LITHUANIAN QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
Copyright © 2011 LITUANUS Foundation, Inc.
Volume 57, No.2 - Summer 2011
Editor of this issue: Violeta Kelertas
THE LITHUANIAN PLAGUE OF 1710 AND
A Poem of Lament in the Karaim Language from Tadeusz Kowalski’s Archival Collection.1
DR. MIKHAIL KIZILOV earned an M.A. in history from Simferopol State University in 1996; an M.A. in Medieval Studies from the Central European University in 1997; and a D.Phil in Modern History in 2007, University of Oxford. He is an Alan M. Stroock Fellow for Advanced Research in Judaica in the Center for Jewish Studies at Harvard University.
One of the most interesting ethnographic features of the Karaites was their language of everyday use: the Turkic Karaim language. Only a few examples of Karaite poetry in the Turkic languages have been translated and published into a European language. This article presents an interesting elegy in Karaim discovered by the author in the archival collection of the Polish Orientalist, Tadeusz Kowalski in Kraków. The elegy is a lamentation on the devastation of the Lithuanian Karaites by the epidemic that climaxed in Lithuania in 1710-1711. It is estimated that Lithuania lost about a third of its population during this plague. The author of the elegy was not identified by Kowalski or his Karaite colleagues, but the author argues that it was composed by Solomon ben Aaron of Trakai (1670?-1745), Karaite poet, theologian, and spiritual leader. Its publication is an important contribution to our knowledge of early modern Karaite history and literature in the Karaim language. It also provides information about the perception of the plague of 1710 through the eyes of an ethnic minority in Lithuania.
In spite of the fact that many scholars have devoted their attention to the Lithuanian Karaites (Karaims),2 a comprehensive history of the Karaite community of the country is yet to be written. To begin with, although the official 600th anniversary of the arrival of the Tatars and Karaites in Lithuania was celebrated in 1997, scholars are far from unanimity regarding the exact date of the arrival of the Karaites in this part of Eastern Europe.3 Most students of the problem usually connect the arrival of the Karaites with the international policy of Grand Duke Vytautas (Witold; ruled 1392-1430). While the main evidence for the Karaites’ arrival in Trakai (Troki4), the ketubbah, or marriage contract, from 1400, was undoubtedly falsified,5 it is still highly probable that the first Karaite settlers indeed appeared in Trakai during the time of Vytautas or a bit later. It is important to stress that, during the reign of Vytautas, Trakai gained importance as a significant commercial center, trading with the Teutonic Order and northern European ports, primarily Danzig and Königsberg. It is also known that in 1423 Vytautas granted his Jewish subjects the right of free trade with the Teutonic Order, since the Grand Duke was in need of skillful artisans and merchants, such as the Karaites.6 The earliest Karaite settlers were apparently Turkic-speaking Karaite artisans and traders from the Golden Horde and, specifically, from the Crimea. The exact route and circumstances of their wandering through Europe to Lithuania, however, is still the subject of debate.7
The earliest solid evidence of the Karaite presence in Lithuania is a copy of a letter from the Trakai Karaite community to Constantinople from 1483 or 1484.8 From this letter, however, we may infer that the Karaite community had already lived in Trakai for a comparatively long period of time. There are other documents that may be interpreted as evidence of the arrival of the Karaites in Lithuania not later than the first half of the fifteenth century. In 1414, Lithuania was visited by the French traveller Ghillebert de Lannoy. When describing the multiethnic population of Trakai, de Lannoy mentions among other nations the grant quantite de juifz. It is very likely that some of these numerous Jews seen by the traveller may have been the first Karaite settlers of the town, who had already arrived there during the time of Vytautas.9 Two merchants, Sadko Danilowicz (i.e., Zadok ben Daniel) and his brother Shamak (a Turkic name) of Trakai, are mentioned as important lessees of the Grand Duke between 1463-1494. The names of these two merchants testify that they were, most likely, Karaites.10
The first Karaite immigrants settled apparently only in Trakai, which was at that time the capital of Lithuania. From the fifteenth through the seventeenth century, Karaite communities were established in a number of Polish and Lithuanian towns – and the Karaite tradition that speaks of thirty-two or forty-two Karaite communities in the country is not far from the truth.11 The main Karaite congregations were in such important Lithuanian centers as Trakai (Troki), Vilnius (Wilno), Panevėžys (Poniewież), Pasvalys (Poswol), and Naujamiestis (Nowe Miasto). Smaller communities lived in towns and villages in the north of the country. Because many scholars still make mistakes spelling the names of these smaller Karaite communities, it would be worthwhile to provide the full list of them in their Lithuanian and Polish forms: Ukmergė (Wiłkomierz), Upytė (Upita), Kėdainiai (Kiedajny), Krekenava (Krakinów), Pumpėnai (Pompiany), Šėta (Szaty), Pušalotas (Puszołaty), Saločiai (Sałaty), Kaunas (Kowno), Biržai (Birże), and Šventežeris (Świętojeziory).
