Wednesday, 28 June 2017

MOYSHE-KHAYIM LAPIDUS

MOYSHE-KHAYIM LAPIDUS
            He came from Nesvizh (Nesvyžius), Byelorussia.  He was the author of morality books and translations of midrashim into Yiddish, such as: Divre moyshe (Words of Moses), “collected fine essays, stories, and fables from the Talmud and midrashim” (Berdichev, 1901), 30 pp.; and Mayse khakhomim (A story of wide men) (Berdichev, 1907), 32 pp.
Khayim Leyb Fuks


SHMUEL LESHTSINSKI

SHMUEL LESHTSINSKI (1887-December 29, 1952)
            He was born in Rozishtsh (Rozhyshche), Volhynia.  He attended religious primary school and privately studied Hebrew and modern Hebrew literature (one of his teachers was his fellow townsman, Lamed Shapiro), and he later graduated from a senior high school in Kiev.  Around 1905 he moved to Belgium, studied technology at the University of Liège, and received an engineer’s diploma.  In 1915 he immigrated to the United States.  In New York he studied for a time at Columbia University.  He later was employed as an engineer, working initially for the federal government and later for the municipality of New York.  In 1922 he debuted in print with an article—entitled “Der gezelshaftlekher un folks-kolektiv” (The social and popular collective)—in the weekly newspaper Dos vort (The word) in New York.  He went on to contribute to: Di tsukunft (The future), Fraye arbeter-shtime (Free voice of labor), and Idisher kemfer (Jewish fighter)—in New York; and Di idishe velt (The Jewish world) in Philadelphia; among others.  In the main he published literary critical essays and articles on general topics.  In book form: Literarishe eseyen (Literary essays), vol. 1 (New York: Gershuni, 1938), 227 pp., vol. 2 (New York: Gershuni, 1955), 247 pp.  He also wrote in Hebrew, contributing to the collection Metsuda (Citadel), edited by Dr. Sh. Ravidovitsh.  He died in New York in an automobile accident.  “Having withdrawn from the literary turmoil,” wrote Yankev Glatshteyn, “he began nonetheless to note down his thoughts on Jewish life and Jewish work….  Standing aloof, he displayed great love for Yiddish literature and its creators.  Characteristic of his literary essays is actually the warmth, the fondness, and the solemn tone which provided the atmosphere of his criticism….  Everywhere one can encounter in his work fine, sensible sentences which bring forth the author being analyzed…without ready-made banalities or expedient prejudices, even when he was right on the mark with those very authors of modern Yiddish literature.”

Sources: A. Glants-Leyeles, in Tog (New York) (January 5, 1953); Sh. Ts. Zetser, introduction to vol. 2 of Leshtsinski’s Literarishe eseyen (New York, 1955); Yankev Glatshteyn, in Idisher kemfer (New York) (December 7, 1956); Sh. Slutski, Avrom Reyzen-biblyografye (Avrom Reyzen’s bibliography) (New York, 1956), nos. 5037.
Borekh Tshubinski


NAKHMEN LESHTSHINSKI

NAKHMEN LESHTSHINSKI (1903-1938)
            He came from a town near Odessa, Ukraine.  After completing high school, he entered the “Pioneer” movement.  In 1921 he settled in the land of Israel.  He worked for a time on the land and on kibbutzim.  He was a member of the central committee of the Palestine Communist Party.  In 1930 he was arrested by the British and sent to Soviet Russia.  He was a lecturer at the University of the Toilers of the East in Moscow and a member of the editorial board of the theoretical monthly Revoliutsionyi Vostok (Revolutionary East).  From 1923 he contributed to and was a member of the editorial board of virtually all Yiddish and Hebrew publications of the Palestine Communist Party.  He published under such names as: Nadav, Hekht, and Lan.  In 1938 he was arrested by the Soviet authorities, deported to camps in the far North, and died there.

Sources: M. Unger, in Zamlbukh lekoved dem tsveyhundert un fuftsikstn yoyvl fun der yidisher prese, 1686-1936 (Anthology in honor of the 250th jubilee of the Yiddish press, 1686-1936), ed. Dr. Y. Shatski (New York, 1937); Y. Berger-Barzilai, in Yisroel shtime (Tel Aviv) (March 6, 1962).
Khayim Leyb Fuks


LIPMAN-MORTKHE LESHTSHINSKI

LIPMAN-MORTKHE LESHTSHINSKI
            He hailed from Posen.  He lived later in Breslau and Königsberg, Germany.  He was the author of religious texts in Judeo-German: Kol nehi (The sound of lamentation), “the Scroll of Lamentation and the legends that were connected to Tisha b’Av” (Breslau, 1829), 116 pp.; Yehudis khanike (Judith and Hanukkah), “recast according to various sources” (Königsberg, 1833), 92 pp.; Blumen tsu shmeken dos naye yohr (Flowers to smell the new year), “liturgical hymn, translations into Yiddish” (Berlin, 1834), 30 pp.; Khurbn beysamigdesh (The destruction of the Temple), “drenched in tears for Zion, Jerusalem: for Tish b’Av, drawn from Talmud [Tractate] Gittin” (Berlin, 1835), 32 pp.; Yankevs ankunft in egipten (Jacob’s arrival in Egypt), “dramatic images according to midrashim” (Breslau, 1938), 52 pp.; Moyshe rabeynu (Moses, our teacher), “a shortened story according to the Torah and midrash” (Hannover, 1839), 16 pp.

Sources: Bet eked sefarim; according to materials from Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati, Ohio.
Khayim Leyb Fuks


Tuesday, 27 June 2017

YANKEV LESHTSHINSKI (JAKOB LESTSCHINSKY)

