Herzberg, Wilhelm

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HERZBERG, WILHELM (Ze'ev; 1827–1897), German author and communal worker in Ereẓ Israel. Born in Stettin into an assimilated family, Herzberg was familiar with Judaism from non-Jewish sources only, but became deeply impressed by its cultural and humanitarian values. In 1868 his work Juedische Familienpapiere (Jewish Family Papers, 1875) was published in Hamburg under the pen name Gustav Meinhardt. Its framework is fictional, and in it Herzberg expresses his admiration for Judaism through a daring attack on Christianity. The work made a strong impression on Jewish scholars in the West, and Peretz *Smolenskin wrote an article on it entitled "La-Kol Zeman" ("To Everything There is a Season" in Ha-Shaḥar, 1873) in which he emphasized Herzberg's liberation from the inner bondage that was characteristic of Jewish apologists at the time. In 1877, on the recommendation of Heinrich *Graetz, Herzberg was appointed director of the Mikveh Israel Agricultural School. Two years later he became director of the first Jewish orphanage in Jerusalem, which was founded that year through the initiative of Graetz and his friend M.G. Levi. In 1887 Herzberg combined the orphanage with the Laemel School. In the following year the first chapter of *B'nai B'rith, the "Jerusalem" lodge, was founded in Ereẓ Israel under his initiative; it established the Midrash Abrabanel Library (which became a nucleus for the Hebrew National and University Library) and the village of Moẓa. In 1891 Herzberg moved to Brussels.


Rabbi Binyamin, in: W. Herzberg, Kitvei Mishpaḥah Ivriyyim (1930), 7–25; I. Trivaks and E. Steinman, Sefer Me'ah Shanah (1938), 229–38.

[Gedalyah Elkoshi]

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Herzberg, Wilhelm

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