BETSALEL TERKEL (February 24, 1909-July 21, 1961)
He was born in Sokolke (Sokółka), Grodno district, Russian Poland. In his youth he moved with his parents to Vilna. He studied in religious primary school, public school, yeshiva, and later in a senior high school for journalists in Warsaw. He was active in “Yung vilne” (Young Vilna), the Jewish literary association, and the Jewish division of the Vilna journalists’ syndicate, among other such groups. At the time of the German invasion of Poland during WWII, he escaped to Russia and for many years he was exiled to Soviet camps. In 1946 he returned to Poland and from there left for Paris where he was a cofounder of the refugee writers’ association and active in the party of the right Labor Zionists. From 1952 he was living in Argentina. He was active in Mapai (Workers’ Party in the Land of Israel), YIVO, and the H. D. Nomberg Writers’ Association. He debuted in print with poetry in Di tsayt (The times) in 1929, later contributing to: Y. M. Vaysenberg’s Inzer hofening (Our hope) in Warsaw; Ovnt-kuryer (Evening courier), Di tsayt, and Ekspres (Express) in Vilna; Arbeter-vort (Workers’ word) and Unzer vort (Our word) in Paris; Di naye tsayt (The new time), Der shpigl (The mirror), Ilustrirte literarishe bleter (Iluustrated literary leaves), and Dos vort fun beys-am (The word from Beys-Am)—in Buenos Aires. He published stories, feature pieces, and articles. He edited Frimorgn (Morning) in Vilna (1933-1934); co-edited Grodner opklangen (Grodno echoes) in Grodno (1952-1954) and Byalistoker vegn (Bialystok ways) in Buenos Aires; and served on the editorial board of the afternoon newspaper Di yidishe tat (The Jewish deed) in Warsaw (1937-1939). He also published under such pseudonyms as: B. Tur, B. Turko, Tsaler, Duner, and “Ata bin ikh.” In book form he published: Tsvishn shakaln, sheve medorey “gan-eydn” (Among jackals, seven departments of the “Garden of Eden”) (Buenos Aires, 1959), 361 pp., descriptions of the lives of Jewish refugees in the Soviet Union, Poland, and France; Di zun fargeyt bay amu-darya, funen pleytim-lebn in ratnfarband (The sun sets on the Amu Darya, from the lives of refugees in the Soviet Union) (Buenos Aires: Association of Polish Jews, 1963), 379 pp. He died after a lengthy lung illness in Buenos Aires.
Sources: Sh. Katsherginski, in Khurbn vilne (The Holocaust in Vilna) (New York, 1947), p. 178; Y. Botoshanski, in Yorbukh fun der yidisher kehile (Yearbook of the Jewish community) (Buenos Aires, 1954), p. 151; Leyzer Ran, 25 yor yung vilne (Twenty-five years of Young Vilna) (New York, 1955); H. Abramovitsh, Farshvundene geshtaltn (Disappeared figures) (Buenos Aires, 1958), pp. 44, 192; Yankev Glatshteyn, in Yidisher kemfer (New York) (September 27, 1959); F. Lerner, in Ilustrirte literarishe bleter (Buenos Aires) 1-3 (1959); M. Bezovik, in Der shpigl (Buenos Aires) (March 1959); B. Pik, in Unzer gedank (Buenos Aires) 132 (1960); D. Lederman, Fun yener zayt forhang (From the other side of the curtain) (Buenos Aires, 1960); obituary notices in Di prese (Buenos Aires) (July 23, 1961) and Der nayer moment (São Paolo) (July 28, 1961).
Khayim Leyb Fuks
[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 286.]