YANKEV LESHTSHINSKI (JAKOB LESTSCHINSKY) (August 26, 1876-March 20, 1966)
            The brother of Yoysef Leshtshinski, he was born in Horodishche (Gorodishche), Kiev district, Ukraine, into a fervently religious home.  He attended religious elementary school, was studying Talmud at age eight, was frightfully devout, and went every morning to the ritual bath.  At age fourteen he began to help his parents in their dry goods and clothing shop, though not ceasing his studies.  At age eighteen he was captured by the Jewish Enlightenment and began reading Hamelits (The spectator) and Hebrew Enlightenment books.  In 1896 he fled from his pious home to Odessa, where he went hungry, was barely able to manage by giving Hebrew lessons, and prepared himself to sit for the eighth class in high school.  Under the influence of Aḥad Haam’s Al parshat derakhim (At a crossroads), he turned away from general subject matter and focused on Hebrew grammar, began reading solely in Hebrew, and traveled through cities and towns, organizing Zionist circles on the basis of Aḥad Haam’s program.  In 1901 he moved to Berne, Switzerland, studied for a short time at the university there, became acquainted with the literature of the Russian populists, and returned to Russia as a revolutionary.  He founded the first revolutionary Zionist groups in Ekaterinoslav and Warsaw and wrote and distributed hectographically-produced letters in Hebrew on the pioneers, “the avant-garde of Jewish revolutionaries.”  In this period he fell into the hands of the Tsarist police on several occasions and spent time in jails in Kremenchuk, Odessa, and Warsaw.  He took part in the historic conference of Labor Zionists in Vilna (June 1903), at which he worked with the left minority which held that Labor Zionists must take an active part in the political struggle in their country.  He was also a delegate from Warsaw to the sixth Zionist congress at which he joined the group of leftist territorialists.  In July 1904, at the pre-conference of revolutionary proletarian Zionist organizations in Warsaw, he (together with Y. Novakovski, his brother Yoysef Leshtshinski, Alter Yofe, Shmuel Khsidov-Tsodokov, and B. Fridland, representative of “Vozrozhdenie” [Renaissance]) was coopted onto the organizing bureau which prepared for the conference in Odessa (December 1904) at which was established the Zionist Socialist Party.  He became one of the party leaders, was involved in all party meetings, and worked on all party publications.  His literary work began (using the pen name “Eḥad Kanaim” [one of the zealots]) in 1901, and he debuted in print in Hashiloa (The shiloah), edited by Dr. Joseph Klausner, in Odessa (1903), with a piece entitled: “Statistika shel ayara aḥat” (Statistics from one town).  His first writings in Yiddish, that same year, were proclamations connected to the pogrom in Kishinev and an illegal pamphlet about the pogrom in Homel (Gomel).  In 1904 he published in Perets’s Yudishe biblyotek (Yiddish library) a piece entitled “Di yuden in London” (The Jews of London)—a description of the “shvits-sistem” (sweating system) in which Jewish immigrant laborers were at the time employed.  A second, longer piece—“Der idishe arbeter” (The Jewish laborer), which announed Leshtshinski as one of the first economists in Yiddish—was first published in Tsukunft (Future) in New York (1906).  It constituted one of the first efforts to apply the Marxist method in relation to the economic situation of the Jewish population in Russia at the time.  After the first Russian Revolution (October 1905), he worked on the Zionist Socialist Party organs: Unzer veg (Our way), Der nayer veg (The new way), and Dos vort (The word), among others.  With the founding of Haynt (Today) in Warsaw, he for a long period of time was in charge of a special rubric regarding Jewish economic interests.  He also published his articles in all the major newspapers throughout the world.  From 1906 he was effectively outside the Zionist Socialist Party, although in 1910 he still took part in the party conference in Vienna.  Shortly before this conference, he was exiled from Russia, lived for a time in Zurich, and studied political science at the local university.  Returning illegally to Russia before WWI, he was, after the February Revolution (1917), in Kiev one of the founders of the united Jewish socialist party—the Fareynikte—selected onto the central committee of the party, and served as a member of the editorial collective of the party organ Di naye tsayt (The new times), where he published articles daily on current political topics.  When the Fareynikte in Ukraine merged with the Bund, Leshtshinski, too, went along, but he remained passive.  He later left Soviet Russia and settled in Berlin, where he served a representative and correspondent for the Forverts (Forward) in New York.  Aside from working for all the aforementioned newspapers, over the course of his long literary activities, he contributed to: Der fraynd (The friend) in St. Petersburg-Warsaw; Literarishe bleter (Literary leaves), Bikhervelt (Book world), Di naye gezelshaft The new society), and Folkstsaytung (People’s newspaper)—in Warsaw; Di idishe shtime (The Jewish voice) in Kovno; Idishe shtime (Jewish voice), Dos folk (The people), and Frimorgn (Morning)—in Riga; Parizer haynt (Paris today) in Paris; Vuhin (Whither) and Di yudishe velt (The Jewish world)—in Vilna; Haolam (The world) in Vilna-Berlin; Hashiloa in Odessa-London; the Russian-Jewish Razsviet (Dawn), Voskhod (Arise), and Russkaia mysl’ (Russian thought); and Zeitschrift für Demographie un Statistik der Juden (Periodical for the demography and statistic on Jews) in Berlin.  In Hebrew and German publications of: Enzyklopädie Judaica in Berlin; Entsiklopediya shel galuyot (Encyclopedia of the Diaspora), Warsaw volume; Entsiklopediya haivrit (Encyclopedia of the Hebrew language), Davar (Word), Hapoel hatsayir (Young laborer), Niv hakevutsa (Words of the collective), Beterem (Before), and Goldene keyt (Golden chain)—in the state of Israel; Universal Jewish Encyclopedia in New York; Sefer shimon dubnov (Volume for Shimon Dubnow) (New York, 1954); and more.  He was co-editor (with B. Dinur and A. Tartakover) of the anthology Klal yisrael, perakim besotsialogiya shel haam hayehudi (The community of Israel, chapters in the sociology of the Jewish people) (Jerusalem, 1954).  He was one of the initiators of YIVO, and over the course of many years he ran the economics and statistics section of YIVO; and he edited YIVO publications (together with Professor Ber Brutskus and Yankev Segal): Bleter far yidisher demografye, statistik un ekonomik (Papers on Jewish demography, statistics, and economics), 5 volumes, in Berlin; Ekonomishe shriftn (Writings in economics) in Berlin-Vilna; and Yidishe ekonomik (Jewish economics) in Warsaw.  He also contributed to Algemeyne entsiklopedye (General encyclopedia) from the Dubnov Fund; and he co-edited the book Vitebsk amol (Vitebsk in the past) (New York, 1956), 644 pp.
           His books include: Der idisher arbayter in rusland (The Jewish worker in Russia) (Vilna, 1906), 114 pp. + 20 pp., with tables; Der idisher arbayter in London (The Jewish worker in London) (Vilna, 1907), 35 pp.; Unzere natsyonale foderungen (Our national demands) (Kiev, 1914), 38 pp.; Di idishe avtonomye amol un haynt (Jewish autonomy then and now) (Kiev, 1918), 48 pp.; Dos ekonomishe lebn fun di yidn in rusland (The economic life of Jews in Russia) (Kiev, 1918), 44 pp.; Dos idishe ekonomishe lebn in der idisher literatur (Jewish economic life in Jewish literature) (Warsaw, 1921; Minsk: State Publ., 1921), 44 pp.; Dos idishe folk in tsifern (The Jewish people in numbers) (Berlin, 1922), 396 pp.; Der emes vegn idn in rusland (The truth about Jews in Russia) (Berlin, 1925), 64 pp.; Di idishe vanderung far di letste 25 yor (Jewish migration over the past twenty-five years) (Berlin, 1927), 84 pp.; Der bankrot fun tsienizm, draysik yerike bilans (The bankruptcy of Zionism, thirty-year balance) (Warsaw, 1927), 32 pp.; Di antviklung fun idishn folk far di letste 100 yor (The growth of the Jewish people over the past century) (Berlin, 1928), 325 pp.; Di onheyb fun der emigratsye un kolonizatsye bay idn in 19th yorhundert (The beginning of emigration and colonization of Jews in the nineteenth century) (Berlin, 1929), 71 pp.; Tsvishn lebn un toyt, tsen yor yidish lebn in sovet-rusland (Between life and death, ten years of Jewish life in Soviet Russia) (Vilna, 1930), 284 pp.; Di ekonomishe lage fun yidn in poyln (The economic condition of Jews in Poland) (Berlin, 1931), 152 pp.; Der yidisher ekonomisher khurbn, nokh der velt-milkhome in mizrekh un tsentral eyrope (The Jewish economic destruction, after the world war in Eastern and Central Europe) (Paris, 1934), 151 pp.; Di tsol yidn in der velt (The number of Jews in the world) (Vilna, 1936), 197 pp.; Di ekonomishe katastrofe fun yidn in daytshland un poyln (The economic catastrophe for Jews in Germany and Poland) (Paris, 1936), 44 pp.; Dos sovetishe yidntum (Soviet Jewry) (New York, 1941), 382 pp.; Yidn in der shtotisher bafelkerung in umophengikn poyln (Jews in the urban population of independent Poland) (New York, 1943), 55 pp.; Der oyfboy fun yidishn ekonomishn lebn in eyrope nokh der milkhome (The construction of Jewish economic life in Europe after the war) (New York, 1944), 44 pp.; Vuhin geyen mir? Yidishe vanderung amol un haynt (Where are we going?: Jewish migration then and now) (New York, 1944), 135 pp.; Di idishe katastrofe, di metodes fun ir forshung (The Jewish catastrophe, methods to research it) (New York, 1944), 239 pp.; Afn rand fun opgrunt fun yidishn lebn in poyln, 1927-1933 (At the edge of the abyss of Jewish life in Poland, 1927-1937) (Buenos Aires, 1947), 247 pp.; Di lage fun idn in di lateyn-amerikaner lender (The condition of Jews in Latin American countries) (New York, 1948), 74 pp.; Erev khurbn fun yidishn lebn in poyln, 1935-1937 (On the eve of the destruction of Jewish life in Poland, 1935-1937) (Buenos Aires, 1951), 255 p..; Di lage fun yidishn folk afn shvel fun 1952 (The condition of the Jewish people at the threshold of 1952) (New York, 1952), 26 pp.; Dos natsyonale ponem fun goles-yidentum (The national face of diaspora Jewry) (Buenos Aires, 1955), 442 pp.  In various periods, he also brought out a large number of pamphlets in Yiddish, Hebrew, Russian, German, Polish, and English.  His most important work appeared in translations into Hebrew and other languages.
            In March 1933 he was arrested in Berlin by Hitler’s police.  Thanks to the efforts of Forverts, he was freed after an invention by Washington and exiled from Hitler’s Germany.  He stayed for a short time in Prague and from there left for Riga, but because of his disclosures in Forverts concerning the semi-fascist Latvian government, he was kicked out (summer 1934) of Riga; he went from there to Poland, where he was close to the Bund and carried out a questionnaire (handled by the central committee of the Youth Bund in Poland) among Jewish laboring youth in Poland.  Leshtshinski remained in Poland until the summer of 1938, and then went on vacation to Marienbad, but the Polish government would not allow him back into Poland because of his description in Forverts of the pogroms against Jews in Poland.  As he was then delayed for several months in Switzerland and France, he (late November 1938) came to New York, which for many years would be his place of residence and where he actively took part in Jewish cultural and community life.  In 1956 and 1961, the Yiddish press throughout the world marked (with articles and essays) his eightieth birthday and his eighty-fifth birthday.  He lived for several years in Miami Beach, Florida.  From January 1959 he was a permanent resident in the state of Israel.  His last books—Hatefutsa hayehudit (The Jewish diaspora) (Jerusalem, 1960), 371 pp., and Hapezura hayehudit (The Jewish dispersion) (Jerusalem, 1961), 332 pp.—were translated from Yiddish originals into Hebrew and published by Mosad Bialik.  He used as pen names: Tulin and B. D.  At his eighty-fifth birthday, Alexander Manor published: Yaakov leshchinski, hahoge vehaḥoker (Yankev Leshtshinski, the thinker and the researcher), with a preface by A. Tartakover (Jerusalem, 1961), 234 pp., which gives a multifaceted picture of Leshtshinski’s path as a scholar and of the economic and social struggle of the Jewish people from the nineteenth century until our own time.  He died in Jerusalem.



Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2, with a bibliography; G. Aronson, in Tsukunft (New York) (July 1932); Professor Ber Brutskus, in Tsukunft (August 1932); H. Erlikh, in Folkstsaytung (Warsaw) (May 7, 1937); Yankev Glatshteyn, In tokh genumen (In essence) (New York, 1947), pp. 332-39; P. Almuni (M. V. Bernshteyn), in Unzer gedank (Buenos Aires) (September 2, 1952); Y. Trunk, in Tsukunft (April 1955); Dr. F. Fridman, in Tsukunft (November 1956); A. Tsaytlin, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (April 20, 1956); A. Tartakover, in Gesher (Tel Aviv) 4 (1956); B. Sherman, in Idisher kemfer (New York) (June 1, 1956); Dr. A. Mukdoni, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (July 15, 1956); Mukdoni, in Kultur un dertsiung (New York) (February 1957); Mukdoni, in Di goldene keyt (Tel Aviv) 27 (1957); A. Menes, in Forverts (New York) (September 8, 1957); Y. Grinboym, Pene hador (The face of the generation) (Tel Aviv, 1959), pp. 223-37; A. Golomb, in Der veg (Mexico City) (September 9, 1961); Moyshe Shtarkman, in Folk un velt (New York) (December 1961); A. Oyerbakh, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (December 17, 1961); Chone Shmeruk, comp., Pirsumim yehudiim babrit-hamoatsot, 1917-1961 (Jewish publications in the Soviet Union, 1917-1961) (Jerusalem, 1961), see index; Alexander Manor, in Di goldene keyt 39 (1961), pp. 229-32; Dr. M. Handel, in Davar (Tel Aviv) (Tevat 11 [= December 30], 1960); G. Kressel, in Moznaim (Tel Aviv) (Adar [=February-March] 1961), pp. 309-11; Y. Gilboa, in Maariv (Tel Aviv) (Elul 13 [= August 25], 1961); E. Naks, in Tsukunft (February 1962); Y. Gothelf, in Davar (Adar א 5 [= February 9], 1962); Biblyografye fun yidishe bikher vegn khurbn un gvure (Bibliography of Yiddish books concerning the Holocaust and heroism) (New York: YIVO and Yad Vashem, 1962), see index.
Borekh Tshubinski


