KHAYIM LIBERMAN (ḤAYIM LIEBERMAN) (January 10, 1889-May 16, 1963)
He was born in Kolk (Kolki, Kolky), a village near the town of Dombrovits, Volhynia. He was the son of an estate lessee who was a descendant of the Chernobyl rabbinical dynasty. He studied with itinerant elementary school teachers, later in a “cheder metukan” (improved religious elementary school). At age fifteen, he and a group of his friends founded a Talmud Torah in Dombrovits for poor children. In 1905 he departed for the United States to join his brothers and sister. Initially, in New York, he worked in a variety of trades: he worked in a factory making valises, and he gave Hebrew lessons in private homes, often just enough of a wage to afford a meal. He later became an attendant in the office of the lawyer Avrom Shomer (N. M. Shaykevitsh) who was a relative of his on his mother’s side. At the same time, he studied English and became acquainted with English-language literature. This was the time at which he debuted in print. He wrote a letter to the editorial board of Yidishes tageblat (Jewish daily newspaper) concerning three articles on Jewish education that Hillel Malakhovski had published (1906-1907) in the newspaper; the editor published Liberman’s letter as an article. He was a student (1908-1910) at City College in New York, while maintaining contact with the editors at Tageblat for which he was in charge of a children’s section and in 1910 editorial secretary. In 1926 he received his B.A. from Columbia College, and he went on to study literature, philosophy, and psychology in graduate school there. In his youth, Liberman was ideologically close to the Labor Zionists, and in 1913 he was elected to the education committee of the Jewish National Labor Alliance, later one of the founders of the New York Jewish schools with Yiddish as the language of instruction. He was also a teacher of Yiddish in the first National Radical School, as well as a cofounder and over the course of two years the secretary of the Jewish teachers’ seminary where he taught Yiddish and literature. At that time he wrote the pamphlet Dos problem fun der idisher ertsihung (The problem of Jewish education) (New York: Maks N. Mayzel, 1912), 63 pp., second edition (1916). At the first conference of the National Radical Schools in America (April 1914), he read a report that was later published as a booklet entitled Di idishe religyon in der natsyonal-radikaler ertsihung (The Jewish religion in the national radical education) (New York: Maks N. Mayzel, 1915), 32 pp. In 1920 he became a regular contributor to the daily newspaper Di tsayt (The times), edited by D. Pinski, and following the collapse of the newspaper, he departed for Germany where he studied (1921-1923) German literature, history, and philosophy. After returning to New York, he became (May 1924) a regular writer for Forverts (Forward), for which he wrote editorials and was for a time editor of the Sunday issue, and in which he published thrice weekly his double column which was reprinted and commented on in Yiddish and Hebrew newspapers throughout the world. He also contributed work to: Idisher kemfer (Jewish fighter), Fraye arbeter shtime (Free voice of labor), Oyfkum (Arise), Groyse kundes (Great prankster), Minikes yontef-bleter (Minikes’s holiday sheets), and Nyu-yorker vokhnblat (New York weekly newspaper)—all in New York. He lived in Paris (1928-1929) to continue his studies. In 1929 he was the correspondent for the Forverts at the sixteenth Zionist congress in Zurich, and shortly after the congress, when the Arab riots in Israel broke out, he traveled there and sent in from Israel correspondence pieces and telegraphic reports to Forverts and in English to the daily The World. Over the course of years, given his freethinking nationalism and Zionist socialism, Liberman bit by bit moved over Torah Judaim and fought with his pen for a religious education for the younger generation.
