Kaminer, Isaac

views updated


KAMINER, ISAAC (1834–1901), Hebrew writer. Born in Lewkiow in the Ukraine, he was drawn into the Haskalah movement in his youth, and taught at the government school for Jews in Zhitomir (1854–59). Later he completed medical school at the University of Kiev and was a physician in that town till the end of the 1870s. During that period he inclined toward socialism and joined the circles of A.S. *Liebermann and Judah Loeb *Levin (Yehalel).

Kaminer wrote verse satires for the Hebrew socialist papers Ha-Emet and Asefat Ḥakhamim (among them his best poem Shir ha-Yiḥud la-Matbe'a), but he disagreed with the assimilationist tendencies prevalent in socialist circles. Only two works were published separately in his lifetime, Kinot mi-Sidduram shel Benei Dan (1878), and Seder Kapparot le-Va'al Takse (1878). Kaminer criticized not only the Ḥasidim and those clinging to old notions but also supporters of the Haskalah and the rich community leaders. In a series of poems, Maskil el Dal, he described, in a favorable light, folk figures like the peddler and the destitute rabbis. In some of his verse he strongly defended the use of the Hebrew language and lamented the younger generation's alienation from "Jewish nationality." After the pogroms of the 1880s he joined the Ḥibbat Zion movement and from then on his verse was dedicated to the cause of Jewish nationalism and the settlement of Palestine. The board of Ḥovevei Zion published his selected poems posthumously (1905), edited by *Aḥad Ha-Am and J.H. Rawnitzky. The selection was drastically edited. Kaminer's works have little artistic value but they had an influence upon the readers of his day.


J.H. Rawnitzky, Dor ve-Soferav (1926), 143–59; Klausner, Sifrut, 6 (19502), 208–42; Waxman, Literature, 3 (1960), 263–4.

[Yehuda Slutsky]