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Zundelevitch, Aaron

ZUNDELEVITCH, AARON

ZUNDELEVITCH, AARON (1852–1923), pioneer of the Russian revolutionary movement. Zundelevitch was born in Vilna, studied in various yeshivot and in the Vilna Rabbinical Seminary, and for a time came under the influence of Hebrew secular literature. In 1872 he organized a revolutionary circle among the students of the Vilna Rabbinical Seminary; among its members were Aaron *Liebermann and a number of others who played an important part in the history of the socialist movement. Later on he became a prominent figure in the Russian revolutionary group Narodnaya Volya ("People's Will"). He was a brilliant organizer and was responsible for the dissemination of illegal literature. He played a heroic part in the revolutionary struggle against Czarism and endured many years of misery and torture as a convict in the mines of Siberia.

Zundelevitch advocated the use of terror as a political weapon, but he differed from his colleagues on a number of issues. He did not share their enthusiasm for the Russian peasantry, urged closer cooperation with the German Social-Democrats, who were unpopular among the Russian re volutionaries of the 1870s, and showed great interest in the socialist movement of Western Europe.

Zundelevitch believed that the Jewish religion was a reactionary force, and was equally opposed to Jewish national ideas. He was against a Jewish revolutionary undertaking the assassination of the Czar because "the tendency of the Christian world is to ascribe the sins of one Jew to the entire Jewish people." Zundelevitch benefitted from the amnesty declared after the abortive Russian Revolution of 1905. In 1907 he immigrated to London, where he spent the rest of his life. He opposed the Communist regime in Russia "for their trampling underfoot the ideals of freedom, equality and brotherhood for which generations of revolutionaries made the highest sacrifices."

[Schneiur Zalman Levenberg]

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