Liberman’s works in book form: Dikhter un veltn (Poets and worlds) (Berlin, 1923), 211 pp., a collection of essays about a series of writers of both Jewish and general literature; Ernst toler, di tragedye fun a zukhenden gayst (Ernst Toller, the tragedy of a searching spirit) (New York: Feder, 1924), 100 pp.; Literarishe siluetn (Literary silhouettes), concerning Georg Brandes, Rainer Maria Rilke, George Bernard Shaw, Avrom Reyzen, Moyshe Olgin, Froym-Moyshe Lilien, Dr. Chaim Zhitlovsky, and others (New York, 1927), 160 pp.; Yudzhin onil, an amerikaner dramaturg (Eugene O’Neill, an American playwright) (New York: A. Biderman, 1930), 162 pp.; Bikher un shrayber (Books and writers) (New York, 1933), 300 pp.; Sheydim in moskve (Demons in Moscow), unmasking of the Communist regime in Russia and joining a fierce polemic with the Jewish Communists in America (New York, 1937), 173 pp.; Dr. kh. zhitlovski un sh. niger, a debate in zeks briv (Dr. Chaim Zhitlovsky and Shmuel Niger, a debate in six letters) (New York, 1937), 72 pp.; In tol fun toyt, gedanken vegn unzer tsayt un yidishn shikzal in ir (In the valley of death, thoughts about our times and Jewish fate in it) (New York, 1938), 36 pp.; Di shtime fun tol, zamlbukh fun briv un artiklen fun rabonim, shriftshteler, dikhter, kinstler, lerer, klal-tuer un mentshn fun folk vegn der idisher frage un der hayntiker tsayt, geshribn in shaykhes mitn bikhl “In tol fun toyt”, tsuzamengeshtelt mit bamerkungen fun khayim liberman (The voice of the valley, a collection of letters and articles from rabbis, writers, poets, artists, teachers, community leaders, and ordinary folks on the Jewish question and contemporary times, written in conjunction with the pamphlet In tol fun toyt, compiled with observations by Khayim Liberman) (New York, 1940), 349 pp.; Oyb ikh velt es dir fargesn, england! (If I forget you, England!) (New York, 1939), 16 pp., a ferocious pamphlet against Britain’s White Paper which cut off Jewish immigration to the land of Israel; Mimaamakim (From the bottom of one’s heart), “a God, my God, we understand that you are foreign in your world, dust without a name…driven from east and west, hunted from south and north, on ancient roads from Egypt, is this the road to You?” (New York, 1942), 24 pp.; Yidn un yidishkeyt in di shriftn fun dr. kh. zhitlovski, gedanken vegn a farblondzhetn dor (Jews and Judaism in the writings of Dr. Chaim Zhitlovsky, thoughts on a lost generation) (New York, 1944), 117 pp. (there were sharply worded replies to this book from adversaries in the Liberman-Zhitlovsky dispute and a collection of articles was published in book form, entitled Kegn di onfaler af dr. khayim zhitlovski [Against Dr. Chaim Zhitlovsky’s assailants] [New York, 1944], 112 pp.), and Liberman’s response: Doktor khayim zhitlovski un zayne farteydiker, nokh a vort vegn dem gaystikn bankrot fun a dor (Dr. Chaim Zhitlovsky and his defenders, one more word about the spiritual bankruptcy of a generation) (New York, 1944), 156 pp. During WWII he published in Forverts a daily survey of the course of the war, and he later made these articles into a collection published as a book, entitled: Ven di velt hot gebrent, 1939-1946 (When the world was on fire, 1939-1946), vol. 1 (New York: Forverts, 1946), 541 pp., vol. 2 (New York: Forverts, 1947), 587 pp. From 1939 when Sholem Asch published The Nazarene, the first volume of his Christian novels, Liberman came out fiercely against Asch’s new writings, which he considered “missionary” work and destructive. Over the years 1939-1950, in his column in Forverts, Liberman led a bitter fight against Asch’s works: The Nazarene (1939), Apostle (1943), One Destiny (1945), East River (1946), and Mary (1949); and against Asch’s explanations and interviews in the English press. Liberman then went on to write in book form: Sholem ash un kristntum, an entfer af zayne misyonerishe shriftn (Sholem Asch and Christianity, a response to his missionary writings) (New York: Om, 1950), 256 pp. Among his later writings: Tsen kopikes, an emese mayse mit dray ingelakh, un zeyer groyser libshaft tsu erets-yisroel, mit a sheynem muser haskl far ale idishe kinder, kleyne un groyse, dertseylt fun khayim liberman (Ten kopeks, a true story of three boys and their great love of Israel, with a lovely moral for all Jewish children, small and big, told by Khayim Liberman), autobiographical (New York: Om, 1953), 62 pp.; Idishe