OSIP VOLINSKI (OSSIP WALINSKY) (July 25, 1886-March 4, 1973)
He was born in Grodno, Russian Poland, into a scholarly Hassidic family. He studied in religious elementary school, in the Slobodka Yeshiva, and later secular subjects in a high school evening course of study. In his youth he joined the revolutionary movement, worked in the Bundist organization in Grodno and Bialystok, several times was arrested by the Tsarist authorities, and in 1903 had to escape from Russia. Early in 1904 he arrived in London and worked there as a metal worker, while at the same time he was among the organizers of Jewish trade unions and the Workmen’s Circle. In 1912 he moved to the United States, but soon left for Toronto, Canada, where he was steward of the tailors’ labor union. In 1914 he moved to New York and from that time held important posts in the trade union movement, the Workmen’s Circle, and other organizations. From 1918 he was in the leadership of the leather workers’ union and in more recent years its president. He was simultaneously very active in relief work for Jewish labor organizations in America (1918); vice-president of the Liberal Party in New York; active as well in the Jewish Labor Committee, the HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society), ORT (Association for the Promotion of Skilled Trades), YIVO, and other Jewish and general organizations. He administered the “Salute to the Yiddish Press” in New York in 1958. He began his literary activities writing proclamations for the Bund (1902-1903) and from that point published articles, poems, stories, and translations from Russian and English in: Arbayter fraynd (Friend of labor) in London (1905); Der idisher treid yunyonist (The Jewish trade unionist) in London (1907-1909), toward the end of this time also the editor; Fraye arbeter shtime (Free voice of labor), Forverts (Forward), Di tsayt (The times), Post (Mail), Tsukunft (Future), Der leder guds arbayter (The leather goods laborer) (editor over the years 1919-1926), and Nyu yorker vokhnblat (New York weekly newspaper), among others—in New York. He also contributed to English-language socialist serials: The Call, New Leader, American Federalist, and the anthology Industrial Peace in Action: Thirty Years of Collective Bargaining in the Pocketbook Industry in New York (New York, 1948), 178 pp. (which he also edited). In book form: Lament un lid (Lament and poem), lyrical and spirited poetry (New York, 1956), 102 pp.—with sculpture reproductions by his wife, Roze Nyuman-Valenski, and with a biographical-critical sketch concerning his life and works. He died in New York.
Sources: Y. Pat, Shmuesn mit yidishe shrayber (Conversations with Yiddish writers) (New York, 1954), p. 200 (in the section dealing with Mani Leyb); L. Shpizman, in Geshikhte fun der tsienistisher arbeter-bavegung fun tsofn-amerike (History of the Zionist labor movement in North America), vol. 1 (New York, 1955), p. 315; M. Dukhovni, in Der amerikaner (New York) (May 18, 1956); Forverts (New York) (February 15, 1958); H. Morgenshtern, in Tog-morgn zhurnal (New York) (February 25, 1958); S. Regensberg, in Forverts (June 14, 1958); Sh. Izban, in Tog-morgn zhurnal (June 22, 1958); Who’s Who in World Jewry (New York, 1955), p. 797.
Khayim Leyb Fuks