by Dovid Zayden
Translated by Florence Rubenfeld
Reb Mordechai Dovid that is how we referred to Mordechai David Brandstetter in Tarnow. When we spoke about Reb Mordechai Dovid, we were referring to the tall Jew with a long and smoothly-shaved face and closely-cropped gray hair. He walked down the street with a rather resolute stride, not stopping unless someone actually approached him. He had vibrant blue eyes, creased at the sockets, which glided over everything in his view with a hidden smile, certainly not with haughtiness. Jews doffed their hats in his direction, as if he was a dignitary, even if they just knew him slightly. Somehow, you could not just pass by him in the same way as other Jews you encountered on the street. When he walked down the street it was not a casual matter due to his stature in town.
|Mordechai David Brandstetter
zl (of blessed memory)
He was called 'Reb' even though he was a 'galukh' [i.e. a Jew who has shaved his beard] and he converted Jews in the town and throughout the region into terrible heretics. Whatever stories used to be told about heretics anywhere else in the world would be told in the town about Reb Mordechai Dovid. People actually saw with their own eyes how he read the Zohar with an uncovered head [Note: not wearing a kippah]. With ridicule, he even had a particular Turkish pipe he displayed on the Sabbath with silver engraving that read In Honor of the Sabbath, even though he actually smoked cigarettes. Nonetheless, we had great respect for him. Even though we said all sorts of terrible things about him, we also spoke about him with great respect and affection. In contrast, we spoke differently about the younger apostates who had begun to distance themselves one by one from the religious prayer houses. They were not welcome in the houses of Jewish study because they dishonored their traditions and unbuttoned the collars of their shirt or actually wore a necktie. Reb Mordechai Dovid was considered a great scholar, Jews swore that about him, even those who had never even spoken a single word to him.
How he was addressed in person depended on the religious observance of the person speaking. If the person addressing him was a learned Jew from the older generation, a Jew who categorizes people according to whether or not they are scholarly, then they didn't have, G-d forbid, any fear about calling him Reb Mordechai Dovid. End of story. If it was a modern-day Jew, one with cut sidelocks who dressed in the more modern German or partially-German style, for example a merchant, he addressed Reb Mordechai Dovid with the more formal Mr. Brandstetter. Depending on the circumstances, he was referred to differently. In his role as scholar and apostate, he was called Reb Mordechai Dovid. In his professional life, as a merchant and oil manufacturer, he was called Mr. Brandstetter. The younger generation, who recognized the stature Reb Mordechai Dovid held in the annals of Hebrew literature, combined both names: Reb Mordechai Dovid Brandstetter.
I do not remember whether Reb Mordechai Dovid had any friends in town. In the beginning of the century, one certainly envisions him as having light-hearted chats with the community-writers and the cynical enlightened individuals, who, behind the backs of the elite, skewered the town. From time to time he would demonstrate his critical writing in a pamphlet opposing the young upstarts, the Zionists, along with his colleagues, the hunchback Max Bienenstock (1879 or 18811923), and Dr. Zaltz, the son of the Yidl Mutz (the tailor from the Grabowska). Sometimes two drunken enlightened men would drop by, the first of whom was Fishl Weissman Chajes, a brother of the well-known Rabbi Mordechai Vaysman Chajes, more commonly known as Fishaleh Pyok (the drunk). He was a correspondent from HaMagid and for the Viennese Neue Freie Presse [Note: the New Free Press- a Viennese newspaper], where he would write a few lines about trivial matters, a great fire, or the celebrations for the Kaiser's birthday. Besides that he also had the privilege of soliciting subscriptions for the newspaper and was able to collect a commission for the subscriptions he solicited. The other drunken friend was Shloyme Mendel Haber, who also sometimes wrote for the Hebrew newspapers - a more
respected gentleman. Because of his excessive drinking and lack of a job, he was supported by his family's trust fund and received a daily alcohol 'maintenance' - a half liter of mead - from Chaim Berl, the mead-barkeeper. Yet he still had enough strength and mindset to interpret a biblical passage or engage in a Talmudic discussion in order to confirm that he retained his level of scholarship. He had the ability to discover illicit acts of the prophets and acronyms, etc... In exchange for these words and thoughts, someone would come forward to honor him by buying him a drink in Dovid Leibel's wine bar. Although Shloyme Mendel Haber didn't earn a living, he was a maven of a well-spoken word. In Leibel's beer tavern, you could always find a big crowd at the long table in the front room, where Reb Mordechai Dovid would comfortably speak about both Torah and wisdom.
