YERAKHMIEL VAYNGARTN (December 23, 1902-March 1982)
He was born in Warsaw, Poland, the younger brother of the poet and playwright Yankev Preger. He studied with his father—a Hebrew teacher and follower of the Jewish Enlightenment—later, graduating from the Hebrew school of Sh. L. Gordon in Warsaw. From 1917 until 1923, he lived in Plonsk (Płońsk), thereafter completing the Warsaw state seminary for religious teachers. He was among the main contributors to Janusz Korczak’s orphan home and vice-chairman of the Hebrew writers’ union in Warsaw. When the Germans occupied Warsaw, he escaped from Poland and made his way to Canada—via Lithuanian, Russia, and Japan (where he served as chairman of the group of refugee writers)—in 1941. From 1946 he was a resident of New York. He was a cofounder of the Kinneret Day School and a teacher in the “Jewish Teachers’ Seminary and People’s University” in New York. He was general secretary of the Histadrut Ivrit (Hebrew organization) in the United States. He began writing Hebrew and Polish poetry in his student years, debuting in print in Had hanoar (The echo of youth) in Warsaw (1923). From that point in time, he published poetry, stories, critical treatises on books, and articles on pedagogical and educational issues in: Had hanoar, Iton katan (Little newspaper), Alim lesifrut ḥadasha (Pages on modern literature), Haynt (Today), and Baderekh (On the road)—in Warsaw; Keneder odler (Canadian eagle) in Montreal (in which he published in installments his wartime experiences); Am vesefer (People and the book) in Jerusalem; Shul-bleter (School pages) in Buenos Aires; New York’s Tsukunft (Future) in which, among other items, he published about his work with Janusz Korczak, which was translated into a number of languages, Idisher kemfer (Jewish fighter), Fraye arbeter shtime (Free voice of labor), Haḥinukh (Education), and Hadoar (The mail), among other serials—in New York. He was also a contributor to the Polish Jewish Nasz przegląd (Our review) in Warsaw. He edited: the Hebrew section of Keneder odler (until 1946); Alim lesifrut ḥadasha (with P. Artsi and Y. Varshavyak); Iton katan; and the children’s supplement to Nasz przegląd, entitled Mały przegląd (Little review), with Janusz Korczak. He was also a co-editor of the Hebrew translation of Graetz’s history of the Jews (Warsaw, 1930). In book form, in Hebrew: the textbooks, Tora lematḥilim (Torah for beginners), Mikraa (Reader), Neviim lematḥilim (The Prophets for beginners), Sefer hadikduk (Grammar), Amenu baavar uvahove (Our people in the past and the present), and Sefer ḥadash (New book), among others; in Yiddish, A velt in flamen, milkhome-iberlebungen (A world in flames, wartime experiences) (Montreal, 1942), 240 pp., which described the beginning of WWII and the wandering paths of Jewish refugees in various countries. He also published under the pen name “Yavan,” among others. He was involved in the second volume of the Dertsiungs-entsiklopedye (Encyclopedia of education) (New York, 1959), pp. 241-63, with an essay on methods of teaching history. He died in Tel Aviv.
Sources: Y. Gelbfabn, in Der moment (Warsaw) (January 7, 1936); Mortkhe Oley, in Haynt (Warsaw) (June 27, 1937); Dr. R. Feldshuh, Yidisher gezelshaftlekher leksikon (Jewish community handbook) (Warsaw, 1939), pp. 908-9; Kh. M. Kayzerman, in Keneder odler (Montreal) (July 29, 1942); Shmuel Niger, in Der tog (New York) (September 12, 1942); Y. Leshtshinski, in Fraye arbeter shtime (New York) (October 15, 1942); Leshtshinski, in Keneder odler (November 29, 1942); Symcha Pietruszka, Yidishe folks-entsiklopedye (Jewish people’s encyclopedia), vol. 2 (Montreal, 1943), p. 286; Avrom Reyzen, in Di feder (New York) (1945); G. Aronson, in Tsukunft (New York) (January 1945); Y. Rabinovitsh, in Keneder odler (November 6, 1945; November 5, 1959); Y. Y. Sigal, in Keneder odler (January 27, 1947); D. Perski, in Hadoar (New York) (February 26, 1954).
Khayim Leyb Fuks