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BENDETSOHN, MENAHEM MANUS:

Russian pedagogue and Hebrew writer; born in Grodno 1817; died there March 20, 1888. After a careful Talmudic education in his native town he was sent, while still young, to Breslau, Germany, where his father-in-law, Reuben Liebling, the cantor of the Reformed synagogue, supported him during his studies. There he published in 1847 ("The Denunciator"), a Polish tale, adapted from the German version of W. Tugendhold. In 1853 he returned to Russia, and then taught for more than twenty years in the government school for Jewish children at Grodno, and for a short time in Volkovisk. In Grodno he also conducted a private school for many years. Among his pupils may be mentioned the Hebrew poet Konstantin Shapiro, the public-spirited lawyer L. Kupernik of Kiev, and the jurist and writer D. Slonimski of Wilna.

Besides Hebrew, he wrote fluently in Russian and German, and being possessed of an exceptionally retentive memory he knew by heart the Scriptures and many of the writings of Schiller and other German classics.

As an esthetic writer and stylist, he could not approve of the Germanized Hebrew of the young generation, and in his preface to "Alluf Ne'urim" he severely criticized it. This called forth a reply from R. A. Braudes in an article entitled "Ha-Safah Bikewodah ube-'Oẓmah," which appeared in "Gan Peraḥim," Wilna, 1881, pp. 12 et seq. Besides the work mentioned above, Bendetsohn published: "Eben Boḥan," the principal rules of Hebrew grammar in the form of questions and answers (Wilna, 1856); "Higgayon la-'Ittim," a Hebrew adaptation of the "Stunden der Andacht für Israeliten," by Samson Wolf Rosenfeld, rabbi of Bamberg (vol. i., Wilna, 1856; vol. ii., 1862); "Moda' le-Yalde Israel" (Friend of Jewish Children), instructive tales, anecdotes, etc., from the lives of noble men, partly derived from Wilhelm Oertel's "Practischer Unterricht in der Deutschen Sprache," Hebrew and Russian (Warsaw, 1872); "Alluf Ne'urim," a collection of instructive tales for youth and a manual of elementary instruction in the Hebrew tongue, translated from the Russian (Wilna, 1879).

As a master of classical Hebrew he ranks among the best Neo-Hebraic writers, his style being almost equal to that of Mapu, who is considered the foremost classical writer of the "Maskilim."

Bibliography:
  • Ha-Ẓefirah, 1888, Nos. 68, 69;
  • Gan Peraḥim, Wilna, 1881; private sources.
H. R. A. Fl.
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