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Gedaliah of Siemiatycze

GEDALIAH OF SIEMIATYCZE (early 18th century), Jerusalem emissary. Gedaliah, followed by his brother R. Moses of Siemiatycze, arrived in Jerusalem on Oct. 14, 1700, in the group headed by R. *Judah Ḥasid. For most of the immigrants, including Gedaliah, the objective of this aliyah was to hasten the redemption by ethical conduct, repentance, prayer, fasting, and self-mortification. Gedaliah was sent later on, as the emissary of the Ashkenazi community of Jerusalem, to Western Europe where he published his work on the virtues of Ereẓ Israel, Sha'alu Shelom Yerushalayim ("Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem," Berlin, 1716). In it Gedaliah describes the aliyah of R. Judah Ḥasid and his group; the arrival of the group in Jerusalem and the death of their leader soon after; the arrangements of the "courtyard" which they acquired; the oppression of the authorities who extorted a great sum of money from them in the form of taxes and bribery; and the methods of collecting the poll tax. He also depicts Jerusalem life in general: the food, the fruits and vegetables, the methods of baking and cooking, the water supply, clothing, the means of travel, the houses, the bathhouses, and the markets, the holy places, and especially the prayers at the Western Wall. An account is also given of the decrees issued by the government and the unrest during the first years after the arrival of the group.

His brother, R. Moses of Siematycze, was accepted in 1702 as one of the teachers in the yeshivah founded by Abraham *Rovigo in Jerusalem; about 1711, he visited Metz as the emissary of the Ashkenazi community of Jerusalem. He died after 1716.

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