Benjamin ben Elijah Duwan

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BENJAMIN BEN ELIJAH DUWAN (1747–after 1816), leader of Karaite community in Eupatoria (Yevpatoriya) and its ḥazzan. He was also the dayyan of the local bet din. In 1782–83 in the course of his visit in Constantinople he studied astronomy in order to deepen his knowledge of the calendar. In 1785 he made a pilgrimage to Ereẓ Israel with four other Karaites. He described his impressions in his travelogue. In Jerusalem they stayed with the Karaite community, under the leadership of ḥakham Mordecai ben Samuel ha-Levi, which numbered 16 houses. They also visited Hebron, and stayed at Rabbanite houses which he claimed had once been Karaite houses.

In 1881, after a calendar dispute that lasted 18 years, Benjamin came to Chufut-Qaleh at the head of several Eupatorian Karaite dignitaries in order to confront the Karaite scholar *Isaac ben Salomon. According to Isaac's report, Benjamin was defeated, but he did not give in, and Yom Kippur was kept by him and his group on a Sunday against Isaac's calculation which was supported by the majority. Benjamin authored a number of liturgical poems, some of which are included in the Karaite Siddur. He was familiar with Rabbanite books and was interested in Kabbalah.


G. Akhiezer, in: M.Polliack (ed.), Karaite Judaism (2003), 741; E. Deinard, Masa Krim (1878), 70–71; H.Y. Gurland, Ginzei Yisrael, i (1865), 44–54, 88–89; A. Yaari, Masa'ot Ereẓ Yisrael (1976), 459–78; Mann, Texts 2, (1935), 1535, index.

[Golda Akhiezer (2nd ed.)]

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Benjamin ben Elijah Duwan

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