MORTKHE (MORDECHAI) HALTER (May 3, 1906-December 27, 1976)
He was born in Koło, Lodz County, Poland. He studied in religious elementary school, public school, and at a Hebrew teachers’ course in Warsaw. He worked as a teacher, 1930-1932, in Jewish schools. Later, until WWII, he was an internal contributor and editor of the reportage division of the daily newspaper Dos vort (The word) in Warsaw, in which he also published sketches and stories. When the Nazis invaded Poland, he escaped to Vilna, and from there (early 1941) he made his way to Palestine. He was initially employed in agriculture, later becoming a teacher for complementary courses for teachers in Kibbutz Dafna in the Upper Galilee, near the Syrian border. He began publishing stories in the anthology Unzer tsukunft (Our future) in Koło (1926), of which he was co-editor. He contributed reportage pieces, sketches, images, and stories to: Dos vort, Dos naye vort (The new word), Bafrayung (Liberation), Arbeter-shtime (Voice of workers), Haynt (Today), and Literarishe bleter (Literary leaves), and in Hebrew in Heatid (The future) and Olami (My world), among others—in Warsaw; Davar (Word), Omer (Speech), Davar leyeladim (Word for children), Folk un tsien (People and Zion), and in the pedagogical journals, Hed haḥinukh (Echo of education), Urim (Illuminations), and others—in the state of Israel.
Among his books: Kleynberger (Petty bourgeoisie), ten stories and sketches of Jewish life in Poland (Warsaw, 1932), 101 pp.; Yoysef khayim brener, byografisher reportazh (Yosef Ḥayim Brenner, biographical sketch) (Warsaw, 1934), 27 pp.; Nakhmen sirkin, kapitlekh fun zayn lebn un lere (Nachman Syrkin, chapters from his life and teachings) (Warsaw, 1935), 28 pp.; Briv fun an arbeter (Letter from a laborer) (Warsaw, 1935), 24 pp. His novel about Polish agricultural training for Palestine, entitled Mir greyt zikh (We’re ready) (Warsaw, 1937), 210 pp., in which he artistically depicts the life of the pioneering young people and their struggle to make aliya to Israel, aroused great interest. The novel was published serially from 1938 in Nasz Przegląd (Our review) in Warsaw [in Polish], and in two Hebrew translations: (1) in Warsaw under the title Leḥayim ḥadashim (To a new life) (1939); and (2) in Tel Aviv under the title Ḥalutsim bau laayara (Pioneers came to town) (1947). In Hebrew, he published: Hashevuya mitsipori, sipur miyeme haamoraim bevavel (The prisoner from Tsipori, a story from the days of the Amoraim in Babylonia) (Tel Aviv, 1946), 215 pp.; Hamemra bakefar (The word in the village), on folklore in an Israeli village (Tel Aviv, 1947), 120 pp.; Hamemra vehabediḥa bahityashvut haovedet (The sayings and jokes in the agricultural settlement) (Tel Aviv, 1953), 8 pp.; Shiurim betanakh (Lessons from the Hebrew Bible) (Tel Aviv, 1954), 135 pp. He translated into Yiddish two collections of selected stories drawn from Hebrew literature: (1) Erd (Earth); and (2) In onheyb (In the beginning) (Tel Aviv, 1948), both running 180 pp. He edited the anthologies: Hagalil haelyon (The Upper Galilee), dedicated to the renewal of Jewish settlement in the Upper Galilee (1949, 1950), both running 176 pp.; and the remembrance volume Sefer kolo, finfhundert yor yidish kolo (Koło volume, 500 years of Jewish Koło), in Hebrew and Yiddish (Tel Aviv, 1958), 408 pp. His work A shif in shturem (A ship in a storm), the sequel to Mir greyt zikh, did not appear because of the war. He died in Dafna, Israel.
Sources: Bibliographishe yorbikher fun yivo (Bibliographic yearbooks from YIVO) (Warsaw, 1928); Sefer hashana lebiblyografya yehudit bepolanya (Annual for Jewish bibliography in Poland) (Warsaw, 1934); M. Barlas, in Oyfgang (Sighetu Marmației) (May-June 1934); L. Finkelshteyn, in Foroys (Warsaw) (June 7, 1938); Finkelshteyn, in Bafrayung (Warsaw) (April 29, 1938); Y. Lis, in Literarishe bleter (Warsaw) (December 23, 1938); Y. A. Zaydman, Hapoel-hatsair (Tel Aviv) 39; N. Kantorovitsh, in Fun noentn over (New York) III (1957), pp. 295ff; K. Frenk, in Forverts (New York) (March 29, 1959).
Khayim Leyb Fuks