Calmanson, Jacob

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CALMANSON, JACOB (Jacques ; second half of 18th century), a personal physician of the last Polish king, Stanislas ii Augustus; son of a rabbi of Hrubieszow. Calmanson spoke German and French and was known for his enlightened and progressive views. In his public activities he became prominent mainly during the period of the Prussian conquest, by putting forward proposals for "improvement of the Jews" (see *Emancipation), entitled Essai sur l'état actuel des Juifs de Pologne et leur perfectibilité, which appeared in 1796, first in French and a year later translated into Polish; Calmanson dedicated his work to Count Hoym, the Prussian commissioner for the annexed Polish areas, who was an admirer of Moses *Mendelssohn. In his pamphlet Calmanson described the various trends in Jewish religious life, strongly opposing Ḥasidism, which he considered the main obstacle to "improvement." He suggested the reduction of Jewish *autonomy, the replacement of the ḥeder by state schools, supervision of marriages, and compulsory adoption of European dress and customs. Some of these proposals were included in the regulations for Jews introduced from 1797 in the new areas of southern and eastern Prussia.


Dubnow, Divrei, 8 (1933), 168–9; J. Shatzky, Geshikhte fun Yidn in Varshe, 1 (1947), index; R. Mahler, Ha-Ḥasidut ve-ha-Haskalah (1961), 391, n. 26.

[Moshe Landau]