Yaakov Mazeh

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Rabbi Yaakov Mazeh(1859-1924)[1] served as the government-appointed chief rabbi of Moscow.


The family name is an acronym stating that they are KoHaNim: MiZeRah Aharon HaKohen (from the seed of Aaron the Priest).

Born 1859 in Mogilev, Belarus, he was raised by his maternal grandfather following the early passing of his father. His education was both religious and secular, including graduating from Moscow University's law school and, for a while, practicing law.

Mazeh was appointed by the Russian government to be the Rabbi of Moscow[2] in 1893,<[1] a position he held until his passing Dec. 19, 1924[3] in Moscow, Russia.

His son Saadiah (Sadi in the U.S.) was imprisoned 4 years after Rabbi Mazeh's passing for attending Zionist meetings but, due to outside pressure, was released with permission to leave Russia along with his wife Vera and their children.[4][5]

Beilis case testimony[edit]

Rabbi Mazeh was called by the defense in the Beilis Blood Libel as an expert witness, and was quite thorough in his 1913 testimony.[6][7] Somewhat later, his court presentation was serialized in a Hebrew-language weekly newspaper.[8][2]

Other interests[edit]

His interest in Zionism was cut short by the 1917 revolution; he barely escaped arrest.[1]

Rabbi Mazeh's interest in the Hebrew language included serving as a contributor to a publication named HaMeLits[3] also was cut short; he redirected his language skills to Yiddish.[1] An acceptable post-1917 use of his talents was in the co-founding, together with Nahum Zemach [he] and Menachem Gensin, of the Habima Theater.[9]

Written work[edit]

Aside from his journalistic works, both Hebrew and Yiddish,[10] he left (published posthumously 1936) a four volume set, Zikhronos.[11][1]



  1. ^ a b c d e Avraham Greenbaum. "Maze, Iakov Isaevich". YIVOencyclopedia.com.
  2. ^ a b "In Defense of Chassidism".
  3. ^ a b Adam Soclof (December 19, 2012). "Profile of Chief rabbi of Moscow Jacob Maze". JTA.org.
  4. ^ "ONE OF THE MOST SACRED MOMENTS OF MY LIFE". along with his wife and family, out of Russia.
  5. ^ "Mazeh, son of Moscow chief rabbi leaves Soviet Russia". May 11, 1928.
  6. ^ Blood Accusation: The Strange History of the Beiliss Case, Samuel, Maurice, Alfred A. Knopf, 1966.
  7. ^ Scapegoat on Trial: The Story of Mendel Beilis – The Autobiography of Mendel Beilis the Defendant in the Notorious 1912 Blood Libel in Kiev, Beilis, Mendel, Introd. & Ed. By Shari Schwartz, CIS, New York, 1992, ISBN 1-56062-166-4
  8. ^ HaTzeFiRah
  9. ^ Yiddish
  10. ^ and the above-mentioned Beilis trial testimony, which was subsequently serialized
  11. ^ remembrances