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Kamelhar, Yekuti’el

(1871–1937), rabbi, educator, and publisher. Born in Kołaczyce, Galicia, Yekuti’el Kamelhar was educated in Tarnów, where he was exposed to Hasidism. He gained experience as a religious educator, heading a group of Talmud students in Korczyna (from 1890) and in Rzeszów (from 1897). At the end of the nineteenth century, Kamelhar was involved in establishing several pioneering new yeshivas in Galicia, modeled after those in Lithuania and Hungary. He was appointed head of the Or Torah yeshiva in Stanisławów in 1907. An Orthodox activist, Kamelhar helped to found societies that supported a religious education network, and took part in the attempts to organize a rabbinic convention in Kraków in 1903.

Kamelhar’s attitude toward Zionism was complex. At first he expressed opposition to the Mizraḥi movement; in 1920, however, he was appointed Galicia’s representative to the religious Zionist Degel Yerushalayim movement, founded by Rabbi Avraham Yitsḥak Kook. In the last decade of his life, Kamelhar had difficulty establishing a permanent residence. He immigrated to New York in 1925, serving intermittently as the rabbi of various communities, but did not remain in any of them for an extended period of time. Even after finally arriving in Jerusalem in 1933, Kamelhar did not take a permanent post but was involved in publishing his works.

Kamelhar was one of the pioneers in Orthodox historical writing. A number of his biographical works relating to rabbinic figures and Hasidic tsadikim achieved wide renown. These include Mofet ha-dor (1903) on Yeḥezkel Landau (the Noda‘ Bi-Yehudah) of Prague; Em la-binah (1909) on Menaḥem Mendel of Rimanov; Ḥasidim ha-rishonim (1917) on Yehudah he-Ḥasid and his family; and a biographical lexicon, Dor de‘ah (1933–1935).

Throughout his career, Kamelhar was also involved in Orthodox publishing. In 1898 he founded Ohel mo‘ed, the first Orthodox monthly journal in Galicia, and he attempted to establish additional periodicals in Galicia and Palestine. He also wrote many articles on public affairs and current events for the Orthodox press.

Suggested Reading

Joshua Mondshain, Ha-Tsofeh le-doro (Jerusalem, 1987); Me’ir Vunder, “R. Yekuti’el Aryeh Kamelhar,” in Me’ore Galitsyah: Entsiklopedyah le-ḥakhme Galitsyah, vol. 4, cols. 556–564 (Jerusalem, 1990).



Translated from Hebrew by David Strauss