brest and other Lithuanian cities to Poland, whence they were permitted by him to return in 1503. During the banishment the synagogue of Brest was presented by Alexander to the Christian inhabitants of Brest to be used as a hospital ("Slownik Geographiczny," s.v.); but when the Jews returned it was given back to them.

"Senior" of Brest.

In 1507 the community of Brest was the object of the special attention of Sigismund I.; and its history of that period is intimately connected with the brothers Jesofovich. The eldest of these, Abraham Jesofovich, who embraced Christianity, filled several high offices and was secretary of the treasury under Sigismund during 1510-19. His two brothers, Michael and Isaac, who remained true to the faith of their fathers, also received important favors. In 1513 they were farmers of the customs duties of Brest, Lutzk, and Vladimir, and afterward held leases of the taxes on salt and wax, fumage (chimney-money), taverns (Mohilev and Vitebsk), and many other objects of revenue. An event of the highest importance in the life of the brothers Jesofovich, as well as for the community of Brest and for the Jews of Lithuania, was the appointment (Feb. 27, 1514) of Michael Jesofovich as the "senior" of all the Lithuanian Jews (R. Y. A. i., No. 60). The power of a "senior" was, as Harkavy and Bershadski have shown, of a purely temporal nature; the appointment having been actuated by economic and utilitarian motives, as the king considered it to be the best means of securing from the Jews prompt and regular payment of taxes (Grätz, "Gesch. der Juden," Hebrew transl., vii. 313, note 1). In 1519 a certain Aaron the Blind was tried for the murder of Ivan Pralevich by the Brest city court, because the Jews of Brest refused to have anything to do with the accused, who was described as a "tramp and murderer, who had lost his eyesight through stealing grapes." They even would not offer bail for him when bail was allowed. Aaron was accordingly tried by the city authorities. After the trial Michael Jesofovich and the Brest Jews, realizing the danger of creating a precedent in relinquishing the power of jurisdiction granted them by the king, brought suit against the magistrate and other authorities of Brest for interference in a matter pertaining to their jurisdiction. In 1525 the king raised Michael to the hereditary nobility—an unprecedented honor for a Jew in the sixteenth century.

In 1576 (Dec. 6) King Stephen Bathori relieved the Jews of Brest from all taxes on account of serious losses sustained by them through fires ("Akty Wilenskoi Archeograficheskoi Kommissii," v. 139).

About half a century after the death of Michael Jesofovich there lived in Brest-Litovsk another remarkable personage, named Saul Wahl or Wol, concerning whom authentic information is so scanty that it is difficult to separate legends from historical facts. The identity of Saul Judich, "the king's servant"—a most influential Jew under Stephen Bathori and Sigismund III.—with Saul Wahl, the legendary king of Poland who reigned for one night, has, however, been satisfactorily proved by Bershadski in his article, "Yevrei Korol Polski" (in "Voskhod," 1889, Nos. i.-v.). In 1580 the Jewish community of Brest entrusted him with the conduct of the very important and complicated case, before the commissioners of the king, against the Christian merchants of Brest, who would not allow the community the proportion (one-quarter) of city revenues which had been granted to the community by charter. For a detailed account of his activity in the Brest community see Saul Wahl.

Commercial Activity.

From records of the custom-house of Brest-Litovsk (published in "Archeograficheski Sbornik," iii. 289-322, iv. 252-260) it is evident that the greatest part of the merchandise imported from Germany and Austria via Lublin, or exported from Slutzk via Lublin to Gnesen, in 1583 and the following years, belonged to the Jews of Brest. They imported, among other merchandise, wax, furs, leather, olives, hats and caps, paper, nails, iron, paint, locks, knives, mirrors, mohair-yarn, cinnamon, muscatel, neckties, and wire; from Hungary, linen; from Glogau, nuts, plums, lead, needles, pins, ribbons, wine, velvet, black silk, pepper, cards, bells, sugar, raisins; and from Moravia, cloth. The exports consisted of Moscow mittens, soap, furs, bridles and harness (both black and mounted in brass), copper belts, lumber, and grain.

