Thursday, 2 February 2017


ALEKSANDER KHASHIN (August 25, 1886-March 31, 1939)
            The pen name of Tsvi Averbakh, he was born in Berezin (Berezino), Minsk district, Byelorussia, into an affluent rabbinic family (from the Zeldovitshes of Minsk).  He studied in religious primary school and yeshiva, and later was an external student, one of the founders of the Labor Zionist party.  He wrote not only in both Hebrew and Yiddish, but in Russian and a number of other European languages.  He contributed to all the initial publications of the Labor Zionists in Europe, placing work as well in Der fraynd (The friend) in Warsaw (1911-1913), in Y. Kh. Brener’s Revivim (Rain showers), and elsewhere, both under his party name of Borekhzon as well as under the pseudonyms of Aleksandr, Valdman, and A. Vald, among others.  He distinguished himself as a sharp polemicist.  His public opposition to Frishman’s critique of Bialik and other Hebrew writers had a particularly strong impact.  In 1912 he edited the Hebrew-language Labor Zionist organ Haaḥdut (Unity) in Jerusalem.  After the outbreak of WWI, he moved to the United States.  In 1916 he edited for a time Idisher kempfer (Jewish fighter) in New York and (together with David Ben-Gurion) the anthology Yizkor (Remembrance) in memory of the fallen sentries and laborers in Israel: first edition (New York, 1916), second edition (1917), 190 pp.  In New York he contributed as well to: Varhayt (Truth), Der idisher kongres (The Jewish congress), and Hatoran (The duty officer).  After the February-March Revolution of 1917, he returned to Russia.  When the Labor Zionist party split in 1918, Khashin stood with the right wing and edited in Odessa the party newspaper Dos naye laben (The new life), the anthology Tsaygn (Branches), and other works.  Later he evolved toward the left wing and (July 1919) found himself at the head of the “Jewish Communist Labor Party, Labor Zionists.”  When Denikin’s army seized Ukraine in 1920, Khashin took refuge in Berlin, devoted himself largely to his writing activities, published articles on literature and current social issues in: Kritik (Critic) in Vienna; Bikher-velt (Book world) in Warsaw, where he lived for a time; and Bergelson’s In shpan (In line) in Berlin; among others.  At that time he also published: Problemen funem yidishn ekonomishn lebn in der ibergangs-tsayt (Issues in Jewish economic life in the transition period), with his brother Z. Averbakh (Vienna: Avangard, 1921), 72 pp.  In late 1924 he returned to Soviet Russia, became one of the editors of Moscow’s Emes (Truth), and at the same time published literary critical work in Soviet Yiddish journals in Moscow, Kiev, Kharkov, and Minsk.  Apparently his final work (dated August 2, 1937) was an introduction to volume 11 of Sholem-Aleykhem’s writings (Moscow, 1937).  In the terror years before WWII, he was arrested at the same time as Maks Erik, Moyshe Kulbak, and others in early 1937.  His family was informed that he had been sentenced to “ten years [in prison] without the right of communication.”  They were later informed that he had died of illness ca. 1943—without any further details about the circumstances surrounding his end.  No one in Moscow Jewish circles at the time had the least doubt that Khashin had been shot together with all the other arrested Yiddish writers.  Post-Soviet searches in the KGB archives revealed that he was actually convicted on September 17, 1938 and executed that same day.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2; Y. Zerubavel, Arbeter-pinkes (Labor records) (Warsaw, 1923), see index; Z. Segalovitsh, Tlomatske 13, fun farbrentn nekhtn (13 Tłomackie St., of scorched yesterdays) (Buenos Aires, 1946); Dr. A. Mukdoni, in Morgn-zhurnal (New York) (August 19, 1949); Meylekh Ravitsh, Mayn leksikon (My lexicon), vol. 2 (Montreal, 1953), see index; Ben-Tsien Kats, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (July 10, 1955); A. Kritshmer-Izraeli, in Idisher kemfer (New York) (March 26, 1956); N. Mayzil, Dos yidishe shafn un der yidisher shrayber in sovetnfarband (Jewish creation and the Yiddish writer in the Soviet Union) (New York, 1959), see index; D. Perski, in Hadoar (New York) (Shevat 3 [January 20], 1961); M. Vaykhert, Varshe (Warsaw) (Tel Aviv, 1961), see index; Kh. Kanaan, in Haarets (Tel Aviv) (September 13, 1961); L. Shpizman, in Geshikhte fun der tsienistisher arbeter-bavegung fun tsofn-amerike (History of the Zionist labor movement in North America), vols. 1 and 2 (New York, 1955), see index.
Borekh Tshubinski

[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. 187-88.]


  1. He was arrested at the beginning of 1938. Family (his 2 daughters, 17 and 12 year old) was told that he got"10 years without the right of communications" and later they got an official paper that he died from illness around 1943. In reality (KGB archives accessed during Perestroika) he was convicted at September 17, 1938, and executed the same day.

  2. Thanks for this input; will adjust entry accordingly.