Thursday, 3 November 2022

HIRSH RELES

HIRSH RELES (April 23, 1913-2004)

            He was a prose author and poet, born in the town of Chashniki (Čašniki), Byelorussia. He moved to Vitebsk in 1930, graduated from the Jewish pedagogical technical school there, and continued his studies at the Minsk Pedagogical Institute, before becoming a teacher in a Jewish middle school in Slutsk and later Novogrudok. In the first days of the war, he was drafted into the Red Army and served in the northern Ural Mountains where they were digging new coal mines. Initially, he worked on the layout, and later as secretary of the army newspaper. After the war he returned to Minsk where he worked for a Byelorussian children’s magazine Zorka (Morning star) and a satirical journal Vozhyk (Hedgehog). He began publishing in 1931 with a poem in Yunger arbeter (Young worker). He contributed to: Yunger leninets (Young Leninist), Oktyabr (October), Minsk’s Shtern (Star), the almanac Mit festn trop (With a steadfast step), and frequently later in Sovetish heymland (Soviet homeland). He joined the writers’ association in 1934 and went on to publish his first poetry collection, entitled Onheyb (Beginning). His poetry also appeared in Horizontn (Horizons) (Moscow: Sovetski pisatel, 1965). In book form: Onheyb (Minsk: Byelorussian State Publishers, 1939), 56 pp. In 1948 he returned to pedagogical work, teaching literature and language in an evening school; after 1956 he began writing prose in Russian and published several books in Russian; two of his books appeared in Byelorussian translations. The appearance in print of Sovetish heymland proved a shot in the arm for Reles in the 1960s. He made an extensive trip through the towns of Byelorussia, and wrote up documentary stories, novellas, and essays which were included in his Untern fridlekhn himl, rayse-bilder, noveln, dertseylungen (Under peaceful skies, travel impressions, novellas, stories) (Moscow: Sovetski pisatel, 1983), 302 pp., and Iber vaysrusishe shtetlekh (Through Byelorussian towns) (Moscow: Sovetski pisatel, 1985), 61 pp. These issues continued to bother him in subsequent years as well. In the 1990s and early 2000s, he prepared a volume of memoirs for publication which dealt with Yiddish writers from Byelorussia, and he actively contributed to the work of the Minsk Jewish Cultural Association, led a circle of people studying the Yiddish language, and gave lectures before an assortment of seminars and symposia devoted to Yiddish culture. His last work was a memoir: Di yidish-sovetishe shrayber fun vaysrusland, memuarn (Soviet Yiddish writers in Byelorussia, memoirs) (Minsk: Logvinaŭ, 2004), 271 pp.

Sources: Chone Shmeruk, comp., Pirsumim yehudiim babrit-hamoatsot, 1917-1961 (Jewish publications in the Soviet Union, 1917-1961) (Jerusalem, 1962), see index; Folks-shtime (Warsaw) (April 27, 1963).

Khayim Maltinski 

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), cols. 553-54; and 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. 369-70.]

Thursday, 22 September 2022

YANKEV LVOVSKI

YANKEV LVOVSKI (1888-1972)

            A literary critic, he was born in the town of Volotshisk (Volochys'k), Ukraine. He left home while still young and wandered over various cities, taking up his own education. He later worked as a teacher in Berdichev and Kiev and after that in the Jewish Colonization Association (YEKO). His wanderings during WWI brought him to Moscow, where he became a plenipotentiary of the Moscow society to assist Jews who were suffering during the war. After the Revolution, he worked in Nizhny Novgorod, before returning to Moscow and working in the Jewish educational institutions as an inspector and teacher. He devoted the last decades of his life entirely to literary work, publishing in the journal Sovetish heymland (Soviet homeland) articles and memoirs of encounters with Jewish writers, among them: Der Nister, with whom he had been a friend for many years, as well as reviews of newly published Yiddish books. He left behind in manuscript fragments of an unfinished biographical novel entitled Der nister.

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. 205.

Monday, 12 September 2022

ARN YERUSALIMSKI

ARN YERUSALIMSKI (1909-1989)