When these two, Fishl Pijak [the drunk] and Shloyme Mendel HaBehr [the bear] drank, they might wobble out together from the tavern. If they could stand on their own two feet, they meandered over to the Walowa, across from the police station, where Mordechai Dovid lived. Mordechai Dovid was a man who coveted having time after lunch in his house. One knew perfectly well that one could find him at home at that time. To visitors, Mordechai Dovid always had a clear message to impart, about the Torah or the like.
But this was back quite a few years.
When these two -- Fishl and Menachem Mendel - were already long dead in their graves, it became rather quiet for Reb Mordechai Dovid. From time to time he chatted with the assimilated Dr. Goldhammer (c. 1851-1912), who was a gentleman and a wise man. Dr. Goldhammer was the most brilliant speaker and an outstanding jurist, whose greatness was known even by the clerks in the highest courts in Vienna. He never relied solely on jurisprudence and rhetoric. It was rumored that on occasion he would slip a small gift or bribe into someone's hand some older lawyers whispered about this- so that no one would know. Though they were a bit envious, they couldn't deny that he was the greatest. Dr. Goldhammer was actually the only one in town who could impress the great writer Mordechai Dovid with anything; he was quite the European gentleman. Beginning in the 1880s Dr. Goldhammer, who was at that time still a young lawyer and had just arrived in Tarnow from a small shtetl, gave a public lectures in Tarnow about Henrik Ibsen, an author that the world was just starting to become aware of.
There was another indication of how highly the older writer [Mordechai Dovid] regarded the young lawyer [Dr. Goldhammer]. When the first issue of the Yidishe Natzional newspaper was published, in the early days of the Enlightenment, when the first sparks of worldly Jewishness started to appear in the Lemberger Shomer Yisroel, Dr. Goldhammer, ran for office in the Austrian parliament election against the priest Father Stayalovski, under the auspices of a Jewish National Party, which he himself founded for that purpose. That was how the young lawyer. Goldhammer, known to have a silver tongue, became the leader of what were known as the
progressive Jews. These Jews had their own temple, where they prayed in short talises, and they had an organ and a choir befitting what they considered to be the 'finer people.' But Dr. Goldhammer's elevation to national recognition lasted only as long as the election. It had to take another 15 years before the cause was taken up by younger and more ordinary Jews, i.e. shop owners and the bourgeoisie, and they went a step further than just the National. They were Zionists. They founded the Ahavat Tzion (Lovers of Zion) along with the son of tailor Yidele Mutz Dr. Abraham Zalts, Fisher Hollander and the Hebrew teacher, Zacharia Mendl Shapiro, who later was a teacher in Rosh Pinah in the Land of Israel. Afterwards he was in Tel Aviv, and published a book in German here in the 1920s, so nicely entitled: Die Bibel als Ariadne-Faden im Labyrinth der Sprachen [Translation note: The Bible as Ariadne's Thread in the Labyrinth of Language]. They founded Ahavat Tzion (Lovers of Zion) and had taken to building camps in the Land of Israel, set-up an entire movement several years before the end of the 19th century. They even tried to get rabbinical approval for this and were nearly banished by the Belzer Rabbi. Interestingly, the story can be read in Ahad-Ha'am's book Al Parashat Derachim [Translation note: Fork in the Road].
