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GERSTEIN, JONAH:

Lithuanian educationalist and Hebraist; born at Wilna Dec. 4, 1827; died there Dec. 6, 1891. Gerstein was one of the first pupils who attended the rabbinical school of Wilna. After graduating he was appointed special agent of Jewish affairs to the governor-general Potapov, an office which afforded him the opportunity of bringing about an amelioration of the condition of the Jews. After the death of the government rabbi of Wilna, Ephraim Kahan, Gerstein was elected his successor, and in that capacity signed, with others (Nov. 4, 1860), the prohibition against translating the Mishnah into Judæo-German. Gerstein resigned in 1861, and was made superintendent of the Talmud Torah of Wilna, the administration of which he reorganized. He succeeded in collecting considerable sums, and by this means so increased the number of pupils of the school that it became necessary in 1882 to erect a new building. In 1890 he founded a technical school in which the pupils of the Talmud Torah, after finishing their studies, might acquire a handicraft. He was decorated by the Russian government in recognition of his philanthropic activity. In collaboration with Levanda, and at the request of the Russian Society for the Promotion of Culture Among the Jews, Gerstein translated the Pentateuch into Russian. He also contributed many articles to Fuenn's "Ha-Karmel."

H. R. B. R.
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