Natonek, Joseph

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NATONEK, JOSEPH (1813–1892), rabbi, pioneer of Zionism in Hungary, and Hebrew grammarian. Born in Komlo, Hungary, Natonek, as a merchant, supplied the Hungarian revolutionary army in 1848 until its collapse. He became the principal of the Jewish school in Surany (south Slovakia), and subsequently (1861–67) rabbi in Jaszbereny and in Szekesfehervar (Stuhlweissenburg). In 1867, Natonek negotiated with the Turkish government in Constantinople to obtain a charter for the reclamation of Palestinian soil for Jewish settlement. When his endeavors proved fruitless, he returned to Budapest, where he published the magazine Das einige Israel ("The United Israel," 1872), in which he propagated the Zionist idea. He also produced a booklet in Hungarian, Messiás, avagy értekezés a zsidó emancipatióról ("The Messiah – or On the Emancipation of the Jews," 1861), in which he opposed the idea of ameliorating the Jewish situation by cultural emancipation, advocating in its place national emancipation in the spirit of Moses *Hess and modern Zionism.

Natonek's other works include the unpublished Hebrew manuscript, "On the Divine Revelation to Moses"; Wissenschaft-Religion (1876); and an edition of the Song of Songs (1871), published with German translation and commentary by L. Hollaender, with some additional comments of his own. He also began to prepare a dictionary of five languages, Pentaglotte (1861) in collaboration with Bishop Feuer of Szekesfehervar.


S. Weingarten, Ha-Rav Yosef Natonek (1942); D.B. Frenkel, Reshit ha-Ẓiyyonut ha-Medinit ha-Modernit (1956); Kadar, in: Sinai, 45 (1959), 243–52; I.Z. Zahavi, Me-ha-Ḥatam Sofer vead Herzl (1966), 196–215.

[Menahem Zevi Kaddari]