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Skoss, Solomon Leon


SKOSS, SOLOMON LEON (Zalman Leib ; 1884–1953), Arabic scholar. Skoss, born in Chusovoi, Siberia, studied at the yeshivah of Dubrovno and then served in the Russian army. He emigrated to the U.S. in 1907 and began a prolonged period of unrewarding employment, including a position as a bee-keeper. One result of this work was his first essay, on beekeeping in the Talmud (repr. in his Portrait of a Jewish Scholar). By chance he took up the study of Arabic at the University of Pennsylvania and at Dropsie College, where his teacher was Benzion *Halper. After the latter's death in 1924 Skoss succeeded him, specializing in Judeo-Arabic philology. He was an outstanding scholar in his field, enormously industrious and productive, painstakingly accurate, inspiring to his pupils, and generously helpful to his colleagues.

Skoss edited and published The Arabic Commentary of Ali ibn Suleiman the Karaite on the Book of Genesis (1928) and The Hebrew-Arabic Dictionary of the Bible by David ben Abraham al-Fasi (2 vols., 1936–45). The posthumous result of his work on the hitherto unidentified and unpublished fragments of *Saadiah's Arabic work on Hebrew grammar was Saadiah Gaon, the Earliest Hebrew Grammarian (1955). His smaller essays (with a biography by S. Grayzel) appeared under the title Portrait of a Jewish Scholar, Essays and Addresses (1957). Skoss also contributed numerous articles to learned periodicals.


S.L. Skoss, Portrait of a Jewish Scholar, Essays and Addresses (1957), introductory articles.

[Leon Nemoy]

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