MEHAḤEM MIBASHAN (July 12, 1858-December 10, 1944)
The pseudonym of Menahem Mendel Braunstein, he was born in Jassy (Iași), Romania. Until age eighteen he studied in religious elementary school and synagogue study hall, later turning his attention to secular subject matter and foreign languages. He worked as a Hebrew teacher in Iași, Bucharest, and Botoșani, and later (1914-1920) was a teacher and secretary at the Betsalel School in Jerusalem. From 1889 he was active in the Zionist movement. He was a member and secretary of the society “Dorshe tsiyon” (Preachers of Zion) in Romania. He was a friend of Yoysef Cohen-Tsedek and Yisroel Teler, with whom (at the first Zionist conference in Romania) together demanded equal rights for Yiddish and for Yiddish publications. From 1904 he was living in Israel. He began writing articles in 1885 in Hamagid (The preacher) in Lik, later becoming a regular contributor to: Haivri (The Jew) and Ivri anokhi (I am Jewish) in Lemberg; Hamelits (The spectator) in Odessa; Hatsfira (The siren) in Warsaw; Hayom in St. Petersburg; Hashiloaḥ (The shiloah), Doar hayom (Today’s mail), Haboker (This morning), Hayarden (The garden), and Moznaim (Scales)—in the land of Israel; and Hadoar (The mail) in New York; among others. In Luaḥ aḥiasef (Warsaw, 1890), he published the first biography of Dr. Moses Gaster, and in Hatsfira (Warsaw, 1913) he placed a series of biographies of Jewish writers in Romania. He authored the first Yiddish appeal of “Dorshe tsiyon”: An unzere gloybensgenosen (To our comrades in faith) (Iași, 1888). He is considered one of the pioneers of the Yiddish press in Romania. He served as editor of: Der yudisher folksfront (The Jewish popular front), “organ of the settlement in the land of Israel, business and politics” (Iași), eleven issues (January 29-March 27, 1887); Der folksfraynd (The friend of the people) (Iași), four issues (late 1887) and thirty issues (1888). He also contributed to Di hoffnung (The hope) in Iași (1896), in which he published essays, poetry, and translations of homiletical material from the Talmud. His writings in book form include: Shirim (Poetry) (Bucharest, 1913), including his Hebrew translations of works by Morris Rozenfeld; Kitve menaḥem bimashan (The writing of Menaḥem Mibashan), multiple volumes (Tel Aviv, 1928, 1933, 1947); the monograph Nitsane hatsiyonut begermaniya (The sprouts of Zionism in Germany); a translation of Jonathan Swift’s Mase guliver (Gulliver’s Travels) (Tel Aviv, 1940). He also published under such pen names as: Ḥarizim, Doresh Tov Leamo, and Ben Shem. His son, AVROM MIBASHAN, was the former leader of the Jewish community of Buenos Aires; he died on March 30, 1960, and he, too, wrote in Yiddish.
Sources: Shas-Roman, in Filologishe shriftn (Vilna) 3 (1933), pp. 528, 529, 533; E. R. Malachi, in Hadoar (New York) (December 22, 1944); Joseph Klausner, Historiya shel hasifrut haivrit haḥadasha (History of modern Hebrew literature), see index; Klausner, Ḥibat tsiyon beromaniya (Love of Zion in Romania) (Jerusalem, 1958), see index; D. Tidhar, in Entsiklopedyah leḥalutse hayishuv uvonav (Encyclopedia of the pioneers and builders of the yishuv), vol. 1 (Tel Aviv, 1947), pp. 290-91.
Khayim Leyb Fuks