OYZER FINKELSHTEYN (September 20, 1863-September 28, 1923)
He was born in Kovno, Lithuania. In roughly 1867, his family moved to Orenburg, and in 1879 he returned with his parents to Kovno. He graduated as a lawyer (he received the title “jurist” after 1905). From 1888 he practiced as an attorney in Kovno. His community activities began in his student days. He was close to the Bund. In 1905 he was expelled from Kovno. During WWI he lived in Moscow. After the Revolution, he was appointed by Lithuanian Jews in St. Petersburg to the provisional committee to govern Lithuania. In August 1919 in Kovno, where he played a leading role in Jewish political and community life as a leader in the Folks-partey (People’s party), he represented it in the Lithuanian parliament. From time to time, he published articles in various Russian and Lithuanian periodicals, using the pen name Z-er. Particularly in his last years, he published in the Kovno folkist organ Nayes (News). On the whole his articles were translated from Russian originals. At age fifty-six, though, he set to learn Yiddish, and several years later he wrote in Yiddish on his own. He participated in the Zurich conference for Jewish national rights, and with Yoysef Tshernikhov, H. D. Nomberg, and Dr. Tsemekh Shabad, he left the conference for the unfavorable status accorded the Yiddish language and school. He died in Kovno. After his death a volume in his honor was published: Tsum ondenk fun oyzer finkelshteyn, geveylte artiklen, zikhroynes, redes, byografye, opshatsungen (To the memory of Oyzer Finkelshteyn, selected articles, memoirs, speeches, a biography, assessments) (Kovno, 1938), 233 pp.
Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 3; Pinkes fun yekopo (Records of Yekopo [Yevreyskiy komitet pomoshchi zhertvam voyny—“Jewish Relief Committee for War Victims”]) (Vilna, 1931); Folks-blat (Kovno) (February 15, 1935); Yivo-bleter (Vilna) 14.1-2 (1939); Dr. Mendl Sudarski, in Lite (Lithuania) (New York, 1951), vol. 1; V. Shulman, in Lite (Lithuania), anthology (Buenos Aires, 1965).