Reb Mordechai Dovid was not impressed by Zionism. The younger folks didn't impress him either. He smiled at them soberly, as he generally did for half of Asia with its Hasidim and Maskilim alike. As for the new type of Hassidim Zionists he considered them average or common. As he got older they did not impress him. In his sixties, he wrote revolutionary songs (which he didn't publish). When he was young he had wanted to turn the world upside down. Consequently he waged war in his earlier writings with the Hasidim including the rabbis of Belz and Ziditshov [Note: a Hasidic dynasty originating in town Ziditshoyv]. Now, as the great enemy is already retreating here comes the person newly-elevated to distinction. He wondered if there anyone left to engage in a conflict with? He viewed the younger Zionists as ridiculous, and one needs to laugh at them a bit true already they were becoming more European, more modern. One did actually learn something in all these years but it did not create a conflict as he felt the young Zionists were ridiculous.
So what remains of Reb Mordechai Dovid's children? One of them, a doctor, Michal Brandstetter, is a fine academic. As for the grandchildren, he didn't know what would become of them, several were younger and remain at home. He had friends, Dr. Goldhammer, a busy person, and in Warsaw a friend named Frischmann. It warmed his heart just thinking of the writer Dovid Frischmann (1859-1922). He said, Oh, that Frischmann, that's one fine man. Once when Frischmann was traveling from Carlsbad, while en route, he made a point to stop in Tarnow to see Mr. Mordechai Dovid. They spent three days together. That was a memorable holiday, not to be forgotten. Reb Mordechai Dovid said that Dovid Frischmann was truly a European and witty man. They simply could not part, and this warmed the older man's heart for many years.
Mr. Mordechai Dovid's last story was the final in a series and was called
Tmunot Krynica (Translation note: Pictures from Krynica). He wrote it last of all. The story did not even get published in the book of Tmunot (pictures), but it truly is a wonderful epilogue to a writer's life. The story is set at the end of the season on the famous Promenade in Krynica. Usually the promenade is full of strolling visitors. In the story, there's only one older person sitting on a bench. The din of the season had passed. The autumn trees explode with faded leaves. Sometimes a breeze shakes up the bare park. At one moment from among the trees- a squirrel comes nearer, jumps up on the bench and sits itself down. Lost in thought, the squirrel sits near a calm gentleman. They sit together on the bench Mordechai Dovid Brandstetter, the greatest Jewish writer of his time and the squirrel from the woods. The story ends like a lyrical poem.
Now all that remains of Mordechai Dovid's engaging writing can be found in Hebrew and Yiddish literature. In Warsaw, Tushiya began publishing his collected works but didn't complete it. They won't move heaven and earth to get it completed. After all, there are so many other great contemporary writers. He doesn't even talk about this. He enjoys it when young people come to him and sometime bring him a new book. He talks about himself to them, sharing that as early as 1896 he spoke with (Micha Josef) Berdyczewski in Carlsbad and told him they needed to publish Bialik. He was the first to treasure him and understand that Bialik was due great respect. Mordechai Dovid expressed his opinions about Hebrew literature to the young visitors. He considered Shalom Aleichem to be a truly great artist because he has standards, especially artistic standards (that was his opinion regarding the volumes he knew). He considered Peretz to be a very talented dilettante simply because he didn't always maintain his own standards. Among the younger writers, Moishe Broderzon (1890-1956) strongly impressed him with his Yiddish-language artistry. As he saw the blossoming of Yiddish literature, he derived great pleasure that once, many years back, several of his anti-Hasidic stories were released in Yiddish translation. He spoke painfully about the collection of a thousand letters by Yiddish writers of his time, which he left behind in his apartment, when he escaped to Vienna fleeing the Russian invasion. He recounted the story of how they disappeared forever. In the confusion of the moment, he grabbed a pillow instead of the letters, so that he'd have something to sleep on. He totally forgot that he was offered several thousand dollars for these letters and left them behind. He heard that during the invasion, S. Ansky had been up in his apartment, searching for what remained, but, it turned out that the letters had already been burned by the Russian officers.
