Rosenthal, Herman

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ROSENTHAL, HERMAN (1843–1917), writer and pioneer of Jewish settlement in the United States. He was born in Friedrichstadt (Jaunjelgava), in Courland (Latvia), and started to work as a printer in Kremenchug, Ukraine. During the Russo-Turkish War (1877–78), he served with the Red Cross and was decorated. As a result of the pogroms of 1881, Rosenthal reached the conclusion that the solution to the Jewish problem in Eastern Europe lay in emigration from Russia and in agricultural settlement. Organizing a group of 70 people in Yelizavetgrad, he set out for the United States to pave the way for their settlement there. In 1882 he established the first agricultural settlement for Russian Jews on Sicily Island, near New Orleans, Louisiana. After the destruction of the settlement by the Mississippi floods, he attempted to establish a new settlement, named Crémieux, in Dakota, but this was also short-lived. In later years, Rosenthal continued to foster the idea of Jewish settlement. He published the newspaper Der Yidisher Farmer, and in 1891 participated in the establishment of the ica colony of Woodbine, New Jersey. In 1901, together with Abraham Ḥayyim *Rosenberg, he published the monthly Ha-Modi'a le-Ḥodashim. From 1898, Rosenthal headed the Slavonic department of the New York public library. He was the editor of the department of Russian Jewry in the Jewish Encyclopedia and made an important contribution to its high standard. Rosenthal wrote poems in his mother tongue, German, among them poetic translations of Song of Songs and Ecclesiastes (1893).


Ha-Meliẓ, nos. 84 and 86 (1883); A. Menes, in: E. Tcherikower (ed.), Geshikhte fun der Yidisher Arbeter Bavegung in di Fareynikte Shtatn, 2 (1945), 223–7, 471; Z. Szajkowski, in: pajhs, 40 (1951), 245–8.

[Yehuda Slutsky]