Friday, 15 December 2017


YUDE NOVAKOVSKI (1879-June 4, 1933)
            He was born in the town in Chernigov (Chernihiv) district, Ukraine.  He studied in religious elementary school and the Nyezhin (Nizhyn) yeshiva as well as with his father, Zalmen-Mortkhe Novakovski, a well-known rabbi.  At age eighteen he received ordination into the rabbinate.  For secular knowledge, he was an autodidact, demonstrating ability in mathematics and, mainly, devoted to economic science.  Already in his yeshiva years he was drawn to social and political activities of the Zionist socialists.  He was active in the group “Vozrozhdenie” (Renaissance), and later he was one of the leaders and theoreticians of Sejmists.  He was arrested twice (1905-1906).  Around 1912 he worked as the director of a coal mine in the city of Krivoy Rog.  At the time of the Beilis Trial in 1913, he was in Kiev assisting the Moscow rabbi, Y. Mazeh, while preparing materials for the defense.  During WWI he helped establish Jewish schools in Kiev.  Over the years 1918-1920, the held the position of finance minister in the Soviet regime; 1921-1926, he was the Soviet commercial attaché in Prague, Berlin, and London.  In 1929 and later he was a lecturer on political economy in the division of Yiddish language and literature in the pedagogical faculty of the Number Two Moscow State University.  He wrote articles for Folks-shtime (Voice of the people), organ of the Sejmists in Vilna (1907-1907).  In the Soviet years, he published articles in: Di royte velt (The red world) in Kharkov-Kiev; Der shtern (The star) in Kharkov (1928), in which he placed a series of articles entitled “Ekonomishe shmuesn” (Chats on economics); and elsewhere.  He was co-editor of: Naye tsayt (New times) in Kiev (1917); Der apikoyres (The heretic); and Komunistishe fon (Communist banner) in Kiev (1919).  In book form: Milkhome un sholem (War and peace) (Ekaterinoslav: Visnshaft, 1919), 48 pp.; Di agrar-frage (The agrarian issue) (Ekaterinoslav: Visnshaft, 1919), 44 pp.; Gots straptshes, kleykodesh (God’s advocates, clergymen) (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1928), 59 pp., second edition (Kiev, 1930), 62 pp.; Yidishe yontoyvim, heylike minhogim un zeyere vortslen (Jewish holidays, sacred rites and their origins) (Kiev, 1929), 95 pp., second edition (Kiev, 1930), reprint (Piotrków, 1933), 64 pp.; Der rekhter apnoyg un der sholem mit im (Right deviation and peace with it) (Kharkov: Tsenter Publ., 1929), 60 pp.; with Kh. Gurevitsh, Kooperatsye un dos yidishe shtetl (Cooperation and the Jewish town) (Moscow: Tsenter Publ., 1929), 109 pp.; Kolektive virtshaft (Collective economy) (Moscow: Gezerd, 1929), 48 pp.  He also was said to have published a Russian language pamphlet on how the socialist state can also exploit.  He wrote primarily on economic and anti-religious matters.  He died in Moscow.

Sources: M. Gutman, in Royte pinkes (Red records) (Warsaw: Kultur-lige, 1921), p. 168; Visnshaftlekhe yorbikher (Scientific yearbook), vol. 1 (Moscow, 1929), p. 254; M. Zilberfarb, Gezamlte shriftn (Collected writings), vol. 2 (Warsaw-Paris: Zilberfarb fund, 1936); Zilberfarb, in Sotsyalistisher teritoryalizm, zikhroynes un materyaln tsu der geshikhte fun di parteyen ss, ys un “fareynikte,” ershter zamlbukh (Socialist territorialism, memoris and materials for the history of the S. S. [Zionist socialist], Y. S. [Sejmist], and “Fareynikte” parties, first collection) (Paris, 1934); Kh. Sh. Kazdan, Fun kheyder un shkoles biz tsisho (From religious and secular primary schools to Tsisho) (Mexico City, 1956), see index; Y. Beyner, “Fun poyle-tsien tsu seymovtses” (From Labor Zionism to Sejmist), in Vitebsk amol (Vitebsk in the past) (New York, 1956), pp. 340-41; Sh. Ayzenshtat, Perakim betoledot tenuat hapoalim hayehudit (Chapters in the history of the organization of Jewish laborers) (Jerusalem, 1961), see index; Solomon Schwartz, The Jew in the Soviet Union (Syracuse University Press, 1951), p. 122; oral information from Novakovski’s sister, Dr. Roze Novakovski, in New York.
Benyomen Elis

[Additional information from: Chaim Beider, Leksikon fun yidishe shrayber in ratn-farband (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers in the Soviet Union), ed. Boris Sandler and Gennady Estraikh (New York: Congress for Jewish Culture, Inc., 2011), p. 246.]


