Monday, 8 May 2017


YITSKHOK LEV (July 20, 1891-May 8, 1954)
            He was born in Warsaw, Poland, the son of a Hebrew teacher.  He attended a “cheder metukan” (improved religious elementary school), later graduating from a business school in Warsaw.  For a time he was a free auditor at the University of Vienna.  He belonged to the assimilated Warsaw “Komi Union”—of business and office employees; he later became an active leader in the Labor Zionist movement.  In 1913 he was a delegate to the fourth world conference of Labor Zionism in Cracow.  After the outbreak of WWI, he left for Milan, Italy, and from there he returned to Warsaw, where he helped out with the relief committee and helped organize children’s homes and wrote party appeals against the German occupying authorities—for which he was arrested several times and thrown in the Modlin Fortress.  In December 1918 he was elected onto the central committee of the Labor Zionists and, as a representative of the party, he worked in the central council of the trade unions and the administration of the business employees’ union in Warsaw.  In 1919 he was elected onto the Warsaw city council; in 1926, onto the Jewish community council of Warsaw.  He worked with the leadership of Tsisho (Central Jewish School Organization) and was a cofounder of secular Jewish schools in Poland.  Over the years 1932-1935, he carried out an illegal immigration to Israel, and toward that end he twice visited Israel.  After the outbreak of WWII in 1939, he and his family left Warsaw and went on foot to Vilna.  In early 1940 he arrived in the land of Israel, where he was employed in a bank and contributed to the “representation of Polish Jewry,” to the center of Aḥdut haavoda (Union of labor [Labor Zionists]), to the center of Mapam (United Workers’ Party), and to Vaad hapoel (Zionist General Council) of Histadrut.  He was a delegate to the twenty-third Zionist congress in Jerusalem and a member of the Zionist Action Committee.  In 1952 he visited South Africa on a community assignment.  His journalistic work began in 1914 with the first legal organ of the Jewish trade unions in Warsaw: Der handels-ongeshtelter (The business employee), as well as Dos fraye vort (The free word) in St. Petersburg and the daily newspaper Dos leben (The life) which was earlier known as Fraynd (Friend) in Warsaw.  He edited or co-edited: the first issues of the left Labor Zionist Arbeter-tsaytung (Workers’ newspaper); Di profesyonele bavegung (The trade union movement) in Warsaw (1919-1920); Der arbeter-kooperativ-byuletin (The labor cooperative bulletin) in Warsaw (1921); Di proletarishe kooperatsye (The proletarian cooperative) in Warsaw (1923); Yidisher arbeter-pinkes (Jewish labor records) (Warsaw: Naye kultur, 1926); Shul un lebn (School and life), organ of Tsisho (Warsaw, 1928).  He also placed pieces in: Dos arbeter-palestine (Workers’ Palestine), Arbeter-blat (Labor newspaper), Fraye yugent (Free youth), and Poele-tsien-almanakh (Labor Zionist almanac), among others—in Poland; Profvelt (Trade union world) and Nayvelt (New world) in Israel; Unzer veg (Our pathway) in New York; Unzer vort (Our word) in Buenos Aires; Di umophengike yidishe tribune (The independent Jewish tribune) in Montevideo; and others as well.  His published books include: In gerangl, geklibene shriftn (In the struggle, selected writings) (Tel Aviv, 1959), 373 pp.—a selection of his political articles, with images, a bibliographic list, and appreciations of him, edited by Z. Abramovitsh, Y. Zerubavel, and Daniel Leybl.  Lev worked the final years of his life to build the Borokhov House in Mishmar-Hanegev.  He died in Tel Aviv.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2; M. Tsanin, in Letste nayes (Tel Aviv) (May 9, 1954); L. Zhitnitski, in Di prese (Buenos Aires) (May 12, 1954); M. Turkov, in Di yidishe tsaytung (Buenos Aires) (May 13, 1954); obituary notice in Nayvelt (Tel Aviv) 12 (May 14, 1954); Kh. Finkelshteyn, in Unzer vort (Buenos Aires) (May 31, 1954); N. Nir, in Lemerḥav (Tel Aviv) (June 2, 1954); M. Erem, in Nayvelt 12 (1954); Erem, in Unzer veg (New York) (June 1954); L. Shimoni, in Nayvelt (June 6, 1954); Shimoni, in Unzer veg (June 1954); Kh. Brand, in Unzer veg (June 1954); Sh. Rozenberg, in Arbeter-vort (Paris) (June 15, 1954); Meylekh Ravitsh, Mayn leksikon (My lexicon), vol. 3 (Montreal, 1958), p. 479; A. V. Yasni, in Letste nayes (February 13, 1959).
Benyomen Elis

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