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Meir Balaban, Majer Balaban (1874, Lviv - 1941, Warsaw Ghetto) - one
of the most outstanding historians of Polish and Galician Jews,
founder of Polish Jewish historiography.
Balaban was born in 1874 in western Ukrainian city of Lviv (then known
as Lemberg in Austria-Hungary's centre of Ukrainian-Polish Galicia. He
received a traditional education at home and receiving also a
traditional Jewish schooling in a Heder School.
[ Biography and initial studies on Jewish history
He studied law, philosophy and history at Lviv University.
Accidentally he encountered the materials of history of Jews in Kraków
and being asked by Kraków Jewish kahal, he wrote the first volume of
"The History of Jews in Cracow and Kazimiria 1304-1655" (Kraków,
1912). It gave him some reputation in Lviv University and Dr.
M.Balaban won a high ministry scholarship, and departed for a long
scientific trip to Poznañ, Berlin and Danzig. He stayed for several
months in Kraków collecting there materials for the second volume of
the history of Kraków Jews. Simultaneously he started the publication
"The history of Jewish system in Poland" in "Evreiskaia Starina"
magazine. He taught in different schools in the Lviv region and Lviv
combining studying with teaching and research. He spent the first year
of World War I in Vienna teaching at the gymnasium for Galician
refugees. The next three years, he spent in Lublin as a referent
(reporter) on Jewish matters by the Austrian General Government. At
these posts, he organised many Jewish kahals and gymnasiums. Together
with Dr. Tohn and Dr. Moses Schorr, Balaban was one of the founders of
the Institute of Jewish Sciences in Warsaw. Here Balaban teached the
Jewish history and led the historical seminar which issued many works
on the history of Jews in Poland and in particular in the Polish
kingdom. Balaban had also published "The history of Jews in Galicia"
in 1916. Since 1903 Balaban led the review of the bibliography of the
history of Jews in Poland in the Polish historical magazine
"Kwartalnik historyczny". During nine years Balaban had been
administering the seminary "Takhkemoni" (1920-1929) and for 1920-1921
he had been also the rector of the gymnasium "Askola". The fate of
Balaban was also tragic like Schorr's one. He died in the Warsaw
ghetto in 1941.
[ Works on the history of Polish Jews
He was the first outstanding historian of Polish Jewry and he is
fairly considered as the founder of the historiography of Polish Jews.
Among his works the most important ones are:
Jews of Lviv (Lemberg) on the eve of 17th century (1916);
History of Jews of Cracow (2 vols, 1931)
Jewry of Lublin (1919).
He wrote also a detailed article about the Vaad of four lands for the
11th volume of "History of Jewish people". He published hundreds of
articles which are devoted to the researches of rabbis', scholars',
community leaders' activities as well as the history of bloody
pogroms, about the Karaims in Poland and other topics. All they were
published mostly in German, Polish or in Yiddish. Balaban's researches
written in Hebrew on the history of movement's of Shabatai Zwi and
Jakob Frank are especially important to note. They are resumed in his
book "Le toldot ha-tnua ha-frankit" (The history of the Frank
movement, 2 vols., 1934-1935). It was published in Tel Aviv. Balaban
had written also "The history of the progressive synagogue in Lvov"
(in polish original "Historia postepovej synagogi we Lwowie") as well
as "The Bibliography of the history of Jews in Poland during
1900-1930" which encompasses more than 10.000 entries.
Since 1906 he published many scientific articles in the newspaper
"Kurjer Lwowski". The first more essential essays appeared in the
almanac "Rocznik Zydowske" in 1902-1906:
"Izak Nachmanovicz, zyd Lwowski XVI wieku" (Isaac Nachmanowicz - the
Polish Jew of the 16th century);
"Josefus Flavius, "Charakterystyka czlowieka i historyka na tle
wspolczesnych wypadkow" (Josephus Flavius, the person's characteristic
based on specific cases and events, 1904);
"Makabeusze" (Maccabees, 1905);
"Lewko Balaban, burmistrz kahalny Lwowski z konca XVIII wieku" (Leo
Balaban, the burgmeister of Lviv of the end of the 17th century).