He never stopped writing. When not writing and publishing stories, he jotted down aphorisms. He published quite a bit in the American newspaper, Ha-Do'ar . There wasn't much business for him so any money he earned came in handy. To earn some money, he agreed to an arrangement . Mr. Chaim Neiger, the town's uber-Zionist, came to an agreement with him about buying a library. Once the library was bought, it would revert to a university in Jerusalem in a hundred years' time.
He absolutely didn't want to part with his books. Did they arrive at the library? The poems were in a notebook, which he showed me, about Socialism ( when I was young I was a socialist too). But I found in in the poems only songs against tyrants and aristocrats. Songs of a democrat of the 1860s.
He was then approximately 80 years old.
by Dr. Shmuel Shpan
Translated by Florence (Feyge) Rubenfeld
I wish to be in the service of scholarship,The content of the saying recalled above, which he recited in person in his youth, remained a life-long goal for the then 15-year-old pupil from the Tarnow synagogue, later the future councilor and university-professor, Dr. Leon Kellner.
to be an aid to my people.
Leon Kellner was born in 1859 in Tarnow, the oldest son of Jewish grocers, Rafael and Lea Kellner. In their early years of marriage, Dr. Kellner's parents lived in rather difficult conditions. None the-less they decided to give their beloved and coddled child the very best upbringing in all fields, and additionally strove for the child to possess a thorough knowledge of Judaic studies inducing Tanach and Gemora.
Because of this, when the child turned 3, they enrolled him in a Cheder, so that in time he would learn the Hebrew aleph-bet. By that time the Kellners' financial situation had improved somewhat, and they opened a small grocery business, which they operated for many years in a building on the corner of Kishover Street in Tarnow.
Dr. Kellner himself writes about his childhood in his article, The First Day of School, printed in 1927 in the periodical Menorah. For the first few months he grudgingly attended the Cheder, and the teaching assistant had to put up with a great deal before it was time to dismiss the child to go home from the Cheder.
But the situation quickly changed for the better to the extent that bright little Kellner became not only diligent in his studies, but also the best student in his class. Therefore, every Thursday the rebbe entrusted him
to review the material that they had studied during the week with the older students. As fate would have it, even at this young age, Leibish (Leon) Kellner as he was then called, was teaching others. Unbeknownst to himself, he was preparing for the teaching profession, which in later years would lead him to achieve a position as a university chairman.
His outstanding intellectual abilities were evident not only in his youth, but years before in his childhood, witnessed by the fact that at the age of 8, Leibish Kellner had already written a treatise containing commentaries on the weekly parshas (Torah readings) and the Tanach. No wonder that his elder future friend, Dr. Moritz Gudemann, the Chief Rabbi of Vienna, used to write and speak about Kellner as the Child Prodigy of Tarnow.
When Leon Kellner turned 10, his parents decided, despite their limited finances, to increase his level of learning. His parents, especially his mother, felt that their bright son needed more intellectual stimulation and that his academics could be improved. Their concerns were that his Judaic studies, including Tanach and Talmud, as well as his secular education needed to be enhanced. Although
|Dr. Leon Kellner, zl|
they didn't have the temerity to enroll him in the Algemeiner Shul. They decided, in order to achieve their plan, that they needed to arrange a private teacher for him. Searching for one, they happened upon David Shpitzer, who was at that time a student in the Higher Gymnasium in Tarnow.
As fate would have it, 50 years later, under the protectorate of Prince (Jozef) Lubomirski, the Pro-Palestine Committee was founded in Poland. At the first official meeting, Prof. Dr. Ribovski, professor of the English language at the Cracow University (who had been a student of Dr. Kellner during his studies in Vienna) expressed his deep respect for Dr. Kellner. He further stated, even though Dr. Kellner hailed from Poland, he was better versed in English literature than native English professors from the universities there. Suddenly a councilor who was present at the session and was on the highest council of the land (Governing Board) stood up. To everyone's surprise and delight, he declared, that when he was a still a student in Tarnow, he had been Dr. Leon Kellner's private tutor for secular studies.
Looking back, it was Kellner's parents engagement of a private teacher for their son's secular studies, that was a critical juncture in the life of young Kellner and absolutely determined his future.
