Friday, 15 December 2017


YUDE NOVAKOVSKI (1879-June 4, 1933)
            He was born in the town in Chernigov (Chernihiv) district, Ukraine.  He studied in religious elementary school and the Nyezhin (Nizhyn) yeshiva as well as with his father, Zalmen-Mortkhe Novakovski, a well-known rabbi.  At age eighteen he received ordination into the rabbinate.  For secular knowledge, he was an autodidact, demonstrating ability in mathematics and, mainly, devoted to economic science.  Already in his yeshiva years he was drawn to social and political activities of the Zionist socialists.  He was active in the group “Vozrozhdenie” (Renaissance), and later he was one of the leaders and theoreticians of Sejmists.  He was arrested twice (1905-1906).  Around 1912 he worked as the director of a coal mine in the city of Krivoy Rog.  At the time of the Beilis Trial in 1913, he was in Kiev assisting the Moscow rabbi, Y. Mazeh, while preparing materials for the defense.  During WWI he helped establish Jewish schools in Kiev.  Over the years 1918-1920, the held the position of finance minister in the Soviet regime; 1921-1926, he was the Soviet commercial attaché in Prague, Berlin, and London.  In 1929 and later he was a lecturer on political economy in the division of Yiddish language and literature in the pedagogical faculty of the Number Two Moscow State University.  He wrote articles for Folks-shtime (Voice of the people), organ of the Sejmists in Vilna (1907-1907).  In the Soviet years, he published articles in: Di royte velt (The red world) in Kharkov-Kiev; Der shtern (The star) in Kharkov (1928), in which he placed a series of articles entitled “Ekonomishe shmuesn” (Chats on economics); and elsewhere.  He was co-editor of: Naye tsayt (New times) in Kiev (1917); Der apikoyres (The heretic); and Komunistishe fon (Communist banner) in Kiev (1919).  In book form: Milkhome un sholem (War and peace) (Ekaterinoslav: Visnshaft, 1919), 48 pp.; Di agrar-frage (The agrarian issue) (Ekaterinoslav: Visnshaft, 1919), 44 pp.; Gots straptshes, kleykodesh (God’s advocates, clergymen) (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1928), 59 pp., second edition (Kiev, 1930), 62 pp.; Yidishe yontoyvim, heylike minhogim un zeyere vortslen (Jewish holidays, sacred rites and their origins) (Kiev, 1929), 95 pp., second edition (Kiev, 1930), reprint (Piotrków, 1933), 64 pp.; Der rekhter apnoyg un der sholem mit im (Right deviation and peace with it) (Kharkov: Tsenter Publ., 1929), 60 pp.; with Kh. Gurevitsh, Kooperatsye un dos yidishe shtetl (Cooperation and the Jewish town) (Moscow: Tsenter Publ., 1929), 109 pp.; Kolektive virtshaft (Collective economy) (Moscow: Gezerd, 1929), 48 pp.  He also was said to have published a Russian language pamphlet on how the socialist state can also exploit.  He wrote primarily on economic and anti-religious matters.  He died in Moscow.

Sources: M. Gutman, in Royte pinkes (Red records) (Warsaw: Kultur-lige, 1921), p. 168; Visnshaftlekhe yorbikher (Scientific yearbook), vol. 1 (Moscow, 1929), p. 254; M. Zilberfarb, Gezamlte shriftn (Collected writings), vol. 2 (Warsaw-Paris: Zilberfarb fund, 1936); Zilberfarb, in Sotsyalistisher teritoryalizm, zikhroynes un materyaln tsu der geshikhte fun di parteyen ss, ys un “fareynikte,” ershter zamlbukh (Socialist territorialism, memoris and materials for the history of the S. S. [Zionist socialist], Y. S. [Sejmist], and “Fareynikte” parties, first collection) (Paris, 1934); Kh. Sh. Kazdan, Fun kheyder un shkoles biz tsisho (From religious and secular primary schools to Tsisho) (Mexico City, 1956), see index; Y. Beyner, “Fun poyle-tsien tsu seymovtses” (From Labor Zionism to Sejmist), in Vitebsk amol (Vitebsk in the past) (New York, 1956), pp. 340-41; Sh. Ayzenshtat, Perakim betoledot tenuat hapoalim hayehudit (Chapters in the history of the organization of Jewish laborers) (Jerusalem, 1961), see index; Solomon Schwartz, The Jew in the Soviet Union (Syracuse University Press, 1951), p. 122; oral information from Novakovski’s sister, Dr. Roze Novakovski, in New York.
Benyomen Elis

[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. 246.]


HERSH (HERSHEL) NOVAK (August 2, 1892-August 8, 1952)
            He was born in Pyetrikov (Piotrków), Poland, into a laboring family.  He attended religious elementary school and yeshiva, and also studied Polish and Russian.  In 1909 he immigrated with his parents to Montreal, Canada, where he worked for a time in a glass factory, later in shops making ladies’ coats.  He was one of the founders and among the first leaders of the secular Jewish schools in Montreal.  During WWI he worked with “People’s Relief” in Montreal, and he helped to establish labor unions, the Montreal People’s Library, the People’s University, and other institutions.  Over the years 1921-1931, he worked in the schools of Workmen’s Circle in Philadelphia.  In 1932 he settled in New York, where he was a teacher and assistant director in the summer camps “Nayvelt” (New world) and “Kinderland” (Children’s land).  In the same years (1932-1934), Novak served as secretary general of the Jewish Cultural Society, and under his leadership divisions of the society were established throughout the country, and a mass dissemination of Yiddish books ensued.  He was also a builder of the Central Jewish Cultural Organization (Tsiko) and its publishing house.  In 1948 he helped organize the first conference of the World Jewish Culture Congress in New York.  During the last ten years of his life (1942-1952), he worked as manager of the monthly Di tsukunft (The future), in which he also published articles on a variety of cultural matters.  After his death there was published a volume of his memoirs Fun mayne yunge yorn (From my youthful years), with a foreword by Y. Mark (New York: Educational Committee of Workmen’s Circle, 1957), 227 pp.  He died in New York.  “He spent hours, days and nights of work,” wrote Y. Y. Sigal, “as always, building the walls of the edifice of Yiddish culture….  Novak was one of those brave and proud individuals, who in his own way with the richest and most cautious sincerity carried out the commandment of the hour of Jewish cultural history.”  “H. Novak was among the founders and the first principal of the ‘National Radical School,’” noted Yisroel Rabinovitsh, “from which later emerged the (Montreal) Perets schools.  For him and for other teachers at the time, this was not a matter of a career, but a sacred duty for which they literally sacrificed their lives.  Until the end of his life, Novak served the ‘cultural renaissance’ of the Jewish people with a devotion and loyalty the likes of which were unmatched.  What he started in Montreal, he later continued in New York both as a builder and teacher in Yiddish schools and as an indefatigable leader for everyone who was associated with Yiddish culture.  Even in the last years of his life, when he was suffering a good deal of disappointment, he never ceased bearing under the yoke of the commandments of Yiddish culture.”  “Hersh Novak,” wrote N. Khanin, “felt that, if one wished for our modern literature and our modern life to endure, then one must first of all seek out how to entrust this to our children, now already born in the America.  He was one of the first to open in Montreal a secular school, in which Jewish children would be educated.  This was in fact the first secular Jewish school on the American continent.  Novak became one of the teachers in the school and remained in the profession his entire life, aside from several years before he departed this world, when he served as manager of Tsukunft.  It was a difficult life, financially tormenting, and yet Novak did not leave the field of education for Jewish children.  On the contrary, he all the more and more hitched his wagons to it.”

Sources: Obituary, in Di tsukunft (New York) (September 1952); Y. Levin, in Kultur un dertsiung (New York) (October 1952); Levin, in Di tsukunft (November 1952); Y. Y. Sigal, in Di tsukunft (November 1952); Sigal, in Keneder odler (Montreal) (November 1952); Sigal, in Bleter far yidisher dertsiung (New York) (April-May 1953); V. B-n, in Yorbukh fun semeteri-department fun arbeter-ring (Annual of the Cemetery Department of the Workmen’s Circle) (New York, 1953); A. Leyeles, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (March 29, 1955); D. Naymark, in Forverts (New York) (April 6, 1958); Dr. Shloyme Bikl, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (May 11, 1958); Y. Botoshanski, in Di prese (Buenos Aires) (June 25, 1958); Y. Rabinovitsh, in Keneder odler (June 30, 1958); N. Khanin, in Di tsukunft (December 1961), pp. 474-76.
Benyomen Elis


