WUNDERBAR, REUBEN JOSEPH (1812–1868), Latvian-born educator and historian. Wunderbar wrote a book about the Jewish colonists in the Kherson region (1840) and was invited by Max *Lilienthal to become a teacher at the Jewish school in Riga of which he was for a time the director. In 1848 he returned to his native Mitau (Jelgava) and became a teacher of religion and a government interpreter, and on several occasions he served as the community's government-appointed rabbi. He published many articles in German-Jewish periodicals and wrote a study on the Jewish calendar. Wunderbar's importance as a historian rests primarily on two of his books which have retained their value as a source of information and research. The first, Geschichte der Juden in den Provinzen Liv und Kurland (1853), is a pioneer work on the history of the Jews in *Courland, based on independent research in archives and the use of rare manuscripts and paintings. The second book, Biblischtalmudische Medicin (1850–60), is also a pioneer work in the field, despite several inaccuracies and some errors. Although Wunderbar had no formal training, he had a surprising understanding of medical matters.
Y. Leibowitz, in: Tav Shin Vav… Shenaton Davar (1947), 343f.; M. Bobe, Perakim be-Toledot Yahadut Latvia (1965), 196–202.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.