From a document dated Dec. 14, 1584, it is evident that Isaac (Isaiko) Shachovich, a Jew of Brest, visited Moscow on business in 1581, notwithstanding the prohibition of Ivan the Terrible, and en route stopped in Mohilev at the house of his friend, the tax-collector Isaac Jacobovich.

Of the importance of the Jewish community of Brest, there are many proofs in the official documents of Lithuania; thus in 1567, when the Lithuanian Jews were taxed by King Sigismund Augustus with a special "loan" of 4,000 "kop groschen," the share that Brest was required to furnish was 1,300 kop groschen, almost a third of the loan ("Aktovaya Kniga Metriki Litovskoi: Publichnyya Dyela," No. 7, p. 163; "Russko-Yevreiski Archiv," ii., No. 265). However, on the appeal of Jacob Jugilovich and Rubin Agronovich of Brest, acting in the name of all the Jewish communities of Lithuania, the total loan was reduced to 3,000 kop groschen ("Aktovaya Kniga Metriki Litovskoi: Zapisei," No. 48, p. 112; "Russko-Yevreiski Archiv," ii. No. 266).

Number of Houses.

From the "Pinkes" (Jewish Archives) of Lithuania it appears that the Jewish communities of the grand duchy at that time were indebted to the Jewish community of Brest to the amount of 2,143 kop groschen (in 1655 the indebtedness had increased to 32,912 kop groschen, not including interest to the amount of 14,015 kop groschen). In 1566 Brest-Litovskhad 106 Jewish house-owners, out of a total of 852 ("Aktovaya Kniga Metriki Litovskoi: Perepisei," No. 15A; "Russko-Yevreiski Archiv," ii., No. 231). The houses were small, insignificant frame buildings, although they were inhabited by some families that consisted of fourteen persons ("Litovskie Yevrei," p. 335). The only synagogue was also a frame building. In 1569 a brick synagogue and brick houses were built, as appears from a lawsuit of the contractor against the Jews for not paying him in time ("Russko-Yevreiski Archiv," ii., No. 305). Wealthy farmers of customs, like the brothers Enkovich, had more commodious residences on their estates out of town ("Litovskie Yevrei," p. 404).

But Brest was the leading city, not as regards wealth alone, but also in learning and refinement; so that none of the rabbis or representatives of the other Lithuanian communities would render any decision of importance without the consent of the Brest community. According to tradition, the ascendency of Brest-Litovsk extended as far as the Baltic sea and the German frontier. Students came from Germany and Italy to the yeshibah of Brest. The government held the Jews of Brest in special favor. Thus, under Sigismund Augustus the wealthiest farmers of taxes and other revenues, Isaac Borodavka, Abraham Dlukgrach, David and Lipman Shmerlevich, were Jews of Brest; while Joseph Shalomich was the contractor of the mint, and the Isaacovich family was favored with special privileges by the king.

Among the prominent scholars of Brest in the sixteenth century who were not rabbis, the following may be mentioned: David Drucker, son-in-law of Saul Wahl; Phoebus, the teacher of Joel Särkes ("Baḥ"); Fishel of Brest, author of notes on the "Ṭurim"; Joseph of Brest, brother of Moses Isserles; Moses ben Hillel, grandfather of Hillel ben Naphtali, the author of "Bet Hillel"; and Samuel Heller.

The Jewish merchants of Brest, like those of the rest of Lithuania, had Russian names and spoke and wrote the Russian language. They had friendly intercourse with their Christian fellow-citizens, and did not need a "speaker" before the courts, as the German merchants did (ib. p. 395).

Decline of Brest.

With the beginning of the seventeenth century Brest lost some of its importance as the center of wealthy farmers of taxes and other government leases. Prominent persons like Michael Jesofovich and Saul Wahl were unknown; they were succeeded in the arrangement of Jewish affairs by the Lithuanian Council ("Waad ha-Medinah be-Lita"). There were eminent rabbis, Talmudists, and other scholars, such as Moses, grandson of Rabbi Heshel; Elijah Lipschütz, father-in-law of Rabbi Abraham ha-Darshan; Abraham ben Benjamin Ze'eb Brisker; Elijah ben Samuel of Lublin, author of "Yad Elijahu"; Jacob ben Joel, author of "She'erit Ya'aḳob"; Zebi-Hirsch ben Eliezer Levi, mentioned in the "Teshubot Baḥ." But there were no communal workers of the type of those named above, to act as mediators between the Jews and the government, and having the power to protect them in cases of emergency. The leaders of the Lithuanian Jews seemed to be more occupied with religious laws and with the preservation of the inner life of their community than with general politics. The collecting of taxes and the customs duties was leased to the secretary of the treasury of the grand duchy of Lithuania, who, in turn, sublet it for a term of two years to the Jew Getzko Meerovich ("Akty Wilenskoi Archivnoi Kommissii," vi. 308).

