Jdi na obsah Jdi na menu

Polygamy of Crimean Karaites - copy of a document prepared by the Karaite court in Gözleve



We, signed below, the court of the holy community of Gözleve, declare that the honourable, respectable Gershon Kohen, son of honourable sir Ḥayim Kohen of blessed memory appeared before us and said us: Because of the fact that my wife’s health has deteriorated, she has given me her consent, with a sincere heart and willing soul to take another wife, beside her in her lifetime, for her benefit and good, so that she has quiet, rest and peace of mind.
For her to help her in all activities.
Thus, we also asked her via suitable and reliable witnesses.
The witnesses testified in the same manner: She herself wanted that, beyond any doubt and explicitly.
Subsequently, we summoned Gershon Kohen, mentioned above, and we decided the conditions and the contract with him.
And also gave the consent for him to take another wife, however, on the condition that he would do nothing opposed to what had been written and he would not expel or disregard her, he himself or the wife which would be taken for him.
And that he would accept her with a cheerful face.
And that he would not treat one better than the other in terms of foods, clothing and intercourse.
And indeed, if he does not keep his word and he betrays these conditions, he pledged to give his wife a fine of one hundred lions, in the Constantinople currency, beside the (money) from her ketubah, so that she can maintain herself in her widowhood.
In accordance with the above mentioned conditions, we confirmed it, validated it, wrote it down and gave it to the hand of his wife, the one who was take earlier, so that it remained in her hands as a proof and an authorisation in all Israeli courts, binding, obvious and valid.

It happened on Friday, the 19th of Ḥeshvan, year 5570 from the creation of the world.

And here are the witnesses:

From Gershon Kohen:
I shall act in accordance with God’s will.
Mordecai Khadji
Moshe son of the honourable sir Avraham
Simḥa the treasurer
… of the treasurer, Yerushalmi, Erincev
… son of the honourable sir Hillel, the elder of blessed memory
May his Rock and his Saviour protect him.

The writer of the gathering: Sh’muel Kohen, the younger, asking (for mercy) son of honourable sir Noaḥ Kohen the notable.
May his Rock and his Saviour protect him.


This manuscript is a copy of a document prepared by the Karaite court in Gözleve.
Its contents involve explanatory proceedings in the procedure for granting Gershon Kohen, member of the community a permission to marry a second wife.
There is likelihood that the document evidences the last case or one of the last cases of polygyny in the community of the Crimean Karaites.


Source: Polygamy of East-European Karaites: An Unknown Document from Crimea - Jewish History Quarterly 251, 2014, 546-553 - by Piotr Muchowski