Ephraim ben Jacob of Bonn

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EPHRAIM BEN JACOB OF BONN (b. 1132), liturgical poet and commentator. When his teacher Joel b. Isaac ha-Levi left Bonn, Ephraim succeeded him as av bet din. He also taught for some time in Mainz and Speyer. In 1197, he resided in Bonn and Neuss, leaving the latter town only three days before its Jews were massacred. He appears to have died shortly thereafter. Ephraim wrote the Sefer Zekhirah ("Book of Remembrance") and dirges on the sufferings of the Jews during the Second Crusade. He also composed piyyutim for the festivals, 27 of which (two in Aramaic) have been published. His commentary on piyyutim still exists in manuscript; it contains many traditional details concerning the early liturgical poets, poems, and liturgical customs (Hamburg, Ms. no. 152). The well-known legend describing the martyrdom of *Amnon of Mainz, as well as the legend concerning the early paytanR. *Yannai, who out of jealousy of his pupil R. Eleazar *Kallir put a scorpion in his shoe, are attributed to him. He also wrote tosafot and commentaries to the treatises of Eruvin, Ketubbot, and Avot, besides halakhic responsa and commentaries to benedictions and various customs. R. Ephraim is also referred to in his hymns as "Shalom"; it was possibly an additional name. The meaning of the word ילִיבייה added to his name has not yet been clarified. It has been suggested that he had a German name such as Geliebter ("beloved") which was commonly pronounced "yelība."


A.M. Habermann (ed.), Gezerot Ashkenaz ve-Ẓarefat (1945), 115–36; Davidson, Oẓar, 4 (1933), 369, s.v.Efrayim mi-Bona (b. Ya'akov); Zunz, Lit Poesie, 288–93; Germ Jud, 1 (1934), 49–50, no. 6; V. Aptowitzer, Mavo le-Sefer Ravyah (1938), 319–21; Habermann, in: ymḤsi, 7 (1958), 215–96; Baron, Social, index.

[Abraham Meir Habermann]