Friday, 6 February 2015

KHANE BLANKSHTEYN

KHANE BLANKSHTEYN (early 1860s-July 30, 1939)
Born in Vilna, her father Avrom was a timber merchant and a contractor for the Russian railways.  He owned an entire neighborhood of homes which well known locally.  Khane (Anyuta, Anna) was the youngest daughter, and she was raised with German and French governesses and read four languages.  At age twelve she was sent to foreign pensions.  At age seventeen-eighteen, she married and soon divorced; her second marriage was with a son of a rich diamond dealer in Kiev by the name of Blankshteyn.  They had two children, and then she again divorced her husband and with her children returned to her parents in Vilna.  Her parents died around 1905.  During WWI, she served as a nurse in the Russian army and lived for a time in St. Petersburg with a married woman; she subsequently left for Kiev.  At the time of the 1917 Revolution, she became an enthusiastic activist with the Russian “folk socialists,” studied sociology, approached Jewish intellectual circles, and joined the Jewish Folk Party.  In the early 1920s, now destitute, she completely wrested herself from Russia.  She returned to Vilna, supported herself as a private tutor, mastered Yiddish, continued appearing at public meetings of the Folk Party, and ran for office in the Polish Sejm.  In those years, she began writing for Vilner tog (Vilna day) and Di tsayt (The times).  Her articles excelled due to her fine style.  She founded the first democratic, Jewish, women’s association and the journal Di froy (The woman), became a leader of the Women’s Defense Association, and was one of the most prominent personalities in the women’s movement in the country.  She also began writing sketches and stories in Yiddish and contributed them to Velt-shpigl (Mirror of the world), a publication of Haynt (Today) in Warsaw.  In July 1939, shortly before her death, a collection of her stories entitled Noveles (Tales) (Vilna, 184 pp.) appeared, with a preface by Dr. Maks Vaynraykh (Max Weinreich).  She died of cancer.  Her tales, nine in all, excelled for their original subject matter as well.

Source: H. Abramovitsh, Biografye fun khane blankshteyn (Biography of Khane Blankshteyn), in manuscript held at YIVO in New York.


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