Samuel Joseph Fuenn

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Samuel Joseph Fuenn
Samuel Joseph Fünn.jpeg
Born15 October 1818 (1818-10-15)
Died11 January 1891 (1891-01-12) (aged 72)
Vilna, Vilna Governorate, Russian Empire
ChildrenDr. Benjamin Fuenn
Writing career
Literary movementHaskalah
Notable works
  • Kiryah ne'emanah (1860)
  • Safah le-ne'emanim (1881)
  • Ha-otsar (1884)
S. J. Fuenn - signature.png

Samuel Joseph Fuenn (Hebrew: שמואל יוסף פין, romanizedShmuel Yosef Fin; 15 October 1818 – 11 January 1891),[note 1] also known as Rashi Fuenn (רש״י פין) and Rashif (רשי״ף), was a Russian Hebrew writer, scholar, printer, and editor. He was a leading figure of the eastern European Haskalah, and an early member of Ḥovevei Zion.[7]


Fuenn was born in Vilna, Russian Empire, the son of merchant and Torah scholar Yitsḥak Aizik Fuenn of Grodno.[8] Though he received a traditional religious education until the age of 17,[4] he also acquired an extensive general knowledge of German literature and other secular subjects, and became proficient in Russian, French, Latin, Polish, and English.[5] He afterwards joined Vilna's circle of young maskilim.[9]

In 1848 the government appointed him teacher of Hebrew and Jewish history in the newly founded rabbinical school of Vilna.[10] Fuenn filled this position with great distinction till 1856, when he resigned. The government then appointed him superintendent of the Jewish public schools in the district of Vilna,[11] in which he introduced instruction in secular studies and modern languages.[1]

He was a prolific writer, devoting his activity mainly to the fields of history and literature.[1] With Eliezer Lipman Hurwitz he edited the short-lived Hebrew periodical Pirḥe tzafon ('Northern Flowers', 1841–43), a review of history, literature, and exegesis.[12] For twenty-one years (1860–81), he directed the paper Ha-Karmel ('The Carmel'; at first a weekly, but from 1871 a monthly), devoted to Hebrew literature and Jewish life, with supplements in Russian and German.[13] The paper contained many academic articles by the leading Jewish scholars of Europe, besides numerous contributions from Fuenn's own pen,[11] including a serialized autobiography entitled Dor ve-dorshav.[14] He opened a new Hebrew printing press in Vilna in 1863.[15]

Besides his scholarly work, Fuenn owned some property in Vilna, including a bathhouse on Zarechye Street.[16] He took an active part in the administration of the city and in its charitable institutions, and was for many years an alderman.[1] In acknowledgment of his services the government awarded him two medals.[5] He also presided over the third Ḥovevei Zion conference in Vilna, at which he, Samuel Mohilever, and Asher Ginzberg were chosen to direct the affairs of the delegate societies.[17]

Fuenn died in Vilna on 11 January 1891. He bequeathed his entire estate to his son, Dr. Benjamin Fuenn, his daughter having converted to Catholicism some years earlier.[16] After Benjamin's death, Fuenn's extensive library was added to the collection of the Strashun Library [he].[18]

Personal life[edit]

Fuenn was married off by his parents at a young age. His first wife died in 1845 while their daughter was still a baby, and his second wife died in the 1848 cholera pandemic, shortly after giving birth to their son Benjamin. He married a third wife in 1851.[7]

His niece was the Labour Zionist politician Manya Shochat.[19]



