ASHKENAZI, JONAH BEN JACOB


ASHKENAZI, JONAH BEN JACOB
ASHKENAZI, JONAH BEN JACOB (d. 1745), Hebrew printer in Turkey. Born in Zalośce (in the province of Lemberg), Poland, Ashkenazi immigrated to Turkey and settled in Constantinople. In 1710 he established a new printing press, using characters which he had engraved himself. Later he cast new ones, together with decorations for the title pages, and finally produced some beautiful books. During the first two years Ashkenazi was in partnership with another Polish emigrant, Naphtali b. Azriel of Vilna. He was compelled to leave Constantinople twice, continuing his work in the nearby village of Ortaköy. In 1720 a consignment of his books was lost at sea, and a dishonest agent of his fled to Poland. Ashkenazi followed him, and on his way back to Constantinople, stopped in Amsterdam. There, in 1721, he printed the Shitah Mekubbeẓet of bezalel ashkenazi on Bava Meẓ'ia according to a manuscript which he had brought with him from Constantinople. On his return to Constantinople, he printed mainly the works of local rabbis. In 1714 he traveled to Egypt where he received several works of Egyptian rabbis for printing. There he found a manuscript of the Tikkunei Zohar, which had been corrected by Ḥayyim Vital, and which he published. In 1728 he established a branch of his press in Smyrna in partnership with R. David Ḥazzan, who later in 1739 immigrated to Palestine. The press then closed down. During the 35 years of his activity in Constantinople and Smyrna, Ashkenazi printed 125 books. After his death in 1745, the press passed to his three sons: Reuben, Nissim, and Moses; later to his grandsons; and continued until 1778. In all 180 books were printed by three Ashkenazi generations. He printed in Ladino the Bible, a siddur, Josippon, and the first edition of Me-Am Lo'ez, as well as other works. Ashkenazi made Constantinople the metropolis of Hebrew printing in the Orient. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: Rosanes, Togarmah, 4 (1935), 391 ff.; Yaari, in: KS, 14 (1937/38), 524 ff.; 15 (1939), 97 ff., 240 ff.; idem, in: Aresheth, 1 (1959), 97 ff.; H.B. Friedberg, Toledot ha-Defus ha-Ivri be-Italyah (19562), 127 ff.; A. Yaari, Ha-Defus ha-Ivri be-Kushta (1967), index, S.V. Yonah b. Ya'akov mi-Zalaziẓ. (Avraham Yaari)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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