Saturday, 6 August 2016


YITSKHOK ZAR (ISAAC ZAAR) (December 1, 1884-October 3, 1957)
            The pseudonym of Yitskhok-Zelig Rabinovitsh, he was born in Kurenits (Kurenets), Vilna district, and he was raised in Smorgon (Smarhon’).  Until age fourteen he studied in religious primary school and yeshiva.  He later graduated from a Russian public school in Vilna.  From his early youth, he took part in the establishment and building of proletarian Zionism among Jews.  At the beginning of 1906 he published in the Russian Jewish newspaper Evreiskaia zhizn’ (Jewish life) a series of theoretical articles, such as: “Di natsyonale virtshaft un di teritorye” (The national economy and the territory), “Di statik un dinamik fun yidishn proletaryat” (The static and dynamic among the Jewish proletariat), “Problemen fun der yidisher virklekhkeyt” (Problems of Jewish reality), and “Dreyste gedanken, pakhdonish verter” (Bold ideas, cowardly words), which were later published as separate pamphlets.  In 1907 he wrote for the Russian Jewish periodicals: Evreiskaia mysl’ (Jewish thought) and Rassvet (Dawn) in St. Petersburg.  And, he co-edited (with Yitskhok Ben-Tsvi) in Vilna the official organ of the Labor Zionists which because of censorship appeared under a variety of titles: Proletarisher gedank (Proletarian idea), Forverts (Forward), and the like.  He also published at this time in Russian in pamphlet form the treatises: Vozmozhna li Evreiskai︠a︡ sot︠s︡ial-demokratia?  (Is a Jewish social democracy possible?) (Odessa: Kadima, 1906), 31 pp.; and one on the “return of the Bund to social democracy” (Vilna: Hamer, 1907).  In that year of 1907, Zar participated in the eighth Zionist Congress and from there took off for the United States to edit the organ of Labor Zionism, Der idisher kemfer (The Jewish fighter).  In America he studied medicine in Chicago (1910) and law in Minneapolis (1913); and he studied philosophy at the University of Mexico (1919-1920).  At the same time (as well as later), he contributed to Yiddish and English newspapers: Der tog (The day), Morgn-zhurnal (Morning journal), Di tsayt (The times), Varhayt (Truth), Der idisher arbayter (The Jewish worker), Makabyen (Macabees), and American Jewish Chronicle—in New York; Keneder odler (Canadian eagle) in Montreal; Idisher kuryer (Jewish courier) and Idisher herald (Jewish herald) in Chicago (1911); Di idishe velt (The Jewish world) in Philadelphia; and Der folks-vekhter (The people’s watchman) in Minneapolis, which he edited (1913-1914); among other serials.  From 1923 he was a regular contributor to Morgn-zhurnal in New York, in which he published articles on politics generally and Jewish issues in particular.  He authored the pamphlets (in addition to those mentioned above): Der alef beys fun poyle tsienizm (The ABC of Labor Zionism) (New York, 1917), 39 pp.; Der natsyonal-fond fun di poyle-tsien (The national fund of the Labor Zionists) (New York, 1917), 48 pp.; Retung un bafrayung (Rescue and liberation) (New York, 1947), 20 pp., published also as his own reworking in English as Rescue and Liberation (New York, 1954).  He edited the official organ of the Jewish Socialist Labor Party, Labor Zionists of America: Der idisher arbayter.  Among his pen names: Ben-Avrom, Dr. Z. Yitskhoki, Zelig, and L. Ruskador.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol.1; D. B. Tirkel, in Pinkes fun amopteyl (Records of the American division of YIVO) (New York, 1927-1928), p. 261; Y. Hesheles, in Tog (New York) (May 30, 1954); 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), see index; Yankev Glatshteyn and Ts. Y. Kahan, in Idisher kemfer (New York) (March 23, 1956); obituary notices in Tog-morgn-zhurnal and Forverts (New York) (October 4, 1957); A. Oyerbakh, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (October 6, 1957); M. Braun, Mit yidishn oygn (With Jewish eyes) (New York, 1958), pp. 245-48.
Khayim Leyb Fuks

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