NOYEKH SIGALOVSKI (NOAH SIEGALOVSKY) (October 4, 1901-January 11, 1986)
He was born in a village near Lipovets (Lipovits), Kiev district, Ukraine. He studied in religious elementary school and later, with private tutors, Hebrew and Russian. He first attended high school after the February Revolution of 1917—he was unable to enter the school earlier because of the numerus clausus. At age fifteen he became a village teacher. He wrote verse for a local circle. During the years of pogrom, he escaped from village to village and from town to town, until in 1920 he turned up in Odessa. In late 1920 he and his wife crossed the Romanian border and some two years later (1922) reached the United States to join his father who had earlier reached there in 1913. He debuted in print in 1921 with a story in Der id (The Jew) in Kishinev, Bessarabia. In America he was first published in Morgenshteren (Morning star) in Newark, New Jersey, and he went on to published stories in: Yidishes tageblat (Jewish daily newspaper), Der tog (The day), Forverts (Forward), Der amerikaner (The American), Der idisher kemfer (The Jewish fighter), Frayhayt (Freedom), Kinder-zhurnal (Children’s magazine), Unzer veg (Our way), Di tsukunft (The future), Oyfkum (Arise), and in Russian in Russkii golos (Russian voice)—all in New York. His stories were also republished in Yiddish newspapers in Canada and Argentina. In book form: In krig (In war), the first volume of a trilogy under this title (Newark: Idish, 1942), 159 pp.; Poyerim (Peasants), second volume of the trilogy (Newark: Y. L. Perets Branch, Workmen’s Circle, 1944), 131 pp.; Lomir zingen, lider far heym, shul, yontoyvim un fayerungen (Let us sing, poetry collection for home, school, holidays, and celebrations) (Buffalo: Workmen’s Circle, 1947), 23 pp.; Der oytser, dertseylungen (The treasury, stories) (Newark: Idish, 1949), 200 pp.; Romanetn un eynike dertseylungen (Novellas and a few stories) (New York, 1982), 255 pp. From September 1964, he edited Unzer eygn vinkl (Our own corner), “periodical literary serial” (mimeographed), in New York. He was for many years a Yiddish teacher in the Workmen’s Circle schools, a cultural leader, and a lecturer. He also wrote under such pen names as: Noyekh ben Tsvi Haleyvi, Seydel, Zeydel, and Tortshinski. He died in New York.
As E. Felshlayser put it:
Sigalovski is one of our few storytellers who paints for us the village and the village way of life. Sigalovski is an haute realist who stands to the side, keeping his distance, not personally participating as would the lyrical poet. Sigalovski is literally unique among us with his solid objective-naturalist illustrations which he gives us of the village, of the gentile village, not of several Jewish family homes who lived among the peasant community…. His strength lies in epical, broad-ranging, realistic description. With what Sigalovski has thus far given us, he has established himself as one of the most important storytellers of the younger generation.
Sh. D. Zinger notes as follows:
In every instance Sigalovski sings a kind of song in prose to the quiet of the Ukrainian village—the quiet that one feels in everything that he writes; even in the American images of the cities and towns of which he writes, and of the people whom he meets, they too, the Americans, resemble on the whole the silent peasants, their past neighbors whom he remembered from his childhood years…. While reading Sigalovski’s lyrical prose, one is rewarded. This is the impact of every authentic writer who overwhelms the reader, who steals him from the gray reality and drags him into the writer’s own dreamed-up world.
Sources: Y. Kazik, in Morgn-frayhayt (New York) (July 4, 1932); Moyshe Shtarkman, in Tog (New York) (October 4, 1942); Z. Diamant, in Kultur un dertsiung (New York) (March 1955); Sh. Slutski, Avrom reyzen biblyografye (Avrom Reyzen’s bibliography) (New York, 1956), no. 5210; E. Felshlayser, Af shrayberishe shlyakhn (In writers’ battles) (New York, 1958), pp. 190-96; Der Lebediker, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (March 8, 1959); Y. Varshavski, in Forverts (New York) (March 1, 1959); Sh. D. Zinger, Dikhter un prozaiker (Poet and prose writer) (New York, 1959), pp. 212-16; M. Feyges, in Forverts (December 16, 1962).
[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 405.]