Ehrenpreis, Marcus

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EHRENPREIS, MARCUS (Mordecai ; 1869–1951), rabbi and author. Ehrenpreis, who was born in Lemberg where his father was a Hebrew printer, combined a traditional East European Jewish upbringing with a Western education, attending the *hochschule fuer die Wissenschaft des Judentums in Berlin as well as German universities. He officiated as rabbi in Djakovo, Croatia, from 1896 to 1900, and later became chief rabbi of Sofia, Bulgaria, and from 1914 of Stockholm. As the chief rabbi of Sofia, Ehrenpreis labored to ameliorate the condition of minorities in the Balkans, and in 1913 went on a mission to several European capitals on behalf of King Ferdinand i of Bulgaria. His contributions to the early Hebrew periodicals Ha-Maggid which first appeared in 1884 and in Ha-Shilo'aḥ among others make him one of the pioneers of modern Hebrew literature. At the request of Theodor *Herzl he translated the invitation to the First Zionist Congress into Hebrew, personally setting the type. There, and at later Zionist congresses, Ehrenpreis acted as a consultant on cultural matters. Like *Berdyczewski he criticized *Aḥad Ha-Am's view that Hebrew literature confine itself to Jewish themes and demanded that it fulfill all the spiritual needs of Jews living within the boundaries of European culture (Ha-Shilo'aḥ, no. 1, 1896/97). However, in his article Ha-Sifrut ha-Illemet ("The Silent Literature") in Ha-Shilo'aḥ, 17 (1908), he expressed the view that the Hebrew literature of his generation was not capable of creating "the redeeming synthesis between Judaism and Europeanism." From then on he abandoned almost totally his interest in Hebrew literature and the Zionist movement (for which he was severely criticized by the Zionists), and devoted himself to his rabbinic and public work, writing in Swedish and other languages. He published many translations of modern Hebrew literature into Swedish; and his own essays "De som byggt Israel" ("The Builders of Israel," 3 vols., 1929–43); "Landet mellam öster och vaster" ("The Country Between East and West," the journey of a Jew to Spain, 1927); Österlandets Själ (1926; The Soul of the East, 1928), impressions of a journey to the Middle East; and his autobiography, Mitt liv mellam öster och väster ("My Life Between East and West," 1946). His books were translated into several European languages and his autobiography (1953) into Hebrew. He founded the Jewish-Swedish journal Judisk Tidskrift (1928), and edited a Jewish encyclopedia in Swedish. Although first a political Zionist, he became an advocate of spiritual nationalism, believing that dispersal and assimilation were the true way of life for the Jewish people, enabling them to fulfill their spiritual mission among the nations.


Judisk Tidskrift, 17 (1944), no. 1, on Ehrenpreis' 70th birthday with bibl. (special suppl.); M.J. Berdyczewski, Ma'amarim (1960), 223–5; J. Klausner, Yoẓerei Tekufah (1956), 126–32; Gelber, in: Zion, 3 (1953), 45–51; Waxman, Literature, 1 (19602), 155–6.

[Gedalyah Elkoshi and

Hugo Mauritz Valentin]

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Ehrenpreis, Marcus

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