As we have already written, ever since childhood, it was clear that Leon Kellner was gifted with extraordinary skill and intellectual abilities. He was very competent in all of his studies. No wonder, that to the great satisfaction of his private teacher (whom Leon's parents used to call 'The German Teacher') the young pupil made great progress in his secular studies. He exhibited a particular interest in geography and foreign languages.
Insofar as young Kellner learned secular studies very diligently and dedicated many hours of each day to it, he didn't for any time period stop learning Tanach and Talmud. His parents wanted to encourage him in that direction and enrolled him to study with Rabbi Yeshua Mann, who was considered to be among the wisest Talmud scholars in Tarnow. Only the older and most capable of the young men in Tarnow and the surrounding area were permitted to study with him.
Among Rabbi Yeshua's older students Leibish (Leon) Kellner took the place of honor, even though he was the youngest one there. Because of his diligence, he quickly became the pride of Rabbi Yeshua, whom the young Kellner esteemed very much throughout his life, always recalling him fondly. However, with time, young Kellner developed a change in his views on the best method of learning Jewish and religious studies. The more he
pursued his secular studies, the more critical he became of the the rules and injunctions set forth in the Tanach and Talmud.
As chance would have it, while studying Tanach, young Kellner paused at the chapter that described the Garden of Eden, where the first human beings lived, Adam and Eve. He noticed the fact that, according to the Tanach, the Garden of Eden was located in the place from which four rivers flow, among them the Nile, Euphrates and Tigris. These various Tanach stories didn't much please the then 13-year-old Kellner, since from his geography lessons he already knew that the source of the Nile was not located in the same place, from where the Euphrates flows. Disturbed, he turned to his father, Rafael Kellner, who also was knowledgeable in Tanach, and asked him to explain the discrepancy between the Tanach and geography.
The father and son decided to determine what is said about this by the greatest, and to this day, best commentator about Tanach and Talmud Rabbi Yitzhak Ben Shlomo (Rashi). When the father showed his son in the text that Rashi held the same opinion as the Tanach with regard to the source of the rivers, the younger Kellner, not having in mind that this could be conceived as heretical, immediately answered that Rashi made a mistake.
This infuriated the elder Kellner so much, that he gave his coddled son a slap on the face. He immediately fired the student who gave his son secular lessons, and destroyed all his non-Jewish books.
But even this slap couldn't change Young Kellner's newly-held beliefs. Nor did it force him to abandon his secular studies. From now on he studied all secular studies on his own, without the help of the student tutor. He did this secretly, without any help at home and did so for the most part in the fields or in the meadows outside Tarnow, which wasn't difficult to find from the house on Koshover Street, where his parents lived.
Once it happened that young Kellner was sitting in the meadow and studying Latin grammar. Tired from his studies, he fell asleep alongside his book. Just then a professor from the Tarnow Gymnasium happened by. Seeing a book alongside the sleeping Hasidic young man, he picked it up and was certain that this was a Latin grammar book. At that moment Kellner woke up and a conversation ensued between him and the professor, after which the professor was convinced, that the Hasidic young man had an exceptional understanding of the rules of Latin grammar. In the morning the professor told his students about the encounter with the Jewish boy and strongly praised him. The students in his class retold the story to their parents and eventually it reached Kellner's father and mother.
The community and Kellner's parents were very concerned that their son, not taking into consideration the fact that his father had forbidden it, had disobeyed them. Yet Leon Kellner continued to study secular subjects.
After this event, something else concerning happened on a particular morning when he came to pray in the synagogue. It was discovered that hidden inside his prayer book was a secular book. Therefore Kellner was forbidden to come to the synagogue. This was a powerful slap in the face to his religious parents.
All of this led the elder Kellner to seek advice from a certain Mr. Feit, who in Tarnow was known as a wise and honest man. He was a religion teacher in the Tarnow public schools. After this consultation it was decided that the parents should send young Kellner to Breslau, where a traditional but progressive Jewish theological seminary was located. The thought was that if he completed his studies there, young Kellner would become a District Rabbi. They believed that his studies would ensure that he was both knowledgeable in Tanach and Talmud as well as receive a fine secular education. In this way Kellner's parents felt, at least in part, they would achieve their dream of having their talented son become a rabbinic scholar. Kellner was at this point 15 years old.
