BEN-TSIEN HOLTSMAN (1868-January 5, 1917)
He was born in Tukum (Tukums), Kurland, and studied in religious elementary schools and yeshivas, secular subjects by himself. He was renowned at an earlier age as a prodigy, and at age eighteen he gained rabbinic ordination. He was, though, captivated by the socialist movement, and he began writing commentaries on Karl Marx and other theoreticians of socialism. In 1892 he emigrated to London, where he worked hard to make a living, while continuing with his self-education, and he became an active leader in the London socialist movement. He debuted in print with currents events articles in Arbayter-fraynd (Worker’s friend) in London and Arbayter tsaytung (Worker’s newspaper) in New York. He moved to the United States in 1897, initially living in Brockton, Massachusetts, and settling later in New York. He made a living from a small shop and (with his wife and six children) lived in dire straits. He studied a great deal, and remained an active player in the socialist movement. He published works in Abend-blat (Evening newspaper) and Tsukunft (Future) in New York, was a prominent personality in Forverts (Forward)—for a short time in 1900 he was the editor of this newspaper—and he contributed as well to Tsayt-gayst (Spirit of the times). Among his books: Di amerikaner regirung (The American government) (New York: Jewish socialist agitation bureau, Forverts, 1912), 73 pp. He died in New York.
Sources: A. Sh. Zaks, in Tsukunft (New York) (March 1912), pp. 151-52; obituaries and editorials in Forverts and Varhayt in New York (January 1917); A. Liessin, in Tsukunft (March 1917), p. 187; G. Aronson, “Sotsyale un yidish-natsyonale problemen in der alter ‘tsukunft’” (Social and Jewish national issues in the old Tsukunft), Tsukunft (May-June 1942); Moyshe Shtarkman, “Fun popular-visnshaft biz visnshaft” (From popular science to science), Yorbukh (New York) (1947-1948).