Sunday 29 May 2016


SHMUEL (SHEMUEL) VAYSENBERG (December 14, 1867-October 31, 1928)
            He was born in Yelisavetgrad (Kirovohrad), southern Russia, to a father who worked as a miller.  He studied in religious elementary school, later in a senior high school, and from 1884 he was studying first in a technical college in Karlsruhe and later in Heidelberg, Germany, where in 1890 he graduated from the medical faculty as a doctor.  He practiced medicine for a certain amount of time thereafter in his hometown, but then turned all of his attentions to the study of Jewish anthropology and ethnography, and to that end he traveled, 1908-1911, to Turkey, Egypt, Israel, Syria, Turkestan, the Caucasus, and the Crimea.  Beginning in 1895 he published in Russian and German periodicals a series of anthropological and ethnographic studies, such as [titles translated into English]: “Jewish Folksongs and Jewish Sayings,” “Children’s Joy and Children’s Suffering among Jews in Southern Russia,” “Dishes and Pastries of the Jews of Southern Russia,” “Illness and Death among the Jews of Southern Russia,” “The Karaites in Crimea,” “The Jewish Character,” “The Land of Israel and the Customs and Beliefs of Contemporary Jews,” “The Yemenite Jews,” “Old Jewish Gravestones in Crimea,” “Jewish Art,” “The Problem of the Jewish Race,” “Jews in the Caucasus,” “Armenians and Jews,” “Jews of Spanish Origin,” “The Surnames of the Karaites and Crimean Jews,” “The Jews of Turkestan,” “The Kurdestan Jews,” and many others.  His published books include: Die südrussischen Juden, eine anthropometrische Studie mit Berücksichtigung der allgemeinen Entwickelungsgesetze (The southern Russian Jews, an anthropometric study with regard to the general laws of development) (Braunschweig, 1895), 126 pp., in German; Das Volkstum der Menschen (The national character of people) (Stuttgart, 1911), in German.  He wrote nothing in Yiddish himself.  The following were translated into Yiddish from manuscripts of his: “Di rusishe yidn in der tsayt fun milkhome un revolutsye” (Russian Jews at the time of war and revolution), Bleter far yidisher demografye, statistik un ekonomye (Jewish demography, statistics, and economics), vol. 1 (Vilna) (1923), pp. 17-20; “Khasenes bay yidn in yelisavetgrad far di yorn 1901-1924” (Weddings among Jewish in Yelisavetgrad for the years, 1901-1924), Bleter far yidisher demografye, statistik un ekonomye, vol. 3 (1925), pp. 78-80; “Di tsunemenishn fun di yidn in yelisavetgrader krayz” (The nicknames for Jews in the Yelisavetgrad region), in Landoy bukh (Landoy volume), philological writings, vol. 1 (Vilna, 1926), pp. 79-90; “Di yidishe familyen-nemen in ukraine” (Jewish family names in Ukraine), Filologishe shriftn (Philological writings) 3 (1929), pp. 313-66, in Vilna.  He died in Yelisavetgrad.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1; Literarishe bleter (Warsaw) (January 11, 1929); S. Wininger, Grosse Jüdische National Biographie (Great Jewish national biography), vol. 6.

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