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GERSONI, HENRY:

American rabbi and journalist; born in Wilna, Russia, 1844; died in New York June 17, 1897. He attended the rabbinical seminary of his native city and the University of St. Petersburg, where he remained till about the middle of 1866, when he went to England. In 1868, while in Paris, he published his so-called "confession," "U-Modeh we-'Ozeb Yeruḥam," an account of his conversion to the Greek Orthodox Church in Russia, in which he relates how, after repenting and leaving Russia in order to become a loyal Jew again, he met several English missionaries to the Jews on his arrival in London, and spent ten months in the Christian Bible House. He was, however, thoroughly repentant; and Senior Sachs, in an appendix to the "confession," testifies to Gersoni's sincerity (see "Ha-Maggid," 1868, xii., Nos. 38-40).

In 1869 Gersoni went to the United States and became a teacher in the Temple Emanu-El Sabbath-school, New York, which position he held till 1874. In that year he was elected rabbi of Atlanta, Ga., and about two years later was called to the pulpit of Congregation Bene Sholom of Chicago. He remained with that synagogue about four years, and, after severing his connection with it "under a cloud of apostasy," he continued to live in Chicago until 1882, when he returned to New York and supported himself by literary work.

In 1871 Gersoni published a Hebrew translation of Longfellow's "Excelsior," for which he received a complimentary letter from the poet himself. In 1872 he published "Sketches of Jewish Life and History" (New York), of which the first, "The Singer's Revenge," is an adaptation from the Hebrew of M. A. Ginzburg's "Tikkun Laban ha-Arami," and the second, "The Metamorphosis of a Lithuanian Boy," is to some extent autobiographical. In 1878 Gersoni established in Chicago "The Advance," a German and English weekly, which ran for three years. In 1879 he edited five numbers of an English monthly, "The Maccabean." He translated into English several stories by the Russian novelist Turgenef, and was a contributor to several New York periodicals. He was also connected with a Yiddish newspaper in the same city.

Bibliography:
  • American Jewish Year Book, 1900;
  • Reform Advocate, May 4, 1901, pp. 300-301;
  • Ner ha-Ma'arabi, Feb., 1895;
  • Ha-Shiloaḥ, ii. 345-356.
H. R. P. Wi.
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