YANKL YANKELEVITSH (1904-1938)
He was born in the Bessarabian town of Goneshti, and later his family moved to Dubosar. His father ran a paper shop and writing implements; he died when Yankl, the youngest in the family, was fourteen. He studied in religious primary school, public school, and later became a laborer. After the Bolshevik Revolution, he continued his education. Over the years 1925-1933, he lived in Odessa, studied in the local pedagogical institute (graduating in 1932). That year the authorities sent him to the then capital of Soviet Moldavia in Tiraspol to teach. He taught Yiddish language and literature there until 1938 in the Tiraspol Jewish middle school. He began publishing poetry in Odeser arbeter (Odessa worker) in 1925, and from then on he contributed poems, stories, articles, children’s tales, and translations to: Yungvald (Young forest), Der pyoner (The pioneer), and Der emes (The truth)—in Moscow; Yunger boy-klang (Young sound of construction), Yunge gvardye (Young guard), Royte velt (Red world), and Prolit (Proletarian literature)—in Kharkov; Shtern (Star), Zay greyt (Get ready), Proletarishe fon (Proletarian banner), Sovetishe literatur (Soviet literature), and Vos geven un vos gevorn (What was and what will be), an anthology—in Kiev; and Oktyabr (October) in Minsk; among others. He authored the collection Zaft, lider, 1926-1930 (Juice, poetry, 1926-1930) (Kharkov, 1931), 107 pp.; these poems were sharply criticized by the Communist critic H. Remenik (in Prolit) because they “lacked motifs which should have celebrated the Bolshevik Revolution in the building of socialism.” He was also the author of Lagern (Camps), poems about the Red Army, the Moldavian steppes, and the like (Kharkov-Kiev, 1934), 74 pp.; Khaveyrim, detseylungen far kinder (Comrades, stories for children) (Kiev, 1937), 48 pp.; Fraynt (Friend), nature motifs, poems of youth and love, and Moldavian ballads (Kiev, 1938), 89 pp. His work was represented in: Shlakhtn, fuftsn yor oktyaber in der kinstlerisher literatur (Battles, fifteen years of October in artistic literature), compiled together with H. Orland and B. Kahan (Kharkov-Kiev, 1932); Deklamater fun der sovetisher yidisher literatur (Reciter of Soviet Yiddish literature) (Moscow, 1934); Komyug, literarish-kinstlerisher zamlbukh ([Jewish] Communist Youth, literary-artistic anthology) (Moscow, 1938). On March 31, 1938 he was arrested in Tiraspol. He had protested the closing of local Jewish schools. He was sentenced to ten years of forced labor without rights. This was, of course, nothing short of a cover for a death sentence. In 1956 his family received an official notice of his rehabilitation. According to Hershl Vaynraykh, he was murdered by the NKVD.
Sources: M. Kashtshevatski, in Prolit (Kharkov) (March-April 1930); H. R. (Remenik), in Prolit (September-October 1931); A. Abtshuk, Etyudn un materialn tsu der geshikhte fun der yidisher literatur bavegung in FSRR (Studies and material for the history of the Yiddish literature movement in the Soviet Union) (Kharkov, 1934), p. 336; Y. Bronshteyn, Sheferishe problemen fun der yidisher sovetisher poezye (Creative problems in Soviet Yiddish poetry) (Minsk, 1936), p. 59; A. Druker, in Yunge gvardye (Kharkov) 25 (1935); H. G. in Proletarishe pen (Kiev) 46 (1935); H. Vaynraykh, Blut af der zun (Blood on the sun) (New York, 1950), pp. 51, 194-95.
Khayim Leyb Fuks
[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 295; Chaim Beider, Leksikon fun yidishe shrayber in ratn-farband (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers in the Soviet Union), ed. Boris Sandler and Gennady Estraikh (New York: Congress for Jewish Culture, Inc., 2011), p. 174.]