YOYSEF LESHTSHINSKI (YOYSEF KHMURNER, JÓZEF LESZCZYŃSKI)

YOYSEF LESHTSHINSKI (YOYSEF KHMURNER, JÓZEF LESZCZYŃSKI) (January 2, 1884-July 30, 1935)
            The brother of Yankev Leshtshinski, he was born in Horodishche (Gorodishche), Kiev district, Ukraine.  Until age fourteen he attended religious primary school and yeshivas, and later, as an external student, he prepared for the high school examinations.  At age fifteen he went to join his brother in Odessa, where he joined the Zionist movement and was active in the “cheder metukan” (improved religious elementary school) in which his brother worked as a teacher.  He soon returned to his home town and in 1901, when his brother also returned from Odessa, he was active in local pioneer circles, in evening courses, and in the Jewish library.  He arrived for the first time in Warsaw in the summer of 1903, lived by giving lessons, and became active in circles of the first Labor Zionists.  In July 1904 he took part in the Warsaw pre-conference of the proletarian Zionist organization and was thought to be a member of the Russian organization bureau.  At that time he was already an extraordinary speaker and polemicist and had acquired a name among Jewish laborers in Warsaw.  In December 1904 he was a delegate from Warsaw to the founding conference of the Zionist socialists in Odessa, was brought on the central committee of the new party, and from that point in time was a party leader and theorist of territorialism in the Jewish labor movement.  Over the years 1905-1907, he lived in Vilna, and thereafter, until 1910, in Kiev where he studied at the university.  For a time he returned to Horodishche, and he then proceeded to Paris where he continued his studies of literature and socio-economic science at the Sorbonne.  He supported himself the entire time giving private lessons and incidental literary work in Russian.  In late 1912 he returned to Russia, spent some time in his home town, and then went on to Kiev again.  When Jews in the western war arena in Poland and Lithuania, 1914-1915, were sent by the Tsarist war authorities away from their homes, he—as plenipotentiary of the relief committee for those made homeless by the war—led trains of refugees deep into Russia; at the same time, he again became active in the socialist movement.  In 1917, in the first months of the revolution in Russia, he helped unify the Zionist socialists and the Sejmists, from which was established the new “United” (Fareynikte) party, and he became the representative of the new party on the Kiev city council, in the central Ukrainian rada (parliament), and on the Jewish national council.  During the civil war in Ukraine, when the Jewish Ministry ceased to exist, Leshtshinski turned his attention to cultural work, helped fashion the Kultur-lige (Culture league) in Kiev, and became co-editor of virtually all of its publications.  Politically, he had at this time gone with the left wing of the Jewish labor movement—both in the Bund and the Fareynikte as well—which split the old parties, established in Ukraine the “Komfarband” (Communist Union), and later the “Kombund” (Communist labor Bund) and finally flowed into the Communist Party.  He experienced only a segment of this pathway.  In the summer of 1920, when the Bolsheviks repulsed a proposal for autonomy from the Jewish labor movement within the ranks of the general party, Leshtshinski and his family left Russia and in February 1921 arrived in Warsaw.  In postwar Poland, he (or Yoysef Khmurner, as he was known in Poland at the time) was one of the most active leaders of the Bund, of secular Jewish school curricula, and of the new formation in Yiddish culture and literature; theorist and author of the theses that formed the left fraction (the so-called “Tsveyer” or “twos”) in the Polish Bund; for many years he was a member of the central committee of the party; he was secretary of Central Dinezon School Committee, from which later emerged the Central Jewish School Organization (Tsisho) in Poland; at the first school conference, he was selected secretary, and in autumn 1928 (after the death of the first chair, B. Mikhlevitsh) he became chairman of Tsisho and, as its representative, visited a number of countries in Europe.  He served for many years as a representative of the Bund to meetings of the Warsaw Jewish community council.
            His literary and journalistic activities began in 1903 with a hectographically-produced proclamation concerning a strike in Warsaw.  That year he wrote up an illegal leaflet, Vegn zelbstshuts (On self-defense), brought out by an informal group in Warsaw.  Together with Shimen Dobin, he was co-author of the “Printsipn-deklaratsye” (Declaration of principles) of the party manifesto of the Zionist socialists.  He authored the first leaflet of the territorialists for the seventh Zionist congress and of the report of the congress (Odessa, 1905, with a preface by his brother Yankev).  He was a contributor and co-editor of nearly all publications of the Zionist socialist party: Der yudisher proletaryer (The Jewish proletarian) in Vilna (1905-1906); Der nayer veg (The new pathway) in Vilna, 25 issues (1906-1907)—later changed to Dos vort (The word), 12 issues, Unzer veg (Our way), 6 issues, and Folksshtime (Voice of the people), 14 issues—all in Vilna (1907).  Together with Khayim Tshemerinski, the philologist and author of the fable “Reb Mortkhele,” he edited the first Yiddish-language daily newspaper in Kiev, Dos folk (The people), 23 issues in 1905, 1 issue in 1907.  He also contributed to: the collection Der shtrahl (The beam [of light]) 1 and 2 (Vilna, 1907-1908); and Di yudishe folksshtime (The voice of the Jewish people) (Warsaw, 1909).  Together with Ben-Adir, Litvakov, and others, he placed work in: the daily newspaper Kiever vort (Kiev word), ca. 11 issues in 1910; and the monthly journal Vuhin (Whither) in Kiev (1911-1912) in which, among other items, he published (in issue 2 [1912], pp. 29-35) his article “Farvos iz teritoryalizm nisht gevorn keyn folks-bavegung?” (Why has territorialism not become a popular movement?), which at that time aroused a polemic (it also came out as a pamphlet in German, 1913); he was the special correspondent of Der fraynd (The friend) in Warsaw to cover the Beilis Trial in Kiev (1913), from whence, aside from correspondence pieces, he also wrote articles, images, and impressions of the trial.  He was co-editor of the weekly newspaper Der yudisher proletaryer in Kiev (1917); he contributed to and later co-edited the daily Di naye tsayt (The new times) in Kiev (1917-1919), in which he published a large number of articles on educational and cultural issues and on Jewish national autonomy.  From February 1921 until his death, he was one of the principal contributors and editors of the daily Folkstsaytung (People’s newspaper) in Warsaw (with all of its incarnations under various titles, due to police persecution), in which, aside from political journalism concerning quotidian topics, he also published polemical articles on Zionism, assimilation, Hebreism, territorialism, Birobidzhan, economic problems, and Yiddish literature.  In 1933 he was a special correspondent of Folkstsaytung to the Zionist congress in Prague.  He was co-editor of the monthly for literature, culture, and criticism, Bikher-velt (Book world) in Warsaw (1921-1929), and of the theoretical Bundist monthly Unzer tsayt (Our time) in Warsaw (1927-1930) (in which he was in charge of the section “Fun khodesh—tsu khodesh” [From month—to month] and “Vos shraybn sotsyalistishe zhurnaln?” [What are the socialist journals writing?], as well as editor of literary and artistic material).  He was editor of the monthly magazine of the “Tsveyer” group in the Bund—Kegn shtrom (Against the current) in Warsaw (1930-July 1935); contributed as well to: Royte shlyakhtn (Red battles), 10 yor (Ten years), and Unzer ruf (Our call)—all in Warsaw (1931).  He was a regular contributor to Vokhnshrift far literatur (Weekly writing for literature) in Warsaw (1931-1935), in which, among other items, he came out against the “pure aesthetic” approach to literature and art.  He was also a co-editor of virtually all publications of Tsisho in Poland.  His pamphlet, Vos lernen undz di gesheenishn in palestine? (What do the events in Palestine teach us?) (Warsaw, 1929), 24 pp. (initially published in Folkstsaytung), provoked a sharp polemic on the part of Zionist ideologues.  Leshtshinski translated from German Eduard Bernstein’s monograph, Ferdinand lasal, opshatsung fun lerer un kemfer (Ferdinand Lassalle, an assessment of the teacher and fighter [original: Ferdinand Lassalle, eine Würdigung des Lehrers und Kämpfers]) (Warsaw, 1922), 211 pp.; the five volumes of Max Beer’s Geshikhte fun sotsyalizm (History of socialism [original: Allgemeine Geschichte des Sozialismus und der sozialen Kämpfe (General history of socialism and the social struggle)]) (Warsaw, 1926-1930), 765 pp.; Marx and Engels, Der komunistisher manifest (The Communist Manifesto [original: Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei], with an introduction by Grigori Plekhanov (Warsaw, 1931), 158 pp.; and Ignazio Silone, Der fashizm, der antsheyung un entviklung (Fascism, its rise and development [original: Il Fascismo, Origini e Sviluppo] (Warsaw, 1931), 376 pp.  His Russian-language essay on the nationality question was included in volume 3 of N. A. Rubakin’s popular encyclopedia Tvishn bikher (Among books) (Lausanne, 1911).  He also published under such pseudonyms as: Y. Shvartser, Y. Khmurni, L.-, Y. L., Y. Kh-r, Y. Khm., Yud-khof, N. Noir, and the like.  Always ill (from birth forward), he evinced an indefatigable energy in community activities and in his writing literally until his final days.  In 1934 when Polish reaction intensified its assault on the Bund, he was arrested and spent a period of time in prison, which served to ruin his health further.  He died in Otwock and was interred near the grave of B. Mikhlevitsh in the Warsaw cemetery.
            To perpetuate his memory, secular Jewish schools in a number of cities were named for him, and there was founded the “Khmurner Fund” which until the war (1939) helped in the publication of textbooks and children’s literature for those in secular Jewish schools in Poland (fourteen books).  In the school year 1935-1936, Tsisho brought out the monograph for children: Yoysef leshtshinski (Yoysef Leshtshinski) in Warsaw (September 1935), 4 pp.  Also published was Khayim Shloyme Kazdan’s work, Yoysef leshtshinski (y. khmurner), zayn lebn, shafn un kamf (Yoysef Leshtshinski [Y. Khmurner], his life, work, and struggle) (Warsaw, 1937), 83 pp., and Khmurner-bukh (Volume for [Yoysef] Khmurner) (New York, 1958), 231 pp., which includes the works: L. Oler, “Di linke rikhtung in bund” (The leftist wing of the Bund); and S. Dubnov-Erlikh, “Yoysef leshtshinski, zayn lebn un shafn” (Yoysef Leshtshinski, his life and work) and “Fun Y. khmurners literarisher yerushe” (From Y. Khmurner’s literary heritage).  Leshtshinski did not leave behind any written books, but “in the thousands of articles, which he wrote over the course of his life,” noted Kh. Sh. Kazdan, “his language and style was straightforward and clear, and the logic of his claims keen, succinct, and full of zeal and conviction.”  “An idea for him was a reality,” wrote Sh. Mendelson, “perhaps the only reality that existed for him.  He was thus prepared to intercede on every speck, every dot, every point.  Everything had a meaning for him.”



Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2; Reyzen, in Vilner tog (Vilna) (August 1, 1935); M. Gutman, in Royter pinkes (Warsaw) 1 (1921), pp. 169, 172-73; Dr. M. Zilberfarb, Fashizirter yidishizm (Fascist Yiddishism) (Minsk, 1930), p. 19; Shmuel Niger, in Tog (New York) (February 14, 1933); H. Erlikh, in Naye folkstsaytung (Warsaw) (August 2, 1935; July 31, 1937); Kh. Sh. Kazdan, in Shul-vezn (Warsaw) (September 1935); Kazdan, Yoysef leshtshinski (y. khmurner), zayn lebn, shafn un kamf (Yoysef Leshtshinski [Y. Khmurner], his life, works, and stuggle) (Warsaw, 1937); P. Shvarts, Leon, and A. Oler, in Kegn shtrom (Warsaw) (September-October 1935); Elye Shulman, in Di tsukunft (New York) (October 1936); Y. Tshernikhov, in Vilner tog (February 25, 1938; March 11, 1938; April 1, 1938); Meylekh Ravitsh, Mayn leksikon (My lexicon), vol. 2 (Montreal, 1947), pp. 172-74; Ravitsh, in Keneder odler (Montreal) (February 2, 1959); Ravitsh, in Shloyme mendelson, zayn lebn un shafn (Shloyme Mendelson, his life and work) (New York, 1949), pp. 451, 452; N. Mayzil, Geven amol a lebn (Once was a life) (Buenos Aires, 1951), see index; Y. Y. Trunk, in Poyln (Poland), vol. 7 (New York, 1953), pp. 166-68; D. Naymark, in Forverts (New York) (August 16, 1953); M. Turkov, Di letste fun a groysn dor (The last of a great generation) (Buenos Aires, 1954), p. 120; B. Shefner, Novolipye 7, zikhroynes un eseyen (Nowolipie 7, memoirs and essays) (Buenos Aires, 1955), pp. 38-50; M. Astur, in Unzer shtime (Paris) (January 13, 1959); Chone Shmeruk, comp., Pirsumim yehudiim babrit-hamoatsot, 1917-1961 (Jewish publications in the Soviet Union, 1917-1961) (Jerusalem, 1961), see index; L. Hodes and S. Dubnov-Erlikh, Byografye un shriftn (Biography and writings) (New York, 1962), pp. 127-33.
Khayim Leyb Fuks


Monday, 26 June 2017

YEKHIEL LESHTSH

YEKHIEL LESHTSH (b. Seotember 17, 1903)
            He was born in Ostrów-Mazowiecka (Ostrov-Mazovyetsk), Poland.  Over the years 1922-1925, he lived in Belgium, later returning to Poland.  He was active in the Zionist movement in Radom.  He was a member of the city council and the Jewish community administration.  Under the Nazis (until 1943), he was confined in the Radom ghetto, later living with Aryan documents in Warsaw.  He spent 1945-1947 in Poland, Vienna, and Linz.  He served on the central committee of the survivors in Austria.  From 1947 he was living in Montevideo, Uruguay, where he was active among the Revisionists, in the Jewish World Congress, vice-president of the Jewish community council, and the like.  He published articles in Rodemer nayes (Radom news) (1925), later served as a contributor to: Rodemer tsaytung (Radom newspaper) (1928-1934), Rodemer shtime (Voice of Radom), Rodemer lebn (Radom life), Keltser-rodemer vokhnblat (Kielce-Radom weekly newspaper).  In Uruguay he placed work in Folksblat (People’s newspaper) and in the Revisionist weekly Der veg (The way), of which he was also co-editor.  He was last living in Montevideo.  (His older brother, YISROEL LESHTSH, was a member of the central committee of the Zionist party in Poland and published articles in Haynt (Today) in Warsaw.  He was killed under the Nazis in Poland.)

Source: Yitskhok Vaynshenker, Boyers un mitboyers fun yidishn yishev in urugvay (Founders and builders of the Jewish community in Uruguay) (Montevideo, 1957), pp. 136-37.
Khayim Leyb Fuks


YITSKHOK LESH (ISADORE LASH)

YITSKHOK LESH (ISADORE LASH) (October 6, 1887-June 28, 1948)
            The adopted name of Yitskhok Leshtshinski, he was born in Kharkov, Ukraine.  He attended the yeshivas of Lomzhe, Radin (Raduń), Navaredok (Novogrudok), and Volozhin.  At age fifteen he joined a sister of his in the United States.  He studied at the yeshiva of Rabbi Yitskhok Elchonon in New York, and he later moved to Cleveland.  He worked as a prompter in the Yiddish theater.  He published poems and sketches in Fraye arbeter-shtime (Free voice of labor) and Yidishe tageblat (Jewish daily newspaper) in New York.  Later, he was a popular Yiddish playwright, and his melodramas and musical comedies were performed with great success on the Yiddish stage in New York, in the American hinterland, and in other countries as well.  He was assistant editor of Boris Tomashevsky’s journal Di idishe bihne (The Yiddish stage) and a member of the editorial collective for the first volume of Zalmen Zilbertsvayg’s Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater).  In book form: Lyovke molodyets (Young Lyovke), an operetta in three acts (Warsaw: Sh. Goldfarb, 1925), 54 pp., initially staged under the title Yoshke khvat (Dapper Yoshke); Afn veg keyn buenos ayres, unter der royter lamter (On the road to Buenos Aires, under the red lantern), in three acts (Warsaw, 1931), 41 pp.  Both plays were published anonymously.  He died in New York.



Sources: Zalmen Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 2 (New York, 1934); Yankev Mestel, 70 yor teater-repertuar (Seventy years of theater repertoire) (New York, 1954).
Yankev Kahan


Sunday, 25 June 2017

NEKHAME LERER (MELAMED)

NEKHAME LERER (MELAMED) (April 1, 1916-January 1962)
            She was born in Grabovyets (Grabowiec), Lublin district, Poland, the sister of a Hebrew-Yiddish teacher.  In 1928 she moved to Argentina.  From her youth she demonstrated an inclination for painting, shaping, and playing fiddle and piano, as well as writing poetry.  She debuted in print with a poem entitled “Ikh volt gevolt, vi mayn mame” (I would like to be like my mother) in Di idishe tsaytung (The Jewish newspaper) in Buenos Aires (1942); it was republished in a number of anthologies, and from that time, she contributed poetry to: Morgn-tsaytung (Morning newspaper), Naye leben (New life), Di idishe tsaytung, Di prese (The press), and Ilustrirte literarishe bleter (Illustrated literary leaves), among others, in Buenos Aires.  In book form: Muter khane fun grabovits (Mother Hannah from Grabowiec), with a foreword by Yankev Botoshanski (Buenos Aires, 1945), 78 pp., third edition (1950); In benkendike shoen (In hours missed), poetry (Buenos Aires, 1948), 157 pp.  She also published under such pen names as: Nekhame Melamed, Neli Lerer, and Consuela.  She died in Buenos Aires.