            He was born in Poland.  In the 1920s he made his way to Cuba.  He was among the most active leaders of the Jewish section of the Community Party in Cuba.  He was the Havana correspondent for New York’s Morgn-frayhayt (Morning freedom), edited by Kh. Bandes.  In December 1938 he published (using the pen name N. Khayim) Far eynikeyt in undzer yishev (For unity in our community) (Havana: Kunst un kultur), 24 pp.  He was a member of the editorial board and contributor to the leftist periodicals and newspapers in Havana: Kubaner bleter (Cuban pages), a literary monthly (1938-1939); Program fun arbet farn yidishn tsenter (Program of work for a Jewish center) (1940); Far der fartaydikung fun yidishn tsenter (In defense of a Jewish center) (April 1940); Der anti-natsi (The anti-Nazi), published by the anti-Nazi committee of Havana (November 1941); Kubaner yidish vort (The Yiddish word of Cuba), beginning as a weekly, later published two to three times each week, to which he contributed until July 29, 1950; Informatsye buletin (Information bulletin) of the society for art and culture of Havana; Unzer hilf der royter armey (Our aid to the Red Army) (June 22, 1942); 30 yor sovetnfarband (Thirty years of the Soviet Union), almanac (1947); 7ter november albom (November 7th album) (1947); and others.  He was last living in Havana.
Leyzer Ran


EMANUEL NOVOGRUDSKI (May 5, 1891-August 9, 1967)
            He was born in Warsaw, Poland.  His father Motl Novogrudski was a bookkeeper and a shoe salesman; his mother Itke, a housewife, helped the socialist movement to the extent that she could.  From 1906 he was studying in the Gurski high school in Warsaw and graduated in 1912.  He spent 1913-1914 studying at a university in Geneva (Switzerland).  In 1914 he joined the Bund.  He was active in the Warsaw organization of the party and later its secretary.  In 1917-1918, during WWI, the Germans twice arrested him and on one occasion sent him to camps in Havelberg and Lauban, and the second time he was imprisoned in the Modliner Fortress.  He was also arrested once by the Tsrarist police.  In 1920 after the Cracow Conference of the Bund, which adopted the resolution on joining the Third International, Novogrudski traveled through Kovno, Lithuania, to Moscow, and there he conducted negotiations with the representatives of the Third International.  He returned to Warsaw in early 1921, and from then until 1939 he served as secretary general of the Bund in Poland.  He was twice elected councilman to the Warsaw city council.  In 1939 he arrived in New York to conduct work for the Bund in Poland and, with the outbreak of WWII, remained there.  There he served as secretary to the “representative of the Polish Bund” from this post’s creation in 1941 until 1947.  From 1947 until he became severely ill (May 1961), which required a full interruption of all his activities, he was head secretary of the Bund’s world coordinating committee in New York.  He traveled around a great deal on assignments for the party, in prewar Poland and other countries of Europe, as well as in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, and Australia.  After the war, in the midst of his writing, he published numerous articles in Yiddish and non-Yiddish (mainly party) publications, such as: Folkstsaytung (People’s newspaper), Vokhnshrift far literatur (Weekly writing for literature), Yugnt-veker (Youth alarm), Foroys (Onward), and Walka (Fight), among others, in Warsaw; Unzer shtime (Our voice) in Paris; Letste nayes (Latest news) and Lebns-fragn (Life issues) in Tel Aviv; Foroys (Mexico City); Unzer gedank (Our idea) in Buenos Aires; Unzer tsayt (Out time), Der veker (Our alarm), Fraye arbeter-shtime (Free voice of labor), Di tsukunft (The future), and Socialist Call—in New York; among others.  He published longer works in: the anthology Henrik erlikh un viktor alter (Henryk Erlich and Viktor Alter) (New York, 1951), pp. 13-52; “Der ‘bund’ tsvishn beyde velt-milhomes” (The Bund between the two world wars), in Entsiklopediya shel galiyut (Encyclopedia of the Diaspora) (Jerusalem-Tel Aviv, 1959); and Leyvik-hodes-bukh (Leyvik Hodes book) (New York, 1962), pp. 371-77; among others.  He was co-editor of The Ghetto Fights (New York, 1962); and of the two volumes Geshikhte fun bund (History of the Bund) (New York, 1960, 1962).  In book form, he published (mostly under the pen name “E. Mus”): Kamf far rekht af arbet (Fight for the rights of labor) (New York: Bureau for the rights of labor, 1926), 38 pp., also available in Polish; Di kunst fun redn (The art of speaking) (Warsaw: Kultur-lige, 1929), 102 pp.; Sovet-rusland, unzer tragedye (Soviet Russia, our tragedy), with a preface by Louis de Bruiker (Brussels: Bundist group in Belgium, 1939), 63 pp., also (New York, 1939); Yokhed, mase un firer (Individual, mass, and leader) (Warsaw: Kultur-lige, 1934), 159 pp.; Heshbn hanefesh oder fartseyflung (Introspection or despair) (New York: Bundist Club, 1934), 32 pp.; A naye tsugang tsu alte emesn (A new approach to old truths) (Montevideo: Bundist group, 1955), 45 pp.  He also penned an introduction to Leon Bernshteyn’s book, Ershte shprotsungen (First sprouts) (Buenos Aires, 1956).  He died in New York.  Novogrudski’s wife SONYE NOVOGRUDSKI (née Tshemelinski), who he married in 1919, was a member of the underground central committee of the Bund in Warsaw during the years of Nazi occupation and was murdered by the Nazis in Treblinka.
            As Y. Y. Trunk put it, Emanuel Novogrudski “displayed in private conversations the greatest liberalism for all forms and differences of human thought….  Comrade Emanuel knew—and I say this to his greatest praise—that the broadest horizons of thought must be narrowed, when it comes to historical actions.”

Sources: Y. Yezhor, in Foroys (Mexico City) (December 1944); Y. Y. Trunk, in Poyln (Poland), vol. 7 (New York, 1953), pp. 175-80; M. Astur, in Afn shvel (New York) (March-April 1960); Kh. Sh. Kazdan, in Unzer tsayt (New York) (September 1960); Arbeter-ring boyer un tuer (Builders and leaders of the Workmen’s Circle) (New York, 1962); Biblyografye fun yidishe bikher vegn khurbn un gvure (Bibliography of Yiddish books concerning the Holocaust and heroism) (New York, 1962).
Leyb Vaserman

Thursday, 14 December 2017


            The brother of Bernard and Emanuel Novogrudski, he was born in Warsaw, Poland.  He received both a Jewish and a general education.  He worked as a teacher of natural science in Warsaw schools.  For a time he was active in the socialist Jewish youth organization “Tsukunft” (Future) in Warsaw.  After WWI he left for Soviet Russia, where he was an active leader in Jewish school and cultural work.  In 1937, during the Moscow show trials, he was exiled to various camps, before being freed in 1944.  For a time he lived in Moscow, later in Alma-Ata and other places.  His writing activities commenced with articles in the Bundist biweekly serial Sotsyalistishe yugnt-shtime (Voice of socialist youth) in Warsaw (1919).  In Soviet Russia he was a contributor to Yungvald (Young forest), Pyoner (Pioneer), Der emes (The truth), and Af di vegn tsu der nayer shul (On the road to the new school), all in Moscow, as well as periodicals in Minsk and Kiev—in which, on the whole, he wrote about cultural and school matters, reviews of school books, and translations from Russian into Polish.  He was the author of: Pyonern, yunge naturalist (Pioneers, young naturalists), a textbook of natural science (Moscow: Shul un bukh, 1925), 143 pp., with drawings and pictures.  He translated from Russian to Yiddish: S. Sokolov, Kuk zikh tsu tsu der natur (Pay attention to nature) (Moscow, 1927), 4 booklets, each 64 pp.; and M. Agapov and S. Sokolov, Yunger geograf (Young geographer), geography textbook (Moscow, 1927), 126 pp.  He was last living in Moscow.

Sources: Biblyografishe yorbikher fun yivo (Bibliographic yearbooks from YIVO) (Warsaw, 1928), see index; Y. Ratner and M. 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), nos. 700-2; M. Anilovitsh and M. Yofe, Shriftn fun psikhologye un pedagogik (Writings on psychology and pedagogy) 1 (Vilna: YIVO, 1933), p. 492; information from Emanuel Novogrudski and Sh. Herts in New York.
Khayim Leyb Fuks

[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), pp. 245-46.]


            The brother of Emanuel Novogrudski, he was born in Warsaw, Poland.  He received both a Jewish and a general education.  He was an active leader in the movement for a Jewish public school in Tsarist times in Warsaw.  For many years he worked as a teacher of arithmetic in Jewish schools, for a time was the administrator of the secular Jewish “great school” in Warsaw, and was a member of the organizing committee for the establishment of the Central Jewish School Organization (Tsisho) in Poland.  He assisted in the compilation of a series of Yiddish textbooks by M. A. Birnboym, Sh. Gilinski, and Dovid Kasel (until 1914).  He was the author of the textbook Elementarish-kurs fun arithmetik (Elementary course in arithmetic), “practical course with many examples and problems, part 1, whole and primary numbers, basis for higher classes in public schools and evening courses for adults” (Warsaw: Naye shul, 1917), 96 pp.  When the Nazis were approaching Warsaw, he left for the Soviet-occupied zone in Poland.  Until late 1940 he was living in Lemberg, later returning to Warsaw.  He was killed by the Nazi murderers.

