Drach, Paul-Louis-Bernard

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DRACH, PAUL-LOUIS-BERNARD (David ; 1791–1865), French apostate. Drach, who was born at Strasbourg, received a traditional rabbinic education. In 1813 he went to Paris, married a daughter of E. Deutz, chief rabbi of France, and, in 1819, was appointed head of the Paris Jewish School. At this time he published a Passover Haggadah (1818) and a siddur (1819), both with translation, a Jewish calendar (1821), and other works. On Easter 1823, to the consternation of French Jewry, Drach had himself baptized, with much pomp and circumstance, into the Catholic church, and he spent a year and a half in obtaining paternal control of his three children whom his wife had secretly taken to London. For a time he worked in Paris as an expert in Hebrew and took part in the publication of the Venice Bible (27 vols., 1827–33). From 1832 to 1842 he served as librarian of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith in Rome, and published Hebrew poems in honor of the pope and the cardinals. Returning to Paris, Drach collaborated with the Abbé J.P. Migne in the publication of his Patrologia. He also edited the fragments of Origen's Hexapla (1857–60), and translated into French the anonymous work *Sefer ha-Yashar (1858), wrongly attributed to Jacob *Tam who wrote another work similarly entitled. He also wrote a number of books and pamphlets to justify his apostasy and to prove to his former coreligionists the truth of Christianity. He succeeded in winning over his brother-in-law Hyacinthe (Simon) Deutz, the man who denounced the Duchess of Berry to the police; and his children, too, grew up as Christians and took Holy Orders.


P. Klein [= M. Catane], in: Revue de la Pensée Juive, 7 (1951), 87–103.

[Moshe Catane]