Isaac (Isak), Aaron

views updated


ISAAC (Isak), AARON (Aron ; 1730–1816), founder of the Jewish community in Sweden. Born in Treuenbrietzen, a small city in the Duchy of Mecklenburg, Isaac started his career as a peddler at the age of 18. Yielding to an artistic impulse, he taught himself seal-engraving, achieving some success in this craft, and settled in Buetzow. During the Seven Years' War (1756–63) he did business with the Prussian and later the Swedish armies. Learning from the Swedish soldiers that there were no seal-engravers in Sweden, Isaac decided to settle in that country, although no Jew had lived there previously. When he arrived in Stockholm in June 1774 after a difficult journey, he was informed that permission to settle would be granted only if he accepted baptism. This he refused to do and petitioned the king, whom he impressed by his sobriety and persistence. His request was granted and Isaac, his brother, and his partner in Germany, with their families, received permission to settle in Stockholm. After these early struggles the fledgling settlement began to flourish, Isaac remaining head of the Stockholm community for many years. His memoirs in Yiddish, completed in 1804 with an introduction in Hebrew, Sjelfbiografi (1897), are important not only historically but also for Yiddish philology and have been frequently republished.


N. Stif and Z. Rejzen (eds.), Aaron Isaacs Autobiografia (Yid., 1922); Z. Holm (ed.), Denkwuerdigkeiten des Aron Isak (1930); A. Brody and H. Valentin (eds.), Aaron Isaacs Minnen (Swedish, 1932), annotated critical edition; L. Schwarz, Memoirs of my People (19632), 166–81; 299; H. Valentin, Judarnas historia i Sverige (1924), index; idem, Judarna i Sverige (1964), index.

[Hugo Mauritz Valentin]

About this article

Isaac (Isak), Aaron

Updated About content Print Article


Isaac (Isak), Aaron