Sources: M. Anilovitsh and M. Yofe, Shriftn fun psikhologye un pedagogik (Writings on psychology and pedagogy) 1 (Vilna: YIVO, 1933), pp. 486-87; Kh. Sh. Kazdan, Di geshikhte fun yidishn shulvezn in umophengikn poyln (The history of the Jewish school system in independent Poland) (Mexico City, 1947), pp. 69, 74, 87f; information from Emanuel Novogrudok and Sh. Herts in New York.
Khayim Leyb Fuks


MAKS NADEL (1871-1945)
            He was born in Vilna, Lithuania.  He studied in religious elementary school and in a Russian Jewish public school.  He was orphaned on his father’s side when young and interrupted his education to become a leather worker.  He joined “labor circles” and in 1894 was a leader of one such group.  He was active in Bundist work in Vilna and Kovno districts.  He was arrested on several occasions and spent some time in solitary confinement in the Petropavlosk Fortress.  He later lived in St. Petersburg, Geneva, London, and Paris.  He was active in the foreign committee of the Bund.  According to Leo Bernshteyn—in Ershte shprotsungen (First sprouts), p. 66—Nadel would have been one of the authors of the Russian pamphlet Chetyre rechi evreiskikh rabochikh (Four speeches of Jewish laborers) (May 1, 1892), which was illegally published in Geneva.  He would also have been a correspondent from London to Arbayter shtime (Voice of labor).  From 1905 he was working as a dental technician.  He authored the booklet Ratevet ayere tseyner (Save your teeth), “the importance of the teeth to the human body generally and to the stomach in particular” (London: Help for Self-Education, 1906), 22 pp., several editions.  He died in London.

Sources: N. A. Bukhbinder, Di geshikhte fun der yidisher arbeter-bavegung in rusland, loyt nit-gedrukte arkhiṿ-materyaln (The history of the Jewish labor movement in Russia, according to unpublished archival materials) (Vilna, 1931), p. 115; F. Kurski, Gezamlte shriftn (Collected writings) (New York, 1952), pp. 179, 356; Leo Burshteyn, Ershte shprotsungen (First sprouts) (Buenos Aires, 1956), pp. 61-75.
Khayim Leyb Fuks


            In the late nineteenth century, he came from Russia to the United States.  He lived in New York, Cleveland, and Philadelphia.  He was a co-founder and one of the principal contributors to the daily Filadelfyer morgen-tsaytung (Philadelphia morning newspaper)—fifty-nine issues appeared from January 18 to March 20, 1907, in which he wrote the editorials.  He also wrote for Yiddish newspapers in Cleveland and Pittsburgh at the beginning of the twentieth century.  Further information remains unknown.

Sources: D. B. Pirkel, in Pinkes, amerikaner opteyl fun yivo (Records, American section of YIVO) (New York, 1927-1928), p. 161; M. Frihman, Fuftsik yor geshikhte fun idishen lebn in filadelfye (Fifty years of Jewish life in Philadelphia) (Philadelphia, 1935).
Khayim Leyb Fuks


KHATZKL NADEL (1905-1968)
            He was born in Kovno and spent his childhood years in the town of Krok (Krak).  He was a Soviet Russian bibliographer who also assembled literary anthologies.  He always kept firmly to the Party line.  He began work as a librarian in 1922 and from that point as a bibliographer as well.  From 1925 to 1935, he led the Yiddish division of the Korolenko State Library in Kharkov.  His bibliographic booklet on anti-religious literature had on its title page the following sub-heading: “Guide to anti-religious literature for libraries, schools, clubs, anti-religious circles, and propagandists.”  From 1928 to 1948, he published a large number of bibliographies in the Soviet Yiddish journals: Ratnbildung (Soviet education), Prolit (Proletarian literature), Di royte velt (The red world), and Shtern (Star), and the newspapers Eynikeyt (Unity) and Der emes (The truth).  His own writings and edited works would include: Lenin in der yidisher poezye, zamlung (Lenin in Yiddish poetry, anthology) (Kharkov: Tsentral-farlag, 1928), 36 pp.; Af yidishe felder, lider-zamlung (On Yiddish fields, poetry collection), an anthology of Soviet Yiddish poetry with an foreword by Y. K. (Kharkov: All-Ukrainian Association for the Agricultural Settlement of Jewish Workers, 1928), 42 pp.; with Y. Elyovitsh, Onvayzer fun retsenzyes un kritishe artiklen (1922-1928) (Guide to reviews and critical articles, 1922-1928) (Kharkov: Central State Library, 1929), 72 pp.; Literatur vegn der natsyonaler frage un yidisher erd-aynordenung in ratn-farband (Literature on the nationality question and the Jewish land classifications in the Soviet Union), “Bibliographic guide for propagandists as well as activists and circles of the Association for the Agricultural Settlement of Jewish Workers” (Kharkov: All-Ukrainian Association for the Agricultural Settlement of Jewish Workers, 1930), 56 pp.—a bibliographic selection of books, pamphlets, and articles in Yiddish, Russian, and Ukrainian (the book also includes a section on Jewish colonization abroad); Antireligyeze literatur, onvayzer fun antireligyezer literatur far biblyotekes, shuln… (Anti-religious literature, guide for anti-religious literature for libraries, schools,…), with a foreword by M. Fayngold (Moscow-Kharkov-Minsk: Tsentrfarlag, 1931), 70 pp.; Lenin un di kinder, kinstlerishe zamlung far kinder (Lenin and the children, artistic collection for children) (Kharkov: State publishers for national minorities of the USSR, 1934), 151 pp.; Birebidzhan (Birobidzhan), a collection of poems and stories concerning Birobidzhan, edited by Rivke Rubin (Moscow: Emes, 1936), 201 pp.; with Peysi Altman, Antireligyeze kinstlerishe zamlung (Anti-religious artistic collection) (Kiev: State publishers for national minorities of the USSR, 1939), 304 pp.; Stalin (Stalin), literary collection (Kiev, 1939), 763 pp. + 5 pictures, mostly translated from Russian and other languages; Sholem-aleykhem, fargesene bletlekh (Sholem-Aleykhem, forgotten pages), compiled by N. and Y. Mitlman (Kiev: State publishers for national minorities of the USSR, 1939), 336 pp.; Sholem-aleykhem, oysgeveylte briv (Sholem-Aleykhem, selected letters), compiled by N. and Y. Mitlman, with a foreword and annotations by them (Moscow: Emes, 1941), 322 pp.  Nadel published separate bibliographies for Sholem-Aleykhem in Soviet Yiddish journals and special collections: “Sholem-aleykhem in ratnfarband far di yorn 1917-1936” (Sholem-Aleykhem in the Soviet Union for the years 1917-1936), Farmest (Challenge) in Kiev-Kharkov (1936), pp. 153-61; “Der bester denkmol” (The best monument), a more extensive bibliography of Sholem-Aleykhem’s works, published in the Soviet Union in Yiddish, Russian, Ukrainian, Byelorussian, and Uzbek-Yiddish [?] for the years 1921-1931, in Sholem-aleykhem (Sholem-Aleykhem) (Kiev, 1940), pp. 199-222.  A bibliographic work by him was also published in Sovetish heymland (Soviet homeland) in Moscow (March-April 1962).  He died in Kharkov.

Sources: M. Shteynberg, Yunger boykland (?) (Kharkov, 1928); A. Borukhov, “Af a baratung vegn biblyografye-vezn” (At a conference on bibliographic guides), Eynikeyt (Moscow) (August 9, 1947); Chone Shmeruk, comp., Pirsumim yehudiim babrit-hamoatsot, 1917-1961 (Jewish publications in the Soviet Union, 1917-1961) (Jerusalem, 1961), see index.
Yankev Birnboym

[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. 245.]


VOLF NODEL (1897-1939)
            He was an active leader in the Communist Party of Byelorussia and a member of the Minsk Region Committee of Trade Unions from 1922 until 1934.  He visited the central and eastern Soviet republics (Turkestan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan) and wrote about them in the Yiddish and Russian press.  He served as co-editor (with Sh. Agurski, Aronson, Yankl Levin, and others) of the monthly journal Der shtern (The star) in Minsk (1925-1934), and in the first issue he published an essay entitled “Shtot un dorf” (City and village), a contentious issue of the day around which heated debates ensued; Nodel was especially interested in the intermediate role to be played by the town (shtetl).  He edited Profesyonele bavegung (Trade union movement) in Minsk (1921-1922), organ of the Minsk regional council of trade unions, initially a biweekly and from issue 19 a weekly.  He also contributed to: Emes (Truth), Oktyabr (October), and Der yunger arbeter (The young worker), among other serials, in which he wrote on trade unions and the relations between village and city and published translations.  He translated from Russian the pamphlet: Dem kolvirtishn handl tsu dinst der sotsialistisher boyung (Collective farm trade to service the building of socialism) (Moscow, 1932), 52 pp.  His life was interrupted in the latter half of the 1930s amid the cold northern snows whence he deported with his life-partner, Sonye Fray.

