AMITTAI (c. 800), Hebrew liturgical poet in *Oria, southern Italy; father of the liturgical poet *Shephatiah of Oria. According to tradition, the family was exiled to Italy by *Titus, after the destruction of the Temple. The *Ahimaaz chronicle describes Amittai as "a sage, learned in the Torah, a poet and scholar, strong in faith." Several piyyutim signed simply Amittai may probably be credited to him, including the touching pizmon Ezkerah Elohim ve-Ehemayah ("Lord I remember Thee and am sore amazed") which is included in the Concluding Service for the Day of Atonement according to the Ashkenazi rite, as well as Eikh Narim Rosh be-Ereẓ Oyevim ("How shall we raise our heads in a hostile land"). Some authorities however ascribe the former piyyut to his grandson *Amittai ben Shephatiah. The compositions breathe the spirit of the ancient Palestinian religious poetry.
B. Klar (ed.), Megillat Aḥima'aẓ (1944), 12, 206f.; Davidson, Oẓar, 4 (1933), 368; Zunz, Lit Poesie, 256; Roth, Italy, 50 ff.; Schirmann, in: Roth, Dark Ages, 250.
[Abraham Meir Habermann]