DAVID KAHANA (May 1838-ca. 1916)
He was born in Odessa, Russia. He studied in religious primary school, and at fourteen years of age he began to study Jewish subjects on his own, later German and French as well as other secular fields. At age eighteen he married in Izmail, Bessarabia, but following his father’s death (1858) he returned to Odessa where he remained until the end of his life. He engaged in business and was a prominent community leader in the city, contributing to the “Khevre mefitse haskole” (Society for the promotion of enlightenment [among the Jews of Russia]), and he was an inspector of the orphanage and Talmud Torah, to which in 1881 he brought Mendele Moykher-Sforim from Zhitomir to be its administrator. From 1866 he contributed to: Hamelits (The advocate), Hashaḥar (The dawn), Hakarmel (The Carmel), Haboker or (Good morning), Haasif (The harvest), and Otsar hasifrut (Treasury of literature), among others, in which he published historical writings and monographs on Shabatai Tsvi, Kabala, Hassidism, Karaites, book critiques, and the like—in Shaḥar of 1884, he published a biography of Elye Bokher. He brought out a collection of poetry and rhymes by Ibn Ezra and the autobiography of Rabbi Yaakov-Yisrael Emden, among other such work. In Yiddish, among other items, he wrote for Kol mevaser (Herald) (nos. 1-3) in Odessa (1866) a series of articles entitled “Oys di orime klasen” (Out of the poor classes)—images from impoverished Jewish life—and an adaptation of Solomon Maimon’s autobiography (no. 39-50) (1871-1872). His texts in Hebrew were published in several editions in Odessa, Vienna, and (in the 1920s) by the Devir publishing house in Tel Aviv.
Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2; Dr. Joseph Klausner, introduction to Kahane’s volume, Toldot hamekubalim, hashabtaim vehaḥasidim (History of Cabalists, Sabbateans, and Hassidim), vol. 2 (Tel Aviv, 1926).