Sources: Biblyografishe yorbikher fun yivo (Bibliographic yearbooks from YIVO) (Warsaw, 1928), see index; N. Rubinshteyn, Dos yidishe bukh in sovetnfarband (The Yiddish book in the Soviet Union) (Minsk, 1932); Chone Shmeruk, comp., Pirsumim yehudiim babrit-hamoatsot, 1917-1961 (Jewish publications in the Soviet Union, 1917-1961) (Jerusalem, 1961), see index.
Khayim Leyb Fuks

[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), pp. 244-45.]

Wednesday, 13 December 2017


BENYOMEN NADEL (b. January 11, 1918)
            He was born in Petrograd, Russia.  In the 1930s he moved with his parents to Vilna.  He graduated from the Vilna Jewish senior high school in 1936 and entered the humanities faculty of Stefan Batory University, from which he graduated in 1939 with a master’s degree in philosophy.  One of his university papers concerned “Jews in Vilna Province during the Polish Uprising of 1863.”  In 1939 he moved to Soviet Russia and continued his studies at the Universities of Minsk and Sverdlovsk, from which he received his diploma cum laude.  He was a teacher in a middle school in Andijan in Uzbekistan (1942) and in Sverdlovsk (1943-1944), and he lectured on classical literature in the philosophy department at Leningrad University (1944-1945).  He was later an assistant in the research group in Greek epigraphy at the Leningrad division of the Soviet Academy of Sciences (1946-1947).  He was also professor of Latin at the Herzen Institute in Leningrad (1949-1957) and an instructor in ancient history at Danzig Teachers’ College (1958-1962).  From his over seventy (thus far) published research pieces, some two dozen are dedicated to Latin and general linguistics, and the rest are concerned primarily with the history, languages, and culture of the peoples and countries around the Black Sea.  He published in the more important scholarly venues in Soviet Russia, such as: Vestnik drevnei istorii (Journal of ancient history) in Moscow (1945-1948, 1957); Uchonye zapiski Instituta Gertsena (Scholarly notes of the Herzen Institute) in Leningrad (1954-1957); Uchonie zapiski instituta istorii i literatury (Scholarly notes of the Institute of History and Literature) (Czernowitz: Moldavian Branch of the Academy of Sciences, 1955); and Voprosy yazikoznaniya (Issues in linguistics) (1956).  In Polish scholarly publications: Archiv Orientalni (Oriental archive) (1960); Listy filologiczne (Philological letters) (1960); Archeologia (Archeology) (1961); Acta antiqua (1961); and the like.  In book form in Yiddish, Nadel published the following works: Yidn in mizrekh-eyrope fun di eltste tsaytn biz der mongolisher invazye (1240) (Jews in Eastern Europe from ancient times until the Mongol invasion of 1240) (Warsaw: Yidish bukh, 1960), 157 pp.; and Di eltste yidishe yishuvim in mizrekh-eyrope (The oldest Jewish settlements in Eastern Europe) (Warsaw: Yidish bukh, 1960), 132 pp.  A larger number of his treatments of the same topic and about the Kuzari were initially published in Folks-shtime (Voice of the people) in Warsaw (1958-1959), while other essays and book reviews appeared in: Yidishe shriftn (Yiddish writings) (Warsaw) 8-9 (1958), 7 (1959), 1 and 2 (1962); in Bleter far geshikhte (Pages for history) (Warsaw) 11 (1958); and in Biuletyn Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego (Bulletin of Institute of Jewish History) (Warsaw) 27-28 (1958), 32 (1960), 38 (1961).  He was a member of the Institute of Jewish History in Poland.

Sources: A. Glants-Leyeles, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (November 6, 1960); Glants-Leyeles, in Folk un velt (New York) (January 1962), pp. 11-16; Sholem Shtern, in Morgn-frayhayt (New York) (August 13, 1961); Elye (Elias) Shulman, in Afn shvel (New York) (August-October 1961); Sh. Ber, in Yidishe shriftn (Warsaw) (October 1961); Sh. Belis, in Folks-shtime (Warsaw) (November 11, 1961); Belis, Portretn un problemen (Portraits and problems) (Warsaw, 1964).
Leyzen Ran


MUNYE (SHMUEL) NADLER (November 25, 1908-August 10, 1942)
            He was born in Gline (Glinyani), near Lemberg, in Galicia.  He studied in religious elementary school and in a state school.  At age eleven he entered the yeshiva of the city’s rabbi, Meyer Shapiro, and later he attended the Jewish high school in Lemberg.  His literary activities began in Hebrew.  In 1922 he debuted in print with a poem in the monthly Deglanu (Our banner), for which he became a regular contributor.  He also placed work in the Frankfurt journal Moriya (Moriah) and in London’s Haolam (The world).  He later contributed to religious Yiddish periodicals: Beys yankev (House of Jacob) in Lodz; Yavne (Yavna), Dos naye togblat (The new daily newspaper), and Der morgen (The morning) in Lemberg; Yidishe arbayter-shtime (Voice of Jewish labor), Der flaker (The flare), Yugend-kreftn (Tales of youth), Der yud (The Jew), and Dos yudishe togblat (The Jewish daily newspaper) in Warsaw.  He edited the literary supplement to Dos yudishe togblat and Ortodoksishe yugend-bleter (Orthodox youth sheets) in Warsaw.  In 1930 he edited the weekly newspaper Dos yudishe vort (The Jewish word) in Kolomaye.  In 1930 he also published three booklets: Rus (Ruth), a poetic reworking of the book of Ruth into Yiddish (Lodz: Beys yankev), 24 pp.; Sefer hayovel (Jubilee volume) in Hebrew, which received a warm reception by Hillel Tsaytlin, Moshe Klaynmal, and L. Fayngold (Lodz: Masora), 361 pp.; and at the end of the year, Der veg tsu der zun (The way to the sun) (Kolomaye: Yahadut), 62 pp.  In 1933 he published a lengthy poem, Besht simfonye (Symphony of the Bal Shem Tov) (Warsaw: Golder), 144 pp., fragments from which had earlier appeared in Ortodoksishe yugend-bleter.  In manuscript, Nadler had a poetic retelling in Yiddish of Shir hashirm (Song of Songs) and the major part of a planned “History of world literature” (fragments also earlier published in the Hebrew monthly Deglanu and in Yiddish in Beys yankev).  Because of Nadler’s truly positive bonds to the Yiddish language and literature, he was compelled to leave Yudisher togblat, but this was only a prelude to his transformation.  In 1933, about the same time as his religious chant Besht simfonye appeared in print, he composed a poem—“Tsum avangard” (To the avant-garde)—published in the Lodz Communist journal Di literarishe tribune (The literary tribune), and in a public lecture at the Warsaw literary association, he described his “passage from God to man.”  He joined the leftist group of writers.  This sharp transition from a hopeful, young Aguda poet to the extreme left wing made a huge stir in both religious and secular circles.  That same year Nadler departed for Paris, where he worked for the Communist daily Di naye prese (The new press) and in the leftist movement.  He studied for a time at the University of Cannes and graduated as a mechanical engineer, but his profession remained the pen.  He became night editor and secretary to the editorial board of Di naye prese, for which (using such pen names as Galitsin, Sh. N., Sigma, and A. Flaner) he wrote political articles, feature pieces, reportage works, interviews, literary surveys, scholarly essays, theater and movie reviews, and often as well he filled out the children’s corner with problems, jokes, and riddles.  He also wrote fashion reports for the women’s corner.  He was extremely active under the Nazi occupation: secretary of the illegal writers’ association; editor of the underground Communist Jewish press and a French-language bulletin J’accuse! (I accuse!); leader of the resistance group of radical Jewish intellectuals, until the Nazis caught him, tried him, and shot him on August 10, 1942.  His wife Eydl, who survived the partisan struggles of the Maquis, successfully salvaged a package of Nadler’s manuscripts, including a series of poems and ten chapters of an unfinished autobiographical novel.  A chapter of the novel with two poems was published in Yizker-bukh tsum ondenk fun 14 umgekumene parizer yidishe shrayber (Remembrance volume to the memory of fourteen murdered Parisian Jewish writers) (Paris: Oyfsnay, 1946), pp. 129-44, together with several fragments of his Besht simfonye.