As a consequence of the Russo-Swedish war, which was fought in Lithuanian territory, as well as frequent famines, conflagrations and epidemics, by the end of the eighteenth century, the Karaite community of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth dwindled to 2,000 to 3,000 souls.12 The tendency toward demographic decline continued in the nineteenth through the twentieth centuries. Today, the Karaites still live in several Lithuanian cities. According to the census of 2001, there were 273 Karaites in Lithuania (146 in Vilnius, 68 in Trakai, and 25 in Panevėžys, with the remainder scattered among other towns).13 The Karaites have two functioning houses of prayer, one in Vilnius and the other in Trakai.
One of the most interesting ethnographic features of the Karaites, which always differentiated them from their neighbors, was their language of everyday use: the Turkic Karaim language. While retaining Hebrew as their leshon ha-qodesh (Heb. “sacred language”), the Polish-Lithuanian Karaite communities adopted the Turkic Karaimo-Kypchak language in the thirteenth or fourteenth centuries as their Umgangssprache. This feature differentiated the Karaites from their ethnic neighbours: the Yiddish-speaking Ashkenazic Jews, the West Slavic Poles and the East Slavic Ruthenians (Ukrainians), and even from their Tatar-, Greek-, and Arabic-speaking Karaite brethren of the Crimea, the Ottoman Empire, and the Near East. The Turkic language of the Polish-Lithuanian Karaites is known in the academic literature as “Karaim/Qaraim/Qaray” or “Karaimo- Kypchak/Qıpçaq of Lithuania and Galicia-Volhynia” (sometimes also called “Northern” or “Western Karaim”). Today, Karaim is considered one of the most archaic spoken Turkic languages in the world, and is, perhaps, the most northern Turkic language in Europe. The exact reasons and circumstances that caused early Karaite believers to adopt this language as their Umgangssprache somewhere in the vast steppe areas of Desht-i Kypchak (Cuman Steppe) has been the subject of academic debate since the end of the nineteenth century.14
Only a few examples of Karaite poetry in the Turkic languages have been published and translated into European languages. 15 This article presents a highly interesting poem in the Karaim language discovered by me in Kraków in the archival collection of the famous Polish Orientalist, Tadeusz Kowalski (1889-1948).16 Kowalski most likely received a version of the elegy written in Hebrew characters in around 1927 from a leading interwar Halicz Karaite intellectual, Zarach Zarachowicz (1890–1952).17 The scholar, apparently, had problems reading the Karaim text in Hebrew characters. As a consequence, he subsequently asked Nowach Szulimowicz, another Halicz Karaite intellectual, to read it for him. On the basis of Szulimowicz’s reading, Kowalski transliterated the poem into Latin characters. There is no doubt that Kowalski himself had readied this elegy for publication, but for some reason, did not translate it18 and never submitted it to the press. In this article, I rely largely on Kowalski’s Latin transliteration, which I had to modify slightly because some of the characters used by Kowalski are absent from the computer keyboard. Furthermore, I corrected some of Kowalski’s typos by comparing his version with the variant in Hebrew characters provided by Zarachowicz.
