Perez Smolenskin: Zionist- Hebraist Pioneer
By JOSEF FRAENKEL
Jewish News London
A number of East-Euro-
pean Jews who settled in the
West had an influential role
in Jewish life. Among those
was Perez Smolenskin. He
was born in the Russian vil-
lage of Monastyrshina in the
Mohilev district, Feb. 25,
Throughout hisschool days
he suffered constantly. His
mentors were: poverty, dis-
tress and books.
, In his early youth he had
studied Hebrew grammar;
he became well versed in He-
brew and a passionate reader
of books in various languages.
He attended the Yeshiva in
Sklov and then in Lubavicz;
he began to read "prohibit-
ed" publications; was per-
secuted by religious fanatics
and compelled to move from
town to town. He was eager
to know the classics of world
literature in their original
- languages—English, German,
French and Russian.
In Odessa, he became a
Hebrew teacher. Here "Ham-
elitz" appeared, edited by
Alexander Zederbaum, who
March 5—To Mr. and Mrs.
Laurence E. Pevos (Joanne
Swartz), former Detroiters
of Flint, a daughter,
* - * *
Feb. 28—To Mr. and Mrs.
Dayid Diskin (Evelyn Paul),
19181 Eldridge, Southfield, a
son, Matthew Paul.
- S *
Feb. 22—To Dr._ and Mrs.
Donald Schon (Esther Sil-
ver), former Detroiters of
Philadelphia, a son, Keith
* * *
Feb. 22—To Mr. and Mrs.
Martin Schlissberg (Janice
Gross) of Lansing, a daugh-
ter, Lori Jill. .
Serving Hospitals and Homes
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44—Friday, March 15, 1974
IRE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
Kreisky-Led Socialist Delegation
Eyed With Ambivalence in Israel
ed the name "Kadima,"
helped to spread "Haskala"
meaning "Eastward" and
"Forward." He became "Ka-
skin wanted to work inde-
dima's" adviser in the hope
pendently, and after a liter-
TEL AVIV (JTA)—There to study conditions for eco-
that they would realize his
ary conflict with Zederbaum,
are mixed feelings here over nomic cooperation between
he left Russia in 1867, and
the arrival of the Socialist the Arab countries and Eu-
Jewish nation to believe in
finally settled in Vienna. Had
delegation from rope and between Israel and
a Jewish- Palestine and to de-
he remained in Odessa, we
by Austria's the European states.
fend Jewish honor. Then
would probably have heard
Chancellor Bruno Kreisky,
It will be Kreisky's first
little more of him.
and the kind of reception visit to Israel although he
Russia was no country for
"Unitas," "Libanonia," etc.), they will receive from the has a brother in this country
men like Smolenskin. East
whom he helps support.
and when Theodor Herzl pub- Israeli public is uncertain.
Europe was never ripe for
There is no secret that Is-
Israel is hoping for
Jewish emancipation. Vienna
1896, these students were his rael has lost considerable dialogue with the Europe.
opened the path to Hebrew
first collaborators. They help- support among this group, Community, like the one be-
literature for him. He com-
ed him organize the First once one of its staunchest ing prepared between the
bined his talmudic knowl-
Zionist Congress in Basle allies, and feelings still run EEC and the Arab states,
edge with modern culture;
(1897) and were also mem- high here against Kreisky, Israel's ambassador in Bonn,
his Jewish studies from the
bers of the Executive of the despite—or possibly because Eliashiv Ben Horin, stated
East with the philosophy of
in an interview with the
World Zionist Organization. of — his Jewish origin.
the West; and thus a new
"Hashahar" published ar-
Smolenskin emerged. He be-
Perez or Peter Smolenskin
lieved in the future of the I advocated Jewish colonization ticles and essays by Eliezer bitter criticism in Israel
ben Yehuda, the pioneer of shortly before the Yom Kip-
Life's most expensive gift
in Palestine: he came in con- Hebrew as a living language pur War when he decided to
has always been the gift of
Perez (he often signed him- tact with Laurence Oliphant,
shut down the Jewish gab.
self "P e t e r") Smolenskin the English precursor of in Palestine, by Mendele
Agency's transit camp for
lived in the Jewish district Zionism, and demanded from Moher Seforim. Yehuda Leib
Soviet emigres at Schoenau
of Leopoldstadt, in the Grosse the Alliance Israelite Uni-
Castle near Vienna and re-
Sperigasse. First he worked verselle more activity for Gordon and Smolenskin's
as a Hebrew proof-reader Eretz Israel. At the same brother Leon. "Galitzianer," fused to be moved by Pre-
mier Golda Meir's personal
and then became manager of time, in 1882, - when students too, wrote for "Fashahar,"
the Hebrew depaytment of a of the Harkov University
He has since made re-
printing-press where he came formed a society "Bilu" President of the First Zion-
into contact with the "Intel- (Beth Jacob lechu ve-nelcha: ist Congress, S. Buber,- M. marks which many Israelis
ligentsia." With the help of 0, House of Jacob, come ye, B...Brandstaedter, S. Rubin, regard as pro-Arab. The
a few "Galitzianer" he pub- and let us go—Isaiah 2.5), D. J. Silberbusch and F. H. delegation he heads is to visit
and edited the Hebrew for emigration to Palestine, Mueller. "Hashahar" had Egypt and Syria as well as
monthly "Hashahar" (The some students in Vienna readers in Eastern Europe, Israel for the stated purpose
1 )awn). The first issue aP- (Ruben Bierer, Nathan Birn- and also in Austria and Ger- of studying the Middle East
many. Over the years arti- situation at first hand to ex-
1 eared in September 1858 baum (Mathias Adler), Isi-
nd on the cover page he dor Niemczowicz,' 11,1 o r i t z cles bv- 230 contributors were amine conditions for a last-
uoted. as a motto. a sen- Schnirer, and others) ap- published. mainly from Rus- ing peace.