Sources: A. L. Shusheym, in Di idishe tsaytung (Buenos Aires) (September 25, 1945; May 6, 1948); Y. Botoshanski, in Di prese (Buenos Aires) (January 25, 1946; May 3, 1948); Botoshanski, Mame yidish (Mother Yiddish) (Buenos Aires, 1949), p. 246; Botoshanski, in Zamlbukh fun shtriker-fabrikant (Collection from the knitting factory) (Buenos Aires, 1961), pp. 296-97; Y. Karkutshanski, in Di yudishe tsaytung (Rio de Janeiro) (July 25, 1952); oral information from M. V. Bernshteyn.
Khayim Leyb Fuks


MOYSHE LERER

MOYSHE LERER (1895-December 1944)
            He was born in Khelm (Chełm), Poland.  He descended from a rabbinical family.  Until age fourteen he studied in religious primary school and on his own in the small Hassidic synagogues in Chełm, and later he was pulled into Jewish history and literature and secular knowledge generally.  In 1912 he moved to Warsaw where he supported himself as a private tutor.  Over the years 1913-1916, he lived in Odessa, working there in an office of a business and getting to know Mendele Moykher-Sforim and other Odessa-based, Yiddish writers from that era.  He later returned to Chełm, joined the Labor Zionists, and became a teacher in the Jewish public school and in the workers’ courses given by the Labor Zionists.  He was also the director of the Borokhov Library in Chełm.  When YIVO was founded, Lerer became an indefatigable collector of Yiddish proverbs, folksongs, and folktales in Chełm and in the surrounding communities, and all of it he sent to YIVO in Vilna.  In the 1930s he came to Warsaw and became there the YIVO plenipotentiary for collecting work in Warsaw.  At about that time, he began publishing his own philological and folkloric works in various newspapers and periodicals, such as: Literarisher bleter (Literary leaves), Moment (Moment), and Folkstsaytung (People’s newspaper) in Warsaw; and primarily in publications of YIVO.  Among his published writings: “An amolike yidishe khasene in khelm” (A Jewish wedding from the past in Chełm), Yidishe filologye (Yiddish philology), edited by M. Weinreich, N. Prilucki, and Z. Reyzen (Warsaw) 1 (1924), pp. 392-94, republished in Yizker-bukh khelm (Remembrance volume for Chełm) (Johannesburg, 1954), cols. 317-18; “Miluim tsu noyekh prilutskis ‘gevet’” (Supplement to Noyekh Prilucki’s “wager”), in Yizker-bukh khelm, p. 241; “Tikunim” (Improvements), in Yizker-bukh khelm, p. 242 (see also Alfred Landau’s appendix, pp. 327-28); “Materyaln far a khelemer idyotikon” (Materials for a Chełm collection of silliness), in vol. 1 of Shriftn fun yivo, filologishe serye 1, landoy-bukh (Writings of YIVO, philological series, Landau book) (Vilna, 1926), pp. 201-6; “Fun yidishn verter-oytser” (From a Yiddish vocabulary), Filologishe shriftn (Philological writings) (Vilna) 3 (1929), cols. 619-22; “Hesofes un tikunim” (Supplements and improvements), Filologishe shriftn 3 (1929), col. 622; “Vegn ‘groyses’…‘shehnes’” (On “groyses”…“shehnes”), Yidishe filologye (Vilna) 1 (1938), p. 60; “Leksikografisher tsishtayer (oysn khelemer dialekt)” (Lexicographic contribution, from the Chełm dialect), in Arkhiv far yidisher shprakhvisnshaft (Archive of Yiddish linguistics) (Warsaw, 1933-1936).  He also published writings: on Yiddish philology in Literarishe bleter 100; on Moyshe Shulboym’s Milon ḥadash (New dictionary), in Literarishe bleter 122; on Perets’s language, in Literarishe bleter 101; and elsewhere.  In 1926 he began to do work in the library and archive of YIVO in Vilna.  When Vilna went over to the Lithuanians in 1939, Lerer was appointed director of YIVO in the position then held by Zelik Kalmanovitsh.  He remained in this post when Vilna in 1940 went to the Soviets.  As the Soviet “Commissar” of YIVO, he was posed against all of the remaining leaders of YIVO.  In 1941 when the Nazis entered Vilna, Lerer was confined in the Vilna ghetto.  He worked digging peat (1941-1942) in the Zatrocze labor camp near Landwarów [Lentvaris].  This awakened in him the generations-old rootedness of Jewish belief, and he took part in various religious assemblies (see the testimony of his friend Avrom Ayzen).  When he returned to Vilna in 1942, he became a contributor to Khaykl Lunski’s ghetto library.  He was interested in the cultural life in the ghetto, in community life, and in the initiative to expand the activities of the unified partisan organization (FPO [Fareynkte partizaner-organizatsye]).  In 1943 at the time of the liquidation of the Vilna ghetto, he was deported to the Kiviõli concentration camp in Estonia, where he met up with Zelik Kalmamovitsh, and both would later be moved to the Narva subcamp.  They both forgot their earlier differences.  “Z. Kalmanovitsh slept together with Moyshe Lerer in Narva no. 17, on the third level, in the third barrack.  They would both chat and write, and Lerer would say to him that they had both written a great deal.” (From the testimony of the Vilna resident Meyer Slivkin, in Sh. Katsherginski, Khurbn vilne [The Holocaust in Vilna]).  Lerer became ill with typhoid fever.  Kalmanovitsh helped him as best he could, and after Lerer’s death said kaddish for him.  His body was cremated in a boiler of the factory.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2; Biblyografishe yorbikher fun yivo (Bibliographic yearbooks from YIVO), vol. 1 (Warsaw, 1928); “Yizker” (Remembrance), Yivo-bleter (New York) 26 (1945), p. 9; Yidishe shriftn (Lodz), anthology (1946); Sh. Katsherginski, Khurbn vilne (The Holocaust in Vilna) (New York, 1947), pp. 109-10, 200; Dr. M. Dvorzhetski (Mark Dvorzetsky), Yerusholayim delite in kamf un umkum (The Jerusalem of Lithuania in struggle and death) (Paris, 1948), pp. 261, 264; Dr. F. Fridman, in Yizker-bukh khelm (Remembrance volume for Chełm) (Johannesburg, 1954), col. 35; Sh. Vaserman, in Yizker-bukh khelm, col. 70; N. Vinik, in Yizker-bukh khelm, col. 138; Sh. Shargel, in Yizker-bukh khelm, col. 174; E. Vinik, in Yizker-bukh khelm, col. 186; A. Ayzen, in Yizker-bukh khelm, cols. 311-16; P. Lerer, in Yizker-bukh khelm, cols. 381-83; M. Morzoger, in Yizker-bukh khelm, cols. 471-72; H. Kruk, Togbukh fun vilner geto (Diary of the Vilna ghetto) (New York, 1961), pp. 209, 334; YIVO archives in New York; oral information from Dr. Max Weinreich.
Zaynvl Diamant


YEKHIEL LERER

YEKHIEL LERER (1910-early 1943)
            He was born in Mrozy, near Kaluszyn, Warsaw district, Poland.  On his mother’s side, he descended from the Vurker Rebbe.  In his early childhood, he moved with his parents to Zhelekhov (Żelichów), and there he studied in a religious elementary school, at the small Hassidic synagogue of the Aleksanderer Rebbe, and with private tutors.  He acquired a reputation as a child prodigy.  At age sixteen his father already wanted to marry him off and arranged a match with a bride in Chełm.  Lerer, however, abandoned the match, returned to Żelichów, because he no longer live in the same home as his parents, and off he went to learn a trade.  He was a clockmaker and a furrier, but he could not support himself from these trades, and left for a kibbutz where he was a woodcutter, a construction worker, and lived as a pioneer.  In those years, dressed in a long, Hassidic frock coat and a Hassidic cloth hat, he came to Warsaw and brought Y. M. Vaysenberg his first Yiddish poems: “Di tilim-gezangen” (The Psalms songs), for which Vaysenberg called him a “new Tagore,” befriended him, and brought him onto the staff of Inzer hofening (Our hope) in Warsaw (1928).  From that point in time, Lerer remained in Warsaw and turned his attention entirely to writing.  According to information from M. Grosman, Lerer was practically starving at the time, meandering about as an outsider through the streets of Warsaw and supporting himself by helping to run the account books for businesses or—during the summer—as a representative on Yiddish editorial boards for reading proofs.  In spite of this, with a quiet nostalgia he wrote his devout songs which were published in Warsaw’s Yiddish newspapers and periodicals: Haynt (Today), Moment (Moment), Bafrayung (Liberation), Yugnt (Youth), Arbeter-tsaytung (Workers’ newspaper), Naye folkstsaytung (New people’s newspaper), Literarishe bleter (Literary leaves), Vokhnshrift far literatur (Weekly writing for literature), Foroys (Onward), Dos vort (The word), Shriftn (Writings), and Yedies hakholets (Pioneer news) in which he published in 1935 the poem “Holtshekers” [Woodcutters]).  He also placed work in New York’s Tsukunft (Future) and elsewhere.  In 1931 his first book was published in Warsaw: Shoyel un dovid (Saul and David), comprised of twenty-eight sections and 104 pp.; it brought him only a chilly reception from Shmuel Niger.  However, his subsequent books—Shtilkeyt un shturm, gezangen (Quiet and stormy, songs), poetry (Warsaw, 1932), 150 pp.; Brunems in feld (Wells in the field) (Vilna, 1933), 118 pp. which included the poems, “Dir” (To you), “Vald” (Woods), and the “Tilim gezangen”; and Mayn heym, durkh nakht tsum bagin (My home, through the night until dawn) (Warsaw, 1937), 137 pp., second edition published with the assistance of the Yiddish PEN Club in 1938, winner of the B. Eytingon Prize for the best volume of poetry that year—brought him recognition as a poet of considerable rank.  As Y. Rapoport noted, in his poem Mayn heym, Lerer stood “in contrast to Yiddish poetry in Poland, which in the 1930s was primarily a social phenomenon; in Lerer work, there was an intimate, individual quality, and the more one reads of it, the more beauty one finds therein….  This is the best work of Yiddish literature in the ten years prior to the destruction of Poland.”  “The poem is a gift of God’s grace,” wrote Sholem Asch in Haynt (December 12, 1937, and republished in Der shpigl [The mirror] in Buenos Aires, January 12, 1938), “and belongs to the most beautiful of books that have been published by Jews.”  In 1938 Lerer sent to Tog (Day) in New York a manuscript entitled “Azoy lebn yibn” (That’s how Jews live)—it can now be found in the YIVO archives in New York.  He continued his writing in the ghetto.  In Yitskhok Katsenelson’s rescued Pinkes vitel (Records of Vitel), the author dedicates warm words to Yekhiel Lerer’s poem “Oysgebenkter friling” (Longed-for spring), which was written in the Warsaw Ghetto (the poem was discovered in the archives of E. Ringelblum’s “Oyneg shabes” and, although it was signed with the initials “M. Kh.,” however, Lerer’s handwriting and his writing style were detected).  After the Germans marched into Warsaw, Lerer worked for a time in the “Evidence Department” and later as a furrier in a shop on Nowolipie St. and, in spite of the numerous propositions for him to escape to the Aryan side of the city, he did not wish to abandon the ghetto (see Khaye Elboym-Zarombs, Af der arisher zayt [On the Aryan side] (Tel Aviv, 1957), pp. 40-49).  He published in the underground press of the Warsaw Ghetto (using various pen names) poems and notes on ghetto life, some of which may be found in the unearthed Ringelblum archive now at the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw.  He was active in YIKOR (Jewish Cultural Organization).  In the winter of 1943, at the time of the second liquidation, he was taken to Umschlagplatz (the collection point in Warsaw for deportation), transported to Treblinka, and murdered there.  After WWII his poems were republished in: Yidishe shriftn (Yiddish writings) and Dos naye lebn (The new life) in Lodz-Warsaw; Tsukunft, Yidishe kultur (Jewish culture), and Eynikeyt (Unity) in New York; and Parizer shriftn (Parisian writings) and Kiem (Existence) in Paris; among others.  Also, a new edition of Mayn heym was published (Buenos Aires, 1948), 168 pp., with drawings in the text by Arye Merzer and with a biographical note and an afterward which did not appear in the 1937 and 1938 editions of the work; this was a portion of a new poem about his childhood that Lerer composed in the last years before the Holocaust and in the Warsaw Ghetto.  Also published was his Lider un poemen (Poetry) (New York, 1948), 482 pp., which included a selection drawn from Lerer’s four books and a biographical characterization and appreciation of his poetry by Shloyme Brianski.  Mayn heym was also published in Hebrew translation by Shimshon Meltser as Bet aba (Father’s home) (Tel Aviv, 1946), 204 pp.  His poems also appeared in: Meltser’s Hebrew anthology, Al naharot (To the rivers) (Jerusalem, 1957); Binem Heler’s anthology, Dos lid iz geblibn (The poem remained) (Warsaw, 1951); Joseph Leftwich English-language collection of Yiddish poetry, The Golden Peacock (London-New York, 1960); and Mortkhe Yofe’s anthology, Erets-yisroel in der yidisher literatur (The land of Israel in Yiddish literature) (Tel Aviv, 1961).

