REFOEL ZELIGMAN (RAFAEL SELIGMANN) (June 1875-September 3, 1943)
He was born in Minsk, Byelorussia. His father came from a rabbinical family, but he alone was a follower of the Jewish Enlightenment and gave his son a secular Jewish education. His mother was the sister of Yehalel (Yude-Leyb Levin). Over the years 1900-1911, Refoel Zeligman studied philosophy in Switzerland and completed his doctorate there. He settled in Berlin prior to WWI. He initially wrote in German, publishing philosophical and cultural historical treatises in German periodicals, and in book form: Probleme des Judentums (Issues in Judaism) (Vienna, 1919), 155 pp.; Mensch und Welt (Man and world) (Berlin, 1921), 239 pp.; Zur Psyche des russischen Folkes (On the psyche of the Russian people) (Berlin, 1921). He also wrote on Yiddish literature for Sozialistische Monatshefte (Socialist monthly) in Berlin (1917), Süddeutsche Montasheft (Southern German monthly) in Munich (1918), and other serials. He began writing in Yiddish in 1913-1914 for Di yudishe velt (The Jewish world) in Vilna, in which he published the essays: “Haynrikh hayne” (Heinrich Heine), “Vagner un zayn batsiung tsu yudn” (Wagner and his tie to Jews), “Zomberts natsyonal-ekonomishe anshoyung” (Sombert’s national economic viewpoint), and “A dialog vegn muzik” (A dialogue concerning music). After WWI he contributed to a variety of Yiddish periodicals, such as: Milgroym (Pomegranate) in Berlin—“Laottse un buda” (Laozi and Buddha), “In perets’s drokhim” (In Perets’s ways), “Shpengler iber yudentum” (Spengler on Judaism), and other pieces; Dos naye lebn (The new life), Tsukunft (Future), Tealit (Theater and literature), and Fraye arbeter shtime (Free voice of labor)—all in New York. In these journals he published essays on general and Jewish social and cultural issues. His translations include: Henri Barbusse, Klorkeyt, a roman (Clarity, a novel [original: Clarté]) (Berlin, 1922), 302 pp.; Gustave Flaubert, Herodyade (Hérodias) (Berlin, 1922), 64 pp.; Ricardo Hoch, Der yidisher keyver (The Jewish grave) (Berlin, 1922), 39 pp.; Prosper Merimée, Carmen (Berlin, 1922), 122 pp.; Franz Landsberger, Impresyonizm un ekspresyonizm (Impressionism and expressionism [original: Impressionismus und Expressionismus]) (Berlin, 1922); Aleksandr Kulisher, Lord bikonsfild, fun 1804 biz 1832 (Lord Beaconsfield, from 1804 to 1832) (Berlin, 1923), 292 pp.; Laozi, Dos bukh fun getlekhn gezets (The book of divine law); Epiktets filozofishe aforizmen (Epictetus’s philosophical aphorisms) (Berlin, 1923), 46 pp.; Samuel Aba Horodezky, Khasidizm (Hassidism) (Berlin, 1924), 109 pp. In Hebrew he published: Masot filosofiyot (Philosophical essays), with an introduction by Yoḥanan Twersky (Tel Aviv, 1955), 235 pp. He spent his last years in Israel and contributed pieces to Haarets (The land). He died in Tel Aviv).
Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1; Shmuel Niger, in Tsukunft (New York) (October 1924); Dr. A. Mukdoni, in Tsukunft (January 1935); Mukdoni, Oysland (Abroad) (Buenos Aires, 1951), pp. 159-61; G. Ḥurgin, in Hadoar (New York) (Iyar 23 [= May 4], 1956); D. Tidhar, in Entsiklopedyah leḥalutse hayishuv uvonav (Encyclopedia of the pioneers and builders of the yishuv), vol. 8 (Tel Aviv, 1958), p. 3087.