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Bak

BAK

BAK , printers and pioneers in Ereẓ Israel. israel bak (1797–1874) was born in Berdichev, Ukraine, into a family of printers. Later he owned a Jewish press in Berdichev, printing about 30 books between 1815 and 1821 when the press closed down. In 1831, after various unsuccessful efforts to reopen the works, he immigrated to Palestine and settled in Safed. There he renewed the tradition of printing Hebrew works, which had come to an end in the last third of the 17th century. During the peasant revolt against Muhammad Ali in 1834 his printing press was destroyed and he was wounded. Later he reopened his press, and also began to work the land on Mount Yarmak (Meron), overlooking Safed. His was the first Jewish farm in Ereẓ Israel in modern times. After the Safed earthquake in 1837 and the Druze revolt in 1838, during which his farm and printing press were destroyed, he moved to Jerusalem. In 1841 he established the first – and for 22 years, the only – Jewish printing press in Jerusalem. One hundred and thirty books were printed on it, making it an important cultural factor in Jerusalem. Bak also published and edited the second Hebrew newspaper in Ereẓ Israel, Ḥavaẓẓelet (1863). After a short time its publication stopped and was renewed only in 1870 by his son-in-law I.D. *Frumkin and others. Israel Bak was a leader of the ḥasidic community; as a result of his efforts and those of his son Nisan, a central synagogue for the Ḥasidim, called Tiferet Israel (after R. Israel of Ruzhin), came into being. In Jerusalem it was also known as "Nisan Bak's synagogue." It was destroyed in 1948 during the War of Independence.

nisan (1815–1889), only son of Israel, was born in Berdichev and immigrated to Palestine with his father in 1831. Nisan managed the printing press after the death of his father until 1883, when he sold the business; thereafter he devoted himself exclusively to communal affairs in Jerusalem. He was an active worker in the ḥasidic community and the representative of the Ruzhin-Sadagura dynasty in Jerusalem. Through his contacts with the Turkish government he did much to modify decrees aimed against the yishuv. He initiated and executed several building projects in Jerusalem, such as the Kiryah Ne'emanah quarter, first named Oholei Moshe vi-Yhudit, but better known as Battei Nisan Bak. He and his brother-in-law I.D. Frumkin were pioneers of the Haskalah in Jerusalem; they also opposed the methods of *ḥalukkah distribution. In 1884 Nisan and others founded the Ezrat Niddaḥim Society, which fought the missions and established the Yemenite quarter in Jerusalem.

bibliography:

G. Kressel (ed.), Mivḥar Kitvei I.D. Frumkin (1954), index; A. Yaari, Ha-Defus ha-Ivri be-Arẓot ha-Mizraḥ (1937), 20–22 (list of books printed by Israel Bak in Safed); S. Halevi, Ha-Sefarim ha-Ivriyyim she-Nidpesu be-Yrushalayim (1963), index; G. Kressel, Toledot ha-Ittonut ha-Ivrit be-Ereẓ Yisrael (1964), index; Tidhar, 1 (1947), 64f.; M. Benayahu, in: Aresheth, 4 (1966), 271–95.

[Getzel Kressel]

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