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Pascheles, Wolf

(1814–1857), Hebrew printer, publisher, and bookseller. The son of impoverished parents, Wolf Pascheles earned his livelihood from childhood by tutoring in Prague and its immediate vicinity. In 1828, he edited and published a book of German prayers for Jewish women titled Deutsche Gebete für Frauen (in German with Hebrew letters), whose popularity was evidenced by the appearance of several editions under various titles. In 1832, during the cholera epidemic in Prague, Pascheles edited a booklet containing the prayers and seliḥot (penitential prayers) of Rabbi Eli‘ezer Ashkenazi. With the money earned from editions of the Hebrew and Yiddish prayer books, Pascheles in 1836 opened Prague’s first Hebrew bookshop—selling both new and used books—and another in Brno in 1844.

Beginnning in 1846, Pascheles edited a popular anthology titled Sippurim: Eine Sammlung jüdischen Volkssagen (Sippurim: Collection of Jewish Popular Tales), which contained biographies of medieval and modern Jewish personalities, tales from Prague’s Jewish ghetto, and imaginative literature. Contributors included Salomon Kohn, Isaac Marcus Jost, Jacob Raphael Fürstenthal, S. I. Kaempf, and Leopold Weisel. Sippurim proved to be a very popular anthology; it went through numerous editions from 1853 onward and also appeared in English as Jewish Legends of the Middle Ages (1908). It also became a major source for writers in adapting Jewish folktales for the modern reader. In 1852 Pascheles began to issue a Jewish almanac under the title Pascheles’ illustrierter jüdischer Volkskalender that proved to be another popular success, particularly among Jewish merchants, shopkeepers, and peddlers. The publication of this calendar was continued after his death (renamed Pascheles’ illustrierter israelitischer Volkskalender) by his sons Jacob and Samuel and his son-in-law Jacob B. Brandeis (1842–1913).

In 1853, Pascheles printed a miniature edition of the Torah with a German translation by Rabbi Heymann Arnheim (1796–1865). In 1855, he was awarded the gold medal “Viribus unitis” for an edition of the Sippurim. Following his death, Pascheles’s firm also published a popular series of books on Jewish history, literature, and contemporary events entitled Jüdische Universal-Bibliothek (1895–1920), which included works by such authors as Siegfried Kapper, Gustav Karpeles, Babette Fried, and Siegmund Cronbach. Wolfgang Pauli (1900–1958), who was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics in 1945, was Pascheles’s great-grandson.

Suggested Reading

The Jews of Czechoslovakia: Historical Studies and Surveys, vol. 1, p. 533 (Philadelphia, 1968); Pascheles’ Illustrierter Israelitischer Volkskalender (Prague, 1858), obituary.