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PSANTIR, JACOB BEN ZELIG:

Rumanian historical writer; born at Botoshani June 6, 1820; died in Bucharest March 22, 1901. From his childhood he devoted himself to the study of music, and at an early age he became conductor of a band of traveling Gipsy musicians. Once Psantir and his band were invited to play at a festival given in the monastery of Neamtz. A dispute arose between the guests on the Jewish question, some of them maintaining that all the Rumanian Jews were foreign-born. Psantir was then asked how long his family had lived in Rumania. He answered, "for several centuries, as may be seen by tumulary inscriptions found in the cemetery of Botoshani."

This incident determined Psantir's subsequent career. He began to write a history of his family, but as he proceeded with it his ambition moved him to enlarge the scope of his work until it finally embraced the history of the Jews of Rumania. For five years, though possessing very limited means, he traveled throughout Rumania, visiting the cemeteries and studying the communal documents. The results of his labors were published in two works written in Judæo-German, and respectively entitled "Dibre ha-Yamim la-Arẓot Rumania" (Jassy, 1871) and "Ḳorot ha-Yehudim be-Rumania" (Lemberg, 1873). A Rumanian edition of both works was published at Bucharest in 1877.

Psantir is the author also of two works which remain in manuscript: "Ha-Sablanut ha-Datit be-Rumania," on religious tolerance in Rumania, and "Ha-Ḳosem," on magicians and their villainies.

Bibliography:
  • Oẓar ha-Sifrut, iii. 86 et seq.
S. I. Br.
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