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CZYNSKI, JAN (JEAN):

Polish lawyer, author, and journalist; born June 20, 1801; died in London, England, Jan. 31, 1867. The son of Jewish parents who had embraced Roman Catholicism before his birth, Czynski was throughout his entire life one of the most zealous defenders of the Jews. After completing his studies he practised law in Lublin, and became an active participant in the wars of the Polish Revolution of 1830, serving as chief of staff under General Szczeptycki, the commandant of the palatinate of Lublin. The animosity exhibited toward the Jews during the revolution was most bitter, and Czynski was unsparing in his efforts to prove that it was undeserved. On one occasion, when the Lublin populace had accused them of evading military service, and threatened to attack them as traitors and spies, Czynski appeased the mob, and called a meeting of the leading inhabitants in the synagogue, where he stoutly defended his Hebrew compatriots.

On the failure of the revolution, he settled, in 1832, in Paris, where he lived for many years, and cooperated on the Polish National Committee with Prince Adam Czartoryski and Lafayette, ultimately removing to London. In 1851 he issued a circular to his compatriots, suggesting the formation of a society to consist of all Polish Jews in England and France.

Czynski was a versatile and prolific writer, mainly on historical subjects. He wrote a series of historical novels, and, under the pseudonym of "Ernesta Rollin," some plays, which were produced on the French stage. Of principal interest to Judaism were: "Le Reveil d'Israel," Paris, 1847; "Le Fils de la Juive," ib. 1848; and "Israel en Pologne," ib. 1861. Czynski was associated with several journals, including "La Pologne," of which he was for some time editor-in-chief.

In all his works and newspaper articles he never failed to seize an opportunity to espouse the cause of the Jews of Poland; and the grateful esteem with which his efforts were regarded is best evidenced by the obituary notices contributed to the "Archives Israélites" (xxviii. 167) by Léon Hollaenderski and Isidore Cahen. The former pays a glowing tribute to Czynski, of which the following is a translation: "The name of Jean Czynski is inscribed with gratitude in the annals of Judaism side by side with the immortal names of Czacki, Synowiecki, Castellan Ostrowski, and other illustrious friends of humanity and of the Jews of Poland."

Bibliography:
  • S. Orgelbrand, Encyklopedja Powszechna, iv. 179, Warsaw, 1899;
  • Léon Hollaenderski, Les Israelites de Pologne, passim (Preface by Czynski), Paris, 1846;
  • Arch. Isr. as above.
H. R. A. P.
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