Page 14 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 29

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e w i s h
o o k
n n u a l
into Marathi, his output included major Hebrew liturgical works
such as the
Daily Prayer Book
(Bombay, 1899) reprinted several
times, the
Prayer Book of the High Holy Days, piyyutim, selihot,
prayers for all festive occasions, a Hebrew grammar in Marathi, a
Hebrew primer for children, and, under the title
Kutonet Yoseph,
a handbook of Hebrew abbreviations (1887) ,
Pirke Abot, Megillat
and many other liturgical books, all in Marathi—a most
impressive harvest indeed.
Not less prolific was Benjamin Samson Ashtamkar, who pub-
lished more than 32 works in Marathi and Hebrew, in Bombay
and in Poona. Also literarily fruitful was Elijah Shalom Walwut-
kar, whose publications, all printed from 1869 on in the city of
Poona, included:
for the High Holy Days;
Sefer Teudat Israel,
a collection of prayers for various occasions;
a primer for the instruction of Hebrew with an introduction in
Marathi dedicated to I. S. Robertson of the Christian Mission
Society; the Passover Haggadah; and a Marathi translation of
sermons of the Chief Rabbi of London, Dr. H. Adler, entitled
Naftule Elohim.
A Revered “B ene-IsraelScho lar
One of the most revered scholars of the “Bene-Israel” group
was Hayim Samuel Kehimkar (1830-1909), born in Alibag. A
civil servant in the office of the Inspector General of Ordinance
until his retirement, he devoted himself to the improvement of
the education of his community. In 1875 he opened a school in
Bombay where Marathi and Hebrew were taught; it was sup-
ported from 1881 on by the Anglo-Jewish Association of London.
The principal of this school, named after its benefactor, Sir Elli
Kadoorie School, was later the famous educator and author, Miss
Rebecca Reuben.
Through Kehimkar’s influence, the Indian Bombay govern-
ment recognized the high educational standards of the “Bene-
Israel” and granted those in government services additional
In 1892 he published his
Sketch of the History of the Bene
Israel and Appeal for Their Education,
and at the time of his
death he left a manuscript on
The History of the Bene Israel of
Thanks to the initiative of Dr. Immanuel Olsvanger, it
appeared in Tel Aviv in 1937 and remained, despite its unorgan-
ized and uncritical approach, a mine of information not yet
surpassed by more recent publications on this subject.
Since the early decades of the 20th century, some remarkable
individuals of the “Bene-Israel” group have made substantial