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BERNSTEIN, ISRAEL:

Russian Hebrew publicist; born about the middle of the nineteenth century at Velizh, government of Vitebsk; studied pharmacy at Moscow, and worked as a druggist in the colony Shchedrin, near Bobruisk. Bernstein's "Ha-'Atudim ha-'Olim 'al ha-Ẓon" (The Goats Which Leaped upon the Flock), in "Ha-Shaḥar." (vi. 366-382, 401-415), is a severe and vindictive attack on the misdeeds of the "Melammedim," the rabbis and the leaders of the Jewish communities (kahal), especially in the smaller towns. His "Binyan Zeḳenim u-Setirat Yeladim" (How the Old Build and the Young Destroy), which occupies over forty pages of vol. vii. in the above periodical, is written in the same spirit as the first; but here the author tries more to glorify the "Haskalah," or progress, and to point out the probability that the vivacious and active Ḥasidism of southern Russia will regenerate itself sooner than the dry scholarship and pedantry of the north or Lithuania.

In his third important article, "Le-maher Ge'ulah" (To Bring About Speedy Redemption), in "HaShaḥar," x. 230-241, 288-297, Bernstein tries to prove that the great necessity of the times is that the rabbis and the rich Jews shall cease to use unlawful and revolting means to save their sons from being drafted into military service. This last article was written late in 1880, shortly before the great changes which took place after the assassination of Emperor Alexander II. in the following year.

Like all progressists who did not join the new nationalistic movements, Bernstein remained silent for a long time, and in a "letter to the editor" ("Keneset Yisrael," i. 7, Warsaw, 1886), Bernstein admits that the persecutions of the last five years have shattered all his former optimistic views and the hopes that the Jews of Russia by improving their conduct will obtain equal rights and be recognized as men and brethren. He admits his mistakes, and is overwhelmed by the despair which has seized most of the advocates of progress and assimilation in these trying chauvinistic times.

Bibliography:
  • Eisenstadt, Rabbane Minsk, p. 61, Wilna, 1898.
H. R. P. Wi.
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