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SPECTOR, MORDECAI:

Russian Judæo-German writer; born at Uman, government of Kiev, May 5, 1859. His earlier education was in the Ḥasidic spirit, and this made it possible for him afterward to write for both Ḥasidim and Mitnaggedim without any prejudice against either. From 1874 to 1877 he studied secular sciences under Colonel Winde, superintendent of government buildings in the district of Uman. In 1878 he made the acquaintance of Eliezer Zweifel, who encouraged him to write novels in the Judæo-German dialect, the first of these, "A Roman Ohn Liebe," appearing in the "Volksblatt" of 1883; and in 1884 he was called to St. Petersburg by Zederbaum as associate editor of the "Volksblatt." Besides numerous feuilletons which he contributed to this paper, he published several novels in book form; one of these,entitled "Der Yüdisher Muzhik," aims at promoting agricultural pursuits among the Jews. The "Volksblatt" changed hands in 1887, whereupon Spector settled in Warsaw, where he founded the "Hausfreund" and the "Familienfreund." To both of these periodicals Spector contributed extensively, writing under his real name, as well as under the pseudonyms "Emes" and "Emeser Lamedvovnik."

Spector has enriched Judæo-German literature with numerous novels which have appeared in various periodicals. One of these, "Der Vetter," was afterward translated into Polish and published in the "Israelita." In the first two volumes of the "Hausfreund," Spector published a collection of 2,056 Jewish proverbs, alphabetically arranged. He also essayed writing in Hebrew, in which language he published "Otot u-Mofetim" (Warsaw, 1887), a reply to attacks made against him by Zederbaum in "Ha-Meliẓ"; and "Ha-Man'alim ha-Rishonim" (in Meisach's "Gan Peraḥim," 1890, ii. 116 et seq.), a tale of Jewish life. Some of his sketches depict the life of the middle classes, but more often he occupies himself with the artisans of the small towns who have not received a modern education. Spector is a dispassionate writer, who calmly observes the miseries of the Jewish masses, and endeavors to aid them without attacking their oppressors. His style is simple but graphic, and his writings are very popular.

Spector's wife (the daughter of Abraham Shalom Friedberg), whom he married in 1886, also is a clever Judæo-German writer. Under the pseudonym Isabella she has published in the "Hausfreund" and in the "Jüdische Bibliothek" some novels in which she points out the danger of superficialness in education, and ridicules the idea of assimilation.

Bibliography:
  • Sokolow, Sefer Zikkaron, p. 80;
  • L. Wiener, Yiddish Literature, pp. 177 et seq., New York, 1899;
  • Zeitlin, Bibl. Post-Mendels. p. 376.
E. C. M. Sel.
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