Sources: Hillel Tsaytlin, in Moment (Warsaw) 200 (1930); M. Klaynman, in Haolam (London) 45 (1930/1931); L. Fayngold, in Beys yankev (Lodz) 57 (1930); B. Karlinus, in Moment 241 (1930); A. Shindler, in Beys yankev (1930); M. Spero, “Fun got tsu mentsh” (From God to man), in Yizker-bukh tsum ondenk fun 14 umgekumene parizer yidishe shrayber (Remembrance volume to the memory of fourteen murdered Parisian Jewish writers) (Paris: Oyfsnay, 1946); M. Dluzhnovski, in Yidishe kultur (New York) (April 1946), p. 12; Alfred Grant, Pariz a shtot fun front (Paris a city at the front) (Paris, 1958); Biblyografye fun yidishe bikher vegn khurbn un gvure (Bibliography of Yiddish books concerning the Holocaust and heroism) (New York, 1962), see index.
Leyzer Ran

[See also Eddy Portnoy’s fine article, “Politics and Poesy,” Tablet (March 18, 2010) at:; and Beatrice Lang Caplan, “Shmuel Nadler’s Besht-Simfonye, at the Limits of Orthodox Literature,” in Arguing the Modern Jewish Canon: Essays on Literature and Culture in Honor of Ruth R. Wisse (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Center for Jewish Studies, 2009 (JAF)]


MOYSHE (MOISHE) NADIR (March 1885-June 8, 1943)
            The adopted name of Yitskhok Rayz, he was born in Narayev (Narayiv), eastern Galicia.  His father Meyer came from Zlotshev (Złoczów), worked in business, and later became a teacher of German to a Jewish property owner.  Moyshe attended religious elementary school until age twelve and studied German with his father.  His father then left for the United States without the family, and in 1898 brought over his wife Khane (Hannah) with the children.  They lived in New York on the Lower East Side.  To support his ill wife and their five children, he worked as a peddler of liquor.  According to Zalmen Reyzen’s Leksikon (vol. 2), Nadir studied until age sixteen in English-language schools and then went to work.  However, as Nadir reports in the autobiographical introduction to his book Moyde ani (I confess), by age fourteen he had already detected the taste of the “sweatshop.”  Nadir took up various pursuits; he was an agent for an insurance company, a window washer, and other trades.  For the most part, he lived among Gentiles.  About his forms of employment, he wrote in the aforementioned introduction to his autobiography that in his life he threw himself from trade to trade, always working for little, such as it was, striving to do the work as well and as faithfully as possible, so that his boss would treat him with respect and not him for the boss.  Around 1902 he debuted in print in Teglekher herald (Daily herald) with “frightfully bad poems” and foolish prose—sketches and articles.  He also began publishing in Fraye arbeter-shtime (Free voice of labor) in New York.  From that point he was contributing work (under own name, Yitskhok Rayz, and his pen name) to various periodicals and anthologies, among them: Di tsukunft (The future), Naye tsayt (New times), Dos yudishe vokhnblat (The Jewish weekly newspaper), Di vokh (The week), Der idisher kemfer (The Jewish fighter), and Dos naye land (The new land), among others—with poems, stories, and humorous sketches.  Around 1904 he traveled to Europe with the idea that life there had “if no beautiful content, then more beautiful forms.”  He soon saw, however, that this was mistaken.  He stayed for a short period of time and became homesick for the “democratic quality of the East Side, for the gleam of Broadway.”  He returned to America and detected in himself the violent fire to write, write, write.  In 1910 he edited (with Yankev Adler) a biweekly magazine of humor, Der idisher gazlen (The Jewish bandit)—only four issues appeared.  He also contributed to Der kibitzer (The kibitzer) and to the collection Humor un satire (Humor and satire), among other serials.  For a long time he served, as well, as assistant editor of and contributor to Der groyser kundes (The great prankster), and in it he published a large number of his works.  A strong influence on him was exercised by Kolye (Kalmen) Teper, who was a leader for “Di yunge” (Young ones) group.  He began writing in a new manner, which was manifest in his first book, Vilde royzn (Wild roses) of 1915, by then using his new name of Moyshe Nadir.  These erotic miniatures—“boisterous, saucy, lonesome, audacious, courteously obscene”—made an impression, and several thousand copies of the book flew off the shelves.  At the time he was closely associated with the monthly brought out by “Di yunge”: Literatur un lebn (Literature and life), to which Teper, Zishe Landoy, and others contributed.  In 1916 co-edited (with his friend Moyshe-Leyb Halpern) the anthology Fun mentsh tsu mentsh (From man to man).  In 1918 he was (for about eight months) a close contributor and reporter for Idishe velt (Jewish world) in Philadelphia.  His popularity grew quite strong, when he became a writer for Tog (Day) in New York, and there he published his lyrical-philosophical miniatures, “Fun mentsh tsu mentsh,” wherein his extraordinary talent for word play and linguistic revival ensued.  A bit later, when the Communist newspaper, Frayhayt (Freedom), began to be published, he (and his friend M. L. Halpern) became contributors to it.  Concerning this, he recounted in his aforementioned autobiographical description that someone (the name was not forthcoming) called him and Halpern to a café, placed before them breakfast, and explained that a new newspaper was starting to be published which would fight for true freedom and justice.  This Jewish Communist had much to say to them about Communism and capitalism, about the Communist objective for a new newspaper, and he invited them to contribute to it.  Nadir recounted that he and Moyshe-Leyb Halpern had both suffered considerable want, and the opportunity to get a “job” was much more enticing than the goals of the newspaper.  Those goals, he wrote, initially frightened more than charmed him.  He became, though, a regular contributor to the newspaper, and day in and day out he composed his features there entitled “Fun nekhtn biz morgn” (From yesterday until tomorrow).  In his Communist fellow-traveling period, he tried to step in stride with Communist ideology, but when it appeared that he was in full agreement with Communism, he wrote items which were an expression of an authentic Nadir-ish tone.  The lyrical and Bohemian, the luminous aphorism, and even the sentimental pushed their way through during this period of time in his work as well.  In the spring of 1926, he made a visit to Soviet Russia to see with his own eyes the land of socialism.  He stopped en route in Paris, Warsaw, and Vilna.  Over the course of nine months, he traveled around the country and appeared in public for evenings in his honor.  There he saw the need and the poverty of the masses, and none of the things that he liked, but attempted to control his “petit bourgeois” feelings, and he left there with the delusion that, when Communism would ultimately be victorious, everything bad would disappear.  Before this long period, Nadir had written a great deal.  In addition he had fashioned himself an exotic figure.  Tall, slender, with a head full of black tresses, a dark-complexioned face, with deep brown eyes, in a cape, his neck wrapped in a multi-colored scarf, with his lazy, melodic gait, he forged an impression of an aristocratic-Bohemian artistic likeness.  Before he set off on his long voyage to Europe and Soviet Russia in 1926, the leftist movement arranged a farewell evening for him, and several thousand people came to hear him.  That evening Nadir articulated sharp paradoxes, which did not support the “general line” of Communism.  The leftist press thereafter continually presented arguments against him and accused him of “ideological errors,” but people pardoned him because he was the “shayndl” (darling) of the left.  Aside from poetry, humorous sketches, satires, feature pieces, sketches, miniatures, children’s stories, and longer prose items, he also wrote essays, mostly in his Bohemian style, on writers with whom he was permanently at war.  In his essays which contained a considerable admixture of biting features, blunt notions about creative work, art, and philosophy frequently forced their way through.  On many an occasion, Nadir turned his attention to crafting plays and other theatrical pieces: Kloysterberg (Church mountain); Sukses (Success); Der letster yid (The last Jew); Di tragedye fun gornisht (The tragedy of nothing), in Di tsukunft (1922); Yezus ekhod (Jesus the First), in Dos naye lebn (The new life) (1923); and “Elye hanovi” (Elijah the prophet), in Frayhayt.  And, a number of one-act plays: Mentshelekh (Humanly); and Di meshugoim (The madmen), an operetta.  Of these, the following were performed in Maurice Schwartz’s Yiddish Art Theater: Sukses, Der letster yid, and Di tragedye fun gornisht.  His dramatic miniature were also staged by the first Jewish marionette theater “Modikot” (from the names of the founders: Zuni Moud and Yosl Kotler), and in Nadir’s “playroom”—a summer theater at Nadir’s summer hotel in Loch Sheldrake (New York).  Also, his Rivington strit (Rivington Street) was performed many times as a theatrical pierce.  In 1925 he opened in New York an artists’ café “Nakinka”—“Nadirs kinstler-kafe” (Nadir’s artists’ café)—which soon shut its doors.  He also wrote articles about the theater and theater reviews, in which he did not spare trash and vulgarity on the Yiddish-American stage.  With his stinging and joking reviews, he even brought about a case in which one theatrical agent would not allow him into the theater.  Nadir then had himself made up and came to performances disguised.  He also translated into Yiddish: Anatole France’s novel Di royte lilye (The red lily [original: Le Lys rouge]), which appeared in Avrom Reyzen’s Dos naye land (The new land); Peter Altenberg’s Vi ikh ze es (As I see it [original: Wie ich es sehe]) (New York: Naytsayt, 1919); practically all of the works of Jerome K. Jerome; many of the works of Mark Twain; Eugene O’Neill’s play Di horike malpe (The Hairy Age); Gerhart Hauptmann’s dramatical poem Der ayngezunkener glok (The sunken bell [original: Die versunkene Glocke]); a dramatization of Leo Tolstoy’s novel Der toyt fun ivan ilitsh (The death of Ivan Ilyich [original: Smert' Ivana Ilyicha]), the manuscript of which was lost; gave a Jewish character to Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories under the title Farvos un farven-geshikhtes (Why and when stories), published serially in Kundes (Prankster).  He also wrote a great deal in English, primarily essays—“I write in English but not willingly.  When I have nothing to say, I write in English.  When I have something to say, I write in Yiddish.”  His English writings appeared in the journals: Pagan, Smart Set, World, American Hebrew, and Peh El Peh, among others.  He also Anglicized Sholem-Aleykhem’s Shver tsyu zayn a yid (It’s hard to be a Jew).  In his activities as a writer he made use of numerous pseudonyms, such as: Rinnalde Rinaldine, Dr. Hortsikl, Ana Dona, Ida Shilkroyt, Ben-Meyer, Dilenzi Mirkarosh, Y. Stryer, R. Nardo, Der Royznkavalyer, M. D’nar’di, S. Fayerfoygl, Yud-ka-rish-zet, and Filatus.
            In Morgn-frayhayt (Morning freedom), for which he wrote for many years and in which he strove to accept Communist ideology, he had nonetheless many moments of open and concealed resistance to the unbending laws of “proletarian art.”  Also, he could not always swallow general Communist politics (aside from its relations to works of art).  Olgin, Shakhne Epshteyn, and others did not require that he “be at ease” with it, but with the beginning of the show trials and executions of former leaders of Soviet Russia, he began to retreat.  This retreat came to its final end when in 1939 Stalin concluded his agreement with Hitler.  Nadir then publicly seceded from the Communist Morgn-frayhayt and vented his scathing fury at them in the periodical Hofenung (Hope), published by the League against Fascism and Dictatorship (of former Communists and fellow travelers) in New York (December 1939).  In his article “Di, vos blaybn mit der morgn-frayhayt” (Those who stay with Morgn-frayhayt), in answer to Olgin’s article “Di vos geyen avek” (Those who leave), Nadir wrote that from 1936 he was already not participating “in the treasonous politics of the Stalin party” and that he spoke “at every opportunity concerning the purges underway before our eyes.”  On June 8, 1943, at the age of fifty-eight, Nadir died in Woodstock, New York, of a heart attack.
            His published books include: Vilde royzn, unshuldike aynfaln (Wild roses, innocent ideas) (New York: Literarisher farlag, 1915), 64 pp.; Moyshe nadirs zeks bikher (Moyshe Nadir’s six books) (New York: Verbe, 1919)—1. Fun mentsh tsu mentsh, 159 pp., also (Warsaw: Perets-biblyotek, 1924), 158 pp., and in a larger edition (Vilna, 1928), 225 pp.; 2.Mayselekh mit a moral un oysgetrakhte zakhn (Stories with a moral and imaginary items), 153 pp., also (Vilna, 1928), 250 pp.; 3. Kum shpatsirn, gelibte (Come take a walk, darling) and Fliterflirt, 155 pp.; 4. In vildn verter-vald (In the wild forest of words), 155 pp.; 5. Af gelekhter (As for laughter), 155 pp.; and 6. Mayne hent hobn fargosn dos dozike blut (My hands have shed this blood), on books and theater, 186 pp., also in an enlarged edition (Vilna: Kletskin, 1928)—the full six volumes were also published in a new edition (New York: M. N. Mayzil, 1928); Peter Altenberg’s Vi ikh ze es, un anderes (As I see it, and other pieces) (New York: Naytsayt, 1919), 223 pp.; Unter der zun (Under the sun) (New York: Frayhayt, 1926), 252 pp., also (Vilna: B. Kletskin, 1928), 247 pp.; Fun mir tsu dir, humoreskn (From me to you, humorous sketches) (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1927), 157 pp.; Farvos der keml hot aza breytn haldz? Farvos der keml hot a hoyker? (Why does the camel have such a long neck? Why does the camel have a hump?) (Vilna: Naye yidishe folkshul, 1928), 19 pp.; Benyomen un senderl (Benjamin and Senderl), dramatization of Mendele’s Masoes benyomen hashlishi (Travels of Benjamin the Third) (Warsaw: Culture and Propaganda Department, Central Committee of Jews in Poland, n.d.), 23 pp.; Fun nekhtn biz morgn (Vilna: B. Kletskin, 1928), 267 pp.; Gerhart Hauptmann’s Der ayngezunkener glok, a play in five acts (Vilna: B. Kletskin, 1929), 150 pp.; A lomp afn fentser (A lamp by the window) (New York: Narayev, 1929), poetry divided into three sections (bread, life, love), 192 pp.—this book begins with a well-known poem and Nadir’s own melody (with notation) for it; Derlangt aher di velt, burzhoy, un andere lider (“We want the world,” bourgeois, and other poems) (New York: Morgn-frayhayt, 1930), 64 pp.; Di nayste verk (The latest work)—1. “Foystn un fonen” (Fists and flags) and “Shtayendike vayzers” (Unmoving hands [on a clock]), 286 pp.; 2. “Der genyaler idyot” (The brilliant idiot) and “Af vakatsye” (On vacation), 243 pp.; 3. “Teater-tekstn” (Theater texts), 294 pp.; 4. “Morgn un montik” (Tomorrow and Monday), 190 pp.—(New York: Morgn-frayhayt, 1931-1932); Teg fun mayne teg (Days of my days), divided into seven parts (“In Narayev,” “On Broadway,” “In Yiddish Theater,” “On Editorial Boards,” “With Yiddish Writers,” “At My Universities,” and “Epilogue”) (New York: Morgn-frayhayt, 1935), 240 pp.; Kind on keyt (Child without chains), children’s poems and stories (New York: International Labor Order, 1936), 159 pp.; An ander sort mentsh (Another kind of person), humorous sketches and satires (Warsaw: Kinder-fraynd, 1936), 41 pp.; Rivington strit, a poem (New York, 1936), 32 pp.; Nadirgang, fun 1900 biz 1937, a zamlung fun kurtse muster-zakhn (Nadir method, from 1900 to 1937, a collection of short exemplary items), divided into three parts (“Rambling and Disconnected,” “Knowledge and Attachment,” and “Reflection and Purification”) (New York, 1937), 305 pp.; Tint un feder (Ink and pen), polemics and chapters from the life of Yosl Kotler (New York: Idbyuro, 1936), 252 pp.; Moyde ani, lider un proze, 1936-1943 (I confess, poems and prose, 1936-1943), starting with a foreword by the poet L. Faynberg, entitled “Di legende moyshe nadir” (The legendary Moyshe Nadir), and with Nadir’s “Oytobyografish” (Autobiographical), followed by the poem “Moyde ani” (eight parts: “From the depths,” “Comfort and Sorrow,” “Provincetown,” “My Bathsheva,” “Poems of Yes and No,” “Anxiety and Quiet,” “A Smile through Tears,” and “Sacred Days, Fearsome Days”) (New York: Narayev, 1944), 224 pp.  This last book was published posthumously by his wife Genia Nadir.  Much of Nadir’s work has been translated in various languages: into German by A. Grosman; into French by L. Blumenfeld; into Russian by Osip Dimov, Dovid Manyevitsh, Sore Gurland (sister of Arn Gurland), in L. Faynberg (Grebnev), Evreiskaia Poeziia (Jewish poetry) (New York, 1947); into Polish in the Lodz daily newspaper Republika (Republic), as well as in the Polish Jewish newspaper Nasz Przegląd (Our overview).  Some of his work has also been translated into Hebrew.[1]  Also posthumously: Nadirizmen, aforizmen, paradoksn, vertershpil, poetishe proze (Nadirisms, aphorisms, paradoxes, word play, poetic prose) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1973), 111 pp.
            “With Nadir,” wrote A. Tabatshnik, “linguistic mastery is not extrinsic but intrinsic.  His linguistic mastery stems not only from knowledge of words, but more from knowledge of things.”  “He was not simply able to demonstrate what he knew,” noted Shmuel Niger, “not revealing what he liked.  This lack of the possession of something was part of (and a condition of) what he did possess.  A more vulgar frame was necessary for the courteousness of the image that he was adapting….  When I have nothing to do, he says, I create the world as fully as my strength allows me.”  He “left home,” wrote Itsik Manger,” “too early.  A melody remained in his disposition, and the melody escorted all the shadows that shuddered in his memory….  The Narayev romantic somehow balanced his sharp and bitter sarcasm.”  In a letter of his to N. B. Minkov, now held in the Kurski archives, Nadir himself in a few words characterized his personality and his work: “Incidentally, Moyshe Nadir divided himself into small pieces, scattered and diffuse, like a ray of light that one cannot grasp, like a sea that one cannot restrain.”

