OVCHINSKI, LEVI (d. 1941?), rabbi, scholar, and historian. Born in Daugieliszki (Vilna province), Lithuania, Ovchinski studied at the yeshivah in Lida. After living for a time in Swinciany, in 1897 he was appointed rabbi in Alt-Autz, Courland, and afterward rabbi of Mittau (Jelgava). Rabbi Ovchinski and his two sons-in-law perished during the Holocaust.
Ovchinski wrote several reference works: Naḥalat Avot (1894), a biographical lexicon of Jewish scholars who were omitted from or only briefly mentioned in Ḥ.J.D. *Azulai's Shem ha-Gedolim, and A. Walden's Shem ha-Gedolim he-Ḥadash. In a similar category is Ovchinski's Hadrat Ẓevi (1914) containing the biographies of the rabbis Nahman Idl Margolies and Ẓevi Hirsch Nurock (father of Mordechai *Nurock). His main work was Toledot ha-Yehudim be-Kurland (1908, 19112; a Yiddish translation was published in Riga in 1928 entitled Di Geschikhte fun di Yidn in Letland fun Yor 1561–1923), the historical section of this book being based principally on R. *Wunderbar's volume on the same subject. The second section dealing with the history of the communities of Latvia and their rabbis is Ovchinski's most important contribution to the historiography of Latvian Jewry, based on and utilizing the minute books of the communities and burial societies, as well as other sources.
Yahadut Latvia (1953), 368–9; M. Bobe, Perakim be-Toledot Yahadut Latvia (1965), 205–6.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.