Sources: Shmuel Niger, in Tog (New York) (July 31, 1932); A. Ts. (Tsaytlin), in Globus (Warsaw) 2 (1932); Kh. Sh. Kazdan, in Vokhshrift far literatur (Warsaw) (December 2, 1932); Sh. Zaromb, in Literarishe bleter (Warsaw) (February 25, 1938); Avrom Reyzen, in Di feder (New York) (1939, 1949); Y. Bashevis, in Tsukunft (New York) (August 1943); N. Y. Gotlib, in Keneder odler (Montreal) (November 8, 1943); Meylekh Ravitrsh, Mayn leksikon (My lexicon), vol. 1 (Montreal, 1945), pp. 119-21; Z. Segalovitsh, Tlomatske 13, fun farbrentn nekhtn (13 Tłomackie St., of scorched yesterdays) (Buenos Aires, 1946), p. 31; B. Y. Rozen, in Tsukunft (February 1947); Rozen, in Portretn (Portraits) (Buenos Aires, 1956), pp. 105, 114; L. Finkelshteyn, in Der veker (New York) (May 15, 1947); Yanos Turkov, Azoy iz es geven (That’s how it was) (Buenos Aires, 1948), pp. 246, 254; Moyshe Grosman, Heymishe geshtaltn (Familiar figures) (Tel Aviv, 1953), pp. 158-64; Y. Kisin, Lid un esey (Poem and essay) (New York, 1953), pp. 271-79; B. Mark, Umgekumene shrayber fun di getos un lagern (Murdered writers from the ghettos and camps) (Warsaw, 1954), pp. 54, 58, 68, 109, 122-25; Rokhl Oyerbakh, Shloyme Brianski, A. V. Yasni, M. Boym, Y. Papyernikov, and Y. Feldhendler, in Yizker-bukh fun zhelekhov (Memory book of Żelichów) (Chicago, 1954), pp. 181-94; Yankev Glatshteyn, in Idisher kemfer (New York) (July 16, 1954); Y. Rapoport, in in Oysgerisene bleter (Torn up pages) (Melbourne, 1957), pp. 156-57; Rapoport, Zoymen in vint (Seeds in the wind) (Melbourne, 1961), pp. 223-35; Emanuel Ringelblum, in Folksshtime (Warsaw) (April 10, 1959); Biblyografye fun yidishe bikher vegn khurbn un gvure (Bibliography of Yiddish books concerning the Holocaust and heroism) (New York: YIVO and Yad Vashem, 1962), see index.
Khayim Leyb Fuks


Friday, 23 June 2017

SHAPSE (SHAYE) LERNER

SHAPSE (SHAYE) LERNER (ca. 1879-1913)
            He was born in Chotin (Hotin), Bessarabia.  He spent his youth in Beltsi (Balti), where he was a teacher of Hebrew and Russian.  He wrote songs for the people, with the appropriate melodies, which were sung in Bessarabia and Podolia.  He also wrote several dramas, in which he alone acted.  In 1903 he published in Yudishe folks-tsaytung (Jewish people’s newspaper) a free translation of Heinrich Heine’s poem “Printsesin shabes” (Princess Sabbath [original: “Prinzessin Sabbat”]).  He contributed to L. D. Rozental’s library of Dos leben (The life) (Odessa, 1904), with a book of stories—including: “Bertsi vaserfihrer” (Bertsi the water carrier), “Avrom stolyer” (Abraham the carpenter), “Yitskhok-yosel broytgeber” (Yiskhok-Yosl the breadwinner), “Avrom stolyer vert groys” (Abraham the carpenter gets big), “Ezrielik soyfer” (Ezriel the scribe), and “Elye hanovi” (Elijah the prophet)—and with several translations of Veresaev, Gorky, and others in the anthology In der fremd (Abroad).  In 1907 he moved to the United States.  He died of tuberculosis.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2; Zalmen Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 2 (New York, 1934); A. Kh., in Tsukunft (New York) (May 1906), pp. 55, 65-66.
Yankev Kahan


RUVN LERNER

RUVN LERNER (1902-1972)
            A Soviet Jewish linguist, he came from the town of Yanov (Janów), Ukraine.  From 1933 he was a researcher at the Office for Teaching Yiddish Language, Literature, and Folklore in the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences in Kiev; he specialized in historical issues.  He published in the compendia Afn shprakhfront (On the language front): “Der genezis funem genitiv-posesiv” (The origin of the genitive possessive) 1 (Kiev, 1937), pp. 126-49; “Tsu der geshikhte fun der literarisher shprakh obheyb 19tn yorhundert” (On the history of the literary language, beginning of the nineteenth century) 3 (Kiev, 1937), pp. 165-90; “Intonatsyonal-stilistishe bazunderkeytn fun sholem-aleykhems shprakh” (Inflection-stylistic peculiarities of Sholem-Aleykhem’s language) 4 (Kiev, 1937), pp. 101-26.  Together with Kh. Loytsker, M. Maydanski, and M. Shapiro, he completed the work on the great Russian-Yiddish dictionary (edited by Elye Spivak, ultimately published in 1984); and he worked with Ayzik Zaretski on a dictionary of Yiddish orthography.  With the musicologist Moyshe Beregovski, he adapted and prepared for publication the first collection of “Folklor fun der foterlendisher milkhome” (Folklore from the war of the fatherland [WWII]), special ghetto and concentration camp songs and battle songs.  In 1947 the Office of Yiddish Culture at the USSR’s Academy of Sciences sent him to the cities and towns in the Vinitse (Vinnytsa) region to collect new folkloric materials.  At that time he assembled seventy folktales and eighty-six folksongs.  He bore the title: “Candidate in Philological Science.”  He was repressed in 1949, released in the mid-1950s, but he did not return to work any further in his field of Yiddish linguistics.

Sources: Y. Mark, in Yivo-bleter (New York) 16.1 (1940), p. 31, and 16.2 (1940), pp. 154-57; “Yidisher folklor” (Yiddish folklore), Eynikeyt (Moscow) (October 2, 1945); “A groyser oyftu in antviklen di yidishe kultur un visnshaft” (A great feat in developing Jewish culture and scholarship), Eynikeyt (April 2, 1946); “Naye folkslider” (New folksongs), Eynikeyt (October 23, 1947); P. Novik, Eyrope tsvishn milkhome un sholem (Europe between war and peace) (New York, 1948), pp. 269-70.
Zaynvl Diament

[Additional information from: 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. 221.]