Title page of Ha-otsar (1903 edition)
  • Imre emet [True Remarks]. Vilna. 1841. Two lectures (one delivered by the author; the other translated from German).[1]
  • Shenot dor va-dor [Years of Generations] (PDF). Königsberg. 1847. Chronology of Biblical history.[1]
  • Fuenn, Samuel Joseph (1847). Talmud leshon Rusyah [Learning the Language of Russia] (in Yiddish). Vilna. A Russian language textbook.[20]
  • Nidḥe Yisrael [Exiles of Israel]. Vilna. 1850. hdl:2027/uc1.a0001234624. A history of the Jews and Jewish literature from the destruction of the Temple to 1170.[21]
  • Kiryah ne'emanah [The Faithful City]. Vilna. 1860. hdl:2027/hvd.32044012709903. A history of the Jews of Vilna, with an introduction by Mattityahu Strashun.[22]
  • Divre ha-yamim li-vene Yisrael [History of the Children of Israel]. Vilna. 1871–77. hdl:2027/hvd.32044014489801. A history of the Jews and their literature, in two volumes (the first dealing with the period extending from the banishment of Jehoiachin to the death of Alexander the Great; the second from Alexander's death to the installation of Simon Maccabeus as high priest and prince).[21]
  • Sofre Yisrael [Writers of Israel]. Vilna. 1871. hdl:2027/uc1.b4213434. Selected letters of Hebrew stylists from Ḥasdai ibn Shaprut to modern times.[6]
  • Bustanai [Bostanai]. Vilna. 1872. hdl:2027/uc1.g0001601632. A fictional narrative based on people from the time of the Geonim, translated a German work of the same name by Lehmann.[6]
  • Ma'amar 'al ha-hashgaḥah [Treatise on Providence]. Vilna. 1872. Hebrew translation of Moses Mendelssohn's Die Sache Gottes.[6]
  • Ha-ḥilluf [The Exchange] (PDF). Vilna. 1873. Hebrew adaptation of Lehmann's Graf und Jude.[6]
  • Ḥukke 'avodat ha-tsava [Military Labour Laws]. Vilna. 1874. hdl:2027/hvd.32044102322211. Russian laws relating to conscription.[6]
  • Ya'akov Tirado [Jacob Tirado]. Vilna. 1874. hdl:2027/hvd.hwmnnz. A Hebrew translation of a German novel by Philippson.[6]
  • Ha-tefillin [The Phylacteries]. Vilna. 1874. hdl:2027/uc1.$b154289. A Hungarian village tale by Hurwitz, translated from German into Hebrew.[6]
  • "Le-toledot R. Sa'adyah Gaon" [Materials for the Biography of Saadia Gaon]. Ha-Karmel. 2. 1871.
  • "Ḥakhme Yisrael bi-Krim ve-gedole Yisrael be-Turkiya" [Jewish Scholars in Crimea and Turkey]. Ha-Karmel. 1861. Biographies of notable Jews of Crimea and Turkey in the 14th–15th centuries.[6]
  • Safah le-ne'emanim [Language for the Faithful]. Vilna. 1881. hdl:2027/uc1.a0000013862. Essay on the value and significance of the Hebrew language and literature in the development of culture among Russian Jews.[6]
  • Ha-yerushshah [The Inheritance]. Vilna. 1884. Hebrew adaptation of Honigmann's Die Erbschaft.[6]
  • Ha-otsar [The Treasury]. Vol. 1. Warsaw. 1884. hdl:2027/uc1.$b109423. A Hebrew and Aramaic dictionary giving Russian and German equivalents for the words of the Bible, Mishnah, and Midrashim.[23]
  • Keneset Yisrael [Assembly of Israel]. Vol. 1. Warsaw. 1886–90. hdl:2027/hvd.hnrlr2. Biographical lexicon of notable Jews.[24]

Unpublished work[edit]

Fuenn left in manuscript form a treatise on Jewish law entitled Darkhei Hashem ('The Paths of God'), written as a response to Alexander McCaul anti-Jewish work The Old Paths.[25] Other unpublished works included Ha-moreh ba-emek ('The Teacher in the Valley'), a commentary on Maimonides' Moreh nevukhim; Mishna berurah ('Clarified Teaching') and Ḥokhmat ḥakhamim ('Wisdom of the Sages'), commentaries on the Mishnah; Ha-Torah veha-zeman ('The Torah and Time'), on the evolution of laws and regulations; Sum sekhel, glosses on the Bible; Pirḥe Levanon ('Flowers of Lebanon'), a collection of verses; and Bein ha-perakim ('Between the Chapters'), a commentary on Pirkei de-Rabbi Eliezer.[18]


  1. ^ While some sources list his date of birth as September or October 1819,[1][2], Fuenn in his autobiography writes that he was born in Vilna on 15 Tishri 5578 (25 September 1817) or 5579 (15 October 1818).[3] Sokolow and Zeitlin agree he was born on 15 Tishri 5579.[4][5][6]


 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainRosenthal, Herman; Broydé, Isaac (1903). "Fuenn, Samuel Joseph". In Singer, Isidore; et al. (eds.). The Jewish Encyclopedia. Vol. 5. New York: Funk & Wagnalls. p. 526.

