Thursday, 7 April 2016

ZUSYE VOHL

ZUSYE VOHL (November 12, 1865-summer 1955)
            He was born in a village in Podolia, Ukraine, into a family that drew its pedigree from the well-known R. Shoyel Vol (Saul Wahl).  Until age twelve he studied in religious elementary school, thereafter on his own—Hebrew Bible, secular subjects, and foreign languages.  He lived in Proskurov, Ukraine over the years 1892-1921, and aside from his work in a sugar factory there, he was also involved in community affairs, especially in the Ḥibat-Tsiyon (Love of Zion) movement.  He survived the pogrom of 1919 in Proskurov; he later escaped from Russia and after a long period of wandering arrived in 1921 in Argentina.  He worked as a Hebrew teacher in a number of different colonies there.  He was cofounder of a Hebrew periodical in Argentina.  In his earlier years, Vohl compiled a stab at a Yiddish grammar entitled Aynlaytung tsu yudishe shprakhleyre (Introduction to Yiddish language learning), “a beginning grammar and containing a comprehensive orthography of the Yiddish language with numerous paragraphs of dictation for young and old children to master the spelling and proper writing of Yiddish,” in three parts (Odessa, 1892), 70 pp.  Among other things, it included a series of etymological explanations of old Yiddish words with unclear roots.  As this work of Vohl’s did not find favor with either Sholem-Aleykhem or Mendele, the young author withdrew from literary activity involving Yiddish and turned his attention completely to research on the Hebrew Bible.  His first article of Bible criticism appeared in Hashiloa (The shiloah) in 1908; thereafter he published—in Hatsfira (The times) in Warsaw and in Hayom (Today) in St. Petersburg—portions of a series that he would later include in his book Ḥakirot beshorshe halashon uvekitve hakodesh (Investigations into the roots of the language and of the writings of scripture) (Proskurov, 1913), 121 pp.  He was also the author of Di geshikhte fun proskurover, felshtiner un yarmelinitser pogromen (The history of the pogroms in Proskurov, Felshtin, and Yarmolinits) (Mozesville, 1922), 78 pp., which retains significant value for research into the history of the Jewish catastrophe in Ukraine (1919-1920).  He was for a long time a contributor to Idishe tsaytung (Jewish newspaper) in Buenos Aires, in which he published important work in the field of Bible criticism, historical treatises, and articles on educational issues.  He also wrote for Hebrew-language journals in Argentina: Atidenu (Our future), Habima (The stage), Ogen (Anchor), and Dorem (South), among others.  He died in Mozesville, Argentina.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1; Biblyografishe yorbikher fun yivo (Bibliographic yearbooks from YIVO) (Warsaw, 1928), p. 110; Y. L. Gruzman, in jubilee volume for Idishe tsaytung (Buenos Aires, 1940), p. 523.


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