Monday 4 December 2017


            He was born in Berdichev, Ukraine.  Until age eighteen he studied in religious elementary schools, yeshivas, and secular knowledge with private tutors.  For several years, he studied in the Zhitomir rabbinical seminary.  In 1861 he departed to study law and pedagogy at Kiev University.  He received his doctoral degree in 1865 for a dissertation on legislation according to the Talmud.  From 1869 he was practicing in Odessa as a lawyer.  He was a leader of “Mefitse haskole” (Society for the promotion of enlightenment [among the Jews of Russia]) and of many actions on behalf of Jews in Russia in the nineteenth century.  He was a close friend of Mendele Moykher-Sforim, with whom in 1879 he planned to publish a Yiddish-language newspaper.  He contributed to the Russian, Russian-Jewish, and Yiddish press and periodicals.  Together with Orshanski, in 1871 he founded and edited the liberal Russian newspaper Den’ (Day) in Odessa.  He placed work in: Kievlianin (The Kievan), Russkii Evrei (Russian Jew), and Voskhod (Sunrise)—in which in 1889 he published essays on Yiddish literature and in 1895 his memoirs.  He was the organizer of the Kiev Jewish student group that brought out translations of Yiddish literature in Russian and of Russian literature in Yiddish, and adapted for it a series of books published under the initials M. M.  He was one of the main contributors to the Russian-Jewish Evreiskaia Entsiklopediya (Jewish encyclopedia).  From 1863 he was attached to the Yiddish periodical press.  He wrote for Kol mevaser (Herald) from the first to the very last issue, and therein he published correspondence pieces, articles, and poetry.  He placed his article “Tsu mayne liebe yuden” (To my beloved Jews) in Sholem-Aleykhem’s Yudishe folks-blblyotek (Jewish people’s library) 1 (Kiev, 1888), pp. 381-89.  He also contributed to: Yudishe folksblat (Jewish people’s newspaper) in St. Petersburg and its supplements; Der fraynd (The friend) in St. Petersburg-Warsaw (1903-1912); Gut-morgen (Good morning) in Odessa (1910); as well as in Hebrew to Hamelits (The spectator), Hamagid (The preacher), and Hatsfira (The siren), among others.  He was the author of books in Russian, among them [titles translated into English]: Writings (Odessa, 1871); A Collection of Questions on Jewish Life (St. Petersburg, 1892); Studies from the Talmudic Period (Odessa, 1900); and On the Future of Territorialism (1904); among others.  His historical work on education in Russia was published as Dor haskala berusiya (The generation of the Jewish Enlightenment in Russia), translated by “Y.-Sh.” (Vilna, 1910), 109 pp.  He published at his own expense two volumes of Mendele’s works (Odessa, 1888), and three volumes by Sholem-Aleykhem in Yiddish.  In December 1910, at age seventy-three, he was among the speakers—with Ḥaim Nachman Bialik, Sh. Frug, M. Usishkin, and Vladimir Zhabotinsky—at Mendele’s seventy-fifth birthday celebration.  He died in Odessa.  For more on the friendship between Mendele Moykher-Sforim and Margolis, see Mendele’s preface to Fishke der krumer (Fishke the lame).

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon fun der yidisher literatur un prese (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish literature and the press) (Warsaw, 1914), pp. 394-95; Sh. Dubnov, Velt-geshikhte fun yidishn folk (World history of the Jewish people), vol. 9, see index; Dubnov, Dos bukh fun mayn lebn (The book of my life) (New York-Buenos Aires: Kultur-kongres, 1962-1963), see index; Y. Riminik, Fargesene lider (Forgotten poems) (Moscow, 1939); N. Mayzil, in Dos mendele-bukh (The Mendele volume) (New York, 1959), see index; D. Isokov, in Sovetish heymland (Moscow) 3 (1962); Y. Saker, in Evreiskaia Entsiklopediya (St. Petersburg), vol. 11, pp. 298-302; Universal Jewish Encyclopedia (New York), vol. 7, p. 650.
Khayim Leyb Fuks

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