Tuesday, 2 May 2017


MORTKHE LIFSHITS (July 7, 1922-August 15, 1969)
            He was born in Vilna.  He attended religious elementary school, “Ezra” public school, Rameyle’s yeshiva, and the high school “Ivrit” (Hebrew) as an external student.  In 1939 he was employed on an agricultural farm for “Frayland” (Freeland).  With the outbreak of WWII, he worked in a Nazi concentration camp (in Kniaginin), from which he escaped in October 1941, and for two years he was active among partisan groups in the Polotsk woods and the marshland nearby.  In 1944 he was mobilized into the Soviet army, and served at the front near Königsberg and near Mitave (Mitava) and Libave (Liepāja).  After the war he went to Poland and from there to Italy, where he was (1946-1948) an educator in the Selvina children’s home.  He debuted in print in 1947 with poems in the survivors’ journal In gang (In progress) in Rome.  He went on to publish poems in: Tsukunft (Future), Yidishe kultur (Jewish culture), Vayter (Further), and Idisher kemfer (Jewish fighter)—in New York; Di goldene keyt (The golden chain) and Yung yisroel (Young Israel) in Tel Aviv; and Kiem (Existence) in Paris; among others.  In 1948 he made aliya to the state of Israel, where he lived on a kibbutz his first year, and he later worked as a teacher in camps for immigrants (Binyamina).  Over the years 1951-1953, he was soldier in the Israeli army.  In later years he worked as a teacher in the Shfeya children home.  From 1956 he was a teacher in Ḥolon, where he died.

Sources: Meylekh Ravitsh, in Fraye arbeter-shtime (New York) (September 9, 1955); V. Yasni, in Letste nayes (Tel Aviv) (March 2, 1956); M. Yofe, in Yisroel-shtime (Tel Aviv) (November 1957); Yofe, Erets-yisroel in der yidisher literatur (Israel in Yiddish literature), anthology (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1961).
Benyomen Elis

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 340.]

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