The elegy represents a lamentation (Karaim kyna, a loanword from Hebrew) on the devastation of the Lithuanian Karaite community by the “mighty disease,” i.e., the plague. The epidemic of 1710, known also as the Great Plague, began to spread through Poland about 1704 and by 1708 had reached Silesia, Lithuania, Prussia, and a great part of Germany and Scandinavia. In Lithuania, the epidemic reached its climax in 1710-1711, with smaller outbreaks there a bit later. Not only the Karaites, but all the other ethnic groups inhabiting the country suffered from the disease. It is estimated that during the plague Lithuania lost about a third of its population. This deplorable event is reflected not only in Karaim poetry, but also in Lithuanian folklore.19 According to Karaite sources, the plague was a mighty blow against the Lithuanian Karaite community, which never managed to restore its importance after that. Mordecai Sułtański (1838), for example, informs us that the pestilence lasted for five months and killed “numberless and countless” people.20 According to Solomon ben Aaron of Trakai (Troki) the plague lasted from Tammuz 5470 (June/July 1710) until Tevet 5471 (December 1710/January 1711) with the deadliest days in the month of Av 5470 (July-August 1710).21 For the Karaite author, this circumstance had a special significance, since in both the Karaite and Rabbanite traditions, the month of Av was largely a month of assiduous fasting and commemoration of the destruction of the Temple, perhaps, the saddest day in Jewish history.22 Karaite documents also inform us that, as a consequence of the decimation of Trakai by the plague, the newly elected head of the community and other surviving members of the qehilah were forced to move to nearby Vilnius, where they stayed from 1710 to 1719.23 The plague became a serious and deplorable event in the history of the Lithuanian Karaites that was still recalled many generations later. After the plague was over, the Trakai Karaites developed a special liturgical service dedicated to the memory of its victims. In addition to the liturgical part, the Karaites visited the local cemetery and touched the graves of their deceased relatives with a handkerchief. The handkerchief was originally supposed to serve as a measure against infection. It later remained as a symbolic part of the ceremony.24
The author of the first elegy was not identified by either Kowalski or his Karaite colleagues. While trying to identify its author, I recalled the figure of Solomon ben Aaron of Trakai (1670?-1745), Karaite poet, theologian, and spiritual leader of the community.25 It is known that Solomon ben Aaron was a survivor of the plague in Trakai, but it was a personal tragedy for him as well because his own family suffered considerably from the epidemic.26 In the second decade of the eighteenth century, he described the devastation of the local community in a letter to the Karaite communities of Constantinople and Damascus.27 My hypothesis that Solomon ben Aaron had composed the kyna in question was corroborated when, armed with a reference from Jacob Mann’s study, I read a Hebrew elegy by Solomon ben Aaron. This elegy also described the devastation of the Trakai community by plague, with a short introduction in prose.28 Furthermore, after a careful comparison of Hebrew and Karaim versions of the elegy, I concluded that the Karaim variant is in fact a translation of the Hebrew original. There is no doubt that the Hebrew version was composed first and not vice versa. The Hebrew version presents an acrostic that starts with the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet and ends with the name of its author, Solomon ben Aaron. Since the Karaim version does not possess this structure, it was composed after the Hebrew original. The Karaim version is a skillful literal translation of the Hebrew original with little variation. For example, the Karaim version has a reference to the “Lithuanian people” (Kar. el Litvanyn, here in the sense “the Karaite community of Lithuania”), whereas the Hebrew version does not mention this. In general, however, the versions are quite similar in terms of their expression and content. One may assume that the Karaim version was composed by Solomon ben Aaron himself, since he is the author of several other important poems in the Karaim language.29 Kowalski’s Latin transliteration of the elegy, somewhat surprisingly, reflects the Galician-Volhynian phonological features of the Karaim language, and not its Lithuanian variety.30 This, however, may be explained by the fact that the poem was provided and dictated to Kowalski by the Galician Karaites.
