Thursday 31 October 2019


FISHL-SHIYE SHNEURSON (ca. 1887-May 24, 1958)[1]
            He was a research and author of stories and novels, born in Kamianets-Podilskyi, Ukraine.  His father was a rabbi in Repki (Ripky), Starodub, and Homel (Gomel).  He was raised by his grandfather, the Retshitser Rebbe, Rabbi Sholem-Ber, and absorbed Hassidism from his youth.  He received ordination into the rabbinate at age sixteen, and at eighteen he passed the examinations for the baccalaureate degree.  From 1908 he was studying medicine in Berlin, and in 1913 he received his medical degree in St. Petersburg, but he did not pursue a medical practice; rather, he devoted himself to medical research.  In 1920 he was professor of therapeutic medicine at Kiev University.  In 1922 he directed a psychological health station for children in Warsaw, later in Berlin, and from 1927 in New York.  He was active in the field of psychology pedagogy.  In 1933 he returned to Warsaw, and from 1937 he was in Tel Aviv where he was at the forefront of a psychological health laboratory.  Everywhere he was engaged in psychological research.  In his last years he was especially engaged with problems of mentally challenged children.  He debuted in print in 1919 with an article, “Katastrofale gesheenishn un zeyer virkung af der psikhik fun kind” (Catastrophic events and their impact on the psyche of a child), Shul un lebn (School and life) VI and VII.  Some of his other works: “Kinder-shafung als emotsyonale shafung” (Children’s creation as emotional creation), Shul un lebn VII-IX; “Inertsye, geveynheyt un avtomatizm” (Inertia, crying, and spontaneous behavior), Di naye shul (The new school) III-IV (1922); and “Di yidishe shul un di defektive kinder” (The Jewish school and handicapped children), Di naye shul VII (1922); among others.  He published work based on his research in: Shul un lebn in Kiev; Sotsyale meditsin (Social medicine), Globus (Globe), and Literarishe bleter (Literary leaves) in Warsaw; Di naye shul in Vilna; Frimorgn (Morning) in Riga; and Tsukunft (Future) in New York; among other serials.  He edited Mentsh-visnshaft (Human science) (New York) 3 (1930/1931).  He also wrote fictional work.  His stories appeared in Hermann Hakel, Jiddische Geschichten aus aller Welt (Tübingen-Basel, 1967).
            His writings in Yiddish include: Di gezelshaft, di shul un di defektive kinder (Society, school, and the handicapped child) (Warsaw: Shul un lebn, 1922), 31 pp.; Di katastrofale tsaytn un di vaksndige doyres, di virkung fun sotsyale katasṭrofn af der psikhiḳ fun dem normaln un umnormaln ḳind (Catastrophic times and the growing generations, the effect of social catastrophes on the psyche of the normal and abnormal child) (Berlin: Yidisher literarisher farlag, 1923), 243 pp.; Der veg tsum mentsh, di yesoydes fun mentsh-visnshaft un di lere fun nerveishkeyt (The path to man, the bases of human science and the teachings concerning nervousness) (Vilna: B. Kletskin, 1927), 184 pp.; a complementary work to this book, entitled Mentsh-gezelshaft (Human society) (Vilna: B. Kletskin, 1927), 41 pp.; Kholem un shpil (Dream and play) (Warsaw: Unzer prese, 1933), 350 pp.; Intime heyl pedagogik, di bahandlung fun kinder-neyrozn (Personal health pedagogy, the treatment of children’s neuroses) (Warsaw: Tog, 1935), 185 pp.; Yidn un felker psikhologye, di farglaykhendike psikhologye un psikhopatologye fun yidishn lebn (Jews and people’s psychology, comparative psychology and psycho-pathology of Jewish life) (Warsaw, 1936), 222 pp.  His works of fiction include: Khayim gravitser, di geshikhte fun dem gefalenem fun der khabadisher velt (Khayim Gravitser, the story of a dropout from the world of Chabad) (Berlin: Yidisher literarisher farlag, 1922-1926), 2 vols.; Karahod, blonzhenishn fun avrom itsye dem kirzhner (Circle, ramblings of Avrom-Itsye the furrier) (Vilna: B. Kletskin, 1928), 128 pp., published in 1927 in Moment (Moment) and in 1928 in Tog (Day); Grenadir-shtrase, roman fun yidishn lebn in daytshland (Grenadierstrasse, a novel of Jewish life in Germany) (Warsaw: Literarishe farlag, 1935), 236 pp.; Yidishe nekome, fun der ekstern-velt (Jewish revenge, from the outside world) (Vilna: B. Kletskin, n.d.), 207 pp.; Ani maymen, hershele “shma-yisroel” (Credo: Hershele “Hear, O Israel”) (Munich, 1949), 20 pp.  Shneurson wanted to establish a distinct science that would be devoted to philosophical-religious issues (“Religyologye”).  He established and developed the ideas of “human science” and “human society.”  As Arn Tsaytlin put it: “Contrary to Freud, Shneurson sees man in his full form; the old Chabad-Hassidic sense of the world merges here with his own experimental-psychological experience….  The Hassidic ‘raising the sparks,’ the glimpse into decline as a rung of subsequent raising up—all of this underwrites a new image and plays the role of scientific actualization in Shneurson’s system.”  He attempted to embody his ideas on the raising and lowering of the soul in his fictional work.  Many of his books appeared in German and Hebrew, as well as in English and Russian.  He died in Tel Aviv.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 4; Getzel Kressel, Leksikon hasifrut haivrit (Handbook of Hebrew literature), vol. 2 (Merḥavya, 1967); Meylekh Ravitsh, Mayn leksikon (My lexicon), vol. 1 (Montreal, 1945); Arn Tsaytlin, in Unzer ekspres (Warsaw) (March 13, 1927); Tsaytlin, in Yidishe velt (Vilna) 1 (1928); Borekh Rivkin, in Tsukunft (New York) 8 (1928); Avrom Golomb, in Yivo-bleter (Vilna) 10.3/5 (1936); Mark Dvorzhetski, in Di goldene keyt (Tel Aviv) 31 (1958); Ben-Tsien Goldberg, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (June 5, 1958); Arn Glants, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (July 23, 1960); Yekhiel Hofer, Mit yenem un mit zikh, literarishe eseyen (With another and with oneself, literary essays), vol. 2 (Tel Aviv: Peretz Publ., 1964), pp. 474-82; Yeshurin archive, YIVO (New York).
Ruvn Goldberg

[1] Getzel Kressel, Leksikon hasifrut haivrit (Handbook of Hebrew literature), vol. 2 (Meravya, 1967) gives a birthdate of June 28, 1895, which is not confirmed by Shneurson’s subsequent course of life.

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