YOKHONEN TVERSKI (YOḤANAN TWERSKY) (May 24, 1900-November 1967)
He was born in Shpikov (Shpykiv), near Bratslav, Ukraine, into an old rabbinic family of the Chernobyl line. He lived in Odessa, later in Kishinev. Over the years 1921-1926, he studied philosophy and psychology at the University of Berlin. From 1926 until 1946, he was in the United States. For a time he was a Hebrew teacher in New Jersey, later a professor of psychology, Jewish history, and Hebrew literature at the teachers’ seminary in Boston. He gave lectures on psychology at Harvard University. He was summoned to Israel in 1948 to edit the publications of the publishing house Dvir. He was a member of the principal administration of Histadrut Hamorim (Teachers’ association) and the Israeli Pen Club. He began writing poetry in his early childhood years. He debuted in print was a story in the daily newspaper Der id (The Jew) in Kishinev (1919-1921). From that point forward, he published, stories, novels, and essays on literature, psychology, and pedagogical issues in: Unzer tsayt (Our time) in Kishinev; Tsukunft (Future) and Hadoar (The mail) in New York; Haolam (The world) in London; Di goldene keyt (The golden chain), Gilyonot (Tablets), Hatekufa (The epoch), Dorot (Generations) which he also co-edited, Moznaim (Scales), Shevile haḥinukh (Pathways in education), and Haḥinukh (Education)—in Israel. In Tsukunft he published over the course of his years in America numerous important essays, such as: “Dostoyevskis un tolstoys lebn un shafn in likht fun psikho-analiz” (Dostoevsky’s and Tolstoy’s lives and works in light of psychoanalysis) (January 1927; January 1928); “Spinozas lebn un filosofye” (Spinoza’s life and philosophy) (March 1927); on A. Liessin (March 1936); “Der yunger froyd” (The young Freud) (March 1938); on Rashi-bukh (Rashi volume) (January 1942); on Saadya Gaon (August 1942); and many others. In Shpinoza-bukh (Spinoza volume) (New York, 1932), pp. 34-53, he published a work entitled “Shinoza un laybnits” (Spinoza and Leibnitz). From Russian and German, he translated plays that were staged M. Fishzon’s theater in Kishinev. In book form he published (in Hebrew): Uriel akosta (Uriel Acosta) (Tel Aviv, 1945), 3 vols.; Alfred draifus, roman histori (Alfred Dreyfus, historical novel) (Merḥavya, 1944), 285 pp., for which he received the Lamed Prize for 1945; Heḥatser hapenimit (Inner courtyard) (Tel Aviv, 1954), 264 pp.; Meolam leolam, roman (From one world to another, a novel) (Tel Aviv, 1948), 312 pp.; Lapidim balaila, sipurim historiim (Torches at night, historical stories) (Tel Aviv, 1954), 314 pp.; Halev vehaḥerev, roman (The heart and the sword, a novel) (Tel Aviv, 1954/1955), 280 pp., a novel about Nakhmen of Braslav; and the biographical stories: Habaal shem tov (The Baal Shem Tov) (Tel Aviv, 1959), 162 pp.; Ḥaye reb levi yitsḥak miberdichev, geula al-yede ahava (The life of R. Levi Yitsḥak of Berdichev, redemption through love) (Tel Aviv, 1960), 143 pp.; Reb moshe ḥaim luzato (Reb Moshe Ḥaim Luzzatto); Pestalotsi ([Johann Heinrich] Pestalozzi); Froyd (Freud); Ratenoy ([Walter] Rathenau); Dikart ([René] Descartes); Aḥad-haam, sipur biyografi (Aḥad-haam, biographical tale) (New York, 1941), 256 pp.; Hertsel ([Theodor] Herzl); Rashi, roman histori (Rashi, historical novel) (Merḥavya, 1946), 230 pp.; Aplaton (Plato); Aristo veharambam (Aristotle and Maimonides); and more. He edited: Sefer maksimon (Maximon volume) (Boston, 1935), 210 pp.; Sefer turov (Tourouff volume), with Y. Zilbershlag (Boston, 1938), 379 pp.; the publication Reshumot (official gazette of the Israeli government), with Yom-Tov Levinsky; the anthology of Hebrew prose, Et asher baḥarti (That which I have selected) (Tel Aviv, 1955), 406 pp.; and the journal of psychology and pedagogy, Haḥinukh (Tel Aviv). He conducted a private questionnaire among Jewish writers and published the answers in Di goldene keyt (The golden chain) (Tel Aviv) 2 (1949).
“His love of people and particularly his love of Jews,” wrote Meylekh Ravitsh, “that is the main motif in all of Tverski’s monographs and articles. His biographical novels are based on foundational historical episodes and events.” He died in Boston.
Sources: Biblyografishe yorbikher fun yivo (Bibliographic yearbooks from YIVO) (Warsaw, 1928), see index; Shmuel Niger, in Tsukunft (Future) (June 1934); A. Epshteyn, in Hadoar (New York) (December 14, 1945); Sh. Y. Penueli, Demuyot besifrutenu haḥadasha (Characters in our modern literature) (Tel Aviv, 1946), pp. 163-69; Ḥ. A. Rutblat, in Hadoar (New York) (June 30, 1950); D. Tidhar, in Entsiklopediya leḥalutse hayishuv uvonav (Encyclopedia of the pioneers and builders of the yishuv), vol. 3 (Tel Aviv, 1949), pp. 1772-74; M. Ravitsh, Mayn leksikon (My lexicon), vol. 3 (Montreal, 1958), pp. 191-95; Joseph Lichtenbaum, Sofre yisrael (Israeli writers) (Tel Aviv, 1959); M. Ovadiahu, in Bitsaron (New York) (Tamuz-Av [= July-September] 1959), pp. 184-85; biographical note in Heymish (Tel Aviv) 50-52; Y. Sela, in Davar (Tel Aviv) (February 3, 1961); Who’s Who in Israel (Jerusalem, 1952), p. 670.
Khayim Leyb Fuks