In the prose introduction to the Hebrew version of his elegy, Solomon ben Aaron mentions that this qinah should be sung by the Karaites in all communities after reading of parashah and haftarah, starting on the 9th of Tammuz and ending on the 7th of Av. Furthermore, it should be sung on the 7th of Av after the qinot dedicated to the destruction of the Temple. The melody followed the pattern of a song from a Sephardic siddur.31 One lacks information about the liturgical use of the poem in the Crimea, Volhynia and Galicia (although the presence of this translation in Halicz can be evidence of this), but in Lithuania, the poem was still in use at least until the 1920s. In that decade, the young Ananjasz Zajączkowski (1903-1970), the future famous Karaite Orientalist in Poland, described in his first publication, the ceremony of commemoration of the victims of plague. On the 9th of Tammuz, after a special liturgy in the synagogue-kenesa, the whole Karaite community of Trakai went to the local Karaite cemetery, where a special kyna, i.e., apparently Solomon ben Aaron’s elegy, was sung.32
Let us now analyze the text of the Karaim version. The elegy states that all members of the community suffered from the plague irrespective of their age and social status. It mentions the neglected state of “the street,” i.e., undoubtedly, Karaite Street (Kar. Karaj oramy) in Trakai and the death of the “head of the community, the law-giver” (Kar. dzymatnyn aγasy, oł Tora jes’is’i). The “law-giver” mentioned here was apparently a head of the community, known in Hebrew as av-beit-din or shofet and as wójt in Polish. This could have been Abraham Moskiewicz of Pasvalys (Poswol), who according to some data, was the shofet of the Trakai community until 1709-1710.33 According to the Karaite documents analyzed by Jacob Mann, the office of the Trakai shofet remained vacant until 1713.34
The elegy next describes the physical symptoms of the disease (“signs upon the bodies, exceptional torments”), the expansion of the cemeteries and the spread of the plague into fortified settlements (even, perhaps, to Trakai castle and other Lithuanian fortresses where the Karaites lived). These data are partly corroborated by epigraphic evidence. It seems that there was a special section in the Karaite cemetery of Trakai, located next to the side entrance to the old part of the burial ground, where victims of the pestilence were buried. Only two tombs from the period of the plague have survived there.35 Especially interesting is a tombstone inscription on one of them, which mentions that the five persons (!) buried there were victims of the plague (Heb. magefah).36 Finally, the lamentation ends with the expectation of the coming of the messiah and restoration of the Temple in Jerusalem.
There are a number of Hebrew and some Slavic loanwords in the elegy, which is normal for the Karaim literature of the early modern period.37 Some of these loanwords are absent from the only standard dictionary of the Karaim language published to date.38 Most of the Hebrew loanwords had a religious character: k’yna (elegy), χaχamłar (sages), naviłer (prophets), micva (commandment, duty), Israełłer (Israelites), łeviłer (Levites), koγenlik (priesthood), Tora (Torah), mas’ijaχymiz (our messiah), małaχ (angel), and ganeden (Garden of Eden). Two Hebrew loanwords were topographic names: Łevanon (Mt. Lebanon) and S’irjon (Sirion, the name of Mt. Hermon). There are only two Slavic loanwords in the elegy. One of them, Litva, the standard Karaite term to designate their northern homeland, Lithuania, is especially interesting for our topic.39 The other, karanja (punishment, retribution) had a more abstract meaning.
The publication of the elegy is an important contribution to our knowledge of early modern Karaite history and literature in the Karaim language. Furthermore, it also provides us additional information about the perception of the plague of 1710, a great tragedy for Lithuania, through the eyes of one of its ethnic minorities.
