Rabinovitz, Alexander Siskind

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RABINOVITZ, ALEXANDER SISKIND (known by acronym Azar ; 1854–1945), Hebrew author. Born in Lyady, Belorussia, Rabinovitz became affiliated with the *Ḥibbat Zion movement during a stay in Moscow. In 1888 he became a teacher in Poltava, where his pupils included D.B. *Borochov and Izhak *Ben-Zvi. It was in Poltava that he was elected a delegate to the First Zionist Congress (1897). Settling in Ereẓ Israel in 1906, he alternately taught and worked as a librarian.

From 1888 the Hebrew language was his medium of expression, although he also wrote occasionally in Yiddish. He contributed articles to Ha-Meliẓ (1899) and to Sefer ha-Sharon (1891), a children's book. From that time on, he concentrated on storywriting, and was among the first to write stories of social content in Hebrew. These were published successively in the books Be-Ẓel ha-Kesef (1894), Ḥattat ha-Ẓibbur (1896), Bat he-Ashir (1898), and in various Hebrew literary journals, such as Ha-Shilo'aḥ and Lu'aḥ Aḥi'asaf. His writings were a synthesis of his affinity with the common people, his interest in socialism and Russian literature, and of his strong attachment to the Jewish tradition and its cultural values–an attachment which, upon his arrival in Ereẓ Israel, expressed itself both in his personal ties with Rabbi A.I. *Kook and in his own inclination to religious observance.

In its entirety, Rabinovitz's prolific and varied output numbers over 100 books and pamphlets, including original works, translations, and adaptations. He popularized scientific subjects in Hebrew, and for many years also wrote "Hirhurim," a regular column in Kunteres and Davar, which dealt with matters of concern to the labor movement. The first collection of his stories and articles was published in 1904; the second and third volumes were published, in Ereẓ Israel, in 1914–22. Some of his stories were also published separately at various times. Among his monographs are Jean Jacques Rousseau (1899); Keter Torah (1911), on Rabbi Kook; Yosef Ḥayyim Brenner (1922); and Ḥayyei L.N. Tolstoi (1924). He also wrote Toledot ha-Sifrut ha-Ivrit li-Venei ha-Ne'urim (1906–10), a literary history for youth; Toledot ha-Pedagogikah (1913) a history of pedagogy from early times to the present; textbooks for Jewish history; original and translated books for children and youth; and Ha-Islam (1927) and Ha-Inkviziẓyah (1930), popular histories. Encouraged by Bialik, he worked for many years on the translation of the works of W. Bacher, among them Aggadot ha-Tanna'im (3 vols., 1920–23) and Aggadot Amora'ei Ereẓ Yisrael (1916–17, 2 pts.; 1925–302, 5 vols.). In addition he edited several literary collections, notably Yizkor (1912), commemorating Jewish laborers who fell in the course of their work in Ereẓ Israel. On his 80th birthday his collected works were published in five volumes (1934–36).


Z. Fishman, in: Sefer Zikkaron le-Yovel ha-Shivim shel A.S. Rabinovitz (1924), 3–23 (incl. bibl.). add. bibliography: D. Hoshen, "Ma'aseh Tefillat ha-Em: Keriah Mashvah bein 'Tefillat ha-Em' shel Azar le-'Ma'aseh' shel 'Agnon," in: Mabu'a 35 (2001), 65–75; 36 (2001), 69–85.

[Getzel Kressel]