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A POSTHUMOUS CHANGE OF NAME 

(BiRKENTHAL NOT BoLECHOWEr) 

In No. 1, vol. XH, of this Review Dr. Vishnitzer published some 
details concerning a diary of a Polish Jew who lived and wrought during 
the second half of the eighteenth century. Since I have previously 
edited a great part of another work by the same author, I feel myself 
obliged to object to a posthumous change of the name of the author. 

This is how the matter stands: 

In the early part of 1911 I found in the library of the well-known 
leader of the Haskalah movement in Galicia, Joseph Perl, a manuscript 
entitled Dibre Binah. The work, composing 329 pages small octavo, 
deals with the history of pseudo-Messiahs in Israel. Excepting the story 
of the Frankists, which the author knew partly from his own observa- 
tion, and other interspersed personal experiences, it does not call for 
publication. The author of the work, as appears from the title-page, 
from passages in the book itself, and from attached letters, is Reb Dob 
Ber Brezower properly Birkenthal, who lived in Bolechow in Galicia 
and died there in 1805 at an advanced age. In order to get exact data 
concerning the two names I instituted an inquiry in Bolechow and I found 
out that as late as 1850 a family by the name of Birkenthal was still 
domiciled there, called commonly "Brezower". Moreover, Reb Dob 
Ber is entered in the book of the yebra IJadisha under the name Bir- 
kenthal. Birkenthal is a Germanization of Brezower (Birke =bereza in 
Ukrainian) and goes back to the regulation of Jewish family names under 
Joseph II. There is therefore no doubt concerning the name: until the 
middle of the eighties of the eighteenth century exclusively Brezower, 
later officially Birkenthal. 

Unfortunately the family name does not occur in the diary which 
found its way to London. Dr. Marmorstein, who in 1913 first published 
a bibliographical notice about it, therefore called the author "Bolecho- 
wer" after his native place. When Dr. Vishnitzer in 1918 or 1919 under- 
took the elaboration of this diary and drew the public attention to its 

99 



100 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

importance, my biography of Birkenthal and part of the Dibre Binah 
had already been printed in Hashiloah. Nevertheless he preferred 
to continue Marmorstein's error and furnish the author with a post- 
humous name. He did the same in an article in Der Jude, although 
he should have been aware that the author was never known by this 
name to his contemporaries. 

Why should Dr. Vishnitzer state that the diarist was named "Bole- 
chower or Birkenthal " and then call him Bolechower throughout the 
article? Where is the evidence for the name Bolechower? To be sure, 
names are unessential, but one must not deal arbitrarily with the name 
of a deserving man, even if that man has been dead 120 years. Dr. 
Vishnitzer will cause confusion if he does not edit the diary under the 
name Birkenthal. For in such case two works by the same author will 
be known under two different names. Surely the author has a right to 
have his name on the title-page. 

Jerusalem. A. J. Brawer.