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Isaac Wolf Olschwanger

OLSCHWANGER, ISAAC WOLF (1825–1896), one of the first rabbis in Russia to join the Ḥibbat Zion movement. Born in Plunge, Lithuania, he was ordained as rabbi in 1845 and held an office in the rabbinate of Taurage (Lithuania). From 1876 until his death he served as rabbi in St. Petersburg. Throughout his life he took part in various public activities and sympathized with the moderate Haskalah movement. At the outset of the Ḥibbat Zion movement in the 1880s, he enthusiastically accepted its tenet of restoring the Jewish people to its homeland and became actively engaged in the movement's undertakings in St. Petersburg, when it still had only a few followers. Later, when the majority of rabbis expressed their opposition to the movement, Olschwanger criticized those rabbis who did not actively strive to bring about the redemption, waiting instead for a divine miracle. Unlike many rabbis, he permitted work on the land in the sabbatical year, when the issue arose for the first time in the settlements in Ereẓ Israel (1889).


EẒD, 1 (1958), 58–59; N. Sokolow, Hibbath Zion (1935), 230–1.

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