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Frumkin, Aryeh Leib


FRUMKIN, ARYEH LEIB (1845–1916), rabbinical scholar and writer; pioneer of Jewish settlement in Ereẓ Israel. Frumkin studied rabbinics in his native Kelme, Lithuania, and at the Slobodka Yeshivah. He visited Ereẓ Israel in 1867, and after two years in Odessa, returned to Jerusalem in 1871. There he began research for a history of the rabbis and scholars of Jerusalem, Toledot Ḥakhmei Yerushalayim (Vilna, 1874; ed. by E. Rivlin, Jerusalem, 1928–30, repr. 1969, with biography and index). Frumkin's account of his first visit to Jerusalem, Massa Even Shemu'el (1871), gives important source material on conditions in Ereẓ Israel at the time. Returning to Lithuania, Frumkin was ordained a rabbi and took a rabbinical post at Ilukste, Latvia. After the 1881 pogroms, Frumkin participated, representing Ḥovevei Zion, in the consultations held in Germany to consider the plight of Russian Jewry. There he advocated settlement in Ereẓ Israel as a solution, opposing emigration to the United States. With the financial support of Emil Lachman, a wealthy Berlin Jew, he bought land in *Petaḥ Tikvah, built the first house there, and began a heroic ten-year period as a farmer-scholar, braving malaria and other dangers, establishing a talmud torah and a small yeshivah, and persuading more settlers to move there from *Yehud. Lachman eventually refused to continue endowing the enterprise and Frumkin was compelled to leave the settlement. In 1894 he went to London and was active in Jewish life in the East End. He established a wine business, using the income to return to Ereẓ lsrael in 1911, where he lived first in Jerusalem and then returned to Petaḥ Tikvah.

Apart from Toledot Ḥakhmei Yerushalayim, Frumkin's main contribution to Jewish scholarship is his edition of Seder Rav Amram (of *Amram ben Sheshna) which he published as a large siddur (from an Oxford Ms.), with a commentary and notes (Jerusalem, 1910–12). He also published a biographical sketch of his uncle, Elias b. Jacob, called Toledot Eliyahu (1900), a Passover Haggadah (with Gei Ḥizzayon commentary, 1913), and an edition of the Book of Esther with two commentaries (1893).


M. Harizman and J. Poleskin, Sefer ha-Yovel le-Fetaḥ Tikvah (1929), 321–51; E. Rivlin, in: A.L. Frumkin, Toledot Ḥakhmei Yerushalayim, 1 (1928), 11–56, first pagin.; A.I. Trywaks and E. Steinman, Sefer Me'ah Shanah (1938), 399–410.

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