Biography:Shlomo ben Afeda Ha-Kohen

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Shlomo ben Afeda Ha-Kohen
Shlomo Efeda tombstone.png
Tombstone of Solomon Afeda in the Istanbul Karaite Cemetery
Born1826 (1826) (or 1836)
Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul)
Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul)
Notable work
Yeriʻot Shelomoh, Gefen ha-Adderet
RegionMiddle Eastern philosophy
Main interests
Religious law, Halakha

Shlomo ben Afeda Ha-Kohen or Solomon Afeda Cohen (in Hebrew: שלמה בן אפידה הכהן‎) (1826–1893) was a Karaite Jewish hakham of the nineteenth century considered the last of the Karaite sages of Constantinople.[1] He is famous for his two abridgements of Elijah Bashyazi's masterpiece "Aderet Eliyahu" (The Mantle of Elijah): Sefer Gefen Ha-Adderet [2] composed in 1860 and Sefer Yeriot Shelomoh [3] composed in 1862. Solomon Cohen proposed shortening the prayers of the Karaite festivals with the aim to attract more Karaites to the temple (Knessa). He also worked as a scribe and composed many poems.[4]


His biography has been reported by Abraham Danon in 1925.[5] Solomon (ben Eliezer Afeda) Cohen, was born in Constantinople in 1826 (5586 in the Hebrew calendar), of a family that emigrated from Damascus, Syria after the dispersion of the Karaite community of the city.[6] He learned to read and write in the small communal school from a teacher whose knowledge did not go beyond reading and he left school at a young age. Driven by the love of Jewish studies, he returned to student life under the supervision of his uncle Isaac Cohen who was a hakham.[5][6] After that, Solomon Cohen did not have recourse to any teacher but studied by himself all the works of the Karaite authors, both printed and manuscript, as well as the works of the Jews of Spain, which he said were "truly inspired by God".[5]

In 1860 and 1862, he wrote his most famous works on the Karaite Halakhah. Having given up his small business to devote himself definitively to his literary career, he was appointed head of the community of the Constantinopolitan Karaites, as well as officiating minister and teacher.

His temperament characterized by a deep melancholy, led to arouse against him the animosity of the local community. Considering his position untenable in Constantinople, he was forced to resign in 1870 and was replaced by Sabbatai Mengoubi (born about 1835).[5] The following year he left for Cairo ([1] Egypt), where he was appointed head of the local Karaite community, and remained there until 1874.[5] His successor, Sabbatai Mengoubi, resigned from his post in Constantinople and went to Cairo to take his place. Solomon Cohen then returned to Constantinople and was again appointed head of the community there (1874–81).[5]


Solomon Cohen was the son of Eliezer Afeda Yerushalmi Kohen who died from the Plague in Constantinople in 1873. Isaac Cohen, the brother of his father, was in conflict with Avraham Firkovitch during the latter's stay in Constantinople (1830-1832).[6]


  1. Karaite Judaism: A Guide to the History and Literary Sources, ed. by Meira Polliack, D. Frank, p 552
  2. Sefer ha-mitsṿot Gefen ha-Adderet (ספר גפן האדרת), ed. by Hayyim Levi, מרכז היהודים הקראים בישראל, Ramla, 1987
  3. Sefer ha-mitsṿot Yeriʻot Shelomoh (ספר יריעות שלמה) , ed. by Hayyim Levi, מרכז היהודים הקראים בישראל, Ramla, 1986
  4. Karaitica by Michael Wilensky The Jewish Quarterly Review, New Series, Vol. 35, No. 1 (Jul., 1944), pp. 117-120
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 The Karaites in European Turkey. Contributions to Their History Based Chiefly on Unpublished Documents, The Jewish Quarterly Review, New Series, Vol. 15, No. 3 (Jan., 1925), p 354
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Avraham Firkowicz in Istanbul 1830-1832 : Paving the Way for Turkic Nationalism By Dan Shapira 2003