FALIK LERNER

FALIK LERNER (April 5, 1903-November 10, 1973)
            He was born in the town of Vertuzhen (Vertujeni), a former Jewish colony in Bessarabia, into a poor family.  Until age twelve he attended religious primary school and a Russian public school, and he later became a metal worker, while at the same time pursuing his studies on his own.  In 1927 he moved to Argentina, and the first years there he worked in his trade in Buenos Aires.  Over the years 1944-1946, he lived in Chile, before returning to Buenos Aires.  He visited Europe, the state of Israel, and the United States.  He began publishing reportage and correspondence pieces in: Der id (The Jew) in Kishinev (1920), later as well in Naye tsayt (New times) and other Yiddish newspapers in Romania.  From 1929 he was an editorial contributor, later also co-editor, of Di prese (The press) in Buenos Aires, in which he published features, reportage pieces, and stories, He was an internal contributor and subsequently also editor of Morgn-tsaytung (Morning newspaper) in Buenos Aires (1935-1942).  He also contributed to: Antologye fun der yidisher literatur in argentine (Anthology of Jewish literature in Argentina) (Buenos Aires, 1944), pp. 141-54 (republishing of a portion of his longer story “Afn verft” [At the shipyard]), Der shpigl (The mirror); Der holts-industryal (The wood industry), Ineynem (Altogether) (1949), Shmerke katsherginski ondenk-bukh (Shmerke Katsherginski remembrance volume) (1956), Rozaryer vokhnblat (Rosario weekly newspaper), El Alba (The dawn), and other serials in Argentina; Di tsukunft (The future) in New York; Keneder odler (Canadian eagle) in Montreal; Der veg (The path) and Di shtime (The voice) in Mexico City; Unzer vort (Our word) in Paris; Letste nayes (Latest news) in Tel Aviv; and Folksblat (People’s newspaper) in Montevideo; among others.  He was the founder and editor of Dos idishe vort (The Yiddish word) in Chile (1944-1946).  In book form: Mentshn un landshaftn, reportazhn (Men and landscapes, reportage pieces), on Jewish and general life in Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay (Buenos Aires, 1951), 240 pp.; In umruike tsaytn, dertseylungen (In unsettling times, stories), fifteen stories (Buenos Aires, 1953), 203 pp.; A besaraber shtetl, lebnsshteyger, bilder, geshtaltn, zikhroynes (A Bessarabian town, way of life, images, figures, memoirs) (Buenos Aires, 1958), 207 pp.; Tsu gast af a vayl in di fareynikte shtatn (Guest for a time in the United States) (Buenos Aires, 1961), 201 pp.  His cycle of reportage works from Israel—“Ponem el ponem mit yisroel” (Face to face with Israel), Di prese (1961)—appeared soon thereafter as Yerusholaim (Jerusalem).  He died in Buenos Aires.  He also published under such pen names as: L. Feliks and James.  “F. Lerner is a teller of stories,” wrote Y. Botoshanski, “with spirit and ease.”

Sources: Sh. Rozhanski, Dos yidishe gedrukte vort in argentine (The published Yiddish word in Argentina) (Buenos Aires, 1941), pp. 105, 140, 174; Antologye fun der yidisher literatur in argentine (Anthology of Jewish literature in Argentina) (Buenos Aires, 1944), p.141; M. Shapiro, in Tsukunft (New York) (October 1945); Y. Botoshanski, Mame yidish (Mother Yiddish) (Buenos Aires, 1949), pp. 181, 183, 265; Botoshanski, in Yorbukh argentine (Yearbook Argentina) (1953/1954); Botoshanski, in Di prese (Buenos Aires) (May 16, 1958); Botoshanski, in Dos naye vort (Chile) (December 14, 1956); Botoshanski, in Di naye tsayt (Buenos Aires) (March 9, 1957); Y. Varshavski, in Forverts (New York) (February 23, 1958); Y. Yonasovitsh, in Der shpigl (Buenos Aires) (August-September 1958); M. Tshemni, in Di prese (December 18, 1959); Tshemni, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (April 13, 1960); A. A. Fisher, in Di naye tsayt (April 6, 1962).
Khayim Leyb Fuks


MORRIS LERNER

MORRIS LERNER (1887-1956)
            He came from Vilna.  In 1906 he moved to the United States and lived in New York.  In 1919 he opened a Yiddish publishing house in Paterson, New Jersey.  He published and edited Der shtern (The star), “weekly newspaper for industry, literature, secular and local events” (New Jersey, 1919-1922), first published in Paterson and later in New York.  He also published under the name Ben-Yankev.  He died in New York

Source: Information from Yosl Kohn in New York.
Khayim Leyb Fuks


MARIA LERNER (MIRIAM RABINOVITSH)

MARIA LERNER (MIRIAM RABINOVITSH) (1860-1927)
            She was born in Berdichev, Ukraine, graduated from a girls’ school in Kishinev, married young to Yoysef-Yude Lerner, settled with her husband in Odessa, and had a difficult life with him.  In the 1880s she stood close to the Ḥibat Tsiyon (Love of Zion) movement and began writing.  She composed a story (“Aheym” [Homeward]) for the Ḥoveve-tsiyon (Lovers of Zion) anthology Der veker (The alarm) (Odessa, 1887), as well as other fictional pieces in the supplement to Yudishes folksblat (Jewish people’s newspaper) (St. Petersburg, 1888).  He also wrote the play for the theater Di agune (The deserted wife), published earlier in the second volume of M. Spektor’s Hoyzfraynd (House friend), pp. 27-78, and later in a separate edition (Warsaw: Yudishe bihne, 1908), 78 pp.  In the theater museum at YIVO in Vilna, there were manuscripts of several other plays of hers: “Di khupe un di levaye” (The wedding canopy and the funeral), “a comedy in four acts and seven scenes” (censored in St. Petersburg, April 5, 1881); “Der laydende” (The sufferer), “a drama in four acts and seven scenes” (censored, May 10, 1883); “Der shtrafnoy” (The penalty), “a drama in four acts and seven scenes, following the plot of A. Rabonovitsh, adapted” (censored, July 12, 1883); “Der shmaltsgrub” (Strike it rich), “a comedy in five acts” (censored, April 11, 1883).  After her husband’s conversion to Christianity, she too converted and at the same time converted her children.  She lived thereafter in Germany, Canada, and the United States where she remained until 1923.  On the way back to Russia, she was in Germany where she died in 1927.

Sources: Zalmen Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 2 (New York, 1934), with a bibliography; R. Granovski, “Y. Y. Liyetski,” in Pinkes fun amopteyl fun yivo (Records of the American division of YIVO) (New York, 1927-1928).
Yankev Kahan


L. LERNER

L. LERNER (b. 1896)
            He was born in Kuzmin (Kuzmyn), Podolia.  After WWI he moved to the United States, engaged in a number of different jobs, and later became the owner of a food shop.  At the same time he wrote sketches and humorous pieces for: Di shpayz-tsaytung (The food newspaper) in New York (1926-1933); Der independent groseriman (The independent groceryman) in New York (1931-1939); and others.  He contributed as well to: Forverts (Forward), Morgn-zhurnal (Morning journal), and Der amerikaner The American)—in New York.  In book form: Der groserimans lebn (The groceryman’s life) (New York, 1939), 72 pp.

Source: A. Goldberg, in Zamlbukh lekoved dem tsvey hundert un fuftsikstn yoyvl fun der yidisher prese 1686-1936 (Anthology in honor of the 250th jubilee of the Yiddish press, 1686-1936), ed. Dr. Y. Shatski (New York, 1937).
Khayim Leyb Fuks


YISROEL LERNER

YISROEL LERNER (1907-December 1934)
            He was born in a town near Lemberg, Galicia, into a poor family.  He attended religious elementary school and a Polish public school, and later became a laborer.  For several years (1929-1932), he lived in Warsaw, before returning to Lemberg.  He debuted in print with lyrical poetry in Literarishe bleter (Literary leaves) in Warsaw (1929), later publishing poems and stories in the anthology Zalbeakht (Group of eight) (1932), Folkstsaytung (People’s newspaper), Vokhnshrift far literatur (Weekly writing for literature), and Unzer ekspres (Our express)—in Warsaw.  He cofounded and co-edited the organ of the young Yiddish writers’ group in Galicia: Oyfgang (Arise) in Lemberg (1932-1934), in which, among other items, he published his poem “Tsigayner blut” (Gypsy blood).  He also contributed to Oyfgang in Sighet-Marmației, Marmoreshe bleter (Marmației leaves) in Sighet-Marmației, and Shtegn (Paths) in Stanislav (until late 1934), among others.  He died of tuberculosis in Lemberg.

Sources: Y. Pat, in Vokhnshrift far literatur (Warsaw) (April 8, 1932); M. Tabak, in Shtegn (Stanislav) (January 1, 1935); Rabak, in Inzl (Bucharest) 1 (1935).
Khayim Leyb Fuks


YOYSEF-YUDE LERNER (YOSEF-YEHUDA)