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2; N. Shteynberg, in Tsayt (New York (December 1920); Shteynberg, Yung-amerike (Young America) (New York, 1930), pp. 149-82; Lilyan Aba (B. Rivkin), in Tsayt (November 18, 1921); N. Mayzil, Noente un vayte (Near and far), vol. 2 (Warsaw, 1926), pp. 198-203; Khayim Leyb Fuks, in Nayer folksblat (Lodz) (July 19, 1926); Fuks, in Fun noentn over (New York) 3 (1957), pp. 202-35; L. Kenig, in Unzer hofenung (Warsaw) (September 1927); Kenig, in Di yidishe velt (Vilna) (December 1928); Shmuel Niger, in Di tsukunft (New York) (February 1928); Niger, in Tog (New York) (June 20, 1943); Niger, Kritik un kritiker (Criticism and critic) (Buenos Aires, 1959), pp. 155-60; Y. Botoshanski, in Bikher-velt (Warsaw) (February 1929); Botoshanski, in Di tsukunft (October 1947); Botoshanski, in Di naye tsayt (Buenos Aires) (August 2, 1963; August 9, 1963); Y. Pat, in Folks-tsaytung (Warsaw) (January 30, 1931); Avrom Reyzen, in Di tsukunft (May 1931); Meylekh Epshteyn, in Morgn-frayhayt (New York) (May 21, 1932); Sh. D. Zinger, in Shikago (Chicago) (March-April 1935); M. Olgin, in Shtern (Minsk) (March 1935); Al. Pomerants, in Proletpen (Kiev) (1935), pp. 86-89, 219-24; L. Finkelshteyn, in Tog (April 9, 1935); A. Mukdoni, in Morgn-zhurnal (New York) (April 17, 1935; August 28, 1935); B. Ts. Goldberg, in Tog (March 12, 1935); Yosl Kotler, in Morgn-frayhayt (March 3, 1935); Kalmen Marmor, in Literarishe tribune (Lodz) 4 (1936); D. Tsharni (Daniel Charney), in Idisher kemfer (New York) (July 23, 1943); A. Tabatshnik, in Di tsukunft (September 1943); E. Almi, in Fraye arbeter-shtime (New York) (June 25, 1943); Almi, In gerangl fun ideyen, eseyen (Struggling with idea, essays) (Buenos Aires, 1957), pp. 105-9; D. Perski, in Hadoar (New York) (July 30, 1943); Y. Y. Sigal, in Keneder odler (Montreal) (July 16, 1944; July 17, 1950); L. Faynberg, foreword to Nadir’s Moyde ani (New York, 1944); Meylekh Ravitsh, in Keneder odler (January 19, 1945); M. Yofe, in Hadoar (May 23, 1947); Yofe, in Letste nayes (Tel Aviv) (October 25, 1953); Moyshe Shtarkman, in Hadoar (May 23, 1947); Y. Paner, in Nayes (Tel Aviv) (October 25, 1953); Y. Yanasovitsh, in Di naye tsayt (July 23, 1953); M. Gros-Tsimerman, in Di goldene keyt (Tel Aviv) 20 (1954); N. Sverdlin, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (November 14, 1954); Sh. Leshtshinski, Literarishe eseyen (Literary essays), vol. 2 (New York, 1955), pp. 126-36; Y. Shtern, Lider un eseyen (Poems and essays) (New York, 1956), pp. 225-34; D. Ignatov, Opgerisene bleter, eseyen, farblibene ksovim un fragmentn (Torn off sheets, essays, extant writings, and fragments) (Buenos Aires: Yidbukh, 1957), p. 70; Kh. Gotesfeld, in Forverts (New York) (November 4, 1958); Itsik Manger, in Der veker (New York) (July 1, 1958); Manger, Noente geshtaltn un andere shriftn (Close images and other writings) (New York, 1961), pp. 448-55; Y. Ḥ. Biltski, Masot (Essays) (Tel Aviv, 1960), pp. 123-30; Y. Blum, in Keneder odler (June 27, 1960); Blum, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (July 27, 1962); Y. Likhtenshteyn, in Undzer dor (New York) (September-October 1962), reprinted from Literarishe bleter (Warsaw) (1926); Y. Goldkorn, in Fraye arbeter-shtime (January 1, 1963); Moshe Basok, Mivḥar shirat yidish (Selection of Yiddish poetry) (Tel Aviv, 1963), pp. 83-86.
Leyb Vaserman

