name = Berek Joselewicz
caption = On a painting by
birth_date = birth date|1764|9|17|mf=y
Kretynga, Samogitia, Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
death_date = death date and age|1809|5|5|1764|9|17|mf=y
death_place = Battle of Kock,
Berek Joselewicz (1764-1809) was a Jewish-Polish merchant and a colonel of the Polish Army during the
Kościuszko Uprising. Joselewicz commanded the first Jewish military formation in modern history [http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN0814793789&id=QmaWZEwBiQcC&pg=PA1426&lpg=PA1426&dq=berek+joselewicz&sig=LmYJfOKtP10CwKrRvUNd_9LrsRU&hl=en] [http://www.kasprzyk.demon.co.uk/www/Decline.html]
Joselewicz was born in
Kretinga, Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and worked as the financial agent for a local magnate, who often sent him abroad on various tasks, during which he learned to speak French. He spent some time in Paris during the beginning of the French Revolution, and it is thought that this may have later inspired him to join Tadeusz Kościuszko, who advocated similar causes of brotherhood and equality.
Joselewicz initially served in the Polish militia before petitioning Kościuszko for permission to form an all-Jewish unit. On
September 17, 1794, Kościuszko officially announced the creation of the unit. Joselewicz, along with another Jew named Joseph Aronowicz, issued a patriotic call-to-arms in Yiddish denouncing Russia and Prussia, eliciting hundreds of volunteers, mostly poor tradeworkers and artisans. 500 men were eventually accepted and formed into a cavalry regiment. At Joselewicz's request, they were allowed to keep their religious customs, including access to kosher food, abstaining from combat on the Sabbath when possible, and growing their beards. Joselewicz's unit was popularly known as "the Beardlings". They took part in the 1794 defence of Praga, in which the unit was wiped out, with only few men (including Joselewicz) surviving the battle [http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN0814793789&id=QmaWZEwBiQcC&pg=PA1426&lpg=PA1426&dq=berek+joselewicz&sig=LmYJfOKtP10CwKrRvUNd_9LrsRU&hl=en]
After the defeat of the
Kościuszko Uprising, Joselewicz left for Galicia and then for Italy. There he joined the Polish Legionsunder Henryk Dąbrowski. As a commander of a sabre company in Polish cavalry units he fought in various battles of the Napoleonic period. Among them were the battles of Trevia, Novi, Hohenlinden, Austerlitz and Friedland. He was awarded the Virtuti Militarimedal and the Polish Gold Crossfor his merits. From 1807 he fought in various battles in Poland. He was killed in the Battle of Kock in 1809 during an encounter with a unit of Austrian hussars, and today his grave has become a popular tourist attraction.
Berek's son, Josef Berkowicz (1789-1846), also participated in the battle of Kock, and later served as a squadron chief during the
November Uprisingof 1830, during which he also attempted to convince Jewish soldiers to desert the Russian army and join the Poles. Berkowicz later moved to England and wrote a novel.
The expression "like Berek at Kock" commonly describes a hopeless situation in Polish to this day.
History of Poland
* [http://www.diapozytyw.pl/en/site/slady_i_judaica/kock Diapositive: Traces of the Past]
* [http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=810&letter=B Jewish Encyclopedia: Berek Joselewicz]
* [http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=844&letter=B Jewish Encyclopedia: Josef Berkowicz]
* [http://www.wzo.org.il/en/resources/view.asp?id=266 This Month in Jewish History: September] , from the
World Zionist Organization
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Berek Joselewicz — Berek Joselewicz, Gemälde von Juliusz Kossak Berek Joselewicz, Berek, Sohn von Josel (Joseph), hebräisch דוב בער Dov Ber (* 1764 in Kretinga, Großfürstentum Litauen; † 5. Mai 1809 in Kock … Deutsch Wikipedia
Berek Joselewicz — (1764 1809) Berek Joselewicz (né le 17 septembre 1764, mort le 5 mai 1809) – commerçant polonais d origine juive, colonel de l armée polonaise, officier de la légion polonaise en Italie. Né à Kretinga, non loin de Kaunas, qui faisait alors partie … Wikipédia en Français
JOSELEWICZ, BEREK — (Berek, son of Yosel; c. 1770–1809), colonel of the Polish armed forces, participant in the kosciuszko rising and the Napoleonic Wars. Born in Kretinga, Lithuania, he later became court factor to Bishop Massalski of Vilna. In the course of his… … Encyclopedia of Judaism
Joselewicz, Berek — (c. 1768 1809) Polish patriot. Born in Kretinga, Lithuania, he worked in commerce and entered the service of Vilna s prince bishop. He was later attracted to the ideals of the French Revolution, and he became an ally of Polish liberals who… … Dictionary of Jewish Biography
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MILITARY SERVICE — Jews served in the national armies of most countries in which they settled. However, in many states they were denied the right to bear arms before the 20th century since they were considered to be second class citizens, not fit to fight for their … Encyclopedia of Judaism
Battle of Praga — Part of the Kościuszko Uprising Obrona Pragi (Defence of Praga) by Aleksander Orłowski … Wikipedia
Лунинский, Эрнест — автор ценной монографии о еврейском полковнике Береке Иоселевиче "Berek Joselewicz i jego syn" (Варшава, 1892, с иллюстрациями), в основу которой положены архивные материалы и обширная литература по истории польских восстаний. В 1908 г … Большая биографическая энциклопедия