Schulman, Kalman

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SCHULMAN, KALMAN (1819–1899), Hebrew writer of the Haskalah era. Born in Stari Bichov, Belorussia, he studied in his youth in Lithuanian yeshivot but, attracted by the Haskalah, he studied Bible, grammar, and German independently. He settled in Vilna in 1843, where he tutored the sons of affluent families. He joined the circle of maskilim in the town and became a close friend of the poet M.J. *Lebensohn. From 1849 to 1861 he taught Hebrew language and literature in the high school attached to the state rabbinical school. After leaving this post he devoted himself to literary work, and was under contract with Romm publishers, who paid him a pittance that scarcely enabled him to support his family. His books, mostly translations, were intended to spread Haskalah among the Hebrew reading public and youth. Schulman was moderate and careful in expressing his ideas, and his books, many of which went through several editions, were also popular in Orthodox circles. His widely read abridged translation of Mystères de Paris (1857–60 and five more editions in the next half-century), an adventure novel by the French writer, Eugène Sue, was an innovative experiment in the translation of a contemporary novel into Hebrew; it triggered a dispute, for the conservative circles believed it was sacrilegious to use the Hebrew language for a description of the Paris underworld. This controversy probably deterred Schulman from translating more novels, and he devoted himself to translating and adapting scientific books. Divrei Yemei Olam, a history in nine volumes, based on Georg Weber and other German historians, was commissioned by Ḥevrat Mefiẓei Haskalah (*Society for the Promotion of Culture among the Jews of Russia; 1867–84). His translation of Josephus from German into Hebrew, focusing on the Wars of the Jews (1861–63), was the first rendition of the Jewish historian into Hebrew. His book on Bar Kokhba's heroism, Harisot Beitar (1858), was influential and popular. Schulman, a prolific contributor to the Hebrew press, published a series of books and compilations dealing with the history of Palestine and its environs, Toledot Ḥakhmei Yisrael (4 vols., 1873–78). Schulman used a florid biblical Hebrew, and was skillful in the presentation of new terms. His books have been forgotten, but in their time played an important role in developing the Hebrew reading public. Among his other works are Safah Berurah (1848) and the geographies, Mosedei Ereẓ (1871–77), and Meḥkerei Ereẓ Rusyah (1870).


Klausner, Sifrut, 3 (1953), 361–88; A. Sha'anan, Ha-Sifrut ha-Ivrit ha-Ḥadashah li-Zerameha (1962), 219–22; Waxman, Literature, 3 (19602), 310–2; Kressel, Leksikon, 2 (1967), 890–2.

[Yehuda Slutsky]