YUDE (JENNINGS) TOFEL (October 18, 1891-September 7, 1959)
He was born with the surname Toflewicz in Tomaszów, Poland. He studied in religious elementary school and with private tutors. In 1905 he joined his father in the United States and there completed high school, studied in college, and began to be involved in painting—he studied in art school for three years. He displayed his paintings first in New York in 1919, later in Paris where he lived for three years. He had his own shows in a dozen other cities, in addition to his participation in general exhibitions. His paintings are hanging in museums in the United States, Israel, and in private art collections. He was a cofounder of the first Jewish Art Center in New York in 1926, and of the art center of the World Jewish Culture Congress in New York in 1948. He was also a distinguished writer in Yiddish and in English. Over the years 1913-1914 he published in Fraye arbeter shtime (Free voice of labor) in New York a series of Greek legends. In 1916 he published in Dovid Ignatov’s collection Velt ayn, velt oys (World in, world out) a translation of the second song in Homer’s Iliad. In Ignatov’s revived collections Shriftn (Writings), volumes 4-7 (1919-1921), he published finely written poems in free verse and interesting essays on art, language, and philosophy. He wrote on art for: Tsukunft (Future), In zikh (Introspective), Oyfkum (Arise), Brikn (Bridges), and Hemshekh (Continuation), among other publications in New York. He adorned with drawings such work as: Naftole Gros’s Psalmen (Psalms), and Dovid Ignatov’s Dos farborgene likht (The hidden light). Among his books: Amol is geven a mentsh (There once was a man) (Paris, 1927), 132 pp.; and a monograph on his closest friend, the well-known Jewish painter B. Kapman, Benyomen kapman (Paris, 1928), in both Yiddish and English, 19 pp. He also wrote the preface to Ignatov’s Opgerisene bleter, eseyen, farblibene ksovim un fragmentn (Torn off sheets, essays, extant writings, and fragments) (Buenos Aires: Yidbukh, 1957).
Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1; obituary notices in Forverts and Tog (both: New York, September 8, 1959); Fraye arbeter shtime (New York) (October 1, 1960), Tofel’s speech about Mani Leyb; G. Talpir, in Gazit (Tel Aviv) (February-March 1961).