BENJAMIN BEN ELIJAH


BENJAMIN BEN ELIJAH
BENJAMIN BEN ELIJAH (18th century), karaite pilgrim to Ereẓ Israel. A resident of chufut-kale (Bakhchisarai), in the Crimea, Benjamin made a vow to "cross seas and deserts and brave great hardships" in order to visit Jerusalem, where a small Karaite community had been revived in 1744. He embarked with six other Karaites from Eupatoria on June 27, 1785, and reached Jerusalem on October 18. After a month's stay there Benjamin returned by way of Jaffa and Constantinople. Benjamin described his nine-month journey in his account, in which he relates, among other matters, that contributions from Crimean Karaites to those in Jerusalem were concealed from the Turkish authorities in order to prevent extortion of money. Some hymns by Benjamin are included in the Karaite liturgy. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: H.J. Gurland, Ginzei Yisrael be-St. Petersburg, 1 (1865), 44–54; J.D. Eisenstein, Oẓar ha-Massa'ot (1926), 212–8; A. Ya'ari, Masot Ereẓ Yisrael (1946), 459–78, 775f. (Avraham Yaari) BENJAMIN BEN ELIJAH DUWAN BENJAMIN BEN ELIJAH DUWAN (1747–after 1816), leader of Karaite community in Eupatoria (Yevpatoriya) and its ḥazzan. He was also the dayyan of the local bet din. In 1782–83 in the course of his visit in Constantinople he studied astronomy in order to deepen his knowledge of the calendar. In 1785 he made a pilgrimage to Ereẓ Israel with four other Karaites. He described his impressions in his travelogue. In Jerusalem they stayed with the Karaite community, under the leadership of ḥakham Mordecai ben Samuel ha-Levi, which numbered 16 houses. They also visited Hebron, and stayed at Rabbanite houses which he claimed had once been Karaite houses. In 1881, after a calendar dispute that lasted 18 years, Benjamin came to Chufut-Qaleh at the head of several Eupatorian Karaite dignitaries in order to confront the Karaite scholar isaac ben salomon . According to Isaac's report, Benjamin was defeated, but he did not give in, and Yom Kippur was kept by him and his group on a Sunday against Isaac's calculation which was supported by the majority. Benjamin authored a number of liturgical poems, some of which are included in the Karaite Siddur. He was familiar with Rabbanite books and was interested in Kabbalah. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: G. Akhiezer, in: M.Polliack (ed.), Karaite Judaism (2003), 741; E. Deinard, Masa Krim (1878), 70–71; H.Y. Gurland, Ginzei Yisrael, I (1865), 44–54, 88–89; A. Yaari, Masa'ot Ereẓ Yisrael (1976), 459–78; Mann, Texts 2, (1935), 1535, index. (Golda Akhiezer (2nd ed.)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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