Some of these articles became the preparation for the mentioned
already Balaban's work entitled "Zydzi Lwowscy na przelomie XVI i XVII
wieku" (Jews of Lviv in the break of the 16th and 17th centuries ,
1906, 577 pages of the text and 188 pages of the materials). Balaban
was awarded the first premium of Ipolit Wawelberg for this work. The
work consists of 3 parts. In the first part Balaban depicts the live
history of the external events of the community, discussing in details
the clamorous deal of Lviv Jews with Jesuits and the eager leaders of
the community of the Nachman family; the second part is devoted to the
detailed contemplation over the community self-administration and the
Rabbinate and the last part consists of a few essays about the trade,
crafts, family life, and like that. Balaban used rich archival data of
the Archive of Bernardines in Lviv as well as of the Lviv City Archive
and the Archive of Jewish Community in Lviv.
Bibliography of Balaban's publcations in Polish with English
Balaban, M. Historja i literatura zydowska ze szczegolnem
uwzglednieniem historji zydow w Polsce (Jewish history and culture
with the detailed review of the history of Jews in Poland).
Balaban, M. Przewodnik po zydowskich zabytkach Krakowa z 13 rycinami z
24 rytograwjurami na oddzielnych tablicach z 2 planami (Guide on
Jewish places and monuments of Cracow). Cracow: KAW, 1990.
Balaban, M. Smutna rocznica (Sorrowful annivessary), Chwila (Zionist
daily), Lviv, 30 July 1920.
Balaban, M. Dr. Emanuel de Jona, lekarz nadworny Jana Trzecigo (Dr.
Emmanuel de Jona, court physician of Jan III), Chwila, Lviv, 4 March
Balaban, M. Z wczorajszego Lwowa (From the past of Lviv), Chwila
(Zionist daily), Lviv, July - December 1925.
Balaban, M. Chassidica. Przeglad literatury o chasydyzmie z lat
ostatnich (Hassidica. Review of recent literature about the
Hassidism). Chwila (Zionist daily), Lviv, Daily no.: 7--9, 11, 12, 14,
16-19 July, 1932.
Balaban, M. Budowa i ornamentyka synagog w Polsce (Structure and
ornamentation of synagogues in Poland), Chwila (Zionist daily), Lviv,
30 December 1925.
Balaban, M. Do dziejow Ormian lwowskich. Traktat o asymilacyi
(Concernig the history of Armenians in Lviv. Treatise about the
assimilation), Chwila (Zionist daily), Lviv, 14 January, 1921.
Balaban, M. Napoleon a Zydzi (Napoleon and the Jews), Chwila (Zionist
daily), Lviv, 30 December, 1925.
Balaban, M. Zydzi polsko-litewski w pierwszym roku wojny europejskiej
1914-1915. Przeglad bibliograficzny (Polish Lithuanian Jews in the
first year of European War 1914-1915. Bibliographical review). In
"Chwila", August - September 1922.
Balaban, M. Auto da Fe w Lwowie w r. 1728 (Auto da Fe in Lviv in 1728).
Chwila, 14 January 1921.
Balaban, M. Drukarnie hebrajskie w Zolkwie i Lwowie (Hebrew printing
shops in Zhovkva and Lviv). In "Chwila" (Zionist daily), Lviv, 11
Balaban, M. Nauka Zydowska w Golusie i jej dom w Ojczyznie (Jewish
Science in the Dispersion and its House in Motherland) in "Chwila"
(Zionist daily), Lviv, 2 April 1925, pp. 9-11.
Balaban, M. Zydowska biblioteka gminna we Lwowie. Wspomnienie. (Jewish
Communla Library in Lviv - Recollections) in "Chwila" (Zionist daily),
Lviv, 7 January 1922, p.2.
Balaban, M. Chassidica, przeglad literatury o chasydyzmie z lat
ostatnich (Chassidica, the review of the literature on Hassidism from
the last years) in "Chwila" (Zionist daily), Lviv, August-September
Balaban, M. Korespondencja Lublinera z Lewelem (Correspondence of
Lubliner with Lewel) in "Miesiecznik Zydowski" (Poland's Jewish
monthly), no. 4, 1933, pp. 289-321.
Balaban, M. Zalmaw, burmistrz kahalu w Drohobyczu w pol. XVII w.
(Zalmaw - Jewish community mayor of Drohobych) in "Dziennik Polski"
(Polish daily), January 1900.
The article is based on Roman Zakharii's (wikipedia editor and
contributor of this entry) M.A. thesis on M. Balaban and is
interest-free contribution of the author to wikipedia being dedicated
to the memory of Meir Balaban.
Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meir_Balaban"