In 1638 a lease of the city hall place was granted by the municipal government of Brest to Nachman Shlomovich (ib. p. 312). In 1641 the municipal government leased the cellar under the city hall to Simon Shlomich for three years at an annual rental of thirty florins (ib. p. 395).

Of the forty-two Jewish Lithuanian councils held from 1623 to 1761, nineteen met at Brest or at one of the cities in its district.

That the Jews were still protected by the king is evident from the privileges granted them by Sigismund III. (March 9, 1615), under which they were exempt from quartering the Polish nobility and retainers at their houses (ib. v. 141); by John Casimir (Feb. 17, 1649), confirming privileges granted by King Vladislaw IV. (Feb. 15, 1633, and Dec. 31, 1646); and by Sigismund III. (Oct. 10, 1592) (ib. p. 144). By an order issued June 23, 1655, King John Casimir forbade his subjects to build roadside inns or mills or to sell liquors, on the ground that the interests of the Brest leaseholders of the king were injured by such practises; and he warned them that all such establishments would be confiscated (ib. p. 153). By an order dated July 30, 1661, the same king relieved the Jews of Brest from all military duties; giving as his reason that the city of Brest and the Jews of that place were ruined by the invasion of the Moscovites (ib. p. 161). By a second edict (Aug. 8, 1661) he proclaimed that the Jews of Brest were released from all obligations for four years. He also released them from paying rent for the monopoly of the sale of liquors (ib. p. 162). In the same edict the king notified the Voyevoda of Polotzk that, on account of the losses inflicted on them by the invasion of "the enemy" (the Moscovites), the Jews of Brest were not able to pay their creditors, and that the king gave the Jews an "iron" or irrevocable charter freeing them from the payment of their debts for three years (ib. p. 163).

That even the factor of King John Casimir, Jonas Moizheshovich, was not very wealthy, and had to pawn his jewels and other property to the Christian merchant Vasili Proskurnich, is evident from an order issued by the king May 22, 1662, from which it appears that, having paid half of the debt, Jonas wished to pay the balance and to receive back his pledge, but that Proskurnich could not be found. The king considered that Proskurnich was trying to avoid the return of the pledge; he, therefore ordered all the clerical and other authorities to arrest Proskurnich wherever found, that he give satisfaction to Moizheshovich (ib. p. 164).

Persecution Under Chmielnicki.

During the uprising of the Cossacks under Chmielnicki, 2,000 Jews were killed in Brest-Litovsk in 1649; the others escaped to Great Poland and Danzig (Kostomarov, "Bogdan Chmielnitzky,"i. 341; Hanover, "Yaven Meẓulah"). From a report of Gregory Kunakov, a courier of the czar, it appears that in this year Brest was utterly destroyed by the Cossacks and Tatars, that the Poles and Jews with their wives and children were all slain, and that all the palaces and stone walls were destroyed, the wooden buildings burned, and the city razed to the ground ("Regesty," No. 847).

From the instructions given to the delegates to the congress of the nobility of Volhynia, held at Brest in 1653, it is evident that taxes could not be collected from the Jews for the reasons above stated, and because some Jews had become victims of the pestilence, while others had fled to other countries (ib. No. 941). During the invasion of Brest by the Muscovites in 1660, all the deeds relating to the privileges and contracts of the Jews were lost (ib. No. 975).

