Source for information on Brafman, Jacob: Encyclopaedia Judaica dictionary. Brafman attacked the Jewish communal organization (kahal) in Russian. Iakov Brafman was born to a poor Jewish family, grew up almost uneducated and rebellious, and clashed with the kahal (the Jewish self-governing community). It is divided into four parts: (1) The transactions of the ḳahal of Minsk (“ḳahal,” derived from the Hebrew = “community,” assumed in Russian the significance of .

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File:Jacob Brafmann Das Buch vom Kahal Erster – Wikimedia Commons

He became embittered by his experiences, and conceived a hatred for the Jewish community and its institutions. At the age of 34 he joined the Greek Orthodox Church and was appointed Hebrew teacher at the government theological seminary in Minsk.

He later served as censor akhal Hebrew and Yiddish books in Vilna and St. InBrafman published with official support and at government expense Kniga Kagala “The Book of the Kahal”a translation into Russian of the minutes Pinkas of the kehillah of Minsk. A second, enlarged two-volume edition was published in kaha, the first volume, containing essays on Jews and Jewish customs, was published posthumously with an introduction by Brafman’s son It was presumed by Russian readers to give information about the “secret” customs of the Jews by which they allegedly nrafmann power over gentiles; antisemitic authors used it to justify anti-Jewish outrages.


Although Brafman was accused of forgery, in fact his book was a fairly accurate translation of the documents. It has served a number of scholars as a historical source for knowledge of the inner life of Russian Jewry in the 19 th century.

The impression made by his book is evidence of the extent to which autonomous Jewish community life was alien to modern centralistic political ideas, ideals, and modes of relationship between individuals and the state.

Jacob Brafmann and his Work

The Russian poet V. Khodasevich — was Brafman’s grandson. Zitron, Meshumodim7—31; Levitats, in: Zion3—8; S. Ginsburg, Meshumodim in Tsarishn Rusland65—79; S.

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