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Uri (Phoebus) ben Aaron Ha-Levi


URI (Phoebus ) BEN AARON HA-LEVI (also called Uri Witzenhausen or Witmund ; 1625–1715), Hebrew printer. Uri's father was ḥazzan of the Neveh Shalom congregation, Amsterdam, and his grandfather Moses Uri ha-Levi, rabbi of Emden and one of the founders of the Portuguese Jewish community in Amsterdam. Uri established his first press in Amsterdam in 1658 and was active there until 1689. He published numerous rabbinical and religious works, some of them in Yiddish, including the first Yiddish translation of the Bible by Jekuthiel Blitz (1679); the Josippon (1661); and the Bava Bukh (1661) by Elijah Bahur *Levita. Uri also published the first Yiddish newspaper, which appeared every Tuesday and Friday (Dienstagishe un Freytagishe Kurant 1680–87). The greater part of the works he printed were for distribution among the Jews of Poland. In 1692 he moved to *Zholkva where he was reportedly invited by the Polish king John Sobieski to print Hebrew books, which previously were imported from abroad. At the sessions of the Council of the Four *Lands in Jaroslaw in 1697 and 1699, Uri obtained rabbinical backing against business competitors in Lublin and Cracow. His press was continued by his children and their descendants for some time after his death. His descendants include the author and poet Meir ha-Levi *Letteris whose father Gershon was still printing in Zolkiev in 1828, including those works written by his son.


M. Letteris, Zikkaron ba-Sefer (1848), 12–13; idem, in: Bikkurim, 1 (1844), 52f.; Steinschneider, Cat Bod, 3061–63; M. Erik, Di Geshikhte fun der Yidisher Literatur (1928), 232–9; Ḥ.D. Friedberg, Toledot ha-Defus ha-Ivri be-Polanyah (1950), 62–64.

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