Sunday, 2 October 2016


            He was born in Sebezh, Vitebsk district, Byelorussia, to a father who was a peddler in the village.  He worked as a teacher in a religious school.  Until the October Revolution in 1917, he was active in the Bund, thereafter switching over to the Russian Communist Party and contributing to the Commissariat for Jewish Affairs in Moscow.  He served as one of the organizers of the conference on the cultural and educational institutions in the Commissariat (Moscow, October 1918).  When the Bolshevik authorities took control in Vilna in 1919, he stood at the head of the Jewish division of the People’s Commissariat for Education and Culture in Lithuania and Byelorussia.  Until the late 1920s he was a teacher in the pedagogical technicum and other higher Jewish educational institutions in Byelorussia and Ukraine.  He began writing (using the pen name “S. Genrik”) with an article characterizing Jewish folk learning in Di yidishe velt (The Jewish world) 5 (1915) in Vilna, as well as with articles in the Russian Jewish Vestnik ope (OPE herald)—“Courier of the Society for the promotion of enlightenment” [among the Jews of Russia]).  From that point on, he wrote articles on cultural issues and educational problems for: Der frayer arbeter (The free laborer) in Vitebsk (1918); the weekly Kultur un bildung (Culture and education), a publication of the Commissariat in Moscow (1918-1920), roughly twenty-eight issues; the biweekly Folksbildung (People’s education) in Vilna (1919), three issues with the third issue not yet off the presses when the Poles occupied Vilna; Di naye velt (The new world) in Vilna (1919), edited by Shmuel Niger; Komunistishe velt (Communist world) in Moscow (1918-1920); Prolit (Proletarian literature) in Kiev; Di royte velt (The red world) in Kharkov; and Oktyabr (October) and Shtern (Star) in Mink (in March 1926 the latter published a portion of his work “Poyerim-oyfshtand” [Farmers’ resistance]); among others.  Together with A. Finkel, he assembled the poetry collection Mut (Courage) (Moscow, 1920), 190 pp., and with A. Brakhman and Sh. Palatnik, the reader Klasnkamf (Class struggle), a textbook for schools at the secondary level, the pedagogical technicum, and Soviet Party schools, the first part with a foreword, preface, and drawings, maps, and tables (Moscow, 1928), 320 pp. (aside for general material, he also wrote three of the chapters concerned with class struggle among Jews).  He engaged in serious research into the history of the Jewish labor movement and in this connection published works in Yiddish and Russian periodicals in the Soviet Union.  In Russian he published: Borʹba klassov i partii vo 1-i Gosudarstvennoi Dume (Struggle of classes and parties at the first state Duma) (1924); and Ocherki istorii feodal’no-krepostnoi Rossii (Studies in the history of feudal serfdom in Russia) (Moscow, 1934), 304 pp.  His pamphlet Metodologishe shtudyen vegn di feodale tsaytn in rusland (Methodological studies of feudal times in Russia) appeared in 1933 and was later banned in the Soviet Union, though it was published in an abridged form in Munich in 1947 (70 pp.).  After 1934 his name no longer figures in Soviet—Russian or Yiddish—bibliography.  He also wrote under such names as: Sh. Tomsini, Ben-Moyshe, and Simkhe.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol.1; Shmuel Niger, in Literarishe bleter (Warsaw) (April 7, 1927); Z. Ratner and Y. Kvitni, Dos yidishe bukh in f.s.s.r. in di yorn 1917-1921 (The Yiddish book in the USSR for the years 1917-1921) (Kiev, 1930), pp. 216, 433, 717; Y. Bronshteyn, in Atake (Minsk) (1931), p. 71; D. Tsharni (Daniel Charney), A yortsendlik aza, 1914-1924, memuarn (Such a decade, 1914-1924, memoirs) (New York, 1943), pp. 218, 237, 247; information from G. Aronson in New York.
Khayim Leyb Fuks

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