HERSH (HERSHEL) NOVAK (August 2, 1892-August 8, 1952)
            He was born in Pyetrikov (Piotrków), Poland, into a laboring family.  He attended religious elementary school and yeshiva, and also studied Polish and Russian.  In 1909 he immigrated with his parents to Montreal, Canada, where he worked for a time in a glass factory, later in shops making ladies’ coats.  He was one of the founders and among the first leaders of the secular Jewish schools in Montreal.  During WWI he worked with “People’s Relief” in Montreal, and he helped to establish labor unions, the Montreal People’s Library, the People’s University, and other institutions.  Over the years 1921-1931, he worked in the schools of Workmen’s Circle in Philadelphia.  In 1932 he settled in New York, where he was a teacher and assistant director in the summer camps “Nayvelt” (New world) and “Kinderland” (Children’s land).  In the same years (1932-1934), Novak served as secretary general of the Jewish Cultural Society, and under his leadership divisions of the society were established throughout the country, and a mass dissemination of Yiddish books ensued.  He was also a builder of the Central Jewish Cultural Organization (Tsiko) and its publishing house.  In 1948 he helped organize the first conference of the World Jewish Culture Congress in New York.  During the last ten years of his life (1942-1952), he worked as manager of the monthly Di tsukunft (The future), in which he also published articles on a variety of cultural matters.  After his death there was published a volume of his memoirs Fun mayne yunge yorn (From my youthful years), with a foreword by Y. Mark (New York: Educational Committee of Workmen’s Circle, 1957), 227 pp.  He died in New York.  “He spent hours, days and nights of work,” wrote Y. Y. Sigal, “as always, building the walls of the edifice of Yiddish culture….  Novak was one of those brave and proud individuals, who in his own way with the richest and most cautious sincerity carried out the commandment of the hour of Jewish cultural history.”  “H. Novak was among the founders and the first principal of the ‘National Radical School,’” noted Yisroel Rabinovitsh, “from which later emerged the (Montreal) Perets schools.  For him and for other teachers at the time, this was not a matter of a career, but a sacred duty for which they literally sacrificed their lives.  Until the end of his life, Novak served the ‘cultural renaissance’ of the Jewish people with a devotion and loyalty the likes of which were unmatched.  What he started in Montreal, he later continued in New York both as a builder and teacher in Yiddish schools and as an indefatigable leader for everyone who was associated with Yiddish culture.  Even in the last years of his life, when he was suffering a good deal of disappointment, he never ceased bearing under the yoke of the commandments of Yiddish culture.”  “Hersh Novak,” wrote N. Khanin, “felt that, if one wished for our modern literature and our modern life to endure, then one must first of all seek out how to entrust this to our children, now already born in the America.  He was one of the first to open in Montreal a secular school, in which Jewish children would be educated.  This was in fact the first secular Jewish school on the American continent.  Novak became one of the teachers in the school and remained in the profession his entire life, aside from several years before he departed this world, when he served as manager of Tsukunft.  It was a difficult life, financially tormenting, and yet Novak did not leave the field of education for Jewish children.  On the contrary, he all the more and more hitched his wagons to it.”