After the entrance exam, young Kellner was admitted to the Jewish Theological Seminary of Breslau (on the tract that had a higher course of study). The seminary was the first modern rabbinical seminary in Europe. His teachers as well as his parents thought that surely Leon would grow up to be a renowned District Rabbi.
However, what transpired was completely different. Before finishing his second academic year young Leon went to the seminary director and announced to him that he was completely dissatisfied with the manner of teaching in the seminary. Furthermore, he stated that he had originally agreed to come to Breslau to study Tanach and Talmud because he believed he would be taught by esteemed scholars such as the Professors Philipson and Graetz. Professor Graetz was known to be an innovative Judaic studies educator as well as a historian. This turned out not to be the case. In his first year of study, he observed that his professors in the seminary taught using the same traditional and rigid methods that were employed by his teachers in Tarnow. In other words he left his parents' home and his birthplace unnecessarily.
After listening to young Kellner's This I Believe speech, the director understood that Leon Kellner would never be a rabbi. He advised him to travel to Bilitz and make an effort to be admitted to the German gymnasium there. The plan was that after he received his secular degree there, if he would want to, he could come back to the seminary, where without difficulty he would be able to complete his rabbinical studies.
This discussion took place in the year 1878, and after a brief consideration young Kellner decided to take the director's advice. By May 1, 1878 he was already in Bilitz, fortified with a letter of recommendation to the renowned Bilitzer businessman Herr Scheingut. After several days in town, he went off to the gymnasium to take the exam and without additional obstacles he was admitted into Level Seven. After two years of study, in the year 1880, he received his diploma and in the fall of the
same year he travelled to Vienna and enrolled in the Department of Philology at the University of Vienna, where he studied classical languages, but for the most part dedicated himself to English and French language.
For the entire period of his university studies, young Kellner supported himself by giving lessons to children of wealthy families in Vienna, such as Karol Zaylor, Sabatka and Frank Meyer.
As a student in the sixth university semester, the very capable and industrious Leon Kellner started to work on a dissertation, On the Syntax of English Verbs with Regard to Shakespeare. Eventually, renowned individuals such as then professors Councilors Schiffer and Heinl recognized this work as brilliant. Immediately after his vacation, Kellner took a special exam, in which he earned the highest score as well as additional awards. At the end of 1883 he was granted the title of Doctor of Philosophy.
After receiving his doctorate, he began applying for different teaching positions. He was offered a position in the Real Gymnasium in Vienna. Because the salary for such a job was very low, a mere 60 guilder a month, which in his opinion would not suffice even to modestly support a family, Dr. Kellner started to look around to make some earnings on the side. Of great benefit to him was his broad knowledge of traditional Jewish subjects which he obtained in his youth, studying in the Tarnow synagogues and in the Jewish Theological Seminary in Breslau. Thanks to this he received a second teaching post (as a teacher of religion) in one of the Viennese gymnasiums.
Having secured two salaries, Dr. Kellner began thinking in earnest about getting married to Fraulein Anna Weiss, whom he happened to meet for the first time in Bilitz, in the home of Mr. Scheingut, to whom he had presented his letter of recommendation from Tarnow.
Their wedding took place on the 12th of February in the year 1884.
Anna Weiss, Dr. Kellner's wife, was a daughter of Shlomo and Clara Weiss. Shloyme Weiss was a renowned Talmudist, originally from Hungary and his wife was descended from a renowned Hasidic family in Bialystok.
After getting married, Anna Weiss became well known in the literary circles thanks to her very successful translations into German of renowned English and French writers and also translations from German to English and French.
The couple, Leon and Anna Kellner, had three children two daughters and one son. Two of them their daughter, Paula, and son, Victor, long-time colonists, live until today in Binyamina (Israel).
