Thursday, 20 June 2019


            He was the author of Der toyt bay der khupe, oder tsurik fun katorga (Death at the wedding canopy, or back from penal labor) (Warsaw: Sh. Goldfarb, 1927), 26 pp.
Berl Cohen


RIFOEL RAYZNER (January 15, 1894-April 6, 1953)
            He was a print shop worker, born in Bialystok.  He survived the Bialystok ghetto.  After the war he was among the survivors in Rome, and from 1948 he was living in Melbourne, Australia.  In book form: Der umkum fun byalistoker yidntum (The mass murder of Bialystok’s Jews) (Melbourne: Bialystok Center, 1948), 335 pp.  He died in Melbourne.
Moyshe Ayzenbud


SHIYE RAYZNER (ca. 1860-winter 1915)
            He was born in Lodz.  He traveled over the fields as a blind singer.  A number of his songs, which were examples of primitive wedding-entertainer or street-singer “poetry,” were published, such as Tsvey tayere lieder, Di amerikaner shif, Vi zi iz untergegangen (Two beloved songs, the American ship, how it sank) and Dos tsveyte lied, Di shreklikhe teg in lodz (The second poem, the fearful days in Lodz) (Warsaw: Leyb Morgernshtern, 1911).  He also published a booklet entitled: Badkhonishe lieder (Wedding entertainer songs).

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 4; Khayim Leyb Fuks, Lodzh shel mayle, dos yidishe gaystiḳe un derhoybene lodzh, 100 yor yidishe un oykh hebreishe literatur un kultur in lodzh un in di arumiḳe shtet un shtetlekh (Lodz on high, the Jewish spiritual and elevated Lodz, 100 years of Yiddish and also Hebrew literature and culture in Lodz and in the surrounding cities and towns) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1972), p. 283; according to Fuks, he wasn’t blind, and according to Reyzen, he died in Warsaw.
Berl Cohen


YITSKHOK-ZELIK RAYZMAN (SIDNEY I. RAIZMAN) (July 15, 1901-August 1, 1976)
            He was born in Sokolov-Podlask (Sokolów-Podlaski), Poland.  He attended religious elementary school and yeshiva.  In 1925 he emigrated to Argentina and later to Brazil.  From 1946 he was a teacher in Detroit.  In 1967 he settled in Tsfat (Safed).  He debuted in print with a story in Yidishe arbeter yugnt (Jewish working youth) in Warsaw.  He published stories, historical essays, and translations in: Far groys un kleyn (For big and small), Di pen (The pen), Di prese (The press), and Der shpigl (The mirror) in Buenos Aires; Yidishes tageblat (Jewish daily newspaper) and Tsukunft (Future) in New York; Kiem (Existence) in Paris; and in Israeli publications as well.  He edited: Dos naye vort (The new word) in Porto Alegre (six issues, 1927); San-pauler yidisher tsaytung (São Paolo Jewish newspaper); and co-edited Brazilyaner idishe prese (Brazilian Jewish press).  In book form: Idish, ilustrirter hantbukh, ersht bukh (Yiddish, illustrated handbook, vol. 1) (São Paolo: Bukh-prese, 1934), 70 pp.; Geshikhte fun idn in brazil (History of Jews in Brazil) (São Paolo, 1935), 114 pp., Portuguese edition, História dos Israelitas no Brasil; desde o descobrimento até o fim do domínio hollandez (History of the Jews in Brazil, from the discovery to the end of the Dutch dominion (São Paolo: Bukh-prese, 1937), 102 pp.; Lebns in shturem, roman (Lives in turmoil, a novel), a novel of Jewish life in Brazil (Tel Aviv: Measef Yisrael, 1965), 238 pp.; A fertl yorhunderṭ yidishe prese in brazil, 1915-1940 (A quarter of a century of the Yiddish press in Brazil, 1915-1940) (Tsfat: Muzeon leomanut hadefus, 1968), 224 pp.; Yidishe sheferishkayt in lender fun portugalishn loshn, portugal un brazil (Jewish creativity in lands of the Portuguese language, Portugal and Brazil) (Tsfat: Muzeon leomanut hadefus, 1975), 395 pp.  His pen names in journalism: Y. Zelikman, Sokolovski, and Ayarman.  He died in Tsfat.
Rayzman’s wife, BELA RAYZMAN, published stories and sketches in: Keneder odler (Canadian eagle) in Montreal, Tsukunft and Idisher kemfer (Jewish fighter) in New York), and in Israeli periodicals.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 4; Shmuel Niger, in Tog (New York) (October 23, 1935); Yerusholaimer almanakh (Jerusalem) 4 (1975); Yeshurin archive, YIVO (New York)
Ruvn Goldberg


