NAFTOLI VAYNIG (February 16, 1897-1943/1944)
This was the adopted name of Naftoli (Norbert) Roze, born in Torne (Tarnov, Tarnów), eastern Galicia, into a Polonized family. He studied philosophy and Slavic literature at Cracow University. For a short time, he also attended an art school in Vienna. At age sixteen he mastered Yiddish. He was a member of the Labor Zionists. He was a teacher in Polish and Jewish high schools, among them in Vilna just before WWII. An ethnographer and an ethnologist, he was also one the most eminent Jewish folklorists in Poland. He began writing as age nineteen or twenty. He published critical essays in: Der yudisher arbayter (The Jewish worker) in Vienna in 1917 (edited by Sh. Y. Imber); Arbayter tsaytung (Workers’ newspaper), the Labor Zionist paper in Warsaw (articles about Perets, U. Ts. Grinberg, and Alter Katsizne’s [Kacyzne’s] “Der gayst der meylekh” [The spirit, the king]), among others); Zilburg’s monthly Kritik (Critic) in 1920, in which he published the work “In di trit fun a nayem yidishn stil” (In step with a new Yiddish style); Arbayter vort (Workers’ word) in Cracow (1922); Shvels (Thresholds) in Lodz (1923). In Pinkes amerikaner opteyl fun yivo (Records of the American division of YIVO) (New York, 1927-1928), he published “Homen-figur un shtame-mentsh” (The Haman figure and people descended from him). He also wrote for Literarishe bleter (Literary leaves) in Warsaw; and Togblat (Daily newspaper) and Tsushtayer (Contribution) in Lemberg. In the quarterly journal Fun noentn over (From the recent past), edited by M. Shalit, 1 (1935) in Vilna-Warsaw, he published: “Historishe motivn in dem folkslid” (Historical motifs in the folksong) and “Yudaika in di briv fun eliza ozsheshkova un stanislav pzhibishevski” (Judaica in the letters of Eliza Orzeszkowa and Stanisław Przybyszewski). He published a series of research pieces in the monthly Sotsyale meditsin (Social medicine) in Vilna-Warsaw, such as: “Higyene un sanitorishe dinst bay di galitsishe un rumenishe yidn in der ershter helft fun 19tn yorhundert” (Hygiene and sanitation service among Galician and Romanian Jews in the first half of the nineteenth century) in February 1935; “Di tfile fun ramba״m als getsayg inem kamf kegn antisemitizm” (Rambam’s prayer as a tool in the battle against anti-Semitism) 3-4 (1935); “Refues un zgules bay yidn in tsaytn fun epidemyes” (Cures and remedies among Jews in times of epidemics) 11-12 (1937); “Parkh-krankaytn in yidishn folklor” (Ulcers in Jewish folklore) 3-4 (1938). In the third number of Filologishe shriftn (Philological writings), he published a work entitled “Dos poylishe folklor” (Polish folklore). He also published a string of essays in Yivo-bleter (Pages from YIVO): “Yidishe oysshnitn” (Yiddish clippings) 1.2 (1931); “Vegn etnograf binyumin-volf zegl” (On the ethnographer Binyumin-Volf Zegl) 3.1 (1932); “Sobotnikes in karpatn-rusland” (Subbotniks in Carpathian Russia) 4.3 (1933); “Geshikhte un problemen fun der yidisher paremyologye” (History and problems in Yiddish paremiology) 8.4 (1935); and on Y. L. Perets’s Polish-language poems in 12.1-3. He was co-editor (with M. Flakser) of Togblat in Vilna (1939-1940). In pamphlet form he also brought out: Mageyfe-khasene (Death marriage) (Warsaw, 1937), 32 pp.
In the first days of the Vilna ghetto, Vaynig was in the ghetto police force. On Yom Kippur 1941—according to Dr. Dvorzhetski—after Yankev Gens called a meeting of the ghetto policemen and announced the transport from ghetto numbers 1 and 2, Vaynig warned everyone he could not to invest confidence in the ghetto police and not to carry out their orders. He soon thereafter left the police and ran away to Svir (Swir), Byelorussia where he worked sawing timber. From there he returned to the Vilna ghetto where he lived with his family under circumstances of great need. He was also a teacher in the ghetto of Yiddish literature and scholarship on the land of Israel, and he collected folklore. He wrote as well a long work on Leyb Neydus and for it was awarded a prize from the Jewish council. According to one story he died in Majdanek in September 1942; according to another he died in Narve (Narva), Estonia in the summer of 1944.
Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1; Gershon Bader, Medina veḥakhameha (The state and its sages) (New York, 1934), see index; N. Mayzil, in Tsukunft (New York) (October 1935); Sh. Katsherginski, in Khurbn vilne (The Holocaust in Vilna) (New York, 1947), p. 191; M. Ravitsh, Mayn leksikon (My lexicon), vol. 2 (Montreal, 1947), p. 24; Dr. M. Naygreshl, in Tsukunft (December 1950); Lerer yizker-bukh (Remembrance volume for teachers) (New York, 1954); Torne (Tarnów) (Tel Aviv, 1954), see index; Kh. L. Fuks, in Fun noentn over (New York) 3 (1957), p. 247.