kvizlings, vegn der nesie fun b. ts. goldberg in 1946 in sovetn-farband, un zayn barikht in "tog" vegn sovetishn idntum (Jewish Quislings, on B. Ts. Goldberg’s trip in 1946 to the Soviet Union and his report in Tog on Soviet Jewry) (New York, 1947), 31 pp.; Der rebe un der sotn, satmar un di neture karta in zeyer milkhome af medines yisroel (The rebbe and the devil, Satmar and Neturei Karta in their war against the state of Israel), published in two editions (New York, 1959), 132 pp.; Vakht oyf, vakht oyf! dos idishe hoyz brent!, a veygeshrey in der idisher nakht in amerike (Wake up, wake up! The Jewish house is burning! A cry of pain in the Jewish night in America) (New York: Vaad haḥinukh hatorani al-yad mizraḥi hapoel hamizraḥi beamerika, 1960), 285 pp.; Di maske un dos ponem, b. ts. goldberg un zayn zind kegn rusishe yidn (The mask and the face, B. Ts. Goldberg and his sin against Russian Jewry) (New York, 1963), 64 pp. In Hebrew: Natsruto shel shalom ash, teguva al ketavav hamisyoneriim (The Christianity of Sholem Asch, reflections on his missionary writing) (Tel Aviv: Netsaḥ, 1954), 240 pp.; Eser perutot, sipur leketanim un legedolim (Ten cents, a story for young and old) (Jerusalem: Kiryat sefer, 1957), 99 pp. In English: The Christianity of Sholem Asch (New York: Philosophical Library, 1953), 276 pp.; Strangers to Glory: An Appraisal of the American Council for Judaism (New York: Rainbow Press, 1955), 125 pp. He also wrote a play, Der neyder (The vow), which was directed by Avrom Herman and staged first by Jenny Goldstein and later by Celia Adler. Together with the librarian Meyte Livshits, he translated Shimon Dubnov’s Di yidishe geshikhte far shule un folk (Jewish history for school and general populace [original: Istorii︠a︡ evreiskogo naroda na vostoke (History of the Jewish people in the East)]), vol. 1 “Biblishe epokhe” (Biblical period) (New York: Maks N. Mayzel, 1915), vol. 2 “Makabeyishe un talmudishe epokhe” (Maccabee and Talmudic period) (New York: Maks N. Mayzel, n.d.), 181 pp., vol. 3 “Der mitlalter un di naye tsayt” (Middle Ages and modern times) (New York: Maks N. Mayzel, 1917), 248 pp. He also translated: Georg Brandes, Di frantsoyzishe emigranten-literatur, in der tsayt fun der groyser revolutsyon (Emigrant French literature at the time of great revolution) (New York: Maks N. Mayzel, 1918), 316 pp. He also wrote the introduction to the volume Khurbn lite (The Holocaust in Lithuania) by Rabbi Khayim Oshri (new York, 1951), pp. 9-13. He was represented by an essay entitled “Dos yidishe folk” (The Jewish people) in the anthology Di yidishe esey (The Yiddish essay), compiled by Shloyme Bikl (New York: Matones, 1946), pp. 41-45. In 1955 he made a trip to the state of Israel and published a series of articles in Forverts on the Jewish state. Liberman offered an extremely polemical articulation in a series of ten articles on Ben Hecht’s English-language book Perfidy—which later appeared in book form as Ben hekht, der mensh un zayn farrat, an entfer af zayn biterer atake af di grinder un firer fun mendines yisroel (Ben Hecht, the man and his Perfidy, a reply to his bitter attack on the founder and leader of the state of Israel) (New York: Moriya, 1962), 72 pp. He died in New York.
Sources: Shmuel Niger, in Di yidishe velt (Vilna) (August 1913), pp. 143-46; Niger, in Tog (New York) (August 3, 1924; October 13, 1924; August 1, 1926; April 3, 1927; April 15, 1934; February 18, 1940; October 18, 1942; September 20, 1943;May 7, 1944; December 21, 1947); Niger, In kamf far a nayer dertsiung (In the struggle for a new education) (New York, 1940), pp. 39-40; E. Almi, in Fraye arbeter shtime (New York) (September 14, 1923; May 2, 1924; October 17, 1924; November 15, 1929; October 2, 1943; December 12, 1947; July 21, 1950); Almi, Literarishe nesies (Literary travels) (Warsaw, 1931), pp. 73-87; Almi, Kheshbn un sakhakl, kapitlen fun mayn seyfer hakhayim, zikhroynes un makhshoves (Accounting and summing up, chapters from the book of my life, memoirs and thoughts) (Buenos Aires, 1959), pp. 76, 77, 80, 88, 89, 118, 154, 162-64; Z. Vaynper, in Di feder (New York) (April 1924; July 1924); Vaynper, in Der oyfkum (New York) (June-July 1928; September-October 1928); Vaynper, in Idisher shriftshteler (New York) 1 (1933), pp. 6, 74-86; Vaynper, Shrayber un kinstler (Writers and artists) (New York, 1958), p. 127; H. Rogof, in Fraye arbeter shtime (August 5, 1925); Rogof, in Forverts (New York) (September 7, 1944; September 12, 1944; December 31, 1950; March 24, 1952; March 28, 1953; May 23, 1953; October 6, 1955; December 20, 1959); B. Alkvit, in In zikh (New York) 4 (1928); Y. Botoshanski, Portretn fun yidishe shrayber (Portraits of Yiddish writers) (Warsaw, 1933), pp. 61, 153, 235, 240; Botoshanski, in Di shtime fun tol (The voice of the valley) (New York, 1940), pp. 188-93; Botoshanski, in Di prese (Buenos Aires) (January 26, 1944; May 22, 1957); Avrom Reyzen, in Di feder (May-June 1933); Reyzen, in Fraye arbeter shtime (December 6, 1946; April 2, 1948; May 1, 1958); Reyzen, in Hayntike tsayt (Tel Aviv) (April 1, 1956; September 6, 1957); Reyzen, in Di prese (May 27, 1956); Reyzen, in Oystralishe yidishe nayes (Melbourne) (July 13, 1956); Reyzen, in Letste nayes (Tel Aviv) (November 13, 1956); L. Lehrer, in Globus (Warsaw) 22 (March-April 1934), pp. 62-63; Lehrer, in Di shtime fun tol, pp. 91-92; Dr. Shloyme Bikl, In zikh un arum zikh (In and around oneself) (Bucharest, 1936), pp. 153-57; Bikl, Detaln un sakhaklen, kritishe un polemishe bamerkungen (Details and sum totals, critical and polemical observations) (New York, 1943), pp. 244-47; Bikl, in Di yidishe esey (The Yiddish essay), comp. Bikl (New York: Matones, 1946), pp. 41-44; Al. Grinberg, in Der oyfkum (March-April 1938); Kh. Grinberg, in Der oyfkum (March-April 1938); Ab. Cahan, in Forverts (April 14, 1938; March 15, 1940; June 19, 1940; April 18, 1942); Y. Entin, in Idisher kemfer (New York) (December 16, 1938); Entin, in In tol fun toyt (In the valley of death), by Kh. Liberman (New York, 1938); D. Tsharni (Daniel Charney), in the anthology Afn sheydveg (At the crossroads) (Paris, 1939), pp. 175-76; Y. Bashevis, in Tsukunft (New York) (November 1939); Bashevis, in Di shtime fun tol, pp. 195-200; Bashevis, in Forverts (September 1, 1951); Bashevis (writing as Y. Varshavski), in Forverts (March 21, 1949); A. Tsaytlin, in Di shtime fun tol; Tsaytlin, in Morgn-zhurnal (New York) (May 1, 1949); Sh. Dubnov, in Di shtime fun tol; Kh. Bez, in Idisher kemfer (April 18, 1941); Bez, in Tsukunft (December 1954); A. Glants, in Tog (September 18-19, 1941; December 13, 1947; January 22, 1949; March 12, 1949; March 31, 1951); Glants, in Finf un zibetsik yor yidishe prese in amerike (Seventy-five years of the Yiddish press in America) (New York, 1945), p. 90; Moyshe Shtarkman, in Tog (May 5, 1941; June 28, 1941); H. Leivick, in Tog (April 25, 1942; March 12, 1944); Dr. A. Mukdoni, in Morgn-zhurnal (January 19, 1944; December 12, 1948; February 4, 1951; February 8, 1952); Dr. Y. Shatski, in Kegn di onfaler af dr. khayim zhitlovski (Against Dr. Chaim Zhitlovsky’s assailants) (New York, 1944), pp. 39-45; M. Osherovitsh, in Finf un zibetsik yor yidishe prese in amerike, pp. 59-61; Osherovitsh, in Forverts (November 23, 1947; May 9, 1948; May 14, 1950; May 20, 1963); Yankev Glatshteyn, in Idisher kemfer (September 21, 1945; November 11, 1949); Glatshteyn, In tokh genumen (In essence) (New York, 1947), pp. 428-34; M. Grosman, in Undzer vort (Paris) (June 25, 1949); Grosman, in Heymish (Tel Aviv) (September 23, 1958); A. Oyerbakh, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (January 30, 1953); D. Perski, in Hadoar (New York) (May 21, 1954); Y. Pat, in Der veker (New York) (March 1, 1954); L. Shpizman, in Geshikhte fun der tsienistisher arbeter-bavegung fun tsofn-amerike (History of the Zionist labor movement in North America) (New York, 1955), see index for both volumes; Biblyografye fun yidishe bikher vegn khurbn un gvure (Bibliography of Yiddish books concerning the Holocaust and heroism) (New York, 1962), see index; L. Fogelman, in Forverts (May 21, 1963); Meylekh Ravitsh, in Keneder odler (Montreal) (May 27, 1963); Ravitsh, in Forverts (June 14, 1963); Universal Jewish Encyclopedia (New York, 1942), vol. 7; J. B. Agus, in Judaism (New York) 4 (Spring 1945); A. G. Field, in The Jewish Spectator (New York) (May 1953); Ch. Radock, in The Jewish Forum (New York) (March 1951); H. W. Ribalow, in Congress Weekly (New York) (December 28, 1953); W. Zuckerman, in Jewish Newsletter (New York) (January 1953); Ch. Shulman, in Judaism 5 (Spring 1956); Shulman, in Congress Weekly (December 12, 1955; December 12, 1957); H. Gershand and S. Miller, in Commentary (New York) (November 1959); S. Liptzin, in In Jewish Bookland (New York) (September 1960).
[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 329.]