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Kohn, Abraham


KOHN, ABRAHAM (1807–1848), Austrian rabbi and maskil. Born in Zálužany, Bohemia, he became a disciple of Naphtali Herz *Homberg in Prague. After serving as rabbi in Hohenems, in 1844 he became a preacher in Lemberg (Lvov), where he was known as an extremist maskil in his conduct and religious outlook. Appointed district rabbi, Kohn headed the *Reform movement and propagated its ideas throughout Galicia. Kohn also attempted to influence the authorities to prohibit Jews from wearing their traditional dress and observing traditional customs, and, in particular, to act against the existence of the ḥadarim. He founded a modern Jewish school in Lvov modeled on German Haskalah lines. In 1846, he founded a Reform temple, thus aggravating the dissension of the Orthodox sector whose representatives opposed him unremittingly. Kohn gave the impetus to press for abolition of the kasher meat tax and *candle tax, in connection with which he traveled with a special delegation to Vienna in order to submit a petition to the emperor. His leading opponent, Jacob Naphtali Herz *Bernstein, tried to obtain Kohn's dismissal from the office of district rabbi. A number of attempts were made to humiliate him and also to assault him. After Kohn and his son died from food poisoning, murder was suspected. An investigation was ordered by the authorities, and the leaders of the Orthodox sector, Bernstein and Hirsh Orenstein, were arrested. After a time, both were released for lack of evidence. Kohn published textbooks; his sermons were published by his son Jacob (in Jeshurun, 1856).


J. Kohn, Leben und Wirken Abr. Kohn (1885); N.M. Gelber, in: eg, 4 (Sefer Lwow, 1956), 231, 235ff.; J.L. Tenenbaum, Galitsye Mayn Alte Heym (1952).

[Moshe Landau]

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