Who's Who in Jewish History: After the Period of the Old Testament

By Joan Comay | Go to book overview

S

SAADIAH ben-Joseph

882-942. Gaon of Sura 922-42. Saadiah was the most eminent of the geonim, and was instrumental in saving rabbinic Judaism from the dangers of sectarianism which gravely threatened it at that time. Saadiah was born in Egypt. At the age of twenty he published a Hebrew dictionary, followed three years later by a polemic against Karaism, the sect which threatened to split the Jewish world at the time (see ANAN BEN-DAVID).

After a period in Palestine and Aleppo, Syria, Saadiah settled in Babylonia. He was involved in a fierce dispute with the Palestinian gaon, Aharon ben-Meir, about the fixing of the dates for the holy days. Saadiah's book on the subject became accepted. Soon after, he was appointed gaon of the famous academy of Sura. It had been declining, and there was a proposal to close it and transfer its pupils to Pumbedita. Under Saadiah, the prestige of the academy revived. The greatest scholar of his day, he attracted students from far and near, and answered legal queries from communities elsewhere.

After two years, he fell out with DAVID BEN-ZAKKAI, the exilarch who had appointed him. When Saadiah refused to endorse a judgment given in the exilarch's court, David ben-Zakkai appointed someone else to replace him. In return, Saadiah appointed a different exilarch. The quarrel split the Baghdad community and provoked the intervention of the caliph. After seven years, the elders of the community arranged a reconciliation, and Saadiah, who had been forced to flee, was reinstalled in office.

Saadiah was supreme in all the fields of Jewish scholarship of the time: halachah, grammar, translation and philosophy. He also composed liturgical poetry. He was the first to write halachic books on single subjects, with sectional divisions. His best-known work was the great philosophical-theological treatise, The Book of Beliefs and Opinions (written in Arabic; English tr. 1948).


SACHER, Harry

1881-1971. British Zionist. Harry Sacher, Simon MARKS and Israel SIEFF were a remarkable trio of young men who became the Zionist disciples of Dr Chaim WEIZMANN when he was a chemistry lecturer at Manchester University before World War I. The three of them were to be not only lifelong friends and colleagues but brothers-in-law, since Marks and Sieff married each other's sisters, and Sacher married another Marks sister, Miriam.

Born in London, he studied law but switched to journalism and worked as a leader-writer on the Manchester Guardian, with an interval on the Daily News. In 1916, during the diplomatic struggle that led to the BALFOUR Declaration, he co-edited with Leon Simon a collection of essays, Zionism and the Jewish Future (1916). He also enlisted a useful ally in Herbert Sidebotham, a leading political journalist who had been chief leader-writer for the Manchester Guardian. Sidebotham and Sacher published a fortnightly bulletin, Palestine, which was a model of its kind in its concise, lucid and persuasive presentation of the

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Who's Who in Jewish History: After the Period of the Old Testament
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Maps vi
  • Author''s Preface vii
  • Glossary viii
  • Chronology xi
  • World Jewish Population in 1993 xxxv
  • A 1
  • B 34
  • C 76
  • D 90
  • E 107
  • F 125
  • G 137
  • H 152
  • I 181
  • J 187
  • K 211
  • L 223
  • M 241
  • N 271
  • O 278
  • P 282
  • R 292
  • S 318
  • T 361
  • Uv 369
  • W 372
  • Y 389
  • Z 392
  • Thematic Index 397
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