Elegy on the destruction of the Lithuanian Karaite community by the plague of 1710.
|Ojangyn jireg’im k’yna
Kotarma acuvun kaχyryn Tenr’in’in!
Ucrady ułusta jadawłu karanja,
Tig’endi aŋŋyndan kic’li χastałyknyn.
Ułłułar, kic’iłer, atałar, ułanłar
Astry k’yjnałdyłar ałnyndan tarłyknyn.
Bir k’yska zamanda kurdu karsymyzda
Tesce k’epk’enete okłaryn ełetnin.
Syzłatma eks’itme abajły elimni
Ystyrdy k’y’jasa avyna kusłarnyn.
A kajda χaχamłar, tig’eł ak’yłłyłar,
Tiz iwretiwc’iłer jołuna Toranyn,
Ereŋłer, katyŋłar, jig’itłer da kartłar,
Kułłuk etiwc’iłer, kułłuγun Tenrinin,
Sukłancy ułanłar, abajły tuwmusłar,
Ceber k’yłykłyłar uksasy sappirnin,
Aruw jirekliłer, micva k’yłuwcułar,
Tiz inc’k’ełewc’iłer syrłaryn Toranyn
Kołłary bajłandy k’yłmaktan micvany.
Endiłer zeretk’e, ic’ine topraknyn,
Tig’eł γ’ermetliłer, sukłancy dzewγerłer.
S’iplik’k’e tasłandy basynda oramnyn.
Łevanon da S’irjon syjyt etiniz bek.
Bu χastałyγyna tavusułmaγymnyn
Dzymatnyn aγasy, oł Tora jes’is’i
Χorłandy jarγusu była oł kaχyrnyn.
Juvasłar, tig’ełłer birg’e cajpałdyłar.
Murdar kijikłerden g’ewdes’i tizłernin
Acuvu Tenrinin da ułłu kaχyry
Ot kibik kabundu elinde Litvanyn.
Boj k’yzłar ceberłer, naγys kijitliłer
S’iplikni kuctułar kic’inden syzławnyn.
Jas es’ikłerinde, syjyt kabakłarda.
Teredzede bełgis’i ułłu verenliknin.
G’ewdełer ikłendi ułłu kuppałarda
Saγarda sałada ornunda zeretnin.
Zeretłer arttyłar bar orunłarynda
Iwłerde, tizłerde ceginde bekliknin.
Bełgiłer gufłarda, tamasa awruwłar.
Bełgis’i awruwnun kaχyrnyn tarłyktan.
Az awłak kałγanłar tirlikk’e jazyłγan
Saγync bitikłerde kłeγ’ibe Tenrinin
Bełgis’i tirliknin maŋłajda kojułγan
Ki bołγaj kotarma maχtawnun Tenrinin.
Χajifs’in bijimiz kajγyły bu ełni,
K’etirgin dewłetin tez Israełłernin,
Cajpawcu małaχny toχtat cajpamaktan,
Endirgin ułuska cykłaryn ałγysnyn.
Bu acuw vaχtynda ełg’enłer bołsunłar
Asaisłykłarda, k’erkinde tyncłyknyn,
Syjły ortakłykta, naviłerbe birg’e,
Ic s’iverłeribe korkuncłu Tenrinin.
Bałkuwłu ornunda, satyr ganedende
Jarysyn izłeri jaryγyn k’ekłernin.
Emirlik atamyz, uvuł jasłyłarny,
Ystyrγyn kałdyγyn tozułγanłarynnyn
Γ’ermetin askartkyn, kondarγyn iwinni,
K’ergizgin izłerin mas’ijaχymiznin,
Tadzyn koγenliknin da syjły bijliknin.
Kajtarγyn bijens’in dzany jasłyłarnyn,
Uvuncłu sezłerin cyγarγyn jarykka.