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 386.]

[1] Translator’s note. There are, of course, also many translations into English (by Harvey Fink, Joseph Kling, and others), and even some into Japanese (by Imai Makiko) and Spanish (by Alek Kaplan). (JAF)

Monday, 11 December 2017


ARN NAGER (November 1880-1930s)
            He was born in Vilna.  He studied in a religious primary school, in a municipal school, and with private tutors.  At age sixteen he made his way to the United States.  There he became an extra in the Union Theater.  He founded a drama club, for which he wrote a sketch “Foter un zun” (Father and son) which was later staged in the Yiddish vaudeville theater of Yoyne Spivak.  He then departed for London, and later settled in Paris where he wrote vaudeville acts.  In London he wrote (using the pen name “Nit keyn yold” [Not a chump]) theater criticism in the humorous magazine Der blofer (The bluffer) and published his couplets in a separate work.  He acted on the Yiddish stage in Argentina, France, England, Holland, Germany, and Russia, before returning to the United States, where he wrote songs for records and plays for the Yiddish theater.  He died in the 1930s in New York.

Sources: Zalmen Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 2 (New York, 1934); additional information from Herman Yablokov in New York (May 1962).
Yankev Kahan


            She lived in Philadelphia.  She was laborer.  Her poems—“Der shloflozer arbeter” (The sleepless worker), “Eyn lebnsbild” (One life story), “Der letster ady” (The last good-bye), “A bakanter keyver” (A known grave), and others—all about workers’ lives, were published in Folks-advokat (People’s advocate) in New York (late 1888).  She also published poems in Nyu yorker yudishe folks-tsaytung (New York Jewish people’s newspaper) and Morgnshtern (Morningstar).  She was the first Yiddish women’s writer in the United States.  Together with Toyve Segal, she organized literary groups in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and other cities.  Detailed information about her life remains unknown.

Sources: Kalmen Marmor, “Der onheyb fun der yidisher literatur in amerike” (The beginning of Yiddish literature in America), Almanakh fun internatsyonaln arbeter-ordn (Almanac of the International Labor Order) New York, 1940), pp. 356, 364; Marmor, Der onheyb fun der yidisher literatur in amerike (The beginning of Yiddish literature in America) (New York, 1943), pp. 35, 49, 52; Marmor, in Morgn-frayhayt (New York) (December 17, 1944).
Benyomen Elis


            He was born in Troyanov, Volhynia district, Ukraine.  He attended religious elementary school and yeshivas in Zvihil (Novohrad-Volynskyy), and he studied as well with private teachers and tutors.  In 1908 he became a Hebrew teacher and was active in the Zionist movement in the community.  From 1926 he was living in Canada.  He taught in Talmud-Torahs in Niagara Falls, Edmonton, and Toronto.  He published stories in Y. Kh. Tavyov’s Haḥaver (The friend) in Vilna (1905), later in Levner’s Haperaḥim (The fruits) (Lugansk, 1906-1907), in which he published as well translations from Russian.  From 1926 he placed work in: Tog (Day), Morgn-zhurnal (Morning journal), and Der amerikaner (The American) in New York; Keneder odler (Canadian eagle) in Montreal; Der idisher zhurnal (The Jewish journal) and Keneder nayes (Canadian news) in Toronto; and Dos idishe vort (The Jewish word) in Winnipeg; among others.  In 1945 he won a prize from Morgn-zhurnal in New York for his story “Di troyanover kdoyshim” (The martyrs of Troyanov), in which he described the Zhitomir pogrom of 1905.  He contributed portraits and memoirs to Sefer zvihil (Volume for Zvihil), in both Hebrew and Yiddish (Tel Aviv, 1962).  He also wrote for Hadoar (The mail) in New York.  He was last living in Toronto, Canada.  He served as secretary for the local Mizrachi organization.  His son, BENJAMIN NOBLEMAN, was a contributor to the English-language Jewish Standard in Toronto.

Source: Rabbi M. Shvartsman, in Der idisher zhurnal (Toronto) (October 23, 1964).
Khayim Leyb Fuks


SHLOYME NOBL (SHLOMO NOBLE) (July 4, 1905-May 4, 1986)
            He was born in Sonek, eastern Galicia.  His father was an office employee and a Hebrew teacher.  He studied in religious elementary schools and in a Hebrew school.  In 1919 the family immigrated to the United States, and there he attended (1920-1924) the yeshiva of R. Yitskhok Elkhonen in New York and the Baltimore Hebrew College.  He received a doctorate from Ohio State University in 1939.  From 1944 he was associated with YIVO.  He was also a teacher of Jewish history at the Jewish teachers’ seminary in New York.  He published a work entitled Khumesh-taytsh, an oysforshung vegn traditsye fun taytshn khumesh in di khadorim (Khumesh-taytsh, an inquiry into the tradition of translating the Pentateuch in the religious elementary schools) (New York: YIVO, 1943), 88 pp.  In addition, he wrote the following works for Yivo-bleter (Pages from YIVO) in New York: “Der malbim, a kemfer kegn reform” (The Malbim [Meir Leibush ben Yehiel Michel Wisser, 1809-1879], a fighter against reform) 33 (1950), pp. 234-38; “R. yekhiel-mikhl epshteyn, a dertsier un kemfer far yidish in 17tn yorhundert” (R. Yechiel-Michel Epstein, an educator and fighter for Yiddish in the seventeenth century) 35 (1951), pp. 131-38; “Dos bild fun dem amerikaner yid in der hebreisher un yidisher literaturn” (The image of the American Jew in Hebrew and Yiddish literatures) 38 (1954), pp. 50-77.  “Dr. Noble,” wrote Dr. Max Weinreich, “is a newcomer to our linguistic research, but he is a beginner only in matters of publication.  He comes to us well-prepared with many years of study, is proficient not only in Yiddish but also in the neighboring fields Germanics and Hebreistics.  And his book [Khumesh-taytsh] demonstrates that he has a vigilant sensibility concerning methodology and a living interest in issues of general linguistics.”  “Dr. Shlomo Noble,” noted Arn Leyeles, “put a tremendous amount of research into his work, a great deal of knowledge and intuition as well.  Not only is this valuable for reading but one really needs to study it.  In particular, this should be done by those who work in the fields of Yiddish and Jewish learning, such as: teachers, writers, and those tied to Jewish cultural institutions, and the like.  For poets and novelists, reading Dr. Shlomo Noble’s work is truly a must.”