That their relations with their Christian neighbors were not as friendly as formerly may be seen from a quarrel between the Christian citizens and the Jews over property lost by the latter during a fire at Brest in 1637. The case was, however, amicably settled on the following conditions: (1) The city government ordered the citizens to return to the Jews their lost property wherever found, and to declare the amounts of debts due to the Jews. (2) Thereafter all lawsuits relating to property or documents destroyed by the fire, to cease; the Jews to have the right to take away all of their property wherever found. (3) The citizens to assist the Jews in capturing escaped criminals. (4) Both Jews and Christians to have the right to rebuild their stores and houses, but only on the old sites and according to the original plans. (5) To preserve order in the future, a guard to be organized consisting of Jews and Christians in equal numbers. (6) Steps to be taken by the city authorities to quell any future disorders ("Akty Wilenskoi Archivnoi Kommissii," vi. 289).

Another case is cited in 1621, viz., where the Christian murderer of a Jew was released from prison by a priest in consideration of the present of a casket of money taken by him from the house of the murderer. The authorities, by removing the guards from the prison, allowed the murderer to escape; and the many citizens who saw him break away did not help the Jews to capture him (ib. v. 14).

Lawsuits.

Lawsuits between Jews and Christians on account of property are of frequent occurrence, as is evident from the case (in 1639) of Joseph Zelmanovich of Brest against the merchant Friedrich of Thorn (ib. vi. 324); of the merchant Matvei Strepkovich against the deputy of Brest, accusing him of bribery for taking the part of Jacob Josephovich, a Jew of Brest (ib. p. 326); and of one Kornilovich against the same deputy, for declining to register in the city records his complaint of slander against the Jews of Brest—among them Zalaman, the agent of the Kahal (ib. p. 336).

Of a more serious nature were the conflicts between the Jews and the Catholic and the Greek Orthodox clergy. The education of the Lithuanian Catholic youth at that time was practically under the control of the Jesuits, as had been the case in Poland for a century. As a result of the encouragement among the pupils of a spirit of mischief directed against the Jews, the latter were constantly subjected to annoyances by the students from the so called "Schülergelauf." The Jews at times retaliated upon the students. On one occasion the rector and the superintendent of the Jesuit college of Brest asked that a formal protest might be recorded against the unbelieving Jews of the city of Brest, who, it was stated, had, "in their hatred of Christian blood," insulted and beaten the students on many occasions. In 1643 it was alleged that they "had attacked little children of the officials of the Brest voeyvodeship with a heavy club, still preserved in the college as a proof of their insolence." On March 8, 1644, a student named Nesetzki asserted that he had been attacked by Jews when passing the house of Pinkes Samuelovich in the Jewish street, and narrowly escaped with his life (ib. v. 17).

Church Dispute.

From a document dated Feb. 10, 1662, it appears that the general commissioner of the monastic order of the Augustines directed the return to the Brest Jews of six yards of ground taken from them by the father superior of the monastery (ib. v. 24). In 1656 the Russian bishop Petei writes to Trotzcovich, priest of Brest, requesting him to make an effort to build a church on the ground whereon the church of Kozmo-Demyan had stood in former years, and whereon Jewish houses were then located; and to give notice to the Jews forthwith to clear the ground (ib. iii. 55). But from a document addressed to the kahal of Brest by the alderman of the city, it is evident that from ancient times the Jews had had a lease, at an annual rent of 20 florins, of the site of the Kozmo-Demyan church, on the Russian street, with the right to build houses (ib. p. 68). Notwithstanding this, the matter was not settled until 1679, when Bishop Zalenski issued a document stating that "the Jews had the right to build on that place."

A Reconversion.

On Aug. 21, 1669, the priest of the Russian church made a complaint against the Jews of Brest for reconverting to Judaism a baptized Jewess of the name of Judith, whose baptismal name was Anastasia, a daughter of Shemuel, at one time leaseholder of taxes (ib. v. 44). From a case between the kahal of Brest and some Russian priests of the city (Dec. 30, 1669) it appears that the latter caused much damage to the Jews of Brest, and that during the religious processions riots took place in which Jewish property was stolen and Jews were murdered or wounded by priests as well as by others (ib. p. 41).

