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KUKIZOW , Karaite family name, originating from the name of the town Kukiziw (Krasny Ostrow), in Galicia. The founder of this dynasty was mordechai ben nisan (d. 1709), prominent Karaite scholar, disciple of *Joseph ben Samuel ha-Mashbir from *Halicz and of *Solomon ben Aaron from Troki. Mordechai was born and lived in Troki, but in 1688, upon the order of King Jan iii Sobieski, Mordechai and some Karaite families were forced to settle in Kukizow, a private possession of the Sobieskis, where he suffered from isolation and seclusion. In Kukizow he served as ḥazzan of the small community. He and his son Nisan were murdered on their way from Eastern Galicia to the Crimea.

Mordechai was the first Karaite author in Eastern Europe who wrote treatises on Karaite historiography and influenced the following generations of authors. However, his works are important mainly for the history of the historiographic genre in Karaite literature, rather than for their historical material. On the instructions of Charles xii of Sweden, several Swedish scholars asked Kukizow for information on the origins of Karaism and the difference between them and the Rabbanites, in the belief that the Karaites were in some ways similar to the Protestants. Kukizow's answer, contained in Levush Malkhut completed in 1698, (published by A. Neubauer, Aus der Peterburger Bibliothek, Leipzig (1866), 30–66) discusses the antiquity of Karaism and gives a brief description of Karaite doctrine. His most important composition, Dod Mordechai, completed in 1699 (Hamburg, 1714, with Latin translation by J.L. Wolf; reprinted without translation, Vienna, 1830; Ramla 1966), was written as responses to questions by the Protestant professor Jacob Trigland of Leiden, Holland, mainly concerning the split between Karaites and Rabbanites. Without any critical approach Mordechai introduces the traditional apologetical Karaite claim that the split between Rabbanism and Karaism began in the Second Temple period. He cited many previous Karaite authors as well as Rabbanite literature, including the Talmud, trying to prove the concept of the early appearance of Karaism and that the Karaites originated from *Judah ben Tabbai, and the Rabbanites – from *Simeon ben Shetaḥ. He also wrote: Kelalim Yafim (Bodl. MS Opp. Add. Qu. 117), a grammatical work; Ma'amar Mordekhai (several mss. at the St. Petersburg Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy), a super-commentary on the Sefer ha-Mivḥar by the Karaite *Aaron b. Joseph; Derekh Yam (several mss. at the St. Petersburg Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy), commentary on the weekly portion of Noaḥ in Sefer ha-Mivḥar; Imrei Binah (Bodl., MS Reggio 22), treatise on Kabbalah. He also wrote liturgical poems, incorporated in the Karaite siddur.

His grandson, also named mordechai ben nisan (the second). He was ḥakham of Kukizow's community. He studied Torah with Rabbanite teachers and taught himself astronomy from Latin and Polish books. He wrote a book, Yad ha-Shem (St. Petersburg Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy), in 1774 on Kabbalah.

His son david ben mordecai (1777–1855) was born in Kukizow, served as ḥazzan of its community and took the family name Mordkovich. He moved to Evpatoria in 1822 and changed his name to Kukizow. In 1825 was appointed ḥazzan and later shoḥet in Evpatoria by Joseph ben Solomon *Luzki. He knew German and Polish and was involved in community affairs. He served as a proofreader of Karaite books in the printing press where he also managed publishing and printing works in 1835–45. In 1834 he reprinted the Adderet Eliyahu of Elijah *Bashyazi, adding to the section dealing with the new moon two treatises, Yemot Olam and Halikhot Olam. He also wrote Kevi'ot Rashei Ḥodashim u-Tekufot ke-Minhag ha-Kara'im and Ma'amar be-Kiddush ha-Ḥodesh (Eupatoria, 1840), on calendation and the calculation of the new moon. His main work Ẓemaḥ David, completed in 1848, but published posthumously (St. Petersburg, 1897; Ashdod, 2004), contains essays on the laws concerning Sabbath, abstinence, determination of the new moon, etc., and poems and elegies, as well as annotations to biblical passages, the obligations of a man before God, resurrection of the dead, and so on. Still in Kukizow he learned rabbinic literature and was friendly with Nachman *Krochmal. In 1854 he left the Crimea because of the Crimean War and moved to Nickolaev, where his sons dwelled and spent the rest of his life there. He died in Nickolaev of cholera.

He had five sons, Mordechai, Joseph, Moses, Judah, and Nisan. His most famous son, judah (1840–1917), lived in the Crimea and St. Petersburg. His works include two treatises on calendation; Binah la-Ittim (parts 1–2, Odessa, 1878–79), and Halikhot Olam (part 1, Odessa, 1880); an edition with Russian translation of the Passover Haggadah according to the Karaite rite (Odessa, 1883; St. Petersburg, 1889); and two works in Russian "A Short Sketch of the History of the Karaites" (St. Petersburg, 1900) and "Forty-Four Epitaphs from the Karaite Cemetery at Chufut-Qaleh" (ibid., 1910), where he tried to refute the accusations about *Firkovich's falsifications of the dates on tomb inscriptions. Judah disappeared after he left his house in Petrograd during the events of the Bolshevik revolution in October 1917.

David Kukozow, possibly the grandson of David ben Mordechai, was a member of the Haskalah. He wrote a number of articles in the Karaite journal in Russian "Karaite Life" (Karaimskaja zhizn) in 1911–12 about Karaite national identity, the importance of the study of Russian language and secular sciences by Karaite youth, and the importance of modernization of the curriculum in Karaite school.


mordecai b. nisan: Graetz, Gesch, 10 (1896), 479–81; A. Neubauer, Aus der Petersburger Bibliothek (1866), 76–78; Mann, Texts, 2 (1935), index 1570; s.v.: Mordecai b. Nisan b.Noaḥ, of Kukizow. david b. mordecai: Poznański, in: zhb, 13 (1909), 111–4, 180; 14 (1910), 57–58. judah: Poznański, in: zhb, 13 (1909), 115, 144, 147; 14 (1910), 59; Markon, in: Bulletin de l'Académie des Sciences de Russie (1923), 161–3; idem, in: Ha-Goren, 10 (1928), 153–60; M. Polliack (ed.), Karaite Judaism: A Guide to Its History and Literary Sources, (2003), index. add. bibliography: R. Fahn, Sefer ha-Kr'aim (1929), 36–8, 81, 85–88; B. Elyashevich, Materialy k serii narody i kultury xiv, 2 (1993), 109–10, 112–14.

[Isaak Dov Ber Markon /

Golda Akhiezer (2nd ed.)]

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