ELYE RAYZMAN (E. RAJZMAN) (July 8, 1904-January 1975)
            He was a poet, born in Kovle (Kovel), Volhynia, the son of a poor tanner.  In his youth, he worked in Trisk (Turiysk), Volhynia, as a boot-stitcher and remained in this trade.  He was in the Soviet Union during WWII.  He returned to Warsaw and worked in a Jewish agricultural cooperative.  He wrote poetry for Warsaw’s Folkstsaytung (People’s newspaper), Vokhnshriftn far literatur un kunst (Weekly writing for literature and art), Yidishe shriftn (Yiddish writings), and Folks-shtime (Voice of the people), among other serials.  Four of his poems appeared in: Hubert Witt, Der Fiedler vom Getto: Jiddische Dichtung aus Polen (The fiddler of the ghetto, Yiddish poetry from Poland) (Leipzig, 1966, 1978).  Rayzman’s volumes of poetry: Felder grinen, lider (Fields of green, poems) (Warsaw: Yidish bukh, 1950), 31 pp.; Aleyn mit zikh (Alone with oneself) (Warsaw: Yidish bukh, 1959), 74 pp.; Ikh hob zikh oysgetroymt a zun (I dreamed of the sun) (Warsaw: Yidish bukh, 1963), 92 pp.; Di shprakh fun dayne oygn (The language of your eyes) (Warsaw: Yidish bukh, 1967), 190 pp.; Viderklangen (Echoes) (Warsaw: Yidish bukh, 1974), 143 pp.  Rayzman’s later poems, in the words of Yankev Glatshteyn, had “not the least connection to his [earlier] clumsy…steps—neither in language, nor in imagery, nor in thought, nor in their expression of feelings.”  “It’s interesting,” commented Shloyme Beylis, “the smaller the world which seizes the poet’s ideas becomes, the more frequently he derives sentiments with all its feelings from the past, the human dust, and the more he looks for comparisons and metaphors for the vanity and secondary nature of the individual in the world—all the more profound is his thinking, the tenser his feelings, the richer his vision, and the greater and stronger grows the poet within him.”  He died in Shtshetshin (Szczecin), Poland.

Sources: Binem Heler, in Folks-shtime (Warsaw) (March 17, 1950); Shloyme Lastik, Mitn ponem tsum morgn (Facing the morning) (Warsaw, 1952), pp. 187-90; Arn Leyeles, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (May 8, 1960); Yankev Glatshteyn, Mit mayne fartogbikher (With my journals) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1963), pp. 405-13; Glatshteyn, Prost un poshet, literarishe eseyen (Plain and simple, literary essays) (New York, 1978), pp. 265-70; Yidishe shriftn (Warsaw) 3 (1968); Yerusholaimer almanakh (Jerusalem) 4 (1974); Yitskhok-Zelik Rayzman, in Yidishe kultur (New York) 8 (1975); Shloyme Beylis, in Morgn frayhayt (New York) (May 23, 1976); Beylis, in Folks-shtime (January 19, 1980).
Ruvn Goldberg

Wednesday, 19 June 2019


RUVN REYZIN (1911-1942)
            He was a poet, born in London, England, where his parents had emigrated from Byelorussia, though shortly after his birth, they returned and settled in Minsk.  He wrote his given name as “Ruve.”  In his youth he was left an orphan on both sides.  He traveled through the towns of Byelorussia with an old barrel organ, later growing up in the Slutsk children’s home.  From 1929 he was living in Minsk.  He worked as a painter and studied in an evening “Rabfak” (workers’ department or faculty).  In 1938 he graduated from the Jewish section of the Minsk pedagogical institute which he had entered in 1933.  Drafted in 1940 into the army, he composed an entire cycle of poems.  In 1942 he was killed at the Nazi-Soviet front.  From 1927 he was publishing poetry in: Yunger arbeter (Young worker), Oktyabr (October), and the journal Shtern (Star) in Minsk, among other serials.  His work also appeared in: Atake (Attack) (1934), Sovetishe vaysrusland (Soviet Byelorussia) (1935), and Di bafrayte brider (The liberated brothers) (1939)—all in Minsk.  His work includes: Durkh mi un prates (Through toil and labor), poems (Minsk: State Publ., 1934), 77 pp.; A gezang vegn der groyser khartye, poeme (A song about the great charter, poem) (Minsk: State Publ., 1936); Lider (Poems) (Minsk: State Publ., 1940), 54 pp.; “Mit mayn vzvod” (With my platoon), poetry cycle in the anthology Lire (Lyre) (Moscow, 1985).  His poetry reflects his very difficult childhood years.

