Philipp Menczel
Journalist and Zionist

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Filip (Philipp) Menczel was born in Skala in 1872 and was the son of Chaskel Menczel-Shor and Sheindel Weissman. Although Chaskel was well- educated in Jewish studies ("How he knew Hebrew!" one of his relatives said with awe), he was influenced by the Haskalah (Enlightenment) movement and immersed himself in non-Jewish culture. Eventually, he moved his family from Skala and went to Czernowitz in Bukovina where, to the considerable distress of his wife's orthodox kin, Chaskel's children attended secular schools.

Philipp received his law degree, but he was more intrigued by journalism than law. As a contemporary put it, he was "a lawyer by profession, a journalist by calling." Although he was widely respected as an attorney and handled a number of "sensational" cases, it was as a journalist and Zionist leader that he made his lasting mark.

In 1903, Philip was one of the founders of the Czernowitzer Tageblatt. He left this paper to become publisher of the Czernowitzer Allgemeine Zeitung, an independent daily newspaper in Bukovina that was in print from 1903-1916 and 1918-1940. Both papers editorially supported the nascent Zionist movement, in large measure because of the personal views of their editors. Philipp's interest in the Zionism had begun when he was a student and, by 1899, he was a leader of the Bukovinian branch of the World Zionist Congress.

In 1918, Philip was among the city’s prominent citizens who were taken hostage by the invading Russians and deported to Siberia. After the war, he remained a vocal and active member of the Zionist movement. His cousins reported that he had been asked to take Theodor Herzl’s place as head of the WZO, but declined to do so.

Upon the outbreak of World War II, Philipp fled Europe. He died in Newark, NJ on October 27, 1941.

Selected Bibliography:

Koenigsberg, Jack, “The Dorf’s Yid,” in Sefer Yizkor l’Kehilat Trembovla (Memorial Book for the Jewish Communities of Trembowla, Strusow, Janow, and Vicinity), (Irgun Trembowla, Bnei Brak).

Weinstein, Elias, “The Jewish Press in Bukovina,” in Gold, Hugo, Geschichte der Juden in der Bukowina (History of the Jews in the Bukowina) (Tel Aviv, 1962)(Vol. 2, p. 127)

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Updated Feb 17, 2006. © Copyright 2005 Skala Research Group. All Rights Reserved.