Epstein, Zalman

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EPSTEIN, ZALMAN (1860–1936), Hebrew essayist and critic. Epstein was born in Luban, Belorussia, and he received his early education at the Volozhin yeshivah. At the age of 16 he moved to Odessa where he lived for 30 years. He served on the central committee of Ḥovevei Zion from 1890 to 1900 in Odessa. Later Epstein lived in St. Petersburg, Warsaw, and Moscow, and settled in Palestine in 1925. In 1879 he began to publish letters and articles in the Hebrew press, some under the pen-names of "Shelomo ha-Elkoshi" and "Ben Azzai." His article, "The Spirit of Nationalism and its Results in Modern Times," which appeared in Ha-Meliẓ in 1882, brought him a measure of recognition. He became a regular contributor to Ha-Meliẓ and later to Ha-Ẓefirah, Ha-Shilo'aḥ, and other journals, writing primarily about Jewish problems, particularly the settlement of Palestine and Zionism. He contributed a series of articles in Yiddish to the St. Petersburg paper Der Tog. Epstein also commented on Hebrew and general literature, and published a number of poetic sketches, the best known of which are the series Mi-Sefer ha-Zikhronot shel Shelomo ha-Elkoshi ("From Shelomo ha-Elkoshi's Book of Reminiscences"). In his article "Ha-Sefer ve-ha-Ḥayyim" ("Books and Life"), in: Lu'aḥ Aḥi'asaf, 1 (1894), he called upon Hebrew writers not to concern themselves solely with Jewish problems. Epstein was a romantic who respected and admired Jewish traditions and sought to blend Judaism and humanism. He was the first to publish articles in Hebrew on Dostoyevski, Tolstoy, and Turgenev (in Ha-Boker Or, Ben-Ammi, and Ha-Zeman). His style was biblical and ornate. Only a few of his hundreds of articles and sketches were collected in the two volumes of his work, one of which appeared in St. Petersburg in 1905, the other in Tel Aviv in 1938. His monograph Moshe Leib Lilienblum was published in 1935.


Autobiographical note in the preface to J. Fichmann (ed.), Kitvei Zalman Epstein (1938).

[Gedalyah Elkoshi]