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Kohen-Tsedek, Yosef

(1827–1903), publisher, journalist, and Orthodox maskil. Yosef Kohen-Tsedek (last name also rendered Kohen-Zedek) was born in Lwów. While primarily engaged in rabbinic scholarship, he also taught himself languages and secular studies. In 1853, he established a publishing house in Lwów and was among the pioneering publishers of Hebrew periodicals in Galicia. He founded and edited the first Hebrew weekly in Galicia, Ha-Mevaser, with its literary supplement, Ha-Nesher, between 1861 and 1866. The newspaper served, among other things, as a platform for rabbinic authors as well as for moderate maskilim from Galicia and Lithuania. Kohen-Tsedek often challenged radical positions expressed in the competing newspaper, ‘Ivri anokhi, published by Barukh Werber.

Kohen-Tsedek also edited other journals: Meged yeraḥim (1855–1857); Otsar ha-ḥokhmah (1859–1865); Halikhot ‘olam (1863, 1866); Ha-Yehudi ha-nitsḥi (1865–1866); and Or Torah (1874); as well as a Yiddish newspaper, Der yudenfraynd (1866). In his periodicals, Kohen-Tsedek appears as a maskil with great respect for scholarship, but fully faithful to tradition. He dealt extensively with the lives of rabbinic figures, the publishing of ancient manuscripts, and the cultivation of the Hebrew language. He also published several collections of homilies in honor of the Austrian royal family, as well as annotated editions of two ancient books, one of which was Even boḥan by Kalonymos ben Kalonymos ben Me’ir (1865).

In 1865, Kohen-Tsedek moved to Kraków, but left Galicia in 1868 in the wake of a legal suit that had been brought against him. He wandered in Western Europe, including stays in Frankfurt, Paris, and Amsterdam, and maintained himself as a preacher. In 1875, he settled in London and served as a preacher in a congregation made of immigrants from Russia and Poland. In London, he continued to write sermons, polemical tracts, and scholarly genealogical texts, some of which were published. They include, among others, Sefat emet (1881), a polemic against the maskil author Mikha’el Rodkinson; Elef alfin (1890), a eulogy on the chief rabbi of London Nathan Adler; Shem u-she’erit (1895), which studies a tombstone in Przemyśl and tells the lives of several rabbinic figures; and Mishpeḥot Yehudah and Dor yesharim (1898), on eminent Jewish dynasties.

Suggested Reading

Gershom Bader, Medinah ve-ḥakhameha (New York, 1934), pp. 119–121; Menuḥah Gilbo‘a, Leksikon ha-‘itonut ha-‘ivrit: Ba-Me’ot ha-shemoneh ‘esreh veha-tesha‘ ‘esreh (Jerusalem, 1992); Nahum Sokolow, Ishim (Jerusalem, 1957/58), pp. 205–213; Me’ir Vunder, “R. Yosef Kohen-Tsedek,” in Me’ore Galitsyah: Entsiklopedyah le-ḥakhme Galitsyah, vol. 3, cols. 310–314 (Jerusalem, 1986).



Translated from Hebrew by David Strauss