Sources: Chone Shmeruk, comp., Pirsumim yehudiim babrit-hamoatsot, 1917-1961 (Jewish publications in the Soviet Union, 1917-1961) (Jerusalem, 1962), see index; Heymland (Moscow) 5 (1948); Yeshurin archive, YIVO (New York).
Khayim Maltinski

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 553; 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), pp. 365-66.]


MORTKHE-ZEV REYZIN (MAX RAISIN) (July 15, 1880-March 8, 1957)
            He was born in Nesvizh (Nesvyžius), Minsk district, Byelorussia.  He joined his father in the United States in 1892.  He graduated from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati and in 1913 received his doctoral degree from the University of Mississippi.  He was among the first Reform rabbis to join the Zionist cause.  He mostly wrote in Hebrew and English and published numerous books in the two languages.  In Yiddish he published articles in: St. Petersburg’s Fraynd (Friend); Philadelphia’s Der shtern (The star); and Yidishes tageblat (Jewish daily newspaper), Dos idishe folk (The Jewish people), and Tsukunft (Future) in New York.  In Yiddish he wrote: Groyse yidn vos ikh hob gekent, eseyen (Great Jews whom I knew, essays) (New York: Tsiko, 1950), 277 pp.  He died in Florence, Alabama.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 4; Getzel Kressel, Leksikon hasifrut haivrit (Handbook of Hebrew literature), vol. 2 (Meravya, 1967); Yaakov Tsuzmer, Beikve hador (In the footprints of a generation) (Montreal, 1957), index and special supplement; Arn Tsaytlin, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (April 1957).
Yekhezkl Lifshits


            She was born in Chernigov, Ukraine.  She attended public school and teachers’ seminary in Zhdanov (before that in Mariampol) and worked as a teacher there in a Jewish school.  In 1929 she completed the course in journalism in Kharkov and wrote for the weekly Zay greyt (Get ready) in Kharkov.  She published stories and reportage pieces in Komsomol’skaia Pravda (Young Communist truth), using the pen name Zheni Chernikhovski and under her maiden name Zheni Nidelman.  From 1949 she was living in Israel.  From time to time, she wrote for Letste nayes (Latest news).  Her two novels were translated from manuscripts into Hebrew: Hitgosheshut yetsarim, roman (Struggling passions, a novel) (Jerusalem, 1972), 243 pp.; and Hu halakh im shaḥar, roman (He went at dawn, a novel) (Tel Aviv, 1978), 344 pp.
Ruvn Goldberg


MEYER RAYZ (b. 1891)
            A publisher and translator, he was born in Rozishtsh (Rozhyshche), Volhynia.  He gained his secondary education in a senior high school in Minsk, before proceeding to Liège.  From 1918 he was a teacher and administrator of Jewish schools in Warsaw, later a teacher of mathematics and physics in Polish-Jewish and Hebrew middle schools and seminaries.  He finally settled in Kovle (Kovel), where he was a municipal councilor in city hall.  In 1927 he founded a publishing house, which published his translations of: Wilhelm Ostwald, Di mil fun lebn, fizikalish-khemishe yesoydes fun di lebns-protsesn (The mill of life, physical-chemical foundations of life processes) (Warsaw, 1924), 135 pp.; W. Flatau, Higyene fun der froy, a vegveyzer far froyen un meydlekh, mit 20 bilder in teḳst (Women’s hygiene, a guide for women and girls, with twenty images in the text [original: Weibliche Gesundheitspflege, ein Ratgeber und Wegweiser für Frauen und Mädchen]), using the pen name “M. Gintsburg” (Warsaw, 1926), 172 pp.  He also published: Roman Rolland, Bethoven (Beethoven), trans. Yankev Kopl-Dua and Shmuel Vulman (Warsaw, 1924); and Max Erik, Ṿegn altyidishn roman un novele, fertsnter-zekhtsnter yorhundert (On the Old Yiddish novel and novella, fourteenth-sixteenth century) (Warsaw, 1926).  Together with Z. Leybovitsh, he translated F. Moytner’s Borekh shpinoza (Baruch Spinoza) and into Hebrew: Tadeusz Sierzputowski’s textbook, Aritmetik (Arithmetic) (Warsaw, 1929), 158 pp.

