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Benjamin Osipovich Portugalov

PORTUGALOV, BENJAMIN OSIPOVICH (1835–1896), Russian physician and publicist. He was imprisoned for his activities in the Narodnaya Volya movement in 1860 in the fortress of St. Peter and Paul. After his release he qualified as a physician but was arrested again in 1874 and exiled to the Urals. Later he settled in Samara (Kuibyshev). Portugalov devoted a great deal of his time to philanthropic work and to combating drunkenness. He was the first physician in Russia to advocate social medicine. A fanatic assimilationist, Portugalov was opposed to the rituals of *sheḥitah and *circumcision and even asked the authorities to forbid them. He took an active part in the Jewish-Christian movement initiated by Jews in southern Russia in the 1880s. He considered the pogroms in the 1880s as a social movement against the injustice perpetrated by leading classes. Portugalov was also opposed to Zionism, seeing the solution of the Jewish problem in social religious reform, based on a general humanistic religion free of ritual ceremonies.


E. Tcherikower, in: Historishe Shriftn, 3 (1939), 81–82; S. Ginsburg, Meshumodim in Tsarishn Rusland (1946), 256.

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