Dr. Leon Kellner's creative spirit knew nothing of the concept of 'rest'. By the 24th of February 1884 in the well-known journal German Weekly Magazine edited by Friedjung, he published his scholarly work titled Schopenhauer as Linguistic Scholar. On the basis of this particular work he was immediately recognized in literary circles as a respected writer with a great deal of knowledge.
Dr. Kellner was of the correct opinion, in order to remain an excellent professor of English in the full sense of the word, one must acquaint oneself properly with the life and manner of the English world. Not just by reading books and English periodicals, but by personally living among the English in their country. As a result of that point of view, it was clear to him, that he must relocate to England, if not full-time, at least for a specified time period. This was the reason for his frequent excursions to London and other British cities.
Dr. Kellner traveled to London for the first time in the year 1885, in order to spend a part of the school vacation there. A year later, in the year 1886, he spent the entire vacation period in London, along with his wife. After his return to Vienna, Dr. Kellner set his goal of studying for the teacher qualifying exams, which he completed with a brilliant result and immediately received the position of Professor of English and French in the Upper Real Gymnasium in the third district of Vienna.
By the year 1887 he began to receive a stipend from the Austrian education ministry. These extra funds allowed him to travel out of Austria to England, in order to immerse himself in English literature. During that visit he collected material to write two important scholarly works. On his return to Vienna he re-worked and published them in the year 1889. One of these works was called Historical Outlines of English Accidence of Richard Morris. (Revised and completed by Dr. Leon Kellner), and the second his original work with the title Historical Outlines of English Syntax.
Both books, published by the renowned London publishing house Macmillan, were regarded as very important, and till this day exams are given on these books in England, Canada, and the English colonies for all those who want to enter university. In the above mentioned countries people don't know about an institution such as the 'matura' [ed note: secondary school exit exam given in some European countries]. In some English speaking countries, everyone who completes high school and wishes to enter university, must take an entrance exam, and the candidate is questioned with regard to material from two books authored by Dr. Leon Kellner. In this way tens of
thousands of students in the British Empire, who want to benefit from university, must study the books of the Tarnow Jew, Dr. Leon Kellner. This is a distinct satisfaction for Jews as well as non-Jews from Poland, and a particular joy for Tarnow Jewry, from whose origins Dr. Kellner came from and where he first received a Judaic and general education.
Once again, during the following two years , Dr. Kellner spent school vacations in London, establishing friendly relations with many literary and political personalities and worked very diligently in various museums, libraries, and archives. The fruit of these undertakings was --- two very worthwhile books -- based on material by William Caxton (b. 1422) which he translated and then published as a result of the recommendation of an English scholarly organization.
One of these books was discovered by Dr. Kellner and was originally published as a fifteenth century novel under the assumed name Blanchardine and Eglantine and translated with a change in language and content. The second book an original work by Dr. Kellner was called Caxton's Syntax and Style.
This second book was his own work. In the year 1890 he received the title Docent of Vienna University for his complete philological work. In his new position he had full recognition of his scholarship on the part of students and professors.
In 1891, after a year and a half's work in this new position, he was appointed as full professor of English and French languages in the Upper Real Gymnasium in Opava (Trafav), where he relocated. In Opava as well he had a calm and pleasant life, acquiring there a large number of friends and admirers, as well as love and recognition on the part of the students, although he was not personally satisfied with the remuneration of this position. He always thought of returning to Vienna, in order to have the opportunity to continue studies at the university. This finally transpired in 1894, when he was transferred back to Vienna and again became a lecturer at the university.
* * *
In the year 1896 Dr. Kellner receives a letter from Dr. Theodore Herzl, in which the latter invited him to an important meeting regarding Zionistic problems. Dr. Kellner accepted the invitation and until his last breath he remained an active member of the World Zionist Organization, which at that time was unusual given that he was a senior government official. This particular fact indicates
that when it concerned important national matters for the Jewish community, Dr. Kellner was prepared to risk even his career.