Another announced/ aim is
in Hebrew and German proached Smolenskin for help sia, over 50 from Galicia, 25
1 ro-m Isaiah 58.8: "Then shall in establishing an academic from Bohemia, Moravia and
Hungary, and 10 from Ger-
I by light break forth as the society. Smolenskin suggest-
many Ind elsewhere.
Horning, and thy healing
Smolenskin barely survived
hall spring forth speedily!".
the age of 43. He died on
1 e chose those words to pro- Nov. 29, _1947
Feb. 1, 1885, in Merano. "Die
I laim' a new era for the He-
Neue Freie Presse" (Vien-
1 rew language and a dawn-
na) wrote that since "Yehu-
i ng for Zion.
da Halevy no one had mas-
The "Haskala" movement,
tered the Hebrew language
initiated by Moses Mendels- P rtinon
SEPARATE CLASSES FOR
so excellently as Peter Smol-
sohn (1729-1786), was using
AGES!! 3 thru HIGH SCH001.
the Hebrew language as a
Britannica (11th edition,
futile instrument to inculcate
1911) called him the "Jew-
assimilation. But for Smolen-
UN General' Assembly Re-
skin, Hebrew was the soul of solution on the Future_ Gov- ish Thackeray," resembling
Help The Energy Crisis
Charles Dickens, and added:
the Jewish people. With the ernment of Palestine.
Use Our Gas—NOT YOURS
help of Hebrew he • intended
DOOR TO DOOR BUS SERVICE
The General Assembly.
a different language, he
to arrest assimilation. He
Having met in special Ses- would have been considered
battled against the zealous sion at the request of the
orthodox and against ignora- mandatory Power to consti- one of the great novelists of
DANCE STUDIOS' FOR CHILDREN
muses w h o predominated tute' and instruct a special the 19th Century.
I 12-MILE AND EVERGREEN
Some time ago, I traveled
both in Eastern and Western committee to prepare for the
ROYAL OAK .
Europe. In his writings "Am consideration of the question to Merano to visit Smolen-
Olam" (Eternal People) and of the future government of
"Eth La'taath" (It is Time Palestine at the second reg- by the President of the Jew
ish Community we searched
to Plant) he formulated his ular session;
in vain for the tombstone.
beliefs. "We are one Nation,
Have constituted a Special Later I discovered that years
not a religious sect."
Committee and instructed it
In Germany, the "Haskala" to investigate all questions earlier_, on the instructions
had a Germanic tone. Men- and issues relevant to the of the Israel government, his
delssohn also had many ad- problein of Palestine, and to remains had been re-interred
mirers in the land of the czar prepare proposals for the in Jerusalem—an honor he
and they combined "Haska- solution of the problem.
Smolenskin's neighbors in
la" with "Russification." In
the Jewish-cemetery in Mer-
Mendelssohn's ask al a"
ano were Albert Donreich,
they anticipated their future. Menacing Sheikhs
r o m Universal Press who died in April 1899, aged
Smolenskin's storm against
the teachings of Mendelssohn Syndicate article by Paul 33. He was a member of the
created a sensation. Nahum Greenberg, editor, Pine Bluff, "Kadima" and secretary of
the First Zionist Congress.
Sokolow disclosed that "Ha- Ark., Commercial).
The Arab "oillionaires" Herzl stated that Donreich
shahar" thereby lost half of
its subscribers, but Smolen- are treating the Third World "contracted his fatal disease
skin did not count the num- much as they did the Pales- during his Zionist service."
ber of readers and continued tinian refugees — with huge Another neighbor, I s i d o r
his fight. Finally, he suc- doses of propaganda and a Niemczowicz, co-founder of
ceeded in influencing the pittance of real help, leaving the "Kadima," was one of
"Haskala" movement, which Americans to carry the bur- Smolenskin's best friends and
slowly turned toward nation- den. And when American one of the first Palestine
congressmen refuse to play pioneers. Both are still in
Smolenskin's novels "Ha- this self-defeating game any Merano — forsaken and for-
Toeh bedarkey ha-hayim" longer, it is the congressmen gotten.
Perez, or Peter Smolen-
(Astray in the Paths of Life), who are called "scrooges."
The oil sheikhdoms are ex- skin edited "Hashahar" for PONTIAC MALL,
"K'vturat Hamor" (The Bu-
GROSSE PTE. and
rial of a Donkey), etc. were pected to take in some $85.2 17 years, but of equal im-
once widely-read and ran to billion this year, compared portance was his enthusiasm
several editions. The heroes with $22.7 billion in 1973. They as co-founder of the "Kadi-
and characters in his novels,
as well as the East-European $200 million in economic aid members, so that Theodor
shtetl, have vanished, but in to the whole continent of Af- Herzl found in them devoted
time, his novels, adapted for rica, where drought and star- and zealous collaborators
Israel television, could once vation are spreading south of even before the First Zionist
again become popular.
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