Sources: A. Leyeles, in Tog (New York) (February 16, 1952); Kh. Liberman, in Yivo-bleter (New York) 36 (1952); Dr. Max Weinreich, preface to Nobel’s book, Khumesh-tsaytsh (New York, 1943); Y. Rozental, in Bitsaron (New York) (Nisan [= April-May] 1948); A. A. Roback, in Jewish Social Studies (New York) (April 1944).
Leyb Vaserman

Sunday, 10 December 2017


            The brother of the artist Rudolf Zaslavski, he was born in Odessa, Ukraine.  He studied in a Talmud-Torah and in the municipal school in Odessa.  On 1920 he was cofounder of the Jewish state theater “Kunst-vinkl” (Art corner) in Kiev, where he performed for several years.  In 1925 he departed for Argentina, where he participated in a variety of theatrical undertakings.  In 1928 he played the Yiddish theaters through Europe.  He composed musical numbers, poetry, and prose declamations for the theater, and he also wrote the music and lyrics to Hannah Notesfeld’s comedy Parnose (A living), to Molnar’s Der tavl (The devil), to Sholem-Aleykhem’s Tevye der milkhiker (Tevye the dairyman), and to An-Shi’s Der dibek (The dybbuk).

Source: Zalmen Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 2 (New York, 1934), with a bibliography.
Yankev Kahan


Y. SH. NAUMOV (July 1881-March 9, 1946)
            He was born in Kapulye (Kopyl, Kapyl), Minsk district, Byelorussia.  He received both Jewish and secular educations.  Around 1905 he moved to New York.  In 1912 he settled in Los Angeles, helped to organize the first Labor Zionist group there, and cofounded the secular Jewish schools, the “Radical Club,” and other Jewish institutions.  He contributed to: Der idisher kemfer (The Jewish fighter) and Di tsayt (The times) in Los Angeles; Der forshteher (The representative) in St. Louis; and Progres (Progress), Patsifishe folks-tsaytung (Pacific people’s newspaper), Kheshn (Accounting), and Kalifornyer idishe shtime (Jewish voice of California) in Los Angeles, in which over the course of twenty-five years he published articles on writers and books, on education, Jewish tradition, and on general Jewish issues.  After his death there was published a selection Gezamlte shriftn (Collection writings) (Los Angeles: Naumov Book Committee, 1948), 318 pp.  Among his pen names: Ben Nokhum, Ish Nemi, Moyshe, and Itshe Kapulye.  He was a Labor Zionist his entire life, and he was active for laborers in the land of Israel.  He died in Los Angeles.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2; B. Kahan, L. Glants, and F. Riskin, in Y. Sh. Naumov, Gezamlte shriftn (Collected writings) (Los Angeles, 1948).
Benyomen Elis


            On May 16, 1918, the Brooklyn Lyric Theater staged Naumov’s Der toyter eydes, lebnsbild in 4 aktn (The dead witness, image of life in four acts).  On October 22, 1920 the same theater presented his dramatization (in four acts and four scenes) of Di hant fun gezets (The hand of the law), building on Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables.  Over the years 1921-1924, his plays—Di nakete neshome (The naked soul), Ver iz di froy? (Where is the wife?), Der yidisher zinger (The Jewish singer), an operetta in three acts, and Nokhn shturm (After the storm), four acts—appeared on the stages of various theaters.  He was also said to have translated Mikhail Artsybashev’s drama in four acts, Eyferzukht (Jealousy [original: Sanin [?]).  Other biographical details remain unknown.

Source: Zalmen Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 2 (New York, 1934), with a bibliography.
Yankev Kahan


NAFTALI MASKIL-LEETAN (February 20, 1829-November 19, 1897)
            He was born in Radoshkovitsh (Radashkovichy), Minsk district, Byelorussia, the son of a rabbi.  He studied with his father, at religious elementary schools and yeshivas in Minsk, and at the yeshivas of Horodok and Volozhin.  In his early days in synagogue study hall, he started writing poetry in Hebrew and in Yiddish.  At age seventeen he composed a play entitled Ester (Esther), which in manuscript was widely known among the followers of the Jewish Enlightenment at that time.  He arrived in Vilna in 1855 and became a frequent visitor at the home of Adam Hakohen Lebenzon, who published a poem of his (left unsigned) as an introduction to Kalmen Shulman’s Hebrew translation of Eugène Sue’s Les Mystères de Paris.  At the time he also published (using the pen name “Divre emunim”) his “Shir tsiyon” (Poem of Zion), as an introduction to Yehalel’s Sifte renanot (Lips of joyous poetry), as well as poems and articles in the Hebrew-language publications of the day: Keneset yisrael (Congregation of Israel), Hamelits (The spectator), Hamagid (The preacher), and Luaḥ aḥiasaf.  He also published under such pseudonyms as: Ploni, Ben-Avraham, and Mamoni.  He composed prayers in Yiddish, Hebrew prayers, and poems of Zion and popular poetry, which between the 1860s and 1890s were published either anonymously or with such pseudonyms as: Mamoni, Avrom Avinus Eynikl (our father Abraham’s grandson), and Naftolke der Ile (Little Natali the prodigy).  From 1859 to 1979, he devoted himself to adapting the edition of Yekhiel Halpern’s Seder hadorot (Order of the generations) in four volumes (Warsaw, 1875-1882).  His writings in book form include: Ḥokhmat yehoshua ben sira (The wisdom of Joshua ben Sira) (Vilna, 1869), 82 pp., with notes in Judeo-German; a collection of articles, translations, and florid works, entitled Mikhtav lelamed (Letter of explanation) (Vilna, 1870), 132 pp., unsigned.  In 1870 he also published in Vilna his Yiddish translation of En yaakov (Jacob’s eye [a collection of tales and homiletical literature drawn from the Talmud]).  He adapted and explained (under the pen name Mamoni) in Yiddish and Russian R. Benyamin Musafia, Sefer zakhar rav (Volume in memory of Rav) (Warsaw, 1875), 92 pp.  Best known among his Yiddish-language prayers for women: A naye tkhine hazkares neshomes (A new women’s memorial prayer for the dead) (Warsaw, 1874); Tkhine khadoshe letashlikh (New women’s prayer for Tashlikh) (Warsaw, 1876); Mizmer leeysn (Psalm for strength) (Warsaw, 1882); Naye yidishe folkslider un tsien-lider min hametsar (New Yiddish folk poetry and Zion poems out of distress), written under the pen name Avrom Avinus Eynikl (Warsaw, 1898), 28 pp., published posthumously by his son.  He was also the author of Seder hagadah shel pesaḥ, im beur ḥadash, midrash hagada (Hagada for Passover, with a new commentary and tales from the Hagada) (Warsaw, 1883), 68 pp.; and of Ruaḥakhamim (The spirit of the sages), published by his son (Warsaw, 1912), 335 pp.  He also penned prefaces to his father’s religious texts: Yad avraham (The arm of Abraham) and Beer avraham (The well of Abraham), among others.  A large portion of his writings was lost during his trip from Vilna to Warsaw (1874) and as a result of an immense fire in Minsk (1882).  He died in Minsk.  In manuscript he left behind a large number of translations from Hebrew-Aramaic into Judeo-German, as well as poetry and florid prose in Hebrew.

Sources: Sefer zikaron (Book of remembrance) (Warsaw, 1889), pp. 153-56; Luaḥ aḥiasaf (Warsaw, 1898), pp. 345-46; Zalmen Reyzen, Psevdonimen in der yidisher literatur (Pseudonyms in Yiddish literature) (Vilna, 1939); Tsvi Harkavi, Leḥeker mishpaḥot (Inquiry into families) (Jerusalem, 1953), pp. 11-12; Shmuel Niger, Bleter geshikhte fun der yidisher literatur (Pages from the history of Yiddish literature) (New York, 1959), pp. 83, 106; Tsvi Sharfshteyn, in Shvile haḥinukh (New York) (summer 1962), pp. 223-25; Bet eked sefarim.
Khayim Leyb Fuks