Kaminka, Armand

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KAMINKA, ARMAND (Aaron ; 1866–1950), rabbi and scholar. Kaminka, who was born in Berdichev, studied at the universities of Berlin and Paris as well as at the orthodox Rabbinerseminar in Berlin and the Lehranstalt fuer die Wissenschaft des Judentums in Berlin. His first appointment was as rabbi at Frankfurt on the Oder, then as preacher at the Reform temple in Prague (1893–97). After serving as chief rabbi of Esseg (Osyek), Slavonia (1897–1900), he moved to Vienna where he became secretary of the Israelitische Allianz (whose history he described in Haolam, 35 (1948), nos. 1–11). In 1903 Kaminka was sent by the Israelitische Allianz to Kishinev to investigate the pogrom that had taken place there that April. He also taught Talmud, philosophy, and history at the bet hamidrash of I.H. Weiss (1901–04), as well as at the community's religious teachers' training college. In 1924 Kaminka founded Maimonides College (for the spreading of Jewish knowledge among Viennese Jewry), and from 1926 lectured on Talmud and Jewish philosophy at the University of Vienna. With the annexation of Austria by Hitler in 1938, Kaminka settled in Palestine.

As secretary of the Allianz, Kaminka was involved in relief work for the victims of persecution in Romania and Russia to the end of World War i. He had been active from youth in the Ḥibbat Zion movement and was long associated with Theodor *Herzl, who considered Kaminka a suitable intermediary between himself and the Russian Ḥovevei Zion. Kaminka took part in the first Zionist Congress (1897), where he gave the official address on Jewish settlement in Palestine. Because of his interest in "practical Zionism," he eventually fell out with Herzl.

Kaminka was a poet and translator. His translations into Hebrew from classical literature include: Marcus Aurelius' Meditations (1923); Aristotle's De Anima (1949); Seneca's Epistulae Morales (1940–42), Dialogues (1943–45), and Naturales Quaestiones (1946); and a two-volume selection of tragedies by Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides (Tragedyot Nivḥarot…, 1940–48). Kaminka's own poetry as well as some of his translations were published in several collections. He also wrote a drama, Shever Beit Aḥav ("Downfall of the House of Ahab," 1941).

In his writings on the Bible, Kaminka generally adopted a conservative line, strongly rejecting the theories of the Bible criticism and arguing for the unity of Isaiah and for the pre-Exilic origin of much of Psalms and Song of Songs. Kaminka also published numerous studies on the talmudic literature. Here, in contrast to his biblical research, he adopted a very critical view denying the historicity of many talmudic statements. He also began to publish a critical edition of the She'iltot de-R. Aḥai Ga'on (1908), a subject to which he returned in several articles, claiming that the work is of a rhetorical and nonhalakhic nature. Kaminka also prepared an edition of Al-Ḥarizi's Taḥkemoni (1899), with introduction and notes. In the field of Apocrypha, he translated the so-called iv Ezra from Latin into Hebrew as Ḥazonot Asir She'alti'el (1936), with notes and introduction. He also turned his attention to the early translators in his Studien zur Septuaginta (1928). In this study he tries to prove that the Septuagint did not have a textually different Hebrew version as its basis. Some of his scholarly articles were republished in Mehkarim ba-Mikra u-va-Talmud… (2 vols., 1938–51), and Kitvei Bikkoret Historit (1944).


Festschrift Armand Kaminka… (Ger. and Heb., 1937), includes bibliography; M. Zucker, in: Hadoar, 29 (1950), 820–1, 840–1; Th. Herzl, Complete Diaries…, ed. by R. Patai, 5 (1960), index; Aḥad Ha-Am, Iggerot…, 6 vols. (1956–602), index; Ḥ.N. Bialik, Iggerot…, 5 vols. (1938–39), index; I. Klausner, Ha-Tenu'ah le-Ẓiyyon be-Rusyah… (1962), index; A. Freud, in: Zeitschrift fuer die Geschichte der Juden, 3 (1966), 222–3.

[Tobias Grill (2nd ed.)]