Friday 22 April 2016


HIRSH VANEL (b. 1847)
            He was born in Vilna, the son of an elementary school teacher.  He studied in religious primary school, in a small synagogue, and later graduated from the Vilna Russian Jewish teachers’ institute.  He was a friend of the Hebrew-Yiddish writer Dr. Yehude-Leyb Kantor.  For a time he was a proofreader in the Romm publishing house.  Later he became a private tutor.  He belonged to the revolutionary circle around Liberman and Zundelevich, and after they escaped abroad he became head of the group.  In 1876 he was arrested and exiled to Kholmogori, Archangelsk district.  In the early 1880s he returned to Vilna and turned his attention to literary activities.  He was the Vilna correspondent for Voskhod (Sunrise) in St. Petersburg, and for Liberman’s Haemet (The truth) in London, in which he published under such pseudonyms as Esklad, Gorbunov, and Rabbi Hargabi.  He was the author of textbooks in Hebrew and Yiddish for self-instruction in Russian and English, such as: Der nayer rusisher lerer, eyn mitl fir idishe yunge layt oys tsu lernen in a kurtse tsayt dem rusishn loshn (The new Russian teacher, a means for young people to master the Russian language in a short time) (Vilna, 1875), 172 pp.; Di rusishe metode, der folkslerer, eyn lerbukh tsum zelbsṭ-unterrikhṭ in der rusishn shprakhe (The Russian method, the people’s teacher, a textbook for self-instruction in the Russian language), with a foreword by the author, in which he demonstrates the utility of his book “for the Jews in small towns that have no Russian public schools” (Vilna: Pirozhnikov, 1904), 80 pp., with an additional “Rusish-zhargonishes vorter-bukh” (Russian-Yiddish dictionary), 22 pp.; Der englisher lerer, a praktishes bukh fir yeden idn zikh laykhṭ oystsulernen lezen, redn un shraybn di englishe shprakh (The English teacher, a practical book for every Jew to easily master reading, speaking, and writing the English language), with a short English grammar as a supplement (Vilna, 1902), 112 pp.—this book appeared in two separate editions, one for those who wanted to emigrate from Russia to America, and a second “for every immigrant Jew” in the United States.

Sources: Sh. Hurvitsh, Draysik yor af der vakh fun antviklung fun yidisher melokhe in vilne (Thirty years in guard for the development of the Jewish craftsman in Vilna) (Vilna, 1933), see index; Yefim Yeshurin, ed., Vilne, a zamlbukh gevidmet der shtot vilne (Vilna, an anthology dedicated to the city of Vilna) (New York, 1935), p. 719; A. Menes, in Historishe shriftn fun yivo (Historical writings from YIVO), vol. 3 (Vilna-Paris, 1939), pp. 26, 29, 47; A. Cherikower, in Historishe shriftn fun yivo, p. 170; P. Kats, in Historishe shriftn fun yivo, pp. 258, 264, 266, 271, 276, 279; Sh. Rapoport, in Historishe shriftn fun yivo, p. 290.
Khayim Leyb Fuks

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