Sources: Obituary, in Di tsukunft (New York) (September 1952); Y. Levin, in Kultur un dertsiung (New York) (October 1952); Levin, in Di tsukunft (November 1952); Y. Y. Sigal, in Di tsukunft (November 1952); Sigal, in Keneder odler (Montreal) (November 1952); Sigal, in Bleter far yidisher dertsiung (New York) (April-May 1953); V. B-n, in Yorbukh fun semeteri-department fun arbeter-ring (Annual of the Cemetery Department of the Workmen’s Circle) (New York, 1953); A. Leyeles, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (March 29, 1955); D. Naymark, in Forverts (New York) (April 6, 1958); Dr. Shloyme Bikl, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (May 11, 1958); Y. Botoshanski, in Di prese (Buenos Aires) (June 25, 1958); Y. Rabinovitsh, in Keneder odler (June 30, 1958); N. Khanin, in Di tsukunft (December 1961), pp. 474-76.
Benyomen Elis


            He was born in Poland.  In the 1920s he made his way to Cuba.  He was among the most active leaders of the Jewish section of the Community Party in Cuba.  He was the Havana correspondent for New York’s Morgn-frayhayt (Morning freedom), edited by Kh. Bandes.  In December 1938 he published (using the pen name N. Khayim) Far eynikeyt in undzer yishev (For unity in our community) (Havana: Kunst un kultur), 24 pp.  He was a member of the editorial board and contributor to the leftist periodicals and newspapers in Havana: Kubaner bleter (Cuban pages), a literary monthly (1938-1939); Program fun arbet farn yidishn tsenter (Program of work for a Jewish center) (1940); Far der fartaydikung fun yidishn tsenter (In defense of a Jewish center) (April 1940); Der anti-natsi (The anti-Nazi), published by the anti-Nazi committee of Havana (November 1941); Kubaner yidish vort (The Yiddish word of Cuba), beginning as a weekly, later published two to three times each week, to which he contributed until July 29, 1950; Informatsye buletin (Information bulletin) of the society for art and culture of Havana; Unzer hilf der royter armey (Our aid to the Red Army) (June 22, 1942); 30 yor sovetnfarband (Thirty years of the Soviet Union), almanac (1947); 7ter november albom (November 7th album) (1947); and others.  He was last living in Havana.
Leyzer Ran


EMANUEL NOVOGRUDSKI (May 5, 1891-August 9, 1967)
            He was born in Warsaw, Poland.  His father Motl Novogrudski was a bookkeeper and a shoe salesman; his mother Itke, a housewife, helped the socialist movement to the extent that she could.  From 1906 he was studying in the Gurski high school in Warsaw and graduated in 1912.  He spent 1913-1914 studying at a university in Geneva (Switzerland).  In 1914 he joined the Bund.  He was active in the Warsaw organization of the party and later its secretary.  In 1917-1918, during WWI, the Germans twice arrested him and on one occasion sent him to camps in Havelberg and Lauban, and the second time he was imprisoned in the Modliner Fortress.  He was also arrested once by the Tsrarist police.  In 1920 after the Cracow Conference of the Bund, which adopted the resolution on joining the Third International, Novogrudski traveled through Kovno, Lithuania, to Moscow, and there he conducted negotiations with the representatives of the Third International.  He returned to Warsaw in early 1921, and from then until 1939 he served as secretary general of the Bund in Poland.  He was twice elected councilman to the Warsaw city council.  In 1939 he arrived in New York to conduct work for the Bund in Poland and, with the outbreak of WWII, remained there.  There he served as secretary to the “representative of the Polish Bund” from this post’s creation in 1941 until 1947.  From 1947 until he became severely ill (May 1961), which required a full interruption of all his activities, he was head secretary of the Bund’s world coordinating committee in New York.  He traveled around a great deal on assignments for the party, in prewar Poland and other countries of Europe, as well as in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, and Australia.  After the war, in the midst of his writing, he published numerous articles in Yiddish and non-Yiddish (mainly party) publications, such as: Folkstsaytung (People’s newspaper), Vokhnshrift far literatur (Weekly writing for literature), Yugnt-veker (Youth alarm), Foroys (Onward), and Walka (Fight), among others, in Warsaw; Unzer shtime (Our voice) in Paris; Letste nayes (Latest news) and Lebns-fragn (Life issues) in Tel Aviv; Foroys (Mexico City); Unzer gedank (Our idea) in Buenos Aires; Unzer tsayt (Out time), Der veker (Our alarm), Fraye arbeter-shtime (Free voice of labor), Di tsukunft (The future), and Socialist Call—in New York; among others.  He published longer works in: the anthology Henrik erlikh un viktor alter (Henryk Erlich and Viktor Alter) (New York, 1951), pp. 13-52; “Der ‘bund’ tsvishn beyde velt-milhomes” (The Bund between the two world wars), in Entsiklopediya shel galiyut (Encyclopedia of the Diaspora) (Jerusalem-Tel Aviv, 1959); and Leyvik-hodes-bukh (Leyvik Hodes book) (New York, 1962), pp. 371-77; among others.  He was co-editor of The Ghetto Fights (New York, 1962); and of the two volumes Geshikhte fun bund (History of the Bund) (New York, 1960, 1962).  In book form, he published (mostly under the pen name “E. Mus”): Kamf far rekht af arbet (Fight for the rights of labor) (New York: Bureau for the rights of labor, 1926), 38 pp., also available in Polish; Di kunst fun redn (The art of speaking) (Warsaw: Kultur-lige, 1929), 102 pp.; Sovet-rusland, unzer tragedye (Soviet Russia, our tragedy), with a preface by Louis de Bruiker (Brussels: Bundist group in Belgium, 1939), 63 pp., also (New York, 1939); Yokhed, mase un firer (Individual, mass, and leader) (Warsaw: Kultur-lige, 1934), 159 pp.; Heshbn hanefesh oder fartseyflung (Introspection or despair) (New York: Bundist Club, 1934), 32 pp.; A naye tsugang tsu alte emesn (A new approach to old truths) (Montevideo: Bundist group, 1955), 45 pp.  He also penned an introduction to Leon Bernshteyn’s book, Ershte shprotsungen (First sprouts) (Buenos Aires, 1956).  He died in New York.  Novogrudski’s wife SONYE NOVOGRUDSKI (née Tshemelinski), who he married in 1919, was a member of the underground central committee of the Bund in Warsaw during the years of Nazi occupation and was murdered by the Nazis in Treblinka.
            As Y. Y. Trunk put it, Emanuel Novogrudski “displayed in private conversations the greatest liberalism for all forms and differences of human thought….  Comrade Emanuel knew—and I say this to his greatest praise—that the broadest horizons of thought must be narrowed, when it comes to historical actions.”