He actively participated in the efforts to call together the first Zionist Congress, was co-editor of the first official Zionist weekly, The World and for the first edition wrote a wonderful article Earl Beaconsfield Benjamin Disraeli.
In the year 1898 Dr. Kellner again received a paid one-year leave to travel to England, in order to deepen his knowledge of the field of English language and literature. During this time he wrote a greater number of articles in specialized journals and published a very significant book entitled A Year in England, issued by the world-renowned publisher Cato.
After returning from his annual leave, he continued his work as a docent in Vienna University and taught in the Vienna Real Gymnasium. Two years later he was nominated for a professorship in English literature and language in the university in Chernivtsi (Tshernovitz, now in Western Ukraine). This nomination was closely connected to his settling in Chernivtsi and was a factor in the radical change in his life up to that point. He immediately found himself in a different Jewish environment, with another way of life and mentality, which wasn't exactly the Viennese Jewish community he had become familiar with.
As a person who was endowed with an extraordinary intellectual sense, Dr. Kellner, in the first days after his arrival in Chernivtsi, understood that the moment had come for him to carry out what he had foreseen in his youth as his mission: I wish to be an aid to my people. Pondering in which direction now to steer his activities, he came to the conclusion that in the first place one must uplift the spirits of the Bukovina Jews and at least partially improve the economic circumstances of the greatest masses of the Jewish poor the workers and craftsmen.
To reach this goal, Dr. Kellner set up in the main city of Bukovina a new institution by the name Toynbee Hall which was a sort of folk university and modeled after London's Toynbee Hall. Within a short time he was fortunate to interest in the institution a couple of benefactors, Marcus and Anna Kintzlinger, who were well-known in Chernivtsi because of their generosity towards poor and needy Jews. Now they also granted to the folk university a quarter million pre-war Austro-Hungarian crowns.
With the support of such a large donation, a substantial beautiful building was built in Chernivtsi. The building contained larger and smaller rooms, a large and beautiful concert hall, lecture halls, meeting
rooms, entertainment areas, and other event spaces which were always accessible to the entire Chernivtsi community for an additional fee. Those participating in these endeavors were offered tea and snacks and were always served by the wealthy society women and by the Kintzlinger couple themselves.
In the same building, the Kintzlingers arranged for a dormitory to be constructed to house poor Jewish students and all expenses for maintaining such a dormitory were covered by the Kintzlingers.
In this way Dr. Leon Kellner was able to diminish the antagonism between the propertied class and the broad masses of the Jewish poor thanks to the often common time spent together during various cultural events at Toynbee Hall. In addition, through these frequent lectures and presentations by recognized scholars and pedagogues, the Jewish knowledge and cultural level of the working class was significantly raised.
In order to mitigate the difficult material conditions of the Jewish population of Chernivtsi, Dr. Kellner worked with the Parisian Ika to establish in Chernivtsi a bank that would issue loans at low interest or even interest-free.
Thanks to Dr. Kellner's efforts the Jewish National Council was created in Chernivtsi, which was officially recognized as the representative of the Bukovina Jews and successfully fought to give Jews the rights that were due to them. The council also published a weekly titled The Jewish People's Council.
In those days the Austrian government decreed elections to the Bukovina parliament, the Jewish National Council requested that Dr. Kellner announce his candidacy for deputy. Disregarding the strong opposition on the part of his parents and wife, that he should not run, in particular when the then institutional leadership wished to give a hearing to Dr. Kellner, as a result of the high government position which he occupied. They felt that he shouldn't appear as an official Zionist candidate in the campaign with the government candidate, nonetheless he put his candidacy forward and was elected to the Bukovina parliament, where with great benefit to the Jewish community, he admirably defended its interests and opposed votes which could have brought misfortune to the Jews.
There was great enthusiasm in the Jewish community at the successful election of Dr. Kellner as deputy. This was supported by the fact that after the publication of the election results, Dr. Kellner wanted to travel home from the town hall. Jewish academics unhitched the horses from his wagon and harnessed themselves, in order to bring him home. At his house, they carried him in their arms into his home, shouting Long Live Dr. Kellner!
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