Tełeme basyna ec dusmanłarynyn
Turγuzγun topraktan eliłerimizni
Bas urma ałnynda baγatyr Tenrinin.
|Wake up, my heart, to read the elegy
And announce the fury of God’s wrath!
The people were punished with painful retribution
Which finished with a mighty disease.
Great ones, little ones, fathers and sons
Suffered greatly from the disaster.
In a short time, He [God] prepared
Fast and sudden arrows of plague against us.
To torment and diminish our venerable people
He gathered [us] as birds in a net.
Where the wise ones, righteous sages,
Virtuous teachers of the ways of the Law,
Men, women, young and old,
Servants in God’s service,
Beautiful children, honorable relatives
Of mild character, similar to sapphires,
Of pure heart, keepers of the commandments
Righteous readers of the secrets of the Law,
Whose hands [He] bound with fulfilment of the commandments.
They are put into the cemetery, into the earth,
Righteous venerable ones, beautiful precious stones.
The beginning of the street was left in dust.
Mounts Lebanon and Sirion lament greatly.
This disease is our destruction.
The head of the community, the Law-giver,
Suffered from the sentence of this [i.e., God’s] wrath.
Modest and righteous ones were together destroyed.
The bodies of virtuous ones [devoured] by unclean animals.
God’s fury and his mighty wrath broke out
As a fire among the Lithuanian people.
Unmarried beautiful maids in embroidered dresses
Embraced dust because of the mighty disease.
Tears are at the door, grief is at the gates.
A sign of great devastation is at the window.
The bodies bore the burden of large worms.
Instead of town or village, there was a cemetery.
The cemeteries became larger everywhere,
In houses, in fields, within the castle bounds.
Signs upon the bodies, exceptional torments.
Signs of suffering the pain of [God’s] wrath.
Those few who remained, with God’s will
Are registered for life in [God’s] memorial books.
The sign of life that remains on the brow
Shall reveal praise to God.
Our Lord, have mercy on this miserable people,
Raise swiftly the might of the Israelites
So that the angel of extermination stops extermination.
Send to the people the dew of your blessing
So that in this time of wrath the dead ones
Shall be in heavenly bliss, in the grace of peace,
In honorable brotherhood, together with the Prophets,
With three beloved ones of wrathful God.
The rays of half the light of heaven
Are in a radiant place, in the merry garden of Eden.
Our eternal father who comforts the tear-stained ones,
Gather the rest of your dispersed ones,
Make known your respect, erect the House40,
Show the traces of the messiah,
The crown of priesthood and an honorable kingdom.
Restore the joy of [these] tear-stained souls.
Reveal your words of consolation
To take revenge on the heads of your enemies.
Raise from the dust our people
To bow their heads before almighty God.
1 I am grateful to Professor Daniel Lasker (Be’er Sheva) for his comments on the early draft of this paper; a word of thanks also goes to Dr. Barry Dov Walfish (Toronto).
2 E.g., classical studies, such as Mann, Texts and Studies in Jewish History, 551-1408; Bałaban, “Karaici w Polsce,” 1-92; and Kowalski, Karaimische Texte. The recent book by Stefan Gąsiorowski (Karaimi w Koronie i na Litwie) turned out to be a disappointment. Numerous factual and textual errors make his study less valuable than it could be. Many publications by modern Karaite authors, e.g., Kobeckaitė, Lietuvos karaimai, are often not based on historical sources. For a complete bibliography on Lithuanian Karaism, see the section entitled “Lithuania” in Walfish, Barry and Mikhail Kizilov, eds. Bibliograpia Karaitica: An Annotated Bibligraphy of Karaites and Karaism.
