Frank Jacob

Frank Jacob

(Jankiew Leouwicz), founder of the Jewish sect of the Frankists, was born in Poland in 1712. While a young man he traveled through the Crimea and neighboring parts of Turkey, where he received the surname of Frank, given by the Turks to Europeans, and which he retained. Having returned to Poland in 1750, he acquired great reputation as a Kabbalist, and settled in Podolia, where he was soon surrounded by adepts, among whom were several rabbis. His most zealous followers were among the Jewish communities of Landskron, Busk, Osiran, Opotschnia, and Kribtschin. He preached a new doctrine, the fundamental principles of which he had borrowed from that of Sabathai-Sevi, and which he explained in a book which his disciples looked upon as directly inspired from God. The rabbis of Podolia, jealous of his influence, caused him all sorts of annoyances, and had him arrested, but he was liberated through the influence of the Roman Catholic clergy, and authorized by the king to profess freely his tenets. His followers then, under the name of Zoharites (from their sacred book Zohar) and Anti-Talmudists, oppressed their former adversaries in turn, and even obtained an order from the cardinal of Kamienitz to have all the copies of the Talmud in his diocese burned. They soon, however, lost their influence, the papal nuncio at Warsaw declaring against them. Some fled to Moldavia, where they were badly treated, and most of the others, including Frank, professedly embraced Christianity; but, as he continued to make proselytes, he was imprisoned in the fort of Czenstochow until the invasion of Poland by the Russians in 1773. His sect had increased in the mean time, and he made large collections in Poland and Bohemia. In 1778 he went to Vienna, and then went to Brunn, in Moravia, where he lived in princely style on the means furnished him by his followers. Driven again from Vienna, where he had returned, he settled at Offenbach, in Hesse, where he died of apoplexy (notwithstanding his disciples believed him immortal) December 10, 1791. The sect exists yet, and has its head-quarters in Warsaw, but the mystery which surrounds it has not yet been dissipated. Their profession of faith has been published at Lemberg-in rabbinical Hebrew and in Polish. — Hoefer, Nouv. Biog. Gen. 18:565; see Czacki, Dissertation sur les Juifs; Peter Beer, Histoire des Juifs; Fort, Histoire des Juifs; Franck, La Cabale; Leon Hollaenderski, Les Israelites de Pologne; Salomon Maimon, Des sectes religeuses des Juifs polonais; Carmoly, Etat des Israelites en Pologne; G. atz, Frank u. d. Frankisten (Breslau, 1868); Jahrbucher f. deutsche Theologie (1868), page 555; Judische Zeitschrift (Geiger's), 6:1, 49.

 
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