Source: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 4.
Berl Cohen


BENYOMEN-KHAYIM RAYZ (January 31, 1863-November 23, 1933)
            A novelist and journalist, he was born in Brisk (Brest), Lithuania.  He studied with itinerant schoolteachers, before spending two years in Volozhin and later passing the course for middle school.  In 1881 he settled in Warsaw, where he went to work in business.  He was a commercial agent in Siberia and other distant regions of Russia.  He debuted in print with stories in Hatsfira (The siren) and Haasif (The harvest).  He also wrote short novellas and articles for the Russian press.  He began writing in Yiddish during WWI.  He published in the Aguda newspapers, Yudishe vort (Jewish word) and Yud (Jew).  His main contribution, though, was to Haynt (Today) in Warsaw.  There he placed both short and long series of stories entitled “Sibirer geshikhten” (Siberian tales), some of which appeared in book form as Sibirer geshikhten, zikhroynes fun a navenadnik (Siberian tales, memoirs of a wanderer) (Warsaw: Yakubzohn and Goldberg, 1926), 192 pp.. second edition also including Der vide (The vow) (Warsaw: A. Gitlin, 1930), 454 pp.; Der kuper-kenig fun sibir, roman (The copper king of Siberia, a novel) (Warsaw: Sh. Tsuker, 1927), 264 pp.; Der vide (The vow); In velt-fayer (In the conflagration), Di shtifkinder (The stepchildren), and others.  He also composed several plays, some of which were staged in the Warsaw Yiddish theater: A finger gotes (A finger of God), Di zekste simfonye (The sixth symphony), and Uryadnik mergavin (Constable Mergavin).  He died in Warsaw.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 4; Zalmen Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 6 (Mexico City, 1969); Khayim Finkelshteyn, Haynt, a tsaytung bay yidn, 1908-1939 (Haynt [Today], a newspaper for Jews, 1908-1939) (Tel Aviv, 1978), pp. 256-59; Yeshurin archive, YIVO (New York).
Berl Cohen


AVROM REYGRADSKI (b. August 14, 1913)
            He was born in Bialystok.  He attended religious elementary school and a Polish-Jewish high school.  In 1932 he emigrated to Paris.  Over the years 1940-1944, he was active in the resistance movement.  From 1934 he co-edited Naye prese (New press) in Paris, for which he wrote mostly political articles.  He was editor of Dos vort fun vidershtand un zig (The word of resistance and victory) (Paris, 1949), 266 pp.—in which he wrote most of the articles.

Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 509.


BERNARD GERSHON RICHARDS (March 9, 1877-April 25, 1971)
            He was born in Keydan (Kėdainiai), Lithuania.  In 1901 he emigrated to the United States and in 1902 settled in New York.  He was a prominent community leader in Anglo-American groups and institutions.  He wrote for English-language Jewish periodicals, some of which he edited.  Until 1903 he retained certain ties to Yiddish: editor of the Boston-based Izraelit (Israelite), contributor to Winchevsky’s Emes (Truth), and the Boston correspondent for New York newspaper.  He died in New York.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 4; Ben-Tsien Ayzenshtadt, Dor rabanav vesofrav (A generations of rabbis and authors) (New York, 1902/1903), p. 99; Yeshurin archive, YIVO (New York).
Berl Cohen


            He was a Danish-Yiddish composer.  He authored: Yidishe melodyen, finf un firtsik lider mit notn (Yiddish melodies, forty-five songs with notations) (Vilna: Grininke beymelekh, 1935), 56 pp.; and 20 lider mit notn (Twenty songs with notations) (Vilna: Grininke beymelekh, 1938), 45 pp.

Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 509.


GERSHON RITVAS (b. December 25, 1916)
            He was a Communist, born in Saratov, Russia.  Until WWII he lived in Koshedar (Kaišiadorys), Lithuania.  He was chief of a resistance battalion in France.  He described his partisan battles in Russia and later in France in a volume entitled A yid in a natsishn uniform (A Jew in a Nazi uniform) (Paris, 1971), 320 pp.

