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Rabinowicz, Oskar K.

(1902–1969), educator, journalist, and Zionist politician. Oskar Rabinowicz was born in Aspern, Austria, but was raised in Boskovice, Moravia. His father, a Hebrew teacher and cantor, had grown up in the household of the Sadegora rebbe but gave his son a secular education.

Rabinowicz attended the nearby University of Brno and then Charles University in Prague, where he received a doctorate in philosophy in 1924; he also published his dissertation on Spinoza. As a student, he became involved with the Zionist movement, having attended the Twelfth Zionist Congress in 1921 as an aide to Naḥum Sokolow. In 1924, Rabinowicz moved to Brno, where he became a correspondent for the Jüdische Volkstimme, edited by Max Hickl; he wrote regular columns on Zionist and cultural issues until the newspaper’s demise in 1932. He also wrote for Selbstwehr, Židovské zpravy, and Tagesbote aus Böhmen. One of the longer articles on Zionist Revisionism indicated the direction of his interest in Jewish nationalism.

Barred from holding a post at the University of Brno (which required that all faculty be baptized), Rabinowicz turned to teaching at the secondary level, becoming the cofounder of a new Jewish gymnasium in Brno, where he also taught history. His chief concern, however, was Zionism. When Vladimir Jabotinsky organized a new party, the Union of Zionist Revisionists, Rabinowicz became one of his most ardent disciples after 1923.

Rabinowicz established the Czechoslovak branch of the Revisionist Party, and in 1929 was sent by Jabotinsky to London to work for the party’s central executive. He remained there for two years. At his father’s request, he then went to Berlin to study for the rabbinate at the Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums. He was ordained in 1933 but never practiced as a rabbi, although he gave occasional sermons at the Pinkas synagogue in Prague.

Throughout the 1930s, Rabinowicz lectured widely in central and Eastern Europe on behalf of Revisionist Zionism. In addition to serving on the executive of Jabotinsky’s New Zionist Organization, he was a member of the Zionist Actions Committee of the Jewish Agency and was chairman of the Committee to Boycott Nazi Germany. Rabinowicz helped organize emigration to Palestine and continued to write, publishing three books in the 1930s. In 1934, he founded the weekly Medina Iwrit–Judenstaat (The Jewish State), which he edited until it ceased publication in 1939.

Rabinowicz’s career after 1939, when he and his family fled to London (particularly after Jabotinsky’s death in 1940), was increasingly involved with banking and finance, which his father had taken up in the 1920s with his son’s occasional help. Rabinowicz wrote many articles and five books in English, in addition to editing volume 2 (1971) of The Jews of Czechoslovakia. His activism, however, declined, especially after the founding of Israel, to be replaced by efforts on behalf of Jewish and Israeli charities and causes. In 1956, he moved to the United States, where he died in 1969.

Suggested Reading

Avigdor Dagan, ed., The Jews of Czechoslovakia, 3 vols. (Philadelphia, 1968–1984); Judith K. Tapiero and Theodore K. Rabb, “Oskar Rabinowicz: A Biographical Sketch,” in Sir Solomon de Medina, by Oskar Rabinowicz, pp. 121–142 (London, 1974).