YUDE NOVAKOVSKI (1879-June 4, 1933)
He was born in the town in Chernigov (Chernihiv) district, Ukraine. He studied in religious elementary school and the Nyezhin (Nizhyn) yeshiva as well as with his father, Zalmen-Mortkhe Novakovski, a well-known rabbi. At age eighteen he received ordination into the rabbinate. For secular knowledge, he was an autodidact, demonstrating ability in mathematics and, mainly, devoted to economic science. Already in his yeshiva years he was drawn to social and political activities of the Zionist socialists. He was active in the group “Vozrozhdenie” (Renaissance), and later he was one of the leaders and theoreticians of Sejmists. He was arrested twice (1905-1906). Around 1912 he worked as the director of a coal mine in the city of Krivoy Rog. At the time of the Beilis Trial in 1913, he was in Kiev assisting the Moscow rabbi, Y. Mazeh, while preparing materials for the defense. During WWI he helped establish Jewish schools in Kiev. Over the years 1918-1920, the held the position of finance minister in the Soviet regime; 1921-1926, he was the Soviet commercial attaché in Prague, Berlin, and London. In 1929 and later he was a lecturer on political economy in the division of Yiddish language and literature in the pedagogical faculty of the Number Two Moscow State University. He wrote articles for Folks-shtime (Voice of the people), organ of the Sejmists in Vilna (1907-1907). In the Soviet years, he published articles in: Di royte velt (The red world) in Kharkov-Kiev; Der shtern (The star) in Kharkov (1928), in which he placed a series of articles entitled “Ekonomishe shmuesn” (Chats on economics); and elsewhere. He was co-editor of: Naye tsayt (New times) in Kiev (1917); Der apikoyres (The heretic); and Komunistishe fon (Communist banner) in Kiev (1919). In book form: Milkhome un sholem (War and peace) (Ekaterinoslav: Visnshaft, 1919), 48 pp.; Di agrar-frage (The agrarian issue) (Ekaterinoslav: Visnshaft, 1919), 44 pp.; Gots straptshes, kleykodesh (God’s advocates, clergymen) (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1928), 59 pp., second edition (Kiev, 1930), 62 pp.; Yidishe yontoyvim, heylike minhogim un zeyere vortslen (Jewish holidays, sacred rites and their origins) (Kiev, 1929), 95 pp., second edition (Kiev, 1930), reprint (Piotrków, 1933), 64 pp.; Der rekhter apnoyg un der sholem mit im (Right deviation and peace with it) (Kharkov: Tsenter Publ., 1929), 60 pp.; with Kh. Gurevitsh, Kooperatsye un dos yidishe shtetl (Cooperation and the Jewish town) (Moscow: Tsenter Publ., 1929), 109 pp.; Kolektive virtshaft (Collective economy) (Moscow: Gezerd, 1929), 48 pp. He also was said to have published a Russian language pamphlet on how the socialist state can also exploit. He wrote primarily on economic and anti-religious matters. He died in Moscow.
Sources: M. Gutman, in Royte pinkes (Red records) (Warsaw: Kultur-lige, 1921), p. 168; Visnshaftlekhe yorbikher (Scientific yearbook), vol. 1 (Moscow, 1929), p. 254; M. Zilberfarb, Gezamlte shriftn (Collected writings), vol. 2 (Warsaw-Paris: Zilberfarb fund, 1936); Zilberfarb, in Sotsyalistisher teritoryalizm, zikhroynes un materyaln tsu der geshikhte fun di parteyen ss, ys un “fareynikte,” ershter zamlbukh (Socialist territorialism, memoris and materials for the history of the S. S. [Zionist socialist], Y. S. [Sejmist], and “Fareynikte” parties, first collection) (Paris, 1934); Kh. Sh. Kazdan, Fun kheyder un shkoles biz tsisho (From religious and secular primary schools to Tsisho) (Mexico City, 1956), see index; Y. Beyner, “Fun poyle-tsien tsu seymovtses” (From Labor Zionism to Sejmist), in Vitebsk amol (Vitebsk in the past) (New York, 1956), pp. 340-41; Sh. Ayzenshtat, Perakim betoledot tenuat hapoalim hayehudit (Chapters in the history of the organization of Jewish laborers) (Jerusalem, 1961), see index; Solomon Schwartz, The Jew in the Soviet Union (Syracuse University Press, 1951), p. 122; oral information from Novakovski’s sister, Dr. Roze Novakovski, in New York.
[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), p. 246.]