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SAPHIR, JACOB (known also as Eben Sappir):

Rabbi and traveler of Rumanian descent; born in 1822 at Oshmiany, government of Wilna; died in Jerusalem 1886. While still a boy he went to Palestine with his parents, who settled at Safed; and at their death (in 1836) he removed to Jerusalem. In 1848 he was commissioned by the Jewish community of the latter city to travel through the southern countries to collect alms for the poor of Jerusalem. In 1854 he undertook a second tour, visiting Yemen, British India, Egypt, and Australia. The result of this journey was his "Eben Sappir" (vol. i., Lyck, 1866; vol. ii., Mayence, 1874), in which work he gave the history, and a vivid though uncritical description of the condition, of the Jews in the above-mentioned countries.

Saphir published also "Iggeret Teman" (Wilna, 1868), a work on the appearance in Yemen of the pseudo-Messiah Judah ben Shalom.

Bibliography:
  • Fuenn, Keneset Yisrael, pp. 557-558;
  • idem, in Ha-Karmel, vi., Wilna, 1866;
  • Geiger, in Jüd. Zeit. xi. 263-270.
S. S. O.
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