Friday 1 November 2019


MORTKHE-BETSALEL SHNAYDER (September 30, 1865-September 6, 1941)
            He was born in Ligum (Lygumai), Lithuania.  He was a Hebrew-language researcher and author of Hebrew textbooks.  Until age nineteen, he studied religious materials.  He took up teaching in various cities in Lithuania and Courland, and from 1896 he was in Vilna.  He devoted himself to learning Latin, Greek, and Semitic languages.  Shnayder’s textbooks include: Beys haseyfer (School), “for the study of Tanakh, Hebrew, and Biblical history…with Yiddish translation of the words and exercises” (Vilna, 1888/1889-1900/1901), 4 vols., thirteen printings appeared in Vilna, and three more with translations of the words into English by Jacob Philips (New York: Hebrew Publishing Co., 1910, 1912, 1925); Kovets sipurim umikhtavim, bisfat zhargon letirgeman ivrit (Collection of stories and letters, in Yiddish translated to Hebrew) (various editions), 2 vols., 80 pp.; Bet mikra (House of legends) (Vilna, 1897/1898), with translations into Yiddish and Russian (many other editions as well).  Shnayder’s main work was Torat halashon behitpatuta (The language of the Torah and its development) (Vilna, 1923-1939), 2 vols.; a third volume was typeset but disappeared following the entrance of the Soviets into Vilna.  Shnayder’s textbooks were distributed in tens of thousands of copies and numerous editions.  He composed a series of articles on the holidays and Jewish history, as well as reviews, in: Vilner tog (Vilna day), Unzer fraynd (Our friend), Tsayt (Times), Di naye shul (The new school), the anthology Leben (Life), Vayter-bukh (Volume for A. Vayter) (Vilna, 1920), and Yivo-bleter (Pages from YIVO).  Zalmen Reyzen wrote that Shnayder also completed in Yiddish: Di geshikhte fun der hebreisher shprakh un shrift (The history of the Hebrew spoken and written language), Di yidishe yontoyvim un taneysim (Jewish holidays and fasts), and Di batsiung fun idish tsu hebreish un daytsh (The connection between Yiddish and Hebrew and German).  He died in Ponary.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 4; Getzel Kressel, Leksikon hasifrut haivrit (Handbook of Hebrew literature), vol. 2 (Meravya, 1967); Shmerke Katsherginski, Khurbn vilne (The Holocaust in Vilna) (New York, 1947), p. 215; N. Goren, ed., Yahadut lita (Jews of Lithuania), vol. 3 (Tel Aviv: Am hasefer, 1967), p. 247.
Ruvn Goldberg

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