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ABRAHAM OF BOHEMIA:

Prefect of the Jews of Great and Little Poland at the beginning of the sixteenth century. In 1512 King Sigismund I. of Poland issued a decree notifying his subjects in Great Poland and Little Poland that he had appointed Abraham, a Jew of Bohemia, prefect over them, and that one of Abraham's duties was to collect all taxes due from them and to deliver the same into the king's treasury ("Acta Tomiciana," iii. No. 252; "Metrika Koronnaya," 1518-20, book No. 33, p. 118). Abraham was recommended to Sigismund by the latter's brother, the king of Hungary and Bohemia, and by Emperor Maximilian of Germany. Both attested his honesty and blameless life. The law courts of Poland had no jurisdiction over Abraham, he being responsible only to the king's own court.

Abraham was one of the many Jews who emigrated from Bohemia to Poland. He was also from time to time counselor for some of the Jewish communities of Poland, as is apparent from the king's order to the Jews of Cracow to pay Abraham 200 florins, promised him as a reward for a defense "against certain accusations." The Polish Jews were not pleased with their new Bohemian prefect, who had become so powerful. The king ordered all the Jews of Poland, and especially the rabbis, to respect the liberties and privileges granted to Abraham, and not to encroach upon them by excommunication or in any other way. For these privileges Abraham paid an annual personal tax of 20 ducats (about $300 or $400, nominal).

Bibliography:
  • Bershadski, Iz Istorii Yevreyev v Litvye i Polshye in Yevreiskaya Biblioteka, vii. 30-35, St. Petersburg, 1879;
  • idem, Materialy Dlya Istorii Yevreyev v Polshye in Vos. Sept., 1893, pp. 111-126.
H. R.
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