Cases of outrages on the part of the Polish nobility are not wanting. On Feb. 10, 1665, a case was tried in the city court of Brest between the kahal and Vespasian and Chrysostom Kostiusko and Voitech Orinovich, the charge being that the defendants rode on horseback into the synagogue with their retainers, followed by a mob with drawn swords; that they cut almost to pieces the Jew Jovskei Aronovich, and severely wounded the agentof the kahal, Leib Itzkovich. The court condemned the Kostiuskos to death and to a payment of 200 kops for the murdered Jew. Chrysostom did not appear in court, but sent notice that he was called to the war. There is no account of his having been punished (ib. v. 28, 31).

Relations with Nobility.

In 1669 the nobility of Brest instructed their delegates to the Diet to bring in a law prohibiting Jews from employing Christian servants, "as the working classes, who like easy work, prefer to be employed by the Jews" (ib. iv. 49).

The hetman of the grand duchy of Lithuania had to warn his subordinates repeatedly that the Jews of Brest must be freed from all military duties and must not be blackmailed (ib. v. 180). It appears from another order of the hetman (Aug. 7, 1669) that the city of Brest was charged with the duty of supplying the army with provisions (ib. iv. 70). The city authorities of Brest also forced the Jews to pay extra taxes and local contributions "in violation of their privileges and agreements," as is evident from an edict issued by King Michael Nov. 5, 1669 (ib. v. 249).

From a safe-conduct given to the Jews of Brest by the aldermen of Brest (April 2, 1668), it is apparent that they were often annoyed, attacked, mobbed, and robbed. The officials are warned, under a penalty of 10,000 kops, not to do any further harm to the Jews (ib. p. 183).

From a list of the year 1662 of the Jewish merchants of Brest for the apportionment of subsidiary taxes instituted by the Diet of Warsaw it appears that the highest valuation of goods in the fifteen stores of the Jews of Brest was 650 florins; the lowest, 30 florins. The collection from the pedlers is assessed at the sum of 150 florins.

From the beginning of the seventeenth century the Jewish community of Brest, like all the other communities of Lithuania, was obliged to contract debts; borrowing money from various religious institutions, such as churches, colleges, monasteries, and religious orders. The loans were mostly perpetual, and were secured by the real estate of the kahal. In this way most of the property of the community was under continuous mortgage.

Debts of Community.

In the middle of the eighteenth century the kahals of Lithuania became insolvent. When the committee of the Diet began to liquidate the Jewish debts in 1766, it appeared that the kahal of Brest then consisted of 3,175 persons; it had a debt of 122,723 florins (Bershadski, "Litovskie Yevrei," p. 8). The chief creditors were: the Jesuit college of Brest, 26,233 florins; the college of Neswizh, 2,800; the mission of Koden, 9,600; the provost of Kobrin, 400; Alter Shereshveski, 4,000; the Trinitarians of Brest, 1,000; the Dominicans of Brest, 11,516 florins, 14 groschen; the Augustinians of Brest, 32,300; the Bridget nuns of Brest, 7,700; the communist priests of Lomaza, 8,000; the Cistercians of Wislitzy, 1,000; the Paulinists, 7,200; the Bernardines of Brest, 2,300; the Greek Orthodox Dizunites, 1,000; the Carthusians of Bereza, 3,200; the provost Chernovitzki, 2,000; in all, 122,723 florins (ib. p. 170).

The total income of the kahal of Brest was then 31,200 florins. It was derived from taxes on salt, tobacco, herrings, tar, mills, taverns, breweries, etc.; licenses of Jewish artisans; a certain percentage on dowries, and from the meat monopoly (ib. p. 9). The expenses were: salary of the superintendent or agent, who received, in addition, certain articles in kind, such as meat, fish, sweets, etc.; salaries of the rabbi and judges; supplies for the army during its movements through the district of Brest, consisting of candles, oil, paper, sealing-wax, meat, fish, etc.

When the nuncio of the pope visited the city, the kahal presented him with a hogshead of sugar. The officiating priest received a pound of sugar; the clerk, a flask of liquor.

With the fall of the Polish-Lithuanian kingdom the decline of Brest was hastened. Frequent fires, wars, and the plunder of the armies utterly destroyed the city. With the second partition of Poland, Brest, which had been rebuilt, came into the possession of Russia, and in 1796 was made a district town of the government of Slonim. In 1797 it was annexed to the Lithuanian provinces, and in 1801 was made a district town of the government of Grodno. In 1802 a fire destroyed a large part of the Jewish quarter. In 1828 fire also destroyed a great number of the Jewish buildings of Brest, among them five houses of prayer.

