||Eulogies for R. Samuel ben Judah Leib Mohilever and Professor Zevi Hirsch Herman ben Jacob Shapira by R. Zevi Hirsch Sribner. There two prefaces from the author and then the eulogies, which are in a single column in rabbinic type set with in a black frame. The text is bound with the original wrappers.
R. Samuel ben Judah Leib Mohilever (1824–1898) was early member of Hovevei Zion in Russia, and a founder of religious Zionism. Born in Glebokie (now Glubokoye), Vilna district, the son of a rabbinical family. R. Mohilewer was ordained a rabbi by the Volozhin yeshivah (1842) and took up the post of rabbi in his native city from 1848, in Szaki from 1854, in Suwalki from 1860, and in Radom from 1868. In each place he was active in community affairs, especially during the Polish rebellion (1863), toward which he asked the Jews to maintain a neutral attitude. In his articles, which were published in Ha-Levanon, he stressed the need for cooperation with the maskilim for the welfare of the people and demanded that the rabbis "combine the Torah and wisdom as the time is appropriate." In 1873 he participated in the St. Petersburg gathering of rabbis and the leading moderate maskilim and tried to bring the two sides closer together. He was attracted to the idea of settling Erez Israel even before the 1881 pogroms, but immediately after they took place he went to Brody and Lvov in order to encourage the masses of refugees who fled Russia and to influence the philanthropists and workers who came to their aid to divert the stream of migration to Erez Israel. Afterward, together with two other rabbis, he appealed to the Russian rabbis to found an organization for aliyah to Erez Israel and to settle there. Even after many rabbis withdrew their support of Hibbat Zion because the movement was headed by maskilim and "students," R. Mohilewer remained faithful to the concept and supported the efforts of L. Pinsker and M. L. Lilienblum to organize the various Hovevei Zion into one organization.
Mohilewer was among those who influenced Edmond de Rothschild to extend aid to the first settlements in Erez Israel and induced him to establish a settlement for Jewish farmers coming from Russia (Ekron). He then influenced Jews in Bialystok and its surroundings to settle in Petah Tikvah. In 1883 he was chosen as rabbi of Bialystok under an agreement with the members of the community that he be allowed to devote himself to his public activities several months a year. R. Mohilewer was the honorary president of the Kattowitz Conference of Hovevei Zion (1884). His speech at the closing session of the conference on the "Dry Bones" (Ezek. 37) served as a foundation for the sermons of the preachers of Hibbat Zion and of Zionism for the following years. In 1888 he joined I. E. Spektor, M. Eliasberg, and others who allowed the farmers to work the fields during the shemittah year in the Jewish settlements in Erez Israel. He chaired the Hovevei Zion conferences in Druskininkai (1887) and in Vilna (1889) and struggled for the influence of the Orthodox circles in the movement. Through his influence a board of rabbis was chosen to ensure that the settlement work in Erez Israel was carried out in a traditional Jewish spirit.
In 1890 R. Mohilewer was among the first speakers at the Odessa founding assembly of The Society in Support of Jewish Farmers and Artisans in Syria and Palestine (the official name of the Odessa Committee of Hovevei Zion). After the meeting he headed a Hovevei Zion group on a tour of Erez Israel, and upon his return published his open letter entitled "The Purpose of My Trip to the Holy Land," in which he called upon Hovevei Zion "to work physically and financially for the sake of Erez Israel." At a gathering of Hovevei Zion in Druskininkai (1893), it was decided, at R. Mohilewer's initiative, to establish a Spiritual Center (Merkaz Ruhani, Mizrachi) for the movement to direct public relations activities and explain ideas connected with the settlement of Erez Israel. It was also decided to plant a citron orchard on land adjoining Haderah and to name it Gan Shemu'el, in honor of Mohilewer's 70th birthday. R. Mohilewer and his close associates continued in their propaganda work, especially among the Orthodox Jews, and the Mizrachi became the foundation for the development of the religious Zionist movement, which four years after Mohilewer's death became a faction in the Zionist Organization (assuming officially the name Mizrachi).
R. Mohilewer joined the World Zionist Organization when it was founded by Herzl, but because of his physical weakness he was not able to participate in the First Congress in 1897. His letter was read to the delegates, however, and created a great impression upon them. He was chosen as one of the four leaders who were charged with directing the work of the Zionist Movement in Russia and as the head of its "spiritual center" which disseminated directives to the members in their work. In his last letter before his death, Mohilewer called upon the Jews of Russia to support the Jewish Colonial Trust. The basic goals in his public relations work were the attainment of a deep attachment to the commandment to settle Erez Israel, "which is the foundation of the existence of our people"; and tolerance toward the maskilim as a prerequisite to the unity of the Jewish people, which was necessary for the rebuilding of the Jewish homeland.
R. Mohilewer wrote many short works including responsa, talmudic and rabbinical novellae, homilies, and scholarly works. Most of these writings were lost in the Bialystok pogrom (1906). A part of those that survived were published under the name Hikrei Halakhah u-She'elot u-Teshuvot (1944).