LEYB TURBOVITSH (1886/1887-September 1943)
He was born in Vilna. In his student years, he was active in the Zionist Socialist Party. In 1907 he completed the Vilna Jewish teachers’ institute, and later under Polish rule he graduated from the History Department of Vilna University with a master’s degree. Until WWI he was a teacher in a Russian Jewish public school in Brisk (Brest), Lithuania, and other cities, later returning to Vilna and, during the German occupation, he was one of the founders of the new secular Jewish school curriculum that formed at the boys’ school of “Mefitse haskala” ([Society for the] promotion of enlightenment), established in 1915. He was a teacher of history in the school, starting in 1916-1917. For a certain period of time in the early 1920s, he was assistant manager of the education department in the Vilna Jewish community and director of the Jewish Frebel course there. Over the years 1922-1926, he was the administrator of the eight-level girls’ school named for Sh. Frug in Vilna. In 1926 he was director of the humanities high school of the Vilna Central Education Committee; later, until WWII, he directed the senior high school under the Central Education Committee which—thanks his broad and deep secular and Jewish learning—was elevated to a high rank. Under the Nazis in the Vilna ghetto, Turbovitsh was in charge of public school no. 3, of the high school courses, and again director of the senior high school. He was also active in the teachers’ association, literary society, and a member of the speakers’ collective in the society. He published articles on pedagogical and educational questions, as well as literary treatments, in: Lebn (Life) (1920), Di naye shul (The new school) (1920-1930), and Shul-pinkes (School records) (9124)—all in Vilna; Shul-vegn (School ways) in Warsaw, which began to appear in 1934; and in Vilner tog (Vilna day). In book form: Psikhologye (Psychology) (Vilna, 1934), 26 pp. He was working on a monograph in the Vilna ghetto, Geshikhte fun vilner yidn (History of Vilna Jewry), for which he received an award from the Association of Writers and Artists—300 closely written pages, now housed at YIVO in New York. In September 1943 he was deported from the Vilna ghetto to the Klooga concentration camp in Estonia, and there he was murdered.
Sources: Y. Broydes, Vilna hatsiyonit ṿeaskaneha (Zionist Vilna and its officials) (Tel Aviv, 1939), p. 271; Y. Anilovitsh, in Shriftn far psikhologye un pedagogik (Writings on psychology and pedagogy), vol. 2 (Vilna, 1940); Sh. Katsherginski, in Khurbn vilne (The Holocaust in Vilna) (New York, 1947), p. 196; Dr. M. Dvorzhetski (Mark Dvorzetsky), Yerusholayim delite in kamf un umkum (The Jerusalem of Lithuania in struggle and death) (Paris, 1948), see index; H. Abramovitsh, in Lerer yisker-bukh (Remembrance volume for teachers) (New York, 1954), pp. 172-74; Shmerke katsherginski ondenk-bukh (Memoirs of Shmerke Katsherginski) (Buenos Aires, 1955).
Khayim Leyb Fuks