Nineteenth Century.

In the first half of the nineteenth century Brest had not improved, owing to the competition of other Jewish communities of Lithuania which had developed rapidly. By order of Nicholas I., Brest, in 1832, was made a first-class fortress, in consequence of which many historical buildings in the Jewish quarter and the ancient synagogue had to be demolished, others being erected on new sites, the government making partial compensation. By order of Rabbi Jacob Meïr Padua, a descendant of Saul Wahl, the architect Ferdinand Schafir made a sketch of the old synagogue, which was presented to Dennis Samuel of London, also a descendant of Wahl. In the course of work on the fortress the cemetery was destroyed; and the monuments, when removed to the new cemetery, could not be deciphered.

In 1838 the Jewish Hospital, with forty beds and a pharmacy, was erected. It then had an income of five hundred rubles from the meat-tax and from voluntary contributions. In 1851-61 the new synagogue was built; and in 1866 an asylum for widows was founded by Rabbi Orenstein. In 1877 a dispensary, poorhouse, and lodgings for the poor were built; also a Talmud-Torah for 500 pupils. All these institutions are still (1902) maintained by voluntary contributions.

Notwithstanding numerous conflagrations, Brest, in 1860, contained 812 houses and 19,342 inhabitants. In 1889 there were 2,063 buildings and 41,615 inhabitants, of whom 27,005 were Jews; of the latter, 4,364 were artisans, 1,235 licensed merchants, and 1,000 employed in manufacturing.

At present the Jews control most of the trade and industries of Brest. There are four tobacco factories. The main articles of export (mostly to Danzig) are grain, flax and flaxseed, tar, lumber, and cattle.

On May 17, 1895, on the occurrence of anotherlarge fire, the Jewish working classes were in great distress; and the minister of ways and communications permitted them free passage on the railroads for twelve days, to seek employment.

On May 11, 1901, another disastrous fire took place, resulting in a serious loss of life and property. In consequence the number of Jewish poor was largely increased.

Prominent Personalities.

Among prominent Jews of Brest, besides rabbis, may be mentioned: in the eighteenth century, Jacob Levi, author of "Ḥiddushe-Mahari"; Jekuthiel of Wilna, physician, pupil of Rabbi Moses Ḥayyim Luzzatto; Mordecai, author of "Mayvim-'Ammuḳḳim"; Joel, grandson of Joel Sirkes, and pupil of Lipman Heller; in the nineteenth century, Aaron ben Meïr, author of "Minḥat-Aharon"; Meïr ben Aaron, author of "Tebuat Shemesh"; on Maimonides, Abraham Isaac ben Joseph, author of "Pesher Dabar"; Abraham Isaac, author of "'Arba'Kosot"; Samuel Pusitz (died 1838); Iser-Judel ben Nehemiah, author of "Neḥamat-Yehudah," chief dayyan with Jacob Meïr Padua (died in Jerusalem); Isaac ben Ḥayyim of Kamenetz, chief dayyan with Ẓebi Ornstein (died 1888); Isaac ben Aba, author of "Me'ore bet-Yiẓḥaḳ"; Lipman ben David, author of "Ma'agalot Or"; Ẓebi-Hirsch Berls, author of "Or ha-Ẓebi"; Judah Epstein, author of "Ḳinamon-Bosem"; Meïr Jonah, chief dayyan, author of "Sha'ar he Ḥadash," on Isaac b. Abba Mari's "Ittur."

The following is a list of the rabbis who officiated in Brest-Litovsk:

