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Mandelstamm, Max Emmanuel


MANDELSTAMM, MAX EMMANUEL (1839–1912), ophthalmologist and leading member of the Zionist and Territorialist movements in Russia. Mandelstamm was born in Zagare, Lithuania. His father Ezekiel Mandelstamm, the brother of Leon *Mandelstamm and Benjamin *Mandelstamm, was an educated merchant who wrote a biblical lexicon entitled The Book of Names (1862). Mandelstamm was among the first Russian Jews to study in a Russian high school, but he received his main education at the German University of Dorpat (Estonia). After he completed his medical studies at Kharkov University, he continued his studies in ophthalmology in Berlin. Upon his return to Russia he opened a clinic in Kiev and became well known as an expert ophthalmologist throughout southern Russia. Mandelstamm also served as a lecturer in ophthalmology at Kiev University, but he left the university when his candidacy as an associate professor was not approved.

The pogroms in southern Russia at the beginning of the 1880s moved Mandelstamm into the field of Jewish public activities. He was the head of the Committee to Support Victims of Pogroms. At the conference of representatives of Jewish communities in St. Petersburg in 1881, he was the only one to support emigration from Russia as a radical solution to the problems the Jews faced there. From that time, emigration from Russia became the basis for his outlook on public affairs. In 1883 he participated along with L. *Pinsker, M.L. *Lilienblum, and H. Shapira in a meeting in Odessa at which the foundations of the *Ḥibbat Zion movement in Russia were laid. His wide-ranged organizational work then began and came to an end only after sharp opposition from the authorities.

Mandelstamm joined the Zionist Organization at the First Zionist Congress and from then on was one of *Herzl's most devoted associates and one of the most faithful political Zionists among the Russians. Herzl depicted him in Altneuland as the first president of the Jewish state – "an ophthalmologist from Russia, Dr. Eichenstam." He was elected to the Zionist Actions Committee and at the Second Zionist Congress was appointed deputy of the Kiev district. At the Sixth Zionist Congress, Mandelstamm was among the enthusiastic supporters of the *Uganda Scheme and fought for its acceptance even at the *Kharkov Conference. He organized the supporters of the plan to meet the challenge of the Russian Zionists. After the Seventh Zionist Congress he joined I. *Zangwill and participated in the founding conference of the Jewish Territorial Organization (jta). The pogroms that accompanied the first Russian Revolution (1905–06) strengthened his conviction that it was imperative to organize the flight of the Jews from Russia through Territorialism. He headed the emigration office established by the Territorialists in Kiev that concerned itself basically with organizing the emigration of Jews destined for *Galveston, Texas (under the Galveston Plan) with the aim of creating a Jewish Territorialist center in the southern United States.


D.A. Friedman, in: HaRefu'ah, 18, no. 4 (1940); Y. Slutsky, in: He-Avar, 4 (1956), 56–76; 5 (1957), 44–68; Th. Herzl, Complete Diaries (1960), index; I. Klausner, Be-Hitorer Am (1962), index; idem, Mi-Kattowitz ad Basel (1965), index.

[Yehuda Slutsky]

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