PINSKER, LEV (LEV SEMIONOVICH):
Russian physician; born at Tomashev, government of Piotrkow (Piotrikov), Poland, 1821; son of Sim-ḥah Pinsker; died at Odessa Dec. 21, 1891. Pinsker obtained his early education in his father's school, the curriculum of which included not only general subjects but also specifically Jewish ones. After finishing his course there he entered the gymnasium, and later the Richelieu Lyceum. On graduating from the latter institution he accepted the position of instructor in the Russian language at the Jewish school in Kishinef. In the following year he began a medical course in the University of Moscow, and while still a student displayed great courage in devoting himself to the care of hospital patients suffering from cholera, which disease was at that time (1848) epidemic. On completing his course he returned to Odessa, and soon after was appointed to the staff of the city hospital, having been highly recommended by the authorities. His great industry and thoroughness gradually won for him the recognition of his colleagues and of the public, and within ten years he became one of the foremost physicians of Odessa.
Pinsker likewise took an active interest in communal affairs. He also published occasional articles in the periodicals "Sion," "Den," and "Razsvyet." Though not a prolific writer, Pinsker evinced much originality and feeling: and his articles were always forceful. He pleaded earnestly for more freedom for the Russian Jews, and endeavored to convince the latter of the great value of modern education. In time Pinsker came to see that the Russian Jew could not expect much from an autocratic government, and that any deliverance for him must come through his own exertions. The expression of this conviction appears in his "Autoemancipation," which appeared in 1881 over the nom de plume "Ein Russischer Jude." The author's name soon became known, however, and the pamphlet created much comment and discussion. Pinsker advocated therein the acquisition of land by the Jews, inasmuch as without homes of their own they would always remain strangers.
A congress of delegates from almost all the countries of Europe met to discuss the fundamental idea set forth by Pinsker, but failed to formulate an effective plan for the solution of the problem. The only practical outcome was the establishment of a society for the aid of Jewish immigrants in Palestine and Syria. As chairman of this society Pinsker energetically devoted himself to the question, working patiently throughout the remainder of his life for the establishment of Jewish settlers in the Holy Land.
- N. S. Rashkovski, Sovremennyye Russko-Yevreiskiye Dyeyateli, p. 64, Odessa, 1899.