Levin, Shmaryahu

(1867–1935)
   Russian Zionist leader. Shmaryahu Levin was from an early age drawn into the Chovevei Zion movement. After being educated in Berlin and Koenigsberg, he served as a preacher in Russia. With the abortive Russian revolution of 1905, he was elected to the first Duma (parliament) as a spokesman for Jewish rights. When the Duma was dissolved, Levin was forced to leave Russia for good and moved to Berlin, where he worked for a while with the German-Jewish relief organization (Hilfsverein der Deutschen Juden).
   He attended the Zionist Congresses from 1900 onwards, and in 1911 was elected a member of the Zionist Executive. He differed from his colleagues in having little taste for party politics or committee meetings. Levin was primarily an exponent, a dazzling talker. He was unrivalled as a Zionist lecturer in Hebrew, Yiddish, Russian, German or English, and became known as the Great Maggid (a maggid was an itinerant Jewish preacher in the small towns of Russia). His lectures were lucid, logical and erudite, spiced with anecdotes and sharp Jewish wit.
   Levin spent the war years in the United States, and frequently visited there later with WEIZMANN on behalf of the Keren Hayesod (Palestine Foundation Fund). Weizmann said of him that he educated a whole generation of American Zionists. Old-timers vividly recall his incisive, deeply etched features, the shock of grey hair swept back from the high forehead, the little pointed beard and the humorous eyes and mouth. Many stories survive about his gift for repartee. The last years of Shmaryahu’s life were devoted mainly to cultural work and writing. From 1929 to 1932 he published a celebrated autobiography in three volumes, entitled Childhood in Exile, Youth in Revolt and The Arena. Many years after his death, his English translator Maurice SAMUEL produced a one- volume summary called Forward from Exile (1967).

Who’s Who in Jewish History after the period of the Old Testament. . 2012.

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