Landau, Judah Loeb

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LANDAU, JUDAH LOEB (Leo ; 1866–1942), South African rabbi, scholar, poet, and playwright. Landau was born in Zatozce, Galicia. His father Moses Issachar Landau was a maskil and regular contributor to the Hebrew press. Landau attended the German gymnasium at Brody (Galicia), yeshivot, and the Jewish Theological Seminary and University of Vienna and soon came under the influence of Hebrew writers, poets, and dramatists, such as P. *Smolenskin, N.I. *Fischmann, and A. *Broides. As a student in Vienna, Landau used to write theater and opera reviews of Jewish interest for Ha-Maggid. Early in his life Landau supported the movement for national revival by word and deed, became an ardent supporter of Theodor Herzl, and attended several of the early Zionist congresses. When on a visit to London in 1900 for the Fourth Zionist Congress, M. *Gaster persuaded him to stay. He was minister of the North Manchester Hebrew Congregation until 1904, when he went to Johannesburg as rabbi of the Johannesburg Hebrew Congregation.

In 1915 Landau became chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregation of Johannesburg and of the Federation of Synagogues of the Witwatersrand; he was also appointed professor of Hebrew at Witwatersrand University. In nearly four decades of spiritual leadership in the South African Jewish community, Landau participated in and stimulated a great variety of activities and organizations: religious, charitable, cultural, and Zionist.

Landau's contributions to modern Hebrew literature were mainly in drama and poetry. His poems and articles first appeared in a number of Hebrew periodicals, where he used the pseudonym of Hillel ben Shahar. Among his published plays are Bar Kokhva (1884); Aḥarit Yerushalayim (1886); Hordos (1888, also in Yiddish, 1901; first produced in Lvov in 1890); Yesh Tikvah (1893; with a contemporary theme, the first Hebrew drama to be produced in modern times); Dam Tahat Dam (1898), set in Second Temple times; Don Yiẓḥak Abrabanel (1919); Yisrael Ba'al Shem Tov (1923); and Lefanim o Le'aḥor (1923; English version by D. Mierovsky, Conflicting Worlds, 1933), describing the strains and tensions of modern Jewry. Landau published collected lyrics in Neginot (1895) and Neginot u-Fo'emot (1933), some of which were set to music; prose writings Libbot Nishbarim (1903), literary conversations in novel form; and Vidduyim (1928), letters on contemporary Judaism containing much autobiographical material.

The themes of his poems are intensely personal, expressions of Weltschmerz and the human predicament, the love of Zion and Israel, and the great characters and leaders in Jewish history. His doctoral dissertation was N. Krochmal, ein Hegelianer (1904); he also translated his teacher A. Schwarz's Die hermeneutische Analogie into Hebrew under the title Gezerah Shavah (1898?). His Lectures on Modern Hebrew Literature (1925); Judaism in Life and Literature (1936); Judaism Ancient and Modern (1936), sermons; and Short Lectures on Modern Hebrew Literature (1938) appeared in English. Landau was among the editors of the Hebrew encyclopedia Oẓar Yisrael to which he contributed many important articles. Other scholarly articles of his appeared in Ha-Eshkol (Cracow) and Ha-Ẓofeh le-Ḥokhmat Yisrael (Budapest) as well as in a number of Festschriften. In 1936 a jubilee volume was published in honor of Landau's seventieth birthday, Ve-Zot li-Yhudah (Heb. and Eng.).


Kressel, Leksikon, 2 (1967), 288–89, incl. bibl.; Rabbi Binyamin, in: Ve-Zot li-Yhudah (1936), 7–13; D. Mierovsky,ibid., 14–18; S. Rappaport, in: G. Saron and L. Hotz (eds.), Jews in South Africa (1955), 283ff.; Waxman, Literature, 4 (1960), 830; A. Yaari, Ha-Maḥazeh ha-Ivri (1955), nos. 738–45, bibl. of Heb. dramas; J. Oren, in: Moznayim, 24 (1967), 234–41.