ZERAKH GRINBERG (1887-1949?)
He was born in a vegetable field (in either Belaya Tserkov [Bila Tserkva, lit. “white church”], also known humorously in Yiddish as Shvarts-tume or “black filth”), Kiev region, Ukraine. His father was an itinerant teacher who initially instructed him in Jewish subject matter, and later he became an external student and, after passing the matriculating examinations, he studied at the agronomy institute in New Aleksandrye. After the Bolshevik October Revolution in 1917, he was appointed as commissar of education and art for the “Northern (St. Petersburg) Commune,” and he served as the right hand man of Anatoly Lunacharsky, People’s Commissar for Education. He took an active part in the work of the Jewish Commissariat. He later devoted his attention in full to academic and pedagogic work as professor of history. During WWII, he returned to activities in Jewish affairs, as a member of the historical commission with the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee in Moscow, which had the goal of researching Nazi persecutions of Jews. He published articles on Jewish matters in Eynikeyt (Unity) in Moscow. He also brought out the pamphlets: Der tsienizm af der yidisher gas (Zionism on the Jewish street) (St. Petersburg, 1918), 32 pp; and Yidishe sotsialistishe parteyen (Jewish socialist parties) (St. Petersburg, 1919). He edited: the anthology Kultur-fragn (Cultural questions) (St. Petersburg, 1918), 95 pp., together with Nokhum Bukhbinder and Sh. Dimenshteyn; Di fraye shtime (The free voice) (St. Petersburg, 1918), together with N. Bukhbinder and Sholem Rapoport—only two double issues appeared; Di komune (The Commune) (St. Petersburg, 1919), two issues, together with Sholem Rapoport; Kamf un lebn (Struggle and life) (issue no. 1 in St. Petersburg and issue no. 2 in Kiev, both 1919), with N. Bukhbinder; Di fraye velt (The free world) (Minsk, 1919), five issues. He was arrested in 1948 in the postwar round-up of members of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee and tortured, and he died in a Soviet camp.
Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1; A. Abtshuk, Etyudn un materialn tsu der geshikhte fun der yidisher literatur bavegung in FSRR (Studies and material for the history of the Yiddish literature movement in the Soviet Union) (Kharkov, 1934), pp. 20-23; Ts. Hirshkon, in Morgn-frayhayt (New York) (January 28, 1935); “Tsu di yidn fun gor der velt” (To Jews throughout the entire world), Eynikeyt (Moscow) (June 17, 1942); D. Tsharni (Daniel Charney), A yortsendlik aza (What a decade) (New York, 1943), pp. 298-99; Historishe komisye baym antifashistishn komitet (Historical commission of the Anti-Fascist Committee), in Eynikeyt (March 2, 1946).
[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 179.]