Sources: Y. Yezhor, in Foroys (Mexico City) (December 1944); Y. Y. Trunk, in Poyln (Poland), vol. 7 (New York, 1953), pp. 175-80; M. Astur, in Afn shvel (New York) (March-April 1960); Kh. Sh. Kazdan, in Unzer tsayt (New York) (September 1960); Arbeter-ring boyer un tuer (Builders and leaders of the Workmen’s Circle) (New York, 1962); Biblyografye fun yidishe bikher vegn khurbn un gvure (Bibliography of Yiddish books concerning the Holocaust and heroism) (New York, 1962).
Leyb Vaserman

Thursday, 14 December 2017


            The brother of Bernard and Emanuel Novogrudski, he was born in Warsaw, Poland.  He received both a Jewish and a general education.  He worked as a teacher of natural science in Warsaw schools.  For a time he was active in the socialist Jewish youth organization “Tsukunft” (Future) in Warsaw.  After WWI he left for Soviet Russia, where he was an active leader in Jewish school and cultural work.  In 1937, during the Moscow show trials, he was exiled to various camps, before being freed in 1944.  For a time he lived in Moscow, later in Alma-Ata and other places.  His writing activities commenced with articles in the Bundist biweekly serial Sotsyalistishe yugnt-shtime (Voice of socialist youth) in Warsaw (1919).  In Soviet Russia he was a contributor to Yungvald (Young forest), Pyoner (Pioneer), Der emes (The truth), and Af di vegn tsu der nayer shul (On the road to the new school), all in Moscow, as well as periodicals in Minsk and Kiev—in which, on the whole, he wrote about cultural and school matters, reviews of school books, and translations from Russian into Polish.  He was the author of: Pyonern, yunge naturalist (Pioneers, young naturalists), a textbook of natural science (Moscow: Shul un bukh, 1925), 143 pp., with drawings and pictures.  He translated from Russian to Yiddish: S. Sokolov, Kuk zikh tsu tsu der natur (Pay attention to nature) (Moscow, 1927), 4 booklets, each 64 pp.; and M. Agapov and S. Sokolov, Yunger geograf (Young geographer), geography textbook (Moscow, 1927), 126 pp.  He was last living in Moscow.

