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Joseph Judah Chorny

CHORNY, JOSEPH JUDAH (1835–1880), traveler and ethnographer, born in Minsk. While a young man Chorny settled in the Caucasus, where he became interested in the religious life and customs of the *Mountain Jews and of the communities of Georgia, Bukhara, and Persia. He subsequently published articles in the Jewish and Russian press in Russia and in Western Europe describing their mode of life, their difficult economic and social situation, and low cultural level. Chorny approached S.D. *Luzzatto, Adolphe *Crémieux, and other leading Jews about the problem. In 1864, with the help of the *Society for the Promotion of Culture among the Jews in Russia, Chorny obtained letters of recommendation from the governor of the Caucasus, Grand Prince Michael, to the local authorities and traveled throughout the Caucasian Mountains and Georgia for over ten years. At the end of 1879 he went to Odessa. The Society published part of his findings posthumously as Sefer ha-Massa'ot ("Book of Travels," 1884). It is important for its ethnographical description of the Mountain Jews and Georgian communities in the 19th century. Many of Chorny's writings survive in manuscript form.


J.J. Chorny, Sefer ha-Massa'ot (1884), introduction by A. Harkavy; Voskhod (Dec. 1884), 23–54.

[Yehuda Slutsky]

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.