Steinberg, Isaac Nahman

(1888–1957)
   Russian revolutionary and Yiddish writer. Steinberg’s career was a curious contradiction. He came from a traditional Latvian home and remained an observant Jew all his life. For instance, his thesis for a doctorate in law was a book on penal law in the Talmud. At the same time he was an important member of the Bolshevik faction of the Russian Social Democratic party. For a brief period after the 1917 revolution, he served as the people’s commissar (minister) for justice. Falling out of favour with the regime, he left the Soviet Union in 1923 and twenty years later settled in New York.
   He was a prolific writer in Yiddish, an editor of Jewish publications, and a director of the Institute of Jewish Studies (YIVO). During this period he was still struggling to reconcile communist ideology with Jewish ethics. With the rise of Hitler, Steinberg founded the Freeland (territorialist) League, and made abortive attempts to establish Jewish colonies in Australia and in Surinam.

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

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