Sources: Biblyografishe yorbikher fun yivo (Bibliographic yearbooks from YIVO) (Warsaw, 1928), see index; Y. Ratner and M. Kvitni, Dos yidishe bukh in f.s.s.r. in di yorn 1917-1921 (The Yiddish book in the USSR for the years 1917-1921) (Kiev, 1930), nos. 700-2; M. Anilovitsh and M. Yofe, Shriftn fun psikhologye un pedagogik (Writings on psychology and pedagogy) 1 (Vilna: YIVO, 1933), p. 492; information from Emanuel Novogrudski and Sh. Herts in New York.
Khayim Leyb Fuks

[Additional information from: Chaim Beider, Leksikon fun yidishe shrayber in ratn-farband (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers in the Soviet Union), ed. Boris Sandler and Gennady Estraikh (New York: Congress for Jewish Culture, Inc., 2011), pp. 245-46.]


            The brother of Emanuel Novogrudski, he was born in Warsaw, Poland.  He received both a Jewish and a general education.  He was an active leader in the movement for a Jewish public school in Tsarist times in Warsaw.  For many years he worked as a teacher of arithmetic in Jewish schools, for a time was the administrator of the secular Jewish “great school” in Warsaw, and was a member of the organizing committee for the establishment of the Central Jewish School Organization (Tsisho) in Poland.  He assisted in the compilation of a series of Yiddish textbooks by M. A. Birnboym, Sh. Gilinski, and Dovid Kasel (until 1914).  He was the author of the textbook Elementarish-kurs fun arithmetik (Elementary course in arithmetic), “practical course with many examples and problems, part 1, whole and primary numbers, basis for higher classes in public schools and evening courses for adults” (Warsaw: Naye shul, 1917), 96 pp.  When the Nazis were approaching Warsaw, he left for the Soviet-occupied zone in Poland.  Until late 1940 he was living in Lemberg, later returning to Warsaw.  He was killed by the Nazi murderers.

Sources: M. Anilovitsh and M. Yofe, Shriftn fun psikhologye un pedagogik (Writings on psychology and pedagogy) 1 (Vilna: YIVO, 1933), pp. 486-87; Kh. Sh. Kazdan, Di geshikhte fun yidishn shulvezn in umophengikn poyln (The history of the Jewish school system in independent Poland) (Mexico City, 1947), pp. 69, 74, 87f; information from Emanuel Novogrudok and Sh. Herts in New York.
Khayim Leyb Fuks


MAKS NADEL (1871-1945)
            He was born in Vilna, Lithuania.  He studied in religious elementary school and in a Russian Jewish public school.  He was orphaned on his father’s side when young and interrupted his education to become a leather worker.  He joined “labor circles” and in 1894 was a leader of one such group.  He was active in Bundist work in Vilna and Kovno districts.  He was arrested on several occasions and spent some time in solitary confinement in the Petropavlosk Fortress.  He later lived in St. Petersburg, Geneva, London, and Paris.  He was active in the foreign committee of the Bund.  According to Leo Bernshteyn—in Ershte shprotsungen (First sprouts), p. 66—Nadel would have been one of the authors of the Russian pamphlet Chetyre rechi evreiskikh rabochikh (Four speeches of Jewish laborers) (May 1, 1892), which was illegally published in Geneva.  He would also have been a correspondent from London to Arbayter shtime (Voice of labor).  From 1905 he was working as a dental technician.  He authored the booklet Ratevet ayere tseyner (Save your teeth), “the importance of the teeth to the human body generally and to the stomach in particular” (London: Help for Self-Education, 1906), 22 pp., several editions.  He died in London.

Sources: N. A. Bukhbinder, Di geshikhte fun der yidisher arbeter-bavegung in rusland, loyt nit-gedrukte arkhiṿ-materyaln (The history of the Jewish labor movement in Russia, according to unpublished archival materials) (Vilna, 1931), p. 115; F. Kurski, Gezamlte shriftn (Collected writings) (New York, 1952), pp. 179, 356; Leo Burshteyn, Ershte shprotsungen (First sprouts) (Buenos Aires, 1956), pp. 61-75.
Khayim Leyb Fuks