Sobel, Jacob Ẓevi

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SOBEL, JACOB ẒEVI (James H. Soble ; 1831–1913), U.S. Hebrew writer. Born in Lithuania, Sobel was ordained as rabbi and headed a yeshivah, but, influenced by the Haskalah, broke with orthodoxy, and criticized it in his Ha-Ḥozeh Ḥezyonot be-Arba'ah Olamot (1872). In 1876 he arrived in New York, and later moved to Chicago where he earned his living as a Hebrew teacher. He contributed to Hebrew periodicals in Russia and the United States but also wrote for the Yiddish and American press. Some of his satire he directed against Gershon *Rosenzweig and signed with the pseudonym "Binocle." His Shir Zahav li-Khevod Yisrael ha-Zaken (1877), although of slight literary merit, is historically significant as the first book of Hebrew poetry published in the United States. A paean to Jewry, Hebrew language, and American democracy, it also condemns the ignorance and spiritual emptiness of Jewish immigrants.


R. Malachi, in: Sefer ha-Shanah li-Yhudei Amerikah (1935), 303–9; J. Kabakoff, Ḥaluẓei ha-Sifrut ha-Ivrit ba-Amerikah (1966), 23–75.

[Eisig Silberschlag]