MOYSHE-YITSKHOK MINTS (MOSES MINTZ) (April 20, 1860-September 4, 1930)
He was born in Brisk (Brest), Lithuania. His father, Rabbi Avrom-Tsvi Mints, was a grandson of the rabbi of Kobrin and Slonim, R. Shloyme Mints, and his mother Ester (who had a great influence on his education) was a descendant of the Harkavy family. Moses Mintz studied in religious elementary schools and secular subjects in a Russian school. He graduated from a high school in Warsaw and went on to study engineering for three years at the Moscow Polytechnic. In 1882 he studied to be a veterinarian at Kharkov University. Under the impact of the pogroms in Russia, he became a “lover of Zion” (Ḥovev-tsiyon, early Zionist), traveled through Russian Jewish communities and campaigned on behalf of the settlement in the land of Israel; together with his friends, Yisroel Belkind and Berlovski, he was among the first founders of the group Bilu—acronym for “Bet yaakov lekhu venelkha” (Let the house of Jacob go!). In 1882 he traveled to Turkey to intercede with the Turkish authorities on behalf of a possibly broader immigration to the land of Israel. In 1884 he departed for Israel, joined the earlier Bilu immigrants there, and worked with them under very difficult conditions in the colony of Mikve Yisrael. Later he founded with the “lovers of Zion” a colony called Gadara. Because of a controversy with the French administrator, he left the colony, moved to Jerusalem, and studied the locksmith trade, but was unable to endure the difficult working conditions, and on March 21, 1884 he left Israel. En route to the United States, he stopped in Paris, visited with Baron Rothschild, and sought to influence him so that he might better the conditions facing the Bilu settlers. In August 1885 Mintz arrived in the United States, where he studied and graduated as a medical doctor (in 1889) and for many years thereafter was employed as a doctor with the New York Board of Health. In New York he joined the socialist movement, often appeared as a speaker at the Russian Progressive Union, and contributed to the protest campaign against the planned deal between America and Russia concerning a reciprocal exchange of criminals (in 1887), as well as took part in the move to save from execution the condemned Chicago anarchists (in 1886-1887), in the founding of the United Hebrew Trades (Fareynikte yidishe geverkshaftn) in 1889, and in many other political and community undertakings. At the end of 1885 Mintz, together with Aba Braslavski, founded the socialist Nyu-yorker yudishe folkstsaytung (New York Jewish people’s newspaper)—the first issue appeared on June 25, 1886, the last on December 20, 1889. Mintz was one of the first Jewish journalists who began writing in a pure Yiddish. The new newspaper was the tribune of two directions in American Jewish life—the socialist and the “lovers of Zionism.” He was the author of the “Program of the New York Jewish People’s Newspaper,” which was published in the first issue of the newspaper. According to this “Program,” the Jewish worker had to ally, on the one hand, “with all workers of the world,” and on the other hand, “with the condition of the Jewish worker in general and especially in America.” He pledged in the “Program” to publish “interesting, original stories and good translations from contemporary writers.” In this newspaper the talented poet Dovid Goldshteyn debuted with his poem “Der ekspres” (The express), and Morris Rozenfeld published (December 31, 1886) his poem “Dos 1886 yor” (The year 1886). Mintz himself also included (using the pen names Stela and Maks) journalistic and natural science articles, stories, and fiction. He also prepared translations for the newspaper, among them: Karl Marx, “Lohn un kapital” (Loan and capital), which was published in sequentially and also appeared in pamphlet form. After the discontinuation of Nyu-yorker yudishe folkstsaytung, Mintz became the editor of the weekly Folks-advokat (People’s advocate), which was published by his two brothers Mikhl (Michael) and Gershon (Gustav), and he held this position until 1893. He later went as a delegate sent by the organization “Shuvu Tsiyon” (Return to Zion) to the land of Israel, and when he returned to America six months later, he and his brother Gershon established the weekly newspaper Der yudishe rekord (The Jewish record), in which, among other items, he published his diary: “Mayn rayze nokh Palestine, oder a grus fun der muter tsien” (My voyage to Palestine, or greetings from the mother Zion). He also published various items in Minikes’s Yontef bleter (Holiday sheets) and other publications. In 1923 he resigned from his medical post with the city of New York, and in the winter of 1924 he returned to Israel with his wife and settled in the Bilu colony of Gadara. On the 23rd of Shevet (January 29), 1924, he laid the foundation stone for the people’s home in which the history of Bilu, which Mintz wrote, together with an array of other writings of his concerning this pioneering Zionist movement, was secreted. Now more withdrawn, Mintz devoted his time to music and astronomy. In 1929 his wife passed away. He then departed for America to visit his relatives and died there. According to his will, his remains were to be taken to the land of Israel and interred in Gadara.
Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2, with a bibliography; Y. Kopelyov, Amol un shpeter (Once and later) (Vilna, 1932), pp. 100ff; Moyshe Shtarkman, in Yivo-bleter (Vilna) 4.4-5 (1932), pp. 354-87; Shtarkman, in Yorbukh (New York) (1943/1944), p. 93; Shtarkman (using the name Moyshe Khizkuni), in Metsuda (London) 7 (1954), pp. 505ff; Shmuel Niger, in Tsukunft (New York) (August 1940); Niger, in Algemeyne entsiklopeye (General encyclopedia), “Yidn 5” (New York, 1957), pp. 103ff; Kalmen Marmor, Der onhoyb fun der yidisher literatur in amerike (The beginning of Yiddish literature in America) (New York, 1944), pp. 34-35; Marmor, in Kalmen marmor-arkhiv (Kalmen Marmor archives), YIVO (New York); Elye (Elias) Shulman, Geshikhte fun der yidisher literatur in amerike (History of Jewish literature in America) (New York, 1943), pp. 43ff; Y. Khaykin, in Yorbukh (1945); Khaykin, Yidishe bleter in amerike (Yiddish newspapers in America) (New York, 1946), pp. 431-32; E. Tcherikower, Geshikhte fun der yidisher arbeter-bevegung in di fareynikte shtatn (History of the Jewish labor movement in the United States), vol. 2 (New York, 1945), pp. 270, 274, 289, 322, 327, 334, 339, 340; D. Tidhar, in Entsiklopedyah leḥalutse hayishuv uvonav (Encyclopedia of the pioneers and builders of the yishuv), vol. 2 (Tel Aviv, 1947), pp. 712-13, vol. 4 (1950), p. 1920; L. Shpizman, in Geshikhte fun der tsienistisher arbeter-bavegung fun tsofn-amerike (History of the Zionist labor movement in North America), vols. 1 and 2 (New York, 1955), see index; L. Kobrin, Mayne fuftsik yor in amerike (My fifty years in America) (Buenos Aires, 1955), pp. 270ff; Entsiklopediya shel galuyot, brisk delita (Encyclopedia of the Diaspora, Brisk, Lithuania) (Tel Aviv, 1955), pp. 295, 377; Brisk delite (Brest, Lithuania) (New York, 1955), col. 348; YIVO archives (New York); obituary notices in the Yiddish and Hebrew press; Dr. Joseph Klausner, Behitorer am (Amid the awakening of a people) (Jerusalem, 1962), see index; “Habilue minyu york” (Bilu settlers from New York), Haboker (Tel Aviv) (May 14, 1962).