3 For a discussion, see Kizilov, “The Arrival of the Karaites,” Akhiezer and Shapira, “Qra'im be Lița”. 19-60.
4 Karaite sources normally used a Polish transliteration of Lithuanian toponyms.
5 Unfortunately, most scholars (including the author of these lines) relied on Jacob Mann’s conclusion that the earliest reference to the existence of the Karaite community in Trakai is the Karaite ketubbah (marriage contract) of 1400 (Mann, Texts, 558). My examination of the ketubbah in question (National Library of Russia in St. Petersburg, F. 946, Evr. I, Doc. II, no.1 (3)), however, revealed that the early date of this document and the reference to Vytautas had been inserted by a later hand. This ketubbah dates to a much later period, most likely to the sixteenth or seventeenth centuries, which is still quite early for a document of this type. Thus, we are still at a loss with regard to the exact time of the arrival of the Karaites in Lithuania and can only assume that it happened during the reign of Vytautas. The document about the arrival in Trakai in 1400 of Moses Sgan, which contained a genealogical tree of the Karaite physician Ezra ben Nisan ha-Rofe, also seems to be a nineteenth-century fabrication (see Mann, Texts, 1178, nr 120; cf. Kizilov, “Ezra ben Nisan ha-Rofe”).
6 Fanciful stories about the Karaites serving as guards of Grand Duke Vytautas are not corroborated by a single medieval document and should be regarded as the invention of late “romantic” Karaite scholarship.
7 They may have come to Lithuania directly from the North Caucasus or Middle Asia; a part of them may have arrived from Mamluk Egypt and Byzantium. The idea about the resettlement of the Karaites from the Golden Horde was formulated for the first time in Akhiezer, Shapira, “Qaraim,” 55; Shapira, “The Turkic Languages,” 669.
8 National Library of Russia in St. Petersburg, F. 946, Evr. I Doc. II, no. 37-39.
9 Lannoy, Oeuvres de Ghillebert de Lannoy, 41. Bałaban considered this remark of de Lannoy to be the first reference to the Karaite presence in Lithuania (Bałaban, “Karaici,” 55). Szyszman’s argument that, when writing about the Tatars, de Lannoy meant in fact the Turkic-speaking Karaites is very weak: de Lannoy described the Tatars as Saracens, i.e., Muslims, whereas the Karaites undoubtedly adhered to Judaism (Szyszman, “Osadnictwo karaimskie i tatarskie,” 32, and “Osadnictwo karaimskie w Trokach,” 55).
10 Litman, The Economic Role of Jews, 168, 157.
11 Twentieth-century Karaite scholarship usually refers to the presence of the Karaite communities in 32 or 42 settlements of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (Szyszman, “Osadnictwo karaimskie i tatarskie,” 29, ft.1). This data, undoubtedly, goes back to Firkowicz’s Avne Zikkaron (252), which counts 32 Karaite settlements in Poland-Lithuania.
12 Czacki’s information that the Karaite population of Poland and Lithuania in 1790 was 4,296 souls seems to be an exaggeration (Czacki, Rozprawa o Żydach i Karaitach, 145).
13 Adamczuk, et. al., Karaimi w Polsce, 34. Other less significant com munities, such as Upytė, Krekenava, Ukmergė and Kaunas (Upita, Krakinów, Wiłkomierz and Kowno), ceased to exist a long time before.
14 For a survey, see Shapira, “Miscellanea Judaeo-Turkica,” and “The Turkic Languages.”
15 Kowalski, “Pieśni obrzędowe w narzeczu Karaimów z Trok”; Kizilov, “Two Piyyutim and a Rhetorical Essay;” Shapira, “Miscellanea Judaeo-Turkica,” “A Karaim Poem in Crimean-Tatar” and “ ‘Pesn’ o Mangupe’ 1793 goda”; Munkácsi, “Karäisch-tatarische Hymnen aus Polen”; and Jankowski, “Reading Loose Sheets of Paper.” More than 70 Karaim poems by various authors were translated into Lithuanian by Karina Firkavičiūtė (Čypčychlej učma trochka / Į Trakus paukščiu plasnosiu); this book is based largely on the texts published in Karay Yirlary, ed., Mykolas Firkovičius.
