Friedberg, Abraham Shalom

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FRIEDBERG, ABRAHAM SHALOM (1838–1902), Hebrew author, editor, and translator. Born in Grodno, he received a traditional education and also studied watchmaking. After wandering from town to town in southern Russia, he returned to Grodno in 1858. His first book Emek ha-Arazim (adapted from Vale of Cedars by Grace Aguilar) was published in 1876 and enjoyed great popularity. After the pogroms of 1881 he joined the Ḥibbat Zion movement. In 1883 he went to St. Petersburg and became associate editor of *Ha-Meliẓ and was influential in directing its editorial policy toward Zionism. He contributed numerous articles to the journal under the heading Me-Inyanei de-Yoma ("On Current Events"), which were signed H. Sh. for Har Shalom, the Hebrew translation of Friedberg. Failing to obtain a permit to remain in St. Petersburg, he left Ha-Meliẓ in 1886 and went to Warsaw, where he contributed to Ha-Ẓefirah and Ha-Asif and translated many books into Hebrew. He was an editor of the first Hebrew encyclopedia, Ha-Eshkol (1888), and was employed by the Aḥi'asaf publishing house. He wrote Toledot ha-Yehudim bi-Sefarad ("History of the Jews in Spain," 1893) based on Graetz, Kayserling, and others, translated into Hebrew M. Guedemann's Geschichte des Erziehungswesens und der Kultur der abendlaendischen Juden, 1880–88 (Sefer ha-Torah ve-ha-Ḥayyim, 1897–99), published Sefer ha-Zikhronot ("Book of Memoirs," 1899), a collection of literary articles and letters of well-known people, and edited the Aḥi'asaf yearbook (vols. 1–6). He also wrote for Der Yid and other Yiddish publications. His memoirs, which appeared in Sokolow's Sefer ha-Shanah (vols. 1 and 3) and in Lu'aḥ Aḥi'asaf (vol. 9), are important for the literary history of the period. His popular reputation was earned by his book Zikhronot le-Veit David ("Memoirs of the House of David," 1893–99), a series of stories embracing Jewish history from the destruction of the first Temple to the beginning of the Haskalah period in Germany. The first two volumes are an adaptation of Geheimnisse der Juden ("Secrets of the Jews") by H. Reckendorf, but the two remaining volumes were written by Friedberg himself. It was frequently republished and was translated into Arabic and Persian.


Y. Rawnitzki, Dor ve-Soferav (1927), 170–4; Maimon (Fishman), in: Ha-Toren, 9, no. 3 (1922), 88–90; 9, no. 4 (1922), 91–95; Waxman, Literature, 4 (1960), 160, 434.

[Yehuda Slutsky]