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Zvi Hirsch Masliansky

MASLIANSKY, ZVI HIRSCH (1856–1943), popular Yiddish orator, the most eloquent and influential Maggid on the American scene at his time. Masliansky was born in Slutsk, Belorussia. He taught at the Polish talmudei torah and at the yeshivah of Pinsk (1882–90), where one of his students was Chaim Weizmann. Stirred by the pogroms of 1881, he became a proponent of the idea of a return to Zion. He was active in Ḥibbat Zion, and fellow-Zionists M.M. Ussishkin, M.L. Lilienblum, Aḥad Ha-Am, and L. Pinsker encouraged him in his activity as a wandering preacher of Zionism. His fame as an impassioned orator spread rapidly throughout Russia. Compelled to leave the country in 1894, he undertook a lecture tour of Central and Western Europe and in 1895 emigrated to New York. During the three decades that followed, he helped popularize Zionism, wielding a great influence upon Yiddish-speaking immigrants, especially through his Friday evening sermons at the Educational Alliance on East Broadway. He combined the qualities of a maggid and those of a modern speaker. He was able to hold the attention of a popular audience and scholars as well. His imposing figure further strengthened the impression he made. He was also active in U.S. Zionist organizations.

Masliansky founded and coedited the daily Die Yidishe Velt (1902–05). His Yiddish sermons were published as Maslianskys Droshes fir Shabosim un Yomim Toyvim (2 vols., 1908; Eng. tr. Sermons by Reverend Zevi Hirsh Masliansky, 1926). He also published a memoir, Fertsik Yor Lebn un Kemfn ("Forty Years of Life and Struggle," 1924), and a collection of Hebrew articles, Kitvei Masliansky (1929).


L. Lipsky, Gallery of Zionist Portraits (1956); Rejzen, Leksikon, 2 (1927), 321–4; LNYL, 5 (1965), 467–70; EẒD, 3 (1965), 293–8; M. Danzis, Eigen Licht (1954), 223–8; M. Zablotski and J. Massel, Ha-Yiẓhari: Toledot Zevi Hirsh Masliansky (1895).

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.