            He was a current event writer and historian, born in Kiev, Ukraine. In the 1920s he took an active part in the youth press, serving as a member of the editorial board of the literary-political journal Khvalyes (waves) in Vitebsk and editor of the newspaper Royte yugnt (Red youth) in Kremenchug, Ukraine, publishing articles on historical and social topics and documentary-style stories in the Moscow journal Yungvald (Young forest), and working as the social correspondent for Moscow’s central newspaper Der emes (The truth). He graduated from the Jewish section of the Yu. Markhlevski Communist University in Moscow and the pedagogical institute in Riazan, and he was a research student at Moscow State University, where he defended his dissertation on the subject of “The labor and peasant movement on the eve of World War I.” After receiving the title of candidate in historical science, he worked as a teacher of history in middle school and high school. Over the years 1925-1932, he was a lecturer and manager of the Jewish section of the Vitebsk, and later the Odessa, Party School, as well as a lecturer in history at the Odessa Jewish Pedagogical Technicum and the Jewish division of the Odessa Physics and Mathematics Institute. From 1932 he gave lectures in the Soviet Army. When WWII began, he proceeded to the front. After the war he continued his pedagogical work. At the same time, he took up historical and literary research, a portion of which was published in the 1970s in the journal Sovetish heymland (Soviet homeland) in Moscow. His work includes: “Unter der fon fun internatsyonlizm” (Under the banner of internationalism), a supplement to the journal Sovetish heymland 8 (1983).

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. 182.

Friday, 9 September 2022

VELVL TSHERNIN

VELVL TSHERNIN (b. 1958)

            A poet and literary scholar, he was born in Moscow. He graduated from the Lomonosov Moscow University (Faculty of History, Ethnography Department). Over the years 1981-1983, he studied in the group “Yidish” (Yiddish) at the advanced literature course at the Maxim Gorky Literature Institute. He debuted in print in 1983 with poems in Sovetish heymland (Soviet homeland), where he worked for a time on the editorial board. He went on to publish a series of poetry cycles in Soviet and other publications. In addition to poetry, he had published a number of literary critical and popular articles and notes in Yiddish, Russian, and Hebrew publications. As a supplement to the journal Sovetish heymland 11 (1986), he brought out a booklet of interviews entitled Dialogn vegn der yidisher kultur in fssr (Dialogues on Jewish culture in the USSR). He is also the author of scholarly articles on Yiddish ethnography and linguistics. In 1990 he made aliya to Israel, studying Judaism at the Shalom Hartman University in Jerusalem and literature at Bar-Ilan University. He defended a doctoral thesis on the topic of “elements of ethnic identification in Soviet Yiddish literature from the late 1950s through the early 1990s.” He was a recipient of the Dovid Hofshetyn Prize for creative literary work in Yiddish.

            His work includes: Dialogn vegn der yidisher kultur in fssr (Moscow: Sovetski pisatel, 1986), 62 pp.; Beynashmoshes (Twilight), poems (Tel Aviv: Shul-bukh, 1997), 136 pp.; Alibe-didi (In my opinion), poetry (Tel Aviv: Leivick Publ., 2004), 119 pp.

 

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. 171.

Thursday, 8 September 2022

YEKHIEL TSHITSHELNITSKI

YEKHIEL TSHITSHELNITSKI (1909-1980)

            He was a journalist and editor, born in Berdichev, into a poor laboring family. He lived in a children’s home, later in a home for youths. In the 1930s, he graduated from a Party school in Kiev, worked as secretary and at times as editor of the newspaper Yunge gvardye (Young guard); later, he was a contributor to the daily newspaper Der shtern (The star) which was based in Kharkov and Kiev. Together with the majority of those on the editorial board, he published the final issue of the paper on June 26, 1941 and volunteered to serve at the front. He wrote reportage pieces from the front and sketches concerning the role played by Jewish soldiers and officers in the fighting against the invaders. After the war, he settled in Czernowitz and was a special correspondent for the newspaper Eynikeyt (Unity) in the western regions of Ukraine. In 1975-1976, he lived in Moscow and worked as the secretary in charge and later a replacement on the editorial board of the journal Sovetish heymland (Soviet homeland); he published a series of documentary stories, essays on literary themes, and translations of prose works. Due to a serious illness, he was forced to stop working and return to Czernowitz, where he soon passed away.

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. 166-67.

Monday, 5 September 2022

ZALMEN VEREMIKIN

ZALMEN VEREMIKIN

            He was a poet who lived and worked in Minsk. He published poems and essays in the newspaper Oktyabr (October) and in the journal Shtern (Star). No further biographical information on him is available.

            His published work includes: Shtaygndike shtokn (Ascending stairs) (Minsk, 1932).

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. 147.

VELVL VERNIK

VELVL VERNIK (1910-1984)

            He was a poet, born in the town on Haysyn, Vinnytsya district, Ukraine, into a laboring family. In the early 1930s, he moved to Kiev, worked in construction, and in 1941 volunteered to serve at the front. He returned to Kiev after the war, and over the course of four decades he worked in a factory. He composed poetry from his youth on, and from time to time he placed them in a variety of publications. He was especially active as an author in the early 1960s when the journal Sovetish heymland (Soviet homeland) commenced publication in Moscow.

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. 147.