16 Archiwum Nauki PAN i PAU, Kraków. Spuścizna K III-4. Tadeusz Kowalski. No. 122:1. Fols. 52-54a, 55-58; ibid., No. 122:2, Fols. 239- 242 (hereafter: AN PAN).
17 I have established this on the basis of the comparison of Kowalski’s manuscript with Zarachowicz’s letters in other archival collections (e.g., Manuscript Division of the Lietuvos Mokslų Akademijos Biblioteka, Vilnius F.143, No. 723, Fol.1 (v)). The letter of Z. Zarachowicz to S. Szapszał of 8.07.1948). For more information on Zarachowicz, see Kizilov, The Karaites of Galicia, 241-244, 247-249.
18 His personal archive contains an unfinished Polish translation of the elegy (AN PAN 122:2, fols.1-2, 37-38).
19 Krivickas, “Relations Between the Living and the Dead.”
20 Sułtański, Zekher Tsaddikim o qitsur agadah, 116.
21 Shishman, Seder ha-tefillot ke-minhag ha-Qara’im, 259-260.
22 The difference is that the Rabbanites observe the 9th of Av as the day of the destruction of the Temple, while the Karaites observe the 7th and 10th of Av.
23 Mann, Texts, 570-571, 580, 911-918, 1262-1267.
24 For more details, see below. A similar rite of kissing the tomb through a handkerchief is still practised by the Polish Karaites in Warsaw (I received an explanation of this ceremony from members of the community in Warsaw, in 1999; cf. El-Kodsi, The Karaite Communities, 28-29).
25 More about him in Kizilov, “Jüdische Protestanten?” 250-251.
26 Mann, Texts, 570.
27 Mann, Texts, 570, 580, 1262-1267; cf. Shapira, “Some New Data on the Karaites,” 11-23.
28 Shishman, Seder ha-tefillot ke-minhag ha-Qara’im, 259-261.
29 Especially famous is his poem “Hej, hej kyzhyna...” published in Myśl Karaimska 2:3-4(1930):21; Karaj Awazy 3(5)(1932): 25-26; Firkovičius, Karay Yirlary, 188. For his poem “Da ty pienkna [sic] damulenka” (You are truly a pretty maid; Polish in Hebrew characters), see Kowalski, “Z pożółkłych kart.”
30 On Northern (Trakai) Karaim, see (with caution) Kocaoğlu and Firkovičius, Karay; Firkovičius, Mień karajče ürianiam.
31 Shishman, Seder ha-tefillot ke-minhag ha-Qara’im, 260
32 Ananjasz Zajączkowski, “Promień miłosci,” 20, ft. 3.
33 See Jerzy Wierzyński, “Dokument z r. 1706.”
34 Mann, Texts, 570-571, 580, 911-918, 1262-1267
35 One should keep in mind that many of the tombs from the cemetery have not survived. Furthermore, it is known that only comparatively rich people could afford stone tombs, while less well-todo people were often buried without tombstones or with wooden matsevot.
36 Yeshayah ben Isaac, his sons Isaac and Joseph, and daughters Sulamith and Dina died in 1710, 1713, and 1716. Their collective tombstone was erected apparently after 1718, when the community returned to Trakai from Vilnius (Akhiezer and Dvorkin, “Ktovot ha-matsevot mi-batei ha-‘almin be-Lita,” 245).
37 The number of Slavic loanwords in Karaim literature grew considerably in the nineteenth century. Between the two world wars, the Karaim language was somewhat artificially Turkicized and purified of Hebrew and Slavic loanwords within the framework of de-Judaization reforms carried out by the leaders of the Polish- Lithuanian Karaite community at that time. For more information, see Kizilov, “The Press and the Ethnic Identity,” 268-277.
38 See Baskakov, et.al., Karaimsko-russko-pol’skii slovar.’
39 Standard Hebrew for Lithuania is Lita.
40 I.e. the Temple in Jerusalem.