YOYSEF COHEN-TSEDEK (JOSEPH KOHEN-ZEDEK) (June 16, 1827-December 29, 1902)
He was born in Lemberg, eastern Galicia. For many years he was a preacher in Lemberg and Cracow, at the same time one of the most influential Hebrew writers of the Jewish Enlightenment in Galicia. Until 1868 he lived in Cracow; thereafter, due to a denunciation he had to escape from the city and for a time lived in Frankfurt-am-Main, Mainz, and other cities in Germany. In 1875 he moved to London where, until his death, he was a preacher in the synagogue of the Russian and Polish Jews in the East End. He was the author in Hebrew of a series of religious works on Jewish learning, Jewish history, and biographies. He was editor of the Hebrew-language periodicals: Hamevaser (The herald) and its supplement Hanesher (The eagle); and Meged yeruḥim (Blessing of months); among others. In Yiddish: Der yudenfraynd (The friend of Jews), which appeared for a short time at the beginning of 1866 in Lemberg; and Nayste nakhriten (Latest reports), “a weekly political newspaper with historical supplement” (Lemberg, 1866), which appeared for two months. He also contributed to: Hakarmel (The Carmel), Hamagid (The preacher), Hayisroeli (The Israelite) which was edited by Yekhil Bril in Mainz (1873-1879), Dos folk (The people), and Y. Suvalski’s Hayehudi (The Jew)—the last two in London. He devoted the final years of his life entirely to rabbinical literature. His text Musar haskel (The moral lesson) (London, 1878) includes a portion of his sermons in Hebrew and in Yiddish. He also published several English-language books on religious themes. On his connection to Yiddish, N. Sokolov wrote: “Considering that Hamevaser reached barely 300 subscribers, Y. Cohen-Tsedek took up Yiddish and…began to publish a periodical in old-fashioned Yiddish in Nayste nakhriten. He explained the motive of this publication therein: ‘Torah without a trade is impossible.”… He conceived of Hebrew publication as Torah and Yiddish as one’s trade.” He died in London.
Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2 (with a bibliography); M. Vintshevski, in Tsukunft (New York) (July 1908), pp. 29-33; Gershon Bader, Medina veḥakhameha (The state and its sages) (New York, 1934), pp. 119-21; N. Sokolov, Perzenlekhkeytn (Personalities) (Buenos Aires, 1948), pp. 212-27; G. Kresel, in Davar (Tel Aviv) (Tamuz 16 [= June 30], 1961); Encyclopedia Judaica, vol. 10, p. 183.
Khayim Leyb Fuks