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Samuel Orgelbrand

ORGELBRAND, SAMUEL (1810–1868), Polish publisher. A graduate of the rabbinical seminary of his native Warsaw, he taught for a few years, and in 1836 he opened a shop specializing in the sale of manuscripts and old and rare books. Exploiting the demand for Jewish books because of the restrictions on their publication in Russia, he opened a publishing house for both Hebrew and Polish books. In 1844 he acquired the publishing firm of Jozef Krasinski, which he expanded and improved, becoming the most important publisher in Warsaw. For a while he was in partnership with Henryk Natanson. In 1860 he appointed the conservative maskil Daniel *Neufeld to head the department for Hebrew books. In 30 active years, Orgelbrand published over 250 works in 520 volumes, of which about 100 volumes were Hebrew works, sold mostly to subscribers. Between 1860 and 1864 he published the Babylonian Talmud in 20 volumes. Despite the competition of the *Romm edition of Vilna and the Zusman Javetz edition of Berlin, 12,000 copies of this edition were sold. Orgelbrand also published fine editions of the Pentateuch with commentaries, Ein Ya'akov, prayer books, Ẓe'enah u-Re'enah (1867), and other works. Between 1842 and 1850 he financed the weekly Kmiotek ("Peasant"), the first Polish periodical for the masses. Between 1858 and 1868 he published the first Polish general encyclopedia (Encyklopedja Powszechna), in 28 volumes, which he financed from the profits of the Talmud. A large section on Judaica, edited by Daniel Neufeld and Fabian Streuch (1820–1884), was included in the encyclopedia. Orgelbrand also published a series of works by Polish authors as well as Polish translations of classical works. During the 1860s he was a member of the executive board of the Warsaw community.

His sons, HIPOLIT (1843–1920) and MIECZYSLAW (1857–1903), took over the publishing house, keeping the Polish department in operation but discontinuing the Hebrew department in 1901. Both brothers belonged to extreme assimilationist circles and converted to Christianity during the 1890s. Before closing down the Hebrew department, they invited their brother-in-law, the learned maskil and author Hershel Rundo, to be their partner in the publication of Hebrew works.

Samuel's brother, MAURYCY (Moses; 1826–1904), was also a publisher, active in assimilationist circles in both Warsaw and Vilna. In Vilna he published a practical dictionary of the Polish language in two volumes, Słownik jézyka polskiego do podrécznego użytku (1861). Ordered to leave Vilna in 1865 by the Russian governor, Muravyov, he returned to Warsaw in 1873, establishing a publishing house in partnership with Gebethner and Wolff, and Michael Gluecksberg. From 1878 to 1885 he was the publisher and editor of the popular Polish weekly, Tygodnik Powszechny.


B. Prus, in: Kurier Warszawski, 97 (1833); B. Weinryb, in: MGWJ, 77 (1933), 273–300; S. Rosencweig, in: Nasz Przegląd (Nov. 7–13, 1937); Z. Kobryński, in: Miesięcznik graficzny, 1 (1938); J. Bartosiewicz, in: Tygodnik Ilustrowany, 51 (1922); J. Shatzky, Geshikhte fun Yidn in Varshe, 3 (1953), index.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.