Lara, Isaac Cohen de

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LARA, ISAAC COHEN DE (c. 1700), Sephardi author and book dealer, known mainly as the editor of the Purim play, Comedia famosa de Aman y Mordochay. He was the son of Abraham Cohen de Lara. The marriage records of Amsterdam include that of an Isaac de Lara, described as a "businessman" and native of Amsterdam, who on March 14, 1692, at the age of 24, married Raquel Machado of Leghorn. An Isaac Acohen de Lara, apparently identical with the book dealer, was ḥazzan of the Amsterdam Sephardi community in 1709. His father, Abraham, had occupied the same position in 1682. The Co-media famosa de Aman y Mordochay was published at Leiden in 1699. The actual author of this Spanish play is unknown. In an introduction, dedicated to his friend David de Souza Brito, de Lara merely says that it was composed by "a clever writer from Hamburg, as I gathered from his prologue." The play itself is written in a graceful and precise style, inspired by the Book of Esther and midrashic commentaries on the biblical story. This edition of the Comedia also includes 36 Spanish "enigmas" taken from another, older work and 12 taken from a manuscript, as well as a further 25 "enigmas" in Dutch. The inclusion of the last indicates that by this time the Spanish and Portuguese Jews in Amsterdam knew Dutch fairly well. De Lara's book ends with a brindis ("toast"), and with a Spanish ballad, "La Fuga de Jaacob de Barsheva."

Isaac Cohen de Lara also edited Guía de Passageros (a guide for travelers; Amsterdam, 1704), which contains a Judeo-Spanish calendar.


H.V. Besso, Dramatic Literature (1947), 69–70; Kayserling, Bibl, 38; Van Praag, in: Neophilologus, 25:1 (1940), 12–24.

[Kenneth R. Scholberg]