Fahn, Ruben

Fahn, Ruben or Reuven [Фан, Рубен], b 28 February 1878 in Starun, Stanyslaviv county, Galicia, d ? Jewish writer, ethnographer, historian, and folklorist. Born to the family of a Jewish entrepreneur, Fahn received a traditional Jewish education and later studied at a gymnasium in Stanyslaviv. In 1897 he moved to Halych, where he engaged in trade, owned a shop, and worked as a publicist. Fahn researched the history of the local Karaite community and published a monograph titled Aus dem Leben der Karaiten (1912; written in Yiddish, translated into German by Hermann Blumenthal, published in Lviv). When not writing or working in commerce, Fahn often traveled to Lviv, where he met such Jewish men of letters as Joseph Hayyim Brenner, Moses Kleinmann, and Gershom Bader. At home in Halych, his shop was akin to a literary salon for such intellectuals. His social and cultural interests later carried him to Berlin, where he travelled in 1911 as an active member of the Mizrahi Orthodox Zionist movement. Before the First World War Fahn moved to Vienna, where he worked as a librarian in the local community and studied Judaism. He was drafted to the Austrian army shortly thereafter and finally demobilized in November 1918. At that time, Fahn returned to Galicia and, finding his home and property in Halych destroyed, settled in Stanyslaviv where he was secretary of the Jewish National Council of Eastern Galicia and supported Jewish neutrality in the Ukrainian-Polish War in Galicia, 1918–19. His position was eliminated by the Polish government in May or June 1919, and during the interwar period, he worked as a clerk of a Jewish public institution in Stanyslaviv.

In 1924 Fahn travelled to Palestine, where he founded a colony for emigrants from Eastern Galicia; fearing economic crisis in the region, however, he decided in 1925 to return to Galicia. In 1927 he was appointed secretary to the Jewish community of Stanyslaviv. There, he organized a library where he worked until the beginning of the Second World War. In 1933, he published his Geshikhte fun der Yidisher Natsional-Autonomie inem Period fun der Mayrev Ukrainishen Republik (in Yiddish; Ukrainian edition published in 2019). Fahn was the author of fourteen monographs and brochures and more than two hundred articles and reports variously written in Hebrew, Yiddish, and German. The place, time, and circumstances of Fahn’s death are unknown, and he is estimated to have died between 1939 and 1944.

Kizilov, Mikhail. ‘Scholar, Zionist, and Man of Letters: Reuven Fahn (1878–1939/1944) in the Karaite Community of Halicz,’ Kwartalnik Historii Żydów 4 (2012)
Kizilov, Mikhail. ‘Reuven Fahn and Isaac Troki: A Research Note on Two Articles Published in “Karaite Archives” 2 (2014),’ Karaite Archives 3 (2015)
Pavlyshyn, Оleh. ‘Ievreis'ka spil'nota Skhidnoï Halychyny 1918–1919 rr. u konteksti naratyvu Rubena Fana ta dokumentiv,’ in Fan, Ruben. Istoriia ievreis'koï natsional'noï avtonomiï v period Zakhidno-Ukraïns'koï Respubliky (Lviv 2019)

Larysa Bilous

[This article was written in 2022.]

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