SHMUEL-YOYSEF FIN (S. J. FUENN) (October 14, 1819-December 22, 1890)
He was born in Grodno. He attended the religious elementary schools and yeshivas of Vilna. There he came to life and became one of the most active contributors to a circle of followers of the Jewish Enlightenment and a partner in the publishing house of Rozenkrants and Shriftzetser, and he published numerous Yiddish storybooks and novels from a number of writers. He was a teacher of Tanakh and Hebrew in the rabbinical seminary, a local inspector and “educated Jew” with the education administration, and publisher (together with Lipman Hurvits) of the first organ of the Enlightenment in Russia, Pirḥe tsafon (Flowers of the north), 2 issues (1841-1844). He was also publisher of the weekly Hakarmel (The Carmel) with supplements in Russian and German (1860-1880), the author of an entire series of works, mainly historical and philological, of monographs about Vilna, Kriya neemana (Call to the faithful) (Vilna, 1860; second edition, 1915), XLVI + 298 pp., and a biographical dictionary Kneset yisroel (Gathering of Israel), from the era of Vilna Gaon to his own day (only volume 1 appeared in print, “alef-yud,” 1886-1890). In Yiddish—albeit amply Germanized—he published: a grammar of the Russian language, entitled Talmud loshn rusiya (Instruction in the Russian language), “the basics of the grammar of this language in the manner…of Graetz and Vostokov,” with numerous notes (Vilna, 1847), 160 pp.; Nidḥe yisrael (Wandering of Israel) (Vilna, 1850), 146 pp.; Sofre yisroel (Jewish writers) (Vilna, 1871), 164 pp.; Divre hayamim livne yisroel (Chronicles of the children of Israel) (Vilna, 1971-1877); Haotsar, otsar leshon hamikra vehamishna (The treasury, a treasury of the language of the Bible and the Mishna) (Warsaw: Aḥiasef, 1880-1883), 4 vols.; Safa leneemanim (Language for the faithful) (Vilna, 1881), 177 pp. He also translated into Hebrew a number of German works of fiction, among them Ludwig Philippson’s Yaakov tirado (original: Jakob Tirado) (Vilna, 1881), 144 pp. Fin’s books were also published in Russian—on the Talmud and on language.
Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 3; A. Litvin, in Tsukunft (New York) (June 1905); Otsar yisroel (Treasury of Israel), vol. 8 (New York, 1912), pp. 246-47; Kalmen Marmor, Mayn lebns-geshikhte (My life history), vol. 1 (New York, 1959), p. 362; Dr. Gedalia Alkoshi, in Yahadut lita (Jews of Lithuania) (Jerusalem, 1959), pp. 438-41; Dr. Y. Tsinberg, Di bli-tekufe fun der haskole (The [Jewish] Enlightenment in its prime) (New York, 1966), see index.