Thursday, 16 February 2017


SHLOYME LOPATIN (LOPATE) (1907-December 1941)
            He was born in Belinovke, near Berdichev, Ukraine.  He studied in religious primary school and in a Russian public school.  At age sixteen he became a leather worker.  During the Russian Civil War, he served in the Red Army.  Together with a group of wanderers, in 1924 he settled on the land in one of the Jewish colonies in Kherson district.  In 1929 he studied in Odessa at the Jewish Rabfak (workers’ faculty).  The first time he published a poem was in Der yidisher erd-arbeter (The Jewish agricultural worker), and from 1928 he published poetry in: Prolit (Proletarian literature), Di royte velt (The red world), Shtern (Star) in Kharkov, and Der odeser arbeter (The Odessa laborer).  One of his early poems, “Ikh, der yidisher muzhik” (I, a Jewish peasant), was so popular that it was sung as a folksong and included in readers and anthologies.  He was to become known as the peasant-poet.  His poems reflect a time when there was great hope in the Jewish community, a time when many Jews were moving to the steppes to farm in southern Ukraine.  In the years before WWII, he worked as a journalist and editor in Kiev, and in 1941 he went to the front where he died in battle against the Nazis in December 1941.  In book form: Tsvey mol geboyrn, poeme (Born twice, poem) (Kiev, 1935), 97 pp.; Dos gezang vegn frayntshaft, poeme (The song of friendship, poem) (Kiev, 1937), 54 pp.; Af mayn gliklekher erd (On my happy earth), poems (Kiev, 1939), 160 pp.; Regnboygns (Rainbows), poetry (Kiev, 1940), 170 pp.  His work also appeared in: Almanakh fun yidishe sovetishe shrayber tsum alfarbandishn shrayber-tsuzamenfor (Almanac of Soviet Yiddish writers to the All-Soviet Writers’ Conference) (Kharkov-Kiev, 1934); Birebidzhan (Birobidzhan) (Moscow, 1936); and Komsomolye (Communist Youth) (Kiev, 1938).

Sources: A. Velednitski, in Sovetishe literatur (Kiev) (July 1939); A. Kushnirov, in Naye prese (Paris) (July 27, 1945); Chone Shmeruk, comp., Pirsumim yehudiim babrit-hamoatsot, 1917-1961 (Jewish publications in the Soviet Union, 1917-1961) (Jerusalem, 1961), see index.
Borekh Tshubinski

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 321; and 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. 194-95.]

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