Monday 19 September 2016


YITSKHOK-BER KHONES (ISAAC BAER CHONES) (March 23, 1840-September 29, 1929)
            He was born in Vilna and studied with the city preacher, Reb Velvele.  Thanks to his great knowledge of Hebrew grammar, at age twenty-two he became a proofreader, initially in Shmuel-Yoysef Fin’s print shop, and eight years late at the publishing house of the Widow and Brothers Romm.  He wrote philological articles for Hakarmel (The Carmel), Sh. Y. Fin’s weekly in Vilna, 1860-1861, 1871-1879.  He gained a reputation among the Enlightened Jewish writers in Vilna as a great Hebrew grammarian (his friend, Adam Hakohen [Avraham Dov Lebensohn], noted numerous grammatical explanations in his text, Yitron leadam [Advantage to Adam], with nods to Khones).  He also published in Vilna Kitsur kelale hadikduk (Abridged rules of grammar), which appeared in print together with Romm’s prayer book Ḥinukh tefila (Training in prayer).  In 1891 he moved to the United States and settled in Chicago, where he continued his philological research.  His two life works were: Orekh hamilim vehapitronim (The editor of words and solutions) (Chicago, 1906), 80 pp., a concordance to Tanakh with a translation of the words into Judeo-German (only the letters alef-bet appear), with a preface by the author; and Sefer hamilim o arukh hakatsar (Words, or the abridged [Shulḥan] arukh) (Chicago, 1915), 183 pp., a Talmudic dictionary containing 8,000 words from the Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmuds, the Onkelos translation of Tanakh, Midrashim, the Zohar, and other texts, translated and explained in Hebrew and Yiddish, with a noted about the author (at the end of the book, written by Avrom-Ber Goldenson, rabbi of the Bnei-Reuben School in Chicago).  He died in the Orthodox old-age home in Chicago.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1, with a bibliography; Leye Mishkin, Pinkes shikago (Records of Chicago) (1952), pp. 83, 84, 86; written information from Rabbi K. L. Mishkin in Chicago; Chicago Daily News (October 1, 1929).

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