Sunday 11 September 2016


KONSTANTIN ZHITOMIRSKI (ca. 1863-ca. 1918)
            He was born in Taganrog, Ukraine.  He graduated from the history and philology faculty of Odessa University.  He was an important linguist.  He was the only Jew in the last period of Tsarist rule in Russia who had the right to be a high school teacher; in 1911 he went on to become a teacher of Latin in Cohen’s High School in Vilna, and in 1915 together with the school was evacuated to Ekaterinoslav.  The next year he returned to Taganrog where, for a short time, he worked in the management of a bank and there he died.  He published a series of linguistic studies in Russian, as well as a Russian primer following his own distinctive method.  In the monthly Evreiskaia shkola (Jewish school)—which first appeared in St. Petersburg in January 1904)—he published over the course of 1904-1905 works on the following topics: “Religious elementary school and secular school,” “Practical goals of a Jewish school,” “On learning to read and write in Jewish schools,” “The desired type of Jewish school,” “An effort to improve Hebrew enunciation,” and “Questions of administration in a Jewish school.”  In the journal Vestnik ope (OPE hearald)—“Courier of the Society for the promotion of enlightenment” [among the Jews of Russia])—which began to appear monthly from November 1910 in St. Petersburg, he published (over the years 1910-1912) his work on the “Judeo-German dialect, its essence and significance” and “What Jews live with, issues in Jewish cultural history.”  In his last years he grew closer to Yiddish and wrote a well-known philological work in Yiddish: Di vizuel-fonetishe metode tsu lernen leyenen yidish (The visual-phonetic method for learning to read Yiddish), published as the first part of Metodishe onvayzungen tsu lernen leyenen yidish (Methodical instruction for learning to read Yiddish), with Dovid Hokhberg (Vilna, 1913), 98 pp.  The second part of the book was published by Hokhberg as: Bamerkung un metodishe onvayzungen tsu der “nayer shul” (Observation and methodical instructions for the “new school”) (Kiev, 1918), 46 pp.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1; Kh. Sh. Kazdan, Fun kheyder un shkoles biz tsisho (From religious and secular primary schools to Tsisho) (Mexico City, 1956), pp. 347-49, 351-52; 357, 359.

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