From East to West
Reuben Brainin
Reuben Brainin used his writing to influence the communities around him, whether he was in Russia, Western Europe or North America. Born in 1862 in Liadi, Byelorussia, Brainin left his traditional Jewish upbringing at the age of 16 travelling first to Moscow to study agriculture. His first articles appeared in the Hebrew journal Ha-Melitz in 1882. By 1892, Brainin had moved to Vienna to study literature and in that same period started his own Hebrew journal entitled Mi-Mizrah u-mi-Ma'arav [East and West]. By the time he arrived in Montreal in 1912 to assume the editorship of Montreal's daily Yiddish newspaper, the Keneder Odler, Brainin's articles, essays and biographical writings had appeared in the major Hebrew and Yiddish periodicals of Europe and North America. In addition to Mi-mizrah u-mi-Ma'arav, Brainin attempted to found other journals, all of which were short-lived but nonetheless manifested an unparalleled sense of leadership and participation in the Zionist movement and also in Jewish agricultural colonization in the Soviet Union. His involvement in Jewish agricultural colonization activism was later the cause of controversy due to the difficultly in reconciling the initial promise of such colonization with the actual treatment of Jews in the Soviet Union.

Brainin is well remembered in Montreal for his participation in the founding of the Jewish Public Library in 1914, which celebrated its 90th anniversary in 2004. By 1916, Brainin left or was forced to leave the Keneder Odler due to insurmountable ideological differences between him and the newspapers founder and owner, Hirsch Wolofsky. Brainin returned to New York and continued writing for several Jewish journals and newspapers. He stayed connected to Montreal through family, friends and his devotion to the entire Jewish community. After Brainin's death, his son donated the majority of his father's personal and literary archives to the Montreal Jewish Public Library and also had published a selection of Brainin's diaries.

Portrait, Reuben Brainin
Reuben Brainin
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David Rome beside Brainin Archives Brainin in a crowd in Tel Aviv Brainin with Montreal writers Brainin with Sholem Aleichem
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