  1. ^ a b c d e f  Rosenthal, Herman; Broydé, Isaac (1903). "Fuenn, Samuel Joseph". In Singer, Isidore; et al. (eds.). The Jewish Encyclopedia. Vol. 5. New York: Funk & Wagnalls. p. 526.
  2. ^ Reisen, Zalman (1929). "Fin, Shmuel Yosef". Leksikon fun der yidisher literatur, prese, un filologye (in Yiddish). Vol. 3. Vilna: B. Kletskin. pp. 74–75.
  3. ^ Fuenn, Samuel Joseph (1879). Fuenn, S. J. (ed.). "Dor ve-dorshav". Ha-Karmel (in Hebrew). Vilna: Avraham Tzvi Katzenellenbogen. 4: 9–15, 73–80, 193–201, 259–266, 331–338, 461–471.
  4. ^ a b Sokolow, Naḥum (1889). Sefer zikaron le-sofrei Israel ha-ḥayim itanu ka-yom [Memoir Book of Contemporary Jewish Writers] (in Hebrew). Warsaw. pp. 86–87.
  5. ^ a b c Sokolow, Naḥum, ed. (1894). "R. Shmuel Yosef Fin". Ha-Asif (in Hebrew). Warsaw: Isaac Goldman. 6 (1): 141, 174–176.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Zeitlin, William (1890). Bibliotheca hebraica post-Mendelssohniana (in German). Leipzig: K. F. Koehler's Antiquarium. pp. 101–105, 468.
  7. ^ a b Feiner, Shmuel (2008). "Fuenn, Shemu'el Yosef". In Hundert, Gershon (ed.). YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe. Translated by Fachler, David. New Haven: Yale University Press.
  8. ^ Markon, Ḥayyim Leib (1887). Rabinowitz, Saul Pinchas (ed.). "Dor ve-dorshav: ha-rav ha-gadol veha-ḥakham Rabbi Shmuel Yosef Fin mi-Vilna". Keneset Yisrael (in Hebrew). Warsaw: Yosef Unterhendler. 1: 8–15.
  9. ^ Slutsky, Yehuda (2007). "Fuenn, Samuel Joseph". In Berenbaum, Michael; Skolnik, Fred (eds.). Encyclopaedia Judaica. Vol. 7 (2nd ed.). Detroit: Macmillan Reference. p. 305–306. ISBN 978-0-02-866097-4. Gale CX2587506930.
  10. ^ "Rabbi Shmuel Yosef Fin z"l". Ha-Or (in Hebrew). 7 (13): 1. 16 January 1891.
  11. ^ a b Waxman, Meyer. A History of Jewish Literature. Vol. III. New York: Thomas Yoseloff. p. 337–338.
  12. ^ Friedlander, I. (1918). History of the Jews in Russia and Poland, from the Earliest Times Until the Present Day. Vol. II. Translated by Dubnow, S. M. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America. pp. 136, 217.
  13. ^ "HaCarmel". Historical Jewish Press. National Library of Israel. Archived from the original on 21 May 2021. Retrieved 25 November 2021.
  14. ^ Alkoshi, Gedalia (1959). "Shmuel Yosef Fin". In Goren, Natan; et al. (eds.). Yahadut Lita [Lithuanian Jewry] (in Hebrew). Vol. 1. Tel Aviv: Hotsaʼat Am ha-sefer. pp. 438–341.
  15. ^ Финн, Шмуэль Иосеф [Finn, Shmuel Yosef]. Shorter Jewish Encyclopedia (in Russian). Vol. 9. Jerusalem: Society for Research on Jewish Communities. 1999. pp. 187–189. Archived from the original on 30 October 2021.
  16. ^ a b Abramowicz, Hirsz (1999). Abramowicz, Dina; Shandler, Jeffrey (eds.). Profiles of a Lost World: Memoirs of East European Jewish Life Before World War II. Translated by Dobkin, Eva Zeitlin. Detroit: Wayne State University Press. pp. 223–225. ISBN 0814327842.
  17. ^ Baroway, Aaron (1918). "Samuel Mohilewer". Kadimah. New York: Federation of American Zionists: 181–182.
  18. ^ a b Zinberg, Israel (1913). "Финн, Самуил Иосиф"  [Finn, Samuel Joseph]. In Katznelson, J. L. (ed.). Jewish Encyclopedia of Brockhaus and Efron (in Russian). Vol. 15. St. Petersburg: Brockhaus & Efron. pp. 284–287.
  19. ^ Appel, Tamar Kaplan (31 December 1999). "Mania Wilbushewitch Shochat, 1880–1961". Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women. Jewish Women's Archive. Retrieved 28 November 2021.
  20. ^ Kahan, Yankev (29 October 2018). "Shmuel-Yoysef Fin (S. J. Fuenn)". Yiddish Leksikon. Translated by Fogel, Joshua. Retrieved 25 November 2021.
  21. ^ a b Eisenstein, Judah David, ed. (1912). Otsar Yisraʼel [Treasury of Israel] (in Yiddish). Vol. 8. New York: J. D. Eisenstein. pp. 246–247.
  22. ^ Greenbaum, Avraham (March 1993). "The beginnings of Jewish historiography in Russia". Jewish History. 7 (1): 99–105. doi:10.1007/BF01674497. JSTOR 20101146. S2CID 159491930.
  23. ^ Winter, Jakob; Wünsche, August (1896). Die jüdische Literatur seit Abschluss des Kanons: Eine prosaische und poetische Anthologie mit biographischen und literageschichtlichen Einleitungen (in German). Vol. 3. Berlin: Sigmund Mayer. pp. 753, 853, 855, 877–878, 898.
  24. ^ M. P. (19 October 1887). "Shmuel Yosef Fin (1847–1887)". Ha-Yom (in Hebrew). 2 (214): 2–3.
  25. ^ Stern, Eliyahu (2017). "Paul in the Jerusalem of Lithuania: Samuel Joseph Fuenn's Paths of God". Talmudic Transgressions. Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism. 181: 407–417. doi:10.1163/9789004345331_016. ISBN 9789004345331.

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