Source: Borvin Frenkel, in Unzer shtime (Paris) (November 15, 1971).
Dr. Noyekh Gris


YISROEL RITOV (April 21, 1895-July 19, 1976)
            He was born in Osipovitsh (Asipovichy), Byelorussia.  He studied in religious elementary school and in the Lide (Lida) Yeshiva.  He studied law in Ekaterinoslav.  He was active in Zionist Youth in Russia and from 1921 in Poland.  In 1932 he settled in the land of Israel.  He was a member of the central Zionist agency.  He wrote articles on Zionism, cooperatives, and other topics for: Bafrayung (Liberation), Haynt (Today), and Dos vort (The word) in Warsaw; and Folksblat (People’s newspaper) in Tel Aviv; among other serials.  He edited party publications in Yiddish.  He authored the pamphlet: Velt-kongres fun poylishe idn (World congress of Polish Jews) (Tel Aviv, 1969), 42 pp.  From Hebrew he translated: P. Shifman’s Eynglishe deklaratsye (England’s declaration) (Ekaterinoslav: Rayon-komitet fun der tsienistisher organizatsye, 1917), 12 pp.; In binyen hakahole (In the community building) (Ekaterinoslav, 1918), 26 pp.; Yosef Shprintsak’s In vort un in shrift (In word and in writing) (Buenos Aires: Kiem, 1955), 399 pp.  He was also among the translators of Zalman Shazar’s Likhtike perzenlekhkeytn (Illumined personalities [original: Or ishim]) (Buenos Aires: Kiem, 1963), 297 pp.  In Hebrew he published several books on cooperatives and the history of the Zionist Youth-Zionist socialists.  He died in Tel Aviv.

Sources: Getzel Kressel, Leksikon hasifrut haivrit (Handbook of Hebrew literature), vol. 2 (Meravya, 1967); D. Tidhar, in Entsiklopedyah lealutse hayishuv uvonav (Encyclopedia of the pioneers and builders of the yishuv), vol. 4 (Tel Aviv, 1950); L. Ram, in Folksblat (Tel Aviv) 6 (1976); Devar hakooperatsya, sefer lezikhro shel yisrael ritov (On cooperatives, a volume to the memory of Yisael Ritov) (Tel Aviv, 1977).
Ruvn Goldberg


            He lived in Jerusalem.  He published and edited Der palestiner monat-blat (The Palestine monthly newspaper), “published every month.  The geography of Palestine…and wonderful stories” (Bucharest, 1919).  He presented himself as rabbi and ritual slaughterer and author of Tiferet yerushalayim veimre shefer (The glory of Jerusalem and the sayings of Saul Phinehas Rabbinowitz) (Tsfat, 1913), 46 pp.

Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 509.

[1] According to Natan Marks, Sifrut yidish berumenye (Yiddish literature in Romania) (Haifa, 1973), his surname was “Rizman.”


YISROEL-BER RIZBERG (b. March 5, 1858)
            He was born in Rzhishtshev (Rzhyshchiv), Kiev district.  He studied in religious elementary schools until age fifteen, later engaging in various trades.  In his free time, he took up self-education.  In 1892 he opened a “cheder metukan” (improved religious elementary school) in Pereyaslev, teaching in Hebrew.  For a time he lived in Odessa, worked as a teacher (1914-1917) in the Pereyaslev commercial school, and later (until 1920) in the Jewish government school.  In his last years he lived in Kiev.  From childhood, he wrote poetry which was published in: Yudishes folksblat (Jewish people’s newspaper) in St. Petersburg (1887); Dos heylige land (The holy land) in Zhitomir (1891); Mortkhe Spektor’s Hoyz-fraynd (House friend)—in which, among other items, he published a long article entitled “Di melamdes frage” (The question of the teaching profession) V (1896)—and in a London-based “oveve-tsiyon” (Lovers of Zion) periodical (perhaps Folks-tsaytung [People’s newspaper]).  He also placed several articles in Yud (Jew) and in New York newspapers.  In Odessa he brought out a collection entitled: Amerika, argentina oder palestina (America, Argentina, or Palestine) (1891), 8 pp.  Rizberg’s many poems were of a Zionist character, some of them sung by the populace.  He also published Hebrew textbooks and several letter-writing manuals: Haor harishon liyeladim (The first light for children) (Odessa, 1916), 88 pp.; Olam hayeladim (The world of children) (Odessa, 1911); and Maarekhet mikhtavim (A set of letters) (Berdichev, 1897), 96 pp.; among others.

