About Neḥemiah ben Yakob Kohen Ṣedeq, Gaon of Pumbeditha
Nehemiah bar Kohen Ṣedeq Gaon
Nehemiah bar Kohen Ṣedeq Gaon served as gaon of the academy of Pumbedita from 960 to 968. He was apparently of priestly descent. Nehemiah led an emerging faction against Aaron Sarjado after the latter, a member of the merchant class rather than the scion of a gaonic family, was appointed gaon of the academy of Pumbedita in 943. The immediate cause of Nehemiah’s secession was Aaron’s decision to appoint Sherira ben Hananiah and not Nehemiah to the post of av bet din ("president of the court" -- the second-highest rank in the yeshiva hierarchy) following the death of the incumbent av bet din, Amram ben Mishoi. Although his faction opened a new academy with its own student body and av bet din, Nehemiah was unable to maintain a rival gaonate in the long term. Several of his surviving letters describe the controversy. In them he seeks funding for his school and support that would influence the ‛Abbāsid court. After the death of Aaron in 959, Nehemiah was appointed gaon of Pumbedita, but Sherira refused to recognize his authority. In 962, with the death of Sherira’s brother Hophni ben Ḥananiah, who had served as Nehemiah’s av bet din, Sherira may have assumed the mantle of av bet din; on Nehemiah's death in 968, Sherira was appointed gaon of Pumbedita.
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Citation Phillip Ackerman-Lieberman. " Nehemiah bar Kohen Ṣedeq Gaon." Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World. Executive Editor Norman A. Stillman. Brill Online , 2013. Reference. Jim Harlow. 29 January 2013 <http://referenceworks.brillonline.com/entries/encyclopedia-of-jews-in-the-islamic-world/nehemiah-bar-kohen-sedeq-gaon-SIM_0016680>