Abram Izrailevich Peretz (1771-1833)
Abram Peretz was born into a family of well-known Galician rabbis. His father was a rabbi in Levertov. Abram married a daughter of the well-known scholar and philanthropist Joshua Tsetlin.
According to the Jewish Encyclopedia, Perets had the makings of a learned Talmudist, but instead became a merchant and later a major tax-collector and shipbuilding contractor. Abram Peretz moved to St. Petersburg at a young age on the recommendation of the Empress' favorite Grigoriy Potemkin to be among those few Jews to live in the home of Catherine II's priest so as to keep their presence in Petersburg hidden.
Thanks to his abilities, Peretz occupied a high position in the small Jewish colony of Petersburg. In 1801 Paul I granted him the title of Counselor of Commerce. Peretz' open house was visited by many well-known people. He was close to government circles. According to Gordon's article "Notes on the history of Jewish settlement in St. Petersburg", the 1810 financial reform largely owed its success to "banker Peretz' advice". Backed by his influential patrons, in many instances Abram Peretz helped Jews who suffered from the biased attitudes of czarist officials.
Peretz was generally recognized as a proper and decent businessman. Even after he was ruined as a result of not being paid by the treasury for food supplies to the army, he did not lose everyone's respect. As Baron Korf wrote about him, "this man was remembered by many people for his merits, his great deeds and later for his misfortunes".
Having become a widower, Peretz remarried a Lutheran woman, and had to adopt her faith. After his death, he was buried in a Lutheran cemetery.
One of his sons - Grigoriy - participated in the Decembrist movement and was sentenced together with his comrades. His other son - Yegor Abramovich - held the office of state secretary 1880-1883.