Our organization bears the name of the rabbi and scholar Dr. Moshe Margel.

MARGEL DR. MOJSIJE, rabbi, Hebraist, publicist, philologist and lexicographer (Mościska, Poland, October 13th 1875 – Zagreb, Croatia, April 30th 1939). After cheder and yeshiva Margel went on the Rabbinical Theological Seminary in Vienna and Berlin. Philosophical faculty attended in Berlin and Bern, where he finally achieved his Ph.D. degree.

Rabbi Margel started his rabbinical engagement in the Slovakian town of Ružomberok (Rosenberg, Rózsahegy). In 1903 he came to the Croatian town Požega in the Slavonia region, where he acted as the oberrabbiner of the Požega Jewish Community, and also as the teacher on the Požega Gymnasium and other local public schools. From 1908 Rabbi M. Margel is a member of the Executive Board of Rabbis in the Kingdom of Croatia and Slavonia. In Požega he stayed till 1919, when he went to the Croatian capital Zagreb, where he was appointed as the headmaster of the Jewish Elementary School. During WWI he was officially appointed as the Royal Rabbi by the Military Rabbinate in Zagreb, on duty from 1915 till 1918. Because his fearless engagement at the frontline on the river Soča and Piava, Rabbi Moshe Margel was decorated by the Emperor with the Golden Cross for Merit with a Crown, on ribbon of the Medal for Courage. From 1927 till 1937 Margel acted as a rabbi in the Zagreb Jewish Community in Zagreb. Because of ill health he was retired in 1937. Moshe Margel was one of the most prominent Balkan Zionists and was simultaneously working very hard on the Jewish national renaissance.

As a scholar, Margel was an authority in the Hebrew literature, and in that area he was well known in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and abroad. At the age of fifteen Moshe Margel sent his first Hebrew poem to the Jewish magazine “Ha-Maggid” (i.e. The Narrator). Not long after that he started to publish in Cracow (Poland) a magazine in Hebrew language by name “Ocar HaSifrut” (i.e. The Tresury of Literature), around which he gathered the most prominent Hebrew writers and philologists of the day. When the Jewish Encyclopedia from New York writes on the Galician Hebrew poet Abraham Reif, it referes exclusively on the Margel’s article on Reif published in “Ha-Maggid” in 1901 by name “Abraham Reif, Sein Leben und Seine Werke” (i.e. The Life and Work of Abraham Reif). Abraham Reif was born in Mościska too.

His Ph.D. dissertation in German (published lately as a smaller separate book), by name “Der Segen Jakobs” (i.e. The Jacob’s Blessing), would actually be a new translation and critical commentary on parashot 98th and 99th from midrash “Bereshit Rabbah” (a collection of ancient rabbinical homiletical interpretations of the book of Genesis). In 1906 Dr. Moshe Margel published in Požega his German-Hebrew dictionary (“Deutsch-Hebräisches Wörterbuch”), which was in fact his most important work. He created a lot of Hebrew words, which soon went into literature and in everyday living. These Hebrew words are colloquially and scholarly used till the present day.

As an expert adviser, Dr. Margel considerably contributed to the Croatian translation of the great poetic work “Bar Kochba” by the famous Czech poet and dramatist Jaroslav Vrchlický (real name: Emil Bohuslav Frída), which was published in Požega 1912 as the translation of the gymnasium professor Makso Kuntarić, with a comprehensive supplement made by Rabbi Moshe Margel of Slavonska Požega. Margel wrote a vast number of articles and shorter studies for the Jewish press, in the first place on pages of the Croatian Jewish weeklies “Židovska smotra” (i.e. The Jewish Review) and “Židov” (i.e. The Jew). He was the chief editor of the “Jevrejski almanah” (i.e. The Jewish Almanac) from 1925 till 1930, the official bulletin of the Union of the Rabbis of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenians.

He made a significant contribution to the capital lexicographic edition “The Jewish Encyclopedia” from New York, where he – as the author “M. Margel” or “M. Mr.” – wrote articles on the Hebrew poet Abraham Reif, on the rabbi of Osijek Armand Kaminka (later the secretary of the Israelitische Allianz in Vienna), on the Neo-Hebraist Moses Schulbaum and others. After his death, several projects remained unfinished: his Croatian-Hebrew dictionary, a translation of Iliad and Odyssey in Hebrew, and collection of studies on the Wisdom of Salamon (in Croatian: “Mudrost Salamunova”). His lifetime work – the translation of Talmud – also remained unfinished. Besides the oberrabbiner of Virovitica in Slavonia region Rabbi Dr. Herman Ezekiel Kaufmann (called The Philosopher), Rabbi Dr. Moshe Margel was considered as a late member of the Haskala movement in Europe.

Rabbi Dr. Moshe Margel is the brother of Rabbi Juda Margel, the rabbi of the Jewish Community of Nova Gradiška in Slavonia Region, Croatia. 

(Note: the original Croatian text on Dr. Margel by Alen Budaj was supplemented and translated in English by Salamon Jazbec.)