NATANSON, LUDWIK (1822–1896), physician and communal worker. A member of the Jewish intellectual and assimilationist circle of Warsaw, Natanson was the son of the banker and industrialist Wolf Zelig Natanson (1795–1879). In 1847 he founded the periodical Tygodnik Lekarski, one of the first modern medical publications in Polish, which he edited and financed until 1872. Natanson was also one of the public health pioneers in Poland, and was active in the campaign against the cholera epidemic in Warsaw (1848–52). In 1863 he was elected to the presidency of the Polish medical society. In 1871 he became chairman of the executive of the Jewish community of Warsaw, a position he held until his death. As chairman, Natanson successfully reorganized and considerably extended the public and administrative services of the community, managing also to balance its budget. He encouraged productivity among the Jewish poverty-stricken classes and was the initiator and founder of vocational schools and a community workshop center. He supported (1878–88) the secondary school which had 1,400 Jewish pupils. On his initiative, a new school building was erected, and community organizations and the cemeteries were renovated. He was the initiator of a project to erect a modern Jewish hospital in the Czyste district, and it was also during his term of office that the magnificent synagogue of Tłomacka Street was built. In 1874 Natanson obtained authorization to establish a Jewish seminary for teachers. He was supported in his public activities by bourgeois circles and the assimilationist Jewish intelligentsia. The energy which he showed during the pogrom in Warsaw in December 1881 was of great assistance in maintaining the morale of the Jewish community.
J. Shatzky, Geshikhte fun Yidn in Varshe, 2–3 (1948–53), indexes; H. Nussbaum, Teki weterana warszawskiej gminy Starozakonnych (1880), 46–50; W. Konie, in: Głos gminy żydowskiej nos. 4–5 (1937); S. LŁastik, Z dziejów oświecenia żydowskiego (1961), index; Lu'aḥ Aḥi'asaf, 5 (1897).
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.