YOYSEF-YUDE LERNER (YOSEF-YEHUDA) (January 13, 1847-January 23, 1907)
            He was born in Berdichev, Ukraine.  Until age thirteen he studied Jewish subjects, and then in 1861 he moved to Zhitomir where he attended high school.  In 1862 he debuted in print (using the pen name Yoysef-Yoyel Herdner) in Kol mevaser (The herald) 10-11 (1862) with a biography of the wonderful, popular Jewish musician Mikhl-Yoysef Guzikov, and in the Russian-language Kievskii telegraf (Kiev telegraph).  In 1866 he settled in Odessa, where over the course of a year he was a free auditor in the law faculty of the New Russian University.  For about ten years he was a regular contributor to Odeskii vestnik (Odessa herald), and he also placed work in the Russian-language Kievlianin (Kievan) and Novorossiiskii telegraf (Novorossiisk telegraph), as well as in the Russian supplement to Hakarmel (The Carmel).  He wrote for the Russian press on Jewish matters and on Hebrew and Yiddish literature.  He was one of the first of the new Russian-Jewish intellectuals to appreciate the importance and the value of Yiddish, and he was the first to popularize Yiddish literature for readers in Russian.  His Russian pamphlet on Yisroel Aksenfeld (Odessa, 1869) was at the time perhaps the most serious critical work on a Yiddish writer.  He was devoted to Yiddish, and because he was a prominent Russian journalist, he was not at all ashamed to write in Yiddish, when others considered it disgraceful.  At the same time, he contributed to Hebrew literature and the press and was among those who participated in the fight against the old Jewish Enlightenment.  When A. B. Gotlober published his pamphlet Igeret tsaar baale ḥayim (Letter on the prevention of cruelty to living things) (Zhitomir, 1868), 34 pp., against the bold exaggerator of the old values, A. Kovner, Lerner retorted with a pamphlet entitled Doresh el hametim (Preacher to the dead) (Odessa, 1868), 16 pp., in which he took up the injustice to Kovner and the young Enlightenment adherents and attacked Gotlober and the old Enlightenment followers in general for the shabbiness of their life, their hollow florid language, and their inefficiency.  “The spirit of life,” wrote Lerner in his pamphlet, “which the young demand of our writers is altogether different from that awful spirit which so frightens the great men.  This very spirit demands of us that we should write what we feel, and what emerges from our hand should be built on basic evidence, that at least we should not doubt its genuineness ourselves.”  Even more than in Hebrew did he excel as a literary critic in Yiddish, in which he was one of the first pioneers.  With his critical reviews of the works of Aksenfeld, Mendele, Sholem-Aleykhem, and others, which he published in Yudisher folkblat (Jewish people’s newspaper), as well as with his treatments of Yiddish poetry, folklore, and music, he turned out to be one of the most consistent and objective critics.  “On the surface it may seem,” wrote N. B. Minkov, “that in his criticism Lerner, just like Pisarev, is simply rationalistic….  But, irrespective of his ‘Pisarev-like quality,’ there originated with him ideas—or, better, feelings—over issues in art.  And, he was different from the realist critics of that era….  In his realistic criticism, there were two apparent items: (a) his demand for usefulness; and (b) objective aesthetic….  His entire criticism lay in believing that the goal of art is to bring benefit to the people….  He believed that writing was a community task,…and thus the writer had to be extraordinarily responsible for his words, and he must be unusually accurate in describing reality.”  In Hebrew he published: a historical monograph entitled Hakuzarim (The Khazars) (Odessa, 1867), 28 pp.; a story of Jewish life in Russia entitled Yamim mikedem (Days of old) (Odessa, 1869), 36 pp.; a translation of the speech that Archbishop Dmitri delivered during the Odessa pogrom, entitled Kol more (Voice of a teacher) (Odessa, 1871); and in Yiddish, a brochure entitled Oys rebe (No more Hassidic rebbes) (Odessa, 1868), against Eliezer Zweifel’s work, Shalom al yisrael (Peace upon Israel); and A beshraybung fun dem ershtn mosad fun’m groysen hoyz rotshild, r’ meyer anshl mit ale zayne finf zin (A description of the first foundation of the great house of Rothschild, R. Mayer Anschel and all of his five sons) (Odessa, 1869).  Around 1873 Lerner fled to Vienna due to a crime.  With A. B. Gotlober, he planned to published a Hebrew-language journal there, entitled Hazman (The time), but P. Smolenskin discouraged Gotlober from the partnership.  Only the trial issue of the journal appeared.  This was to be Lerner’s last foothold in Hebrew literature.  When the war between Russia and Turkey broke out, he (together with other Russian journalists) traveled with the Russian military, and over the course of 1878 he brought out in Bucharest a daily newspaper in Russian, Zapiski grazhdanina (Notes of a citizen).  In Bucharest he became acquainted with the Yiddish theater which Avrom Goldfaden founded in Romania.  When he returned to Odessa, he decided to establish a theater which was to satisfy Jewish intellectuals as well.  To that end, in 1880 he took over the Mariinsky Theater, but he soon realized that to give the audience better Yiddish plays necessitated gifted playwrights who at the time did not exist among the Jewish people, and Lerner took from other literature well-known dramatic works with a Jewish theme and translated and adapted them himself into an excellent Yiddish.  Among such works were: Karl Gutzkow’s tragedy, Uriel akosta, a tragedye in finf akten (Uriel Acosta, a tragedy in five acts [original: Uriel Acosta, der Sadduzäer von Amsterdam (Uriel Acosta, the Sadducee from Amsterdam)]); and Eugène Scribe’s La JuiveUriel akosta was initially published in Warsaw in 1885 (45 pp.), and from that point this tragedy was staged in every Yiddish theater.  Lerner’s translation of La Juive was published in Warsaw in 1889 under the title Zhidovka (Jewess).  Lerner also adapted for the theater the following plays: Salomon Hermann Mosenthal, Deborah, a drama in four acts and nine scenes; Muter-libe, oder tsvey khasenes in eyn tog (Mother love or two weddings in one day), a melodrama in five acts (from French); Der feter moyshe Mendelsohn, a dramatishes bild in eyn akt, nokh dem daytshen far der yudisher bihne (Uncle Moses Mendelssohn, a drama in one act, following the German, for the Yiddish stage) (Warsaw, 1899), 26 pp.; Menakhem ben yisroel, a drame in finf akten un nayn kartines (Menakhem, son of Israel, a drama in five acts and nine scenes), from the Russian (1882).  He also wrote and published his own original plays, such as: Yehudis, a historishe drama in fier akten un finf bilder (Judith, a historical drama in four acts and five scenes) (Warsaw, 1888), 40 pp.; and Khanike, a historishe drame in fier akten un ziben bilder (Hanukkah, a historical drama in four acts and seven scenes) (Warsaw, 1889), 54 pp.; among others.  Lerner was the first to stage Dr. Shloyme Etinger’s Serkele.  He also attracted to the theater Shomer (N. M. Shaykevitsh), who was then living in Odessa, and produced several of his plays.  When Goldfaden returned from his travels across Russia, Lerner and Shomer went on with him to stage more productions together.  Discord soon erupted among the partners, however, and Lerner was completely ousted from the theater.  He returned once again to his literary activities.  He visited Germany and France, 1883-1884, as correspondent for the Moscow newspaper Russkie vedomosti (Russian gazette), and he also published articles in other newspapers.  Returning to Odessa, he turned to translating Heinrich Graetz’s Geschichte der Juden (History of the Jews), from which in 1887 emerged only one volume: “A Jewish history from after Ezra.”  Of his other works in Yiddish from this period, he especially excelled with his essay, “Di yudishe muze” (The Yiddish muse), which appeared in M. Spektor’s Hoyzfraynd (House friend) 2 (pp. 182-98).  In this work, he showcased as well examples from Yiddish folk poetry, and he came out sharply against the Hebreists’ florid language, against the “adherent of Hebrew-Aramaic [who] does not wish to suffer proper people writing in Zhargon; and also against the ‘nationalists’ as well as the assimilationists and the ‘aristocrats’ who believe that they are doing the world the best favor when they ‘lower themselves’ to write in Yiddish and shed false tears over the poverty of ‘Zhargon.’”  Later, Lerner—this fascinating personality, talented author in three languages, pioneer of Yiddish art theater, of Yiddish folklore, of Yiddish literary criticism, and a fine Yiddish stylist—converted to Christianity.  One hypothesis for this is that he had earlier become an ardent enemy of the Jews, a missionary, and an intercessor for the Russian police.  “How these facts,” noted Zalmen Reyzen, “can possibly be linked to Lerner’s subsequent activities in the realms of Yiddish literature and theater is difficult for us to determine.”  Lerner’s importance for Yiddish literature lies, primarily, as a pioneer critic.  “Criticism,” wrote N. B. Minkov, “was Lerner’s credo.  It was extremely important for him that people speak Yiddish, ‘purely, clearly, seriously, and from the heart.’…  Lerner demanded perfection.  Not for the purpose of aestheticizing, not for a purer art, which he found repugnant, he demanded it for a complete harmony of form and ideas.”  His son Nikolai Lerner, a Christian, was a well-known Russian literary historian and Pushkin researcher.



Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2; Rabi Katsin (Y. Kh. Ravnitski), in Sholem-Aleykhem’s Yudishe folks-biblyotek (Jewish people’s library), vol. 1 (Kiev, 1889), pp. 338-42; B. Gorin, Geshikhte fun yidishn teater (History of Yiddish theater), vol. 1 (New York, 1918), pp. 227-36, 269; Zalmen Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 2 (New York, 1934); D. Kesler, in Der tog (New York) (January 21, 1917; February 4, 1917); Jacob P. Adler, in Di varhayt (New York) (July 27, 1918); Noyekh Prilucki, Yidish teater (Yiddish theater) (Bialystok, 1921), pp. 45-46; Sh. L. Tsitron, in Moment (Warsaw) (November 18, 1927; November 25, 1927); Y. Riminik, Teater-bukh (Theater book) (Kiev, 1927), p. 79; Riminik, in Biblyografisher zamlbukh (Moscow-Kharkov-Minsk) 1 (1930), pp. 518-19; Riminik, in Tsaytshrift (Minsk) 5 (1931); R. Granovski, in Pinkes fun amopteyl fun yivo (Records of the American division of YIVO) (New York, 1927-1928), pp. 214, 216; Sh. Borovoy, Filologishe shriftn (Vilna) 3 (1929), pp. 472-84; Yankev Gordin’s letter to his friend Rozenblum, in Moment (June 28, 1929); A. R. Malachi, in Hadoar (New York) (January 4, 1935; January 11, 1935); Y. Korn, Keshenev: 200 yor yidish lebn in der hoyptshtot fun besarabye (Kishinev: 200 years of Jewish life in the capital city of Bessarabia) (Buenos Aires, 1950), see index; Roza Shomer-Batshelis, Unzer foter shomer (Our father Shomer) (New York, 1950); N. B. Minkov, Zeks yidishe kritiker (Six Yiddish critics) (Buenos Aires: Yidbukh, 1954); Kh. Sh. Kazdan, Fun kheyder un shkoles biz tsisho (From religious and secular primary schools to Tsisho) (Mexico City, 1956), see index; Shmuel Niger, Bleter geshikhte fun der yidisher literatur (Pages of history from Yiddish literature) (New York, 1959), pp. 395-97.
Mortkhe Yofe