  • Jehiel, son of Aaron Luria, said to have officiated about 1470, but probably was only a private scholar then.
  • Moses Raskovich, about 1514; wanted to marry his daughter to the son of a rabbi of Cracow, but King Sigismund prohibited the match because the prospective bridegroom was under suspicion of having been mixed up in political affairs, and the latter was banished from Poland.
  • Mendel Frank, 1529.
  • Joseph ben Moses, 1546.
  • Rabbi Kalonymus, about 1560; mentioned in the Responsa of Solomon Luria, No. 36. Mordecai Reiss and Rabbi Simon were at the head of the yeshibah at the same time.
  • Solomon Luria (d. 1574).
  • Naphtali Hertz, called "Hirtz der Brisker" (compare Naphtali Shor).
  • Judah Liwa ben Obadiah Eilenburg, 1570.
  • Loeb, rabbi of Brest and of all Lithuania.
  • Moses Lipschütz, author of "Zikkaron Mosheh" (Lublin, 1611), about 1569.
  • Beinush Lipschütz, son-in-law of Saul Wahl (possibly he was the son of Moses Lipschütz).
  • Hirsh Shor (or Hirsh Elsasser).
  • Ephraim Solomon Shor.
  • Joel Särkes. In 1618 he left Brest for Cracow.
  • Ze'eb-Wolf, son-in-law of Saul Wahl; previously rabbi of Lomaz.
  • Joseph Casas, son-in-law of Wahl.
  • Abraham (Abrashky), son of Saul Wahl; was president of the yeshibah.
  • Meïr Wahl, son of Saul Wahl; officiated till 1631. He founded the Lithuanian Council in 1623, by permission of Sigismund III., of whom his father was a favorite.
  • Jacob ben Ephraim Naphtali Hertz.
  • Abraham ben Meïr Epstein, 1637.
  • Abraham ben Benjamin Aaron Solnik, 1639.
  • Joshua ben Joseph, author of "Magine Shelomeh."
  • Solomon Zalman, son of Jeremiah Jacob. His last signature in the Lithuanian Pinkes occurs under date of 1646.
  • Jacob Kahana, president of the yeshibah.
  • Jacob ben Ephraim Solomon Shor; last signature in the Pinkes under 1655.
  • Moses ben Judah Lima. Died before 1657.
  • Aaron Samuel Kaidanover (about 1657-60).
  • Joshua Heshel ben Jacob.
  • Ẓebi Hirsch ben Moses Jacob; last signature in the Pinkes under 1664.
  • Judah of Tropau; his signature in the Lithuanian Pinkes under 1664.
  • Mordecai Günzburg; officiated at Brest until 1685.
  • Mordecai Süsskind ben Moses Rothenburg; his last signature in the Pinkes, 1691.
  • Saul ben Heshel, from 1691; last signature in the Pinkes, 1695.
  • Saul ben Moses of Cholm, grandson of Meïr Wahl; formerly rabbi at Pinezov.
  • Moses ben Pesaḥ ben Tanḥum of Cracow, grandson of the author of "She'erit Joseph," and son-in-law of Meïr Wahl.
  • Moses ben Mordecai Süsskind Rothenburg.
  • Menahem ben Benjamin Katz.
  • David Oppenheim; accepted the rabbinate of Brest in 1698, but did not officiate there.
  • Judah-Löb, grandson of Joel Särkes.
  • Abraham ben Solomon, 1711.
  • Samuel Ẓebi Hirsch ben Aryeb Loeb, about 1714.
  • Naḥman ben Samuel Ẓebi Hertz, Sirkin, 1718-53.
  • Israel Isser ben Moses, 1757-60.
  • Abraham ben David Katzenellenbogen of Kaidan; was rabbi at Slutzk, 1752. In Brest he officiated for forty-four years (1760-1804).
  • Joseph ben Abraham Katzenellenbogen, 1804.
  • Naḥman Heilprin.
  • Aryeh Löb ben Joseph Katzenellenbogen, 1798-1837.
  • Isaac ben Israel of Pinsk, 1837-40.
  • Jacob Meïr Padua, 1840-55.
  • Ẓebi Hirsch Orenstein, 1865-74. Was expelled from Russia as a foreign Jew, he having been born at Lemberg. Joshua Löb Diskin, 1874-77.
  • Joseph Bär Soloveitschik, 1869-92.
  • Ḥayyim Soloveitschik, son of Joseph Bär; is now (1902) officiating as rabbi.
Bibliography:
  • Bershadski, Litovskie Yevrei, St. Petersburg, 1883;
  • Bershadski, Russko-Yevreiski Archiv, ib.;
  • Feinstein, 'Ir Tehillah, Warsaw, 1886;
  • Grätz, Gesch. der Juden, Hebrew transl., vii., viii., passim.
H. R.
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