Source: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 4.
Berl Cohen


MEYER RIVKIN (winter 1869-June 2, 1915)
            The author of fiction and journalism, he was born in Vitebsk, into an “enlightened” family.  Until age thirteen he attended religious elementary school, later a crown Jewish public school.  In 1889 he graduated from the Vilna Jewish teachers’ institute and gained a post in a public school in Volozhin.  In 1891 he moved to Molodetshne (Maladziečna) and in 1895 to Minsk.  In 1897 he settled in St. Petersburg as a teacher in a Russian Jewish school.  He debuted in print in 1895 in Voskhod (Arise) and wrote a great deal for Russian Jewish periodicals—feuilletons on community topics, stories, pedagogical articles, and children’s tales (under the pen names Makor and Sheva ben Brokhi).  His literary activities in Yiddish began 1905-1906 in the then well-known humor newspaper Der sheygets (The impudent lad).  He later contributed to Warsaw’s Fraynd (Friend), in which he placed short feature pieces (using the pseudonyms Resh Lakish, R”l, and Menaker) and weekly overviews of Jewish life in a formal bible translation style.  For many years he collected materials on the blood libel in Velitsh and later published his novel Der velitsher blut-bilbl (The blood libel in Velitsh) (Vilna: B. A. Kletskin, 1914), 386 pp., published earlier in Fraynd (1912-1913).  “Rivkin’s novel is an important phenomenon,” wrote Yisroel Tsinberg, “in Yiddish literature.  With a sure hand, the author traces on a grand canvas a full gallery of all manner of personages.  Not only Jews, but also Russian…are drawn with the clarity of a great artist.”  He died in Luga, Russia.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 4; Shoyl Ginzburg, Amolike peterburg, forshungen un zikhroynes vegn yidishn lebn in der residents-shtot fun tsarishn rusland (St. Petersburg of old, research and memories of Jewish life in the imperial capital of Tsarist Russia) (New York, 1944), p. 183.
Berl Cohen


HERTS RIVKIN (April 1908-1951)
            He was a poet and prose writer, born Hertsl Haysiner in Kapresht (Căpreşti), Bessarabia.  He was a student at the Kishinev technical school for construction, later a construction engineer on highways.  He early on joined the revolutionary underground movement and wrote satirical poetry.  From 1934 he was living in Bucharest.  He spent WWII in the Soviet Union, and afterward he was back in Kishinev.  Despite his fidelity to the Soviet cause, he was among the first casualties of the Stalinist terror in the bitterest of times for Soviet Yiddish literature.  In 1948 he was convicted of Trotskyism and exiled to a camp in Ekibastuz in northern Kazakhstan, where he died.  Naftole-Herts Kohen recounted that Rivkin held himself courageously and dignified during his camp interrogations.  He was one of the founders of the literary group “Yung-rumenye” (Young Romania).  In the 1930s he published poetry in Romanian Yiddish serials: Onzog (Portent) in Kishinev (1931), published and edited with Yankl Yakir and Hersh-Leyb Kazhber; the Zionist daily newspaper Unzer veg (Our way) in Kishinev (1933); Di vokh (The week) in Bucharest (1934); and Shoybn (Window panes) in Bucharest (1934-1938).  He also wrote for Warsaw’s Literarishe bleter (Literary leaves).  After the war he began writing stories for Heymland (Homeland), Sovetishe literatur (Soviet literature) in Kiev, and other periodicals.  As a result of a competition, in 1946 he was awarded the Eynikeyt (Unity) prize for his story “Der tate mitn zun” (Father and son) in Moscow.  His poetry appeared in Naye yidishe dikhtung (New Yiddish poetry) (Iași, 1947) and a story in Af naye vegn (Along new paths) (New York, 1949) and In oyfshteyg (In ascent) (Bucharest, 1964).  In book form: Fun shkheynishn dorf, lid un elegye (From the neighboring village, poem and elegy) (Bucharest: Shoybn, 1938), 57 pp., new edition (Bucharest: Kriteryon, 1977), 133 pp.; Dertseylungen (Stories