SHIYE (OSIAS) THON (February 3, 1870-November 11, 1930)
He was born in Lemberg, Galicia. He was the brother of the writer and chairman of “Bet Hanivḥarim” (Parliament, Knesset), Dr. Jacob Thon. He studied in religious primary school, in the Zhidachov (Żydaczów) conventicle, and later in a high school. From 1891 he studied philosophy at the University of Berlin, while at the same time he was a student at the Lehranstalt für die Wissenschaft des Judentums (Institute for Jewish Studies), and he was a leader of the Zionist student circle around Leon Motzkin. He received his doctor of philosophy degree in 1897 for a work concerned with Kantian moral philosophy. From 1897 he was at first a preacher, later a rabbi in the Progressive Temple in Cracow. He was a co-founder of a series of Zionist institutions in Galicia. From 1919 until his death, he was a representative of Cracow Jewry in the Polish Sejm and for a time chairman of Kolo, the Jewish club of deputies and senators in the Sejm. Over the years 1919-1921, he represented Polish Jews at the Committee of Jewish Delegations to the Paris Peace Conference (Comité des Délégations Juives). He was the chairman of Tarbut in Poland, on whose behalf in 1924 he visited the United States. He was chair of the B’nai Brit Lodge in Poland. Although a principled opponent of the Yiddish language, as a deputy he defended Yiddish (in his Sejm-redes [Sejm speeches] Warsaw, 1923, p. 48). His work as a writer began in the Polish Jewish weekly newspaper Przyszłość (Future) in 1892. He debuted in Yiddish in Der karmel (The Carmel) in Lemberg (1894), an organ of the Lovers of Zion (Ḥoveve-tsiyon), edited by Ruvn-Osher Broydes. From that point on, he published hundreds of articles in Yiddish, Hebrew, Polish, and German in: Hashiloaḥ (The shiloah), Hatsfira (The times), and Luaḥ aḥiasef in Warsaw; Hayom (Today) in St. Petersburg; Haolam (The world) in London-Berlin; and in many other Zionist periodicals. For many years he was a contributor to Haynt (Today) in Warsaw, where in addition to political articles that would appear every Friday, he also published a series of images of Jewish life in Lemberg (a portion of them is included in the book, Pirke galitsya [Chapters from Galicia], Tel Aviv, 1957, pp. 343-85, translated from Yiddish by Yeruḥam Tolkes). He was the founder of the Polish Jewish Nowy Dziennik (New daily) (Cracow, 1919). He contributed as well to: Dos yudishe folk (The Jewish people) in Warsaw; Lodzer tageblat (Lodz daily newspaper); and Der morgn (The morning) in Lemberg; among others. In Yiddish he published: Teodor hertsel (Theodor Herzl) (Warsaw, 1914), 40 pp.; Sejm-redes (Sejm speeches) (Warsaw, 1923), 72 pp.; Unzer shtelung in der velt (Our standing in the world) (Warsaw, 1928), 16 pp. In Hebrew: observations on M. Gufreyd’s book on R. Naḥman Krokhmal (Cracow, 1899); Herbert spenser (Herbert Spencer) (Odessa, 1910), 128 pp.; Ketavim (Writings), part 1 (Warsaw, 1922), 212 pp.; Kitot beyisrael (Sects in Israel) (Warsaw, 1927). In Polish: Pisma i kazania (Scriptures and sermons) (Cracow, 1938), 419 pp. (a selection of his sermons, 1895-1906). He also published a series of books in German. In the last year of his life, feeling the close Hitlerian danger for the Jewish people, he interrupted his regular politics, and he appeared at the Sejm dais in opposition to the politics of Polish-German friendship (see Y. Gronboym, Fun mayn dor [From my generation]). He died in Cracow.
Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1; Gershon Bader, Medina veḥakhameha (The state and its sages) (New York, 1934), pp. 106-8; Bet eked sefarim; Dr. Sh. Bernshteyn, in Hadoar (New York) (January 11, 1924); Dr. M. Engprayz, in Tog (New York) (August 7, 1932); M. Ribalov, in Tog (November 20, 1936); Sh. Lubetkin, Publitsistn (Journalists) (Warsaw, 1937); Y. M. Nayman, in Poylishe yidn (Polish Jews), yearbook (New York, 1937); Z. Reyzen, in Yoyvl-bukh fun keneder odler (Jubilee volume for Keneder odler) (Montreal, 1938); Joseph Klausner, Darki likrat hateḥiya vehageula, autobiyografya (1874-1944) (Routes to resurrection and redemption, autobiography, 1874-1944) (Tel Aviv, 1946); Dov Sadan, Kearat tsimukim (A bowl of raisins) (Tel Aviv, 1950), see index; Aharon Ben-Or, Toldot hasifrut haivrit haḥadasha (History of modern Hebrew literature) (Tel Aviv, 1951), vol. 3, pp. 317-20; Dr. Y. Tenenboym, Galitsye mayn alte heym (Galicia, my old home) (Buenos Aires, 1952), see index; Y. Tsineman, In gerangl (In conflict) (Paris, 1952), pp. 68-73; Y. Gronboym, Fun mayn dor (From my generation) (Tel Aviv, 1957), pp. 332-52; Dr. N. M. Gelber, Toldot hatenua hatsiyonit begalitsiya (History of the Zionist movement in Galicia) (Jerusalem, 1958), see index; Arye Bauminger, ed., Sefer krako (Cracow volume) (Jerusalem, 1958/1959), pp. 355, 357; Nella Thon-Rostowa, Ozjasz Thon, Wspomnienia Córki (Ozjasz Thon, memories of a daughter) (Lvov, 1937), 54 pp.
Khayim Leyb Fuks