YUDE (YEHUDAH) ELBERG (May 15, 1912-October 18, 2003)
He was born in Zgierz, near Lodz, Poland. His father, Avrom-Nosn Elberg, was a rabbi in Sonik (Sanok) and in Blashki (Błaszki); his mother’s father, Tsvi-Yekhezkl Mikhlzon, was a rabbi in Warsaw. He received a religious education. From 1934 he was studying in textile engineering in Lodz, where he also worked as a master weaver until WWII. Over the years 1940-1943, he was in Warsaw and took part in the uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto. He cofounded the first Jewish committee in Lublin in 1944. He was one of the initiators and cofounders of the Yiddish Press Agency (YIPA) in Lodz, of the “Historical Committee” (later, the Historical Institute), and of the Lodz newspaper Dos naye lebn (The new life), for which from May 1944 until the end of 1945 he served as secretary of the editorial board. He penned correspondence pieces for Davar (Word) in Tel Aviv and for Morgn-zhurnal (Morning journal) in New York. In late 1946 he departed for France, served as editorial board secretary for the monthly Kiem (Existence) in Paris from its founding until 1947. In 1948 he came to New York as a delegate to the first conference of the World Jewish Culture Congress. He worked with Histadruth from 1951. As a writer he debuted in print with a story, “Ber lep” (Ber Lep) in 1932 in Folks-blat (People’s newspaper) in Lodz, and he went on to publish stories, reportage pieces, articles, and correspondence pieces in: Dos naye lebn and Yidishe shriftn (Yiddish writings) in Lodz; Morgn-zhurnal, Di tsukunft (The future), and Idisher kemfer (Jewish fighter) in New York; Kiem in Paris; and Davar in Tel Aviv; among others. In book form, he published: Unter kuperne himlen, dertseylungen (Under copper skies, stories) (Buenos Aires: Central Association of Polish Jews in Argentina, with assistance from the Dovid Ignatov Fund [New York] and “Dos poylishe yidntum” [Polish Jewry], 1951), 252 pp., winner of the 1951 prize from the Jewish Culture Congress in Brazil. His story, “Akht hundert zibn un draysik” (837), from the collection Unter kuperne himlen, was also dramatized by the writer Pinkhes Bizberg and staged by the “Yung yidish teater” (Young Yiddish theater) of Buenos Aires. Other works include: Afn shpits fun a mast, roman (At the tip of the mast, a novel) (New York: Di bruder shulzinger, 1974), 393 pp., published serially in Forverts (March 10-September 22, 1978), Hebrew translation by Yaakov Orland, Belev yam, roman (In the heart of the sea, a novel) (Tel Aviv: Eked, 1979), 339 pp., English translation by the author, Ship of the Hunted (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1997), 299 pp.; Tsevorfene zangen, dertseylungen (Scattered stalks, stories) (Montreal: Shula, 1976), 356 pp.; Mayses (Stories) (Tel Aviv: World Council for Jewish Culture, 1980), 159 pp.; Kalmen kalikes imperye, roman (Kalmen the lame’s empire, a novel) (Tel Aviv: Yidish-bukh, 1983), 471 pp., published serially in Forverts (February 29-September 26, 1980), English translation by the author as The Empire of Kalman the Cripple (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1997), 326 pp.; A mentsh iz nor a mentsh, roman (A man is just a man, a novel) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1983), 179 pp., published serially in Forverts (December 4, 1979-February 28, 1980); In leymene hayzer, a roman (In earthen houses) (Tel Aviv: Yisroel-bukh, 1985), 2 vols. (319 pp., 260 pp.). His writings not in book form: in Forverts, “Ber lep,” September 1-24, 1976; “Zamd” (Sand), January 16, 1977-July 18, 1978; “Thom” (Precipice), September 11, 1977-March 10, 1978; “A man hot nisht keyn mazl” (A husband has no luck), June 25-July 18, 1978; in Letste nayes (Latest news (Tel Aviv), “Bay di taykhn fun poyln” (By the rivers of Poland), February 1-December 5, 1977. His long story, “Akht hundert zibn un draysik,” appeared in Idisher kemfer in the Passover issue for 1950 (and the four subsequent issues). In 1976 he received the Manger Prize, and in 1984 the Atran Prize.
As Shmuel Niger noted: “Distinctive in his collection Unter kuperne himlen is the artistic chronicle with is abundance of sad material and the condensed quality of the style, but aside for its own artistic chronicling value, it is also important that one finds in it a key to the young writer’s leit motif.” Elberg was active for years in the Zionist labor movement. In 1960 he visited Argentina on assignment for the Histadruth campaign. He also wrote under such pen names as: Y. Bergel and L. Berg. He died in Montreal.
Sources: Y. Rapaport, in Oystralishe nayes (Melbourne) (June 27, 1947); Rapaport, in Di yidishe poet (Melbourne) (April 9, 1954); Shmuel Niger, in Der tog (New York) (July 1947; December 30, 1951); S. Nayten, in Der tog (November 10, 1947); M. Dukhovni, in Morgn-zhurnal (New York) (January 14, 1949); Sh. Rozhanski, in Di yidishe tsaytung (Buenos Aires) (May 16, 1950; May 21, 1951); Y. Botoshanski, in Di prese (Buenos Aires) (May 30, 1951; June 1, 1951; July 9, 1960); Y. Horn, in Di yidishe tsaytung (June 7, 1951); Khayim Grade, in Idisher kemfer (New York) (August 3, 1951); N. B. Minkov, in Di tsukunft (New York) (October 1951); Minkov, in Judaism (New York) 2 (April 1952); Dr. A. Mukdoni, in Morgn-zhurnal (February 17, 1952); K. Kharmats, in Yidishe prese (São Paolo) (April 18, 1952); Y. Yanasovitsh, in Kiem (Paris) 53/5 (1952), pp. 217-18; Yanasovitsh, in Di prese (July 20, 1960); Dr. Y. Shatski, in In Jewish Bookland (New York) (May 1952); Shatski, in International Pen Bulletin (London) 3 (October-December 1952); Shatski, interview in New York Post (April 19, 1953); A. Leyeles, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (May 17, 1957); Khayim Leyb Fuks, in Fun noentn over (New York) 3 (1957), see index; Y. Giml, in Der veg (Mexico City) (March 13, 1958); Y. Gar and F. Fridman, Biblyografye fun yidishe bikher vegn khurbn un gvure (Bibliography of Yiddish books concerning the Holocaust and heroism) (New York, 1962), see index; Who’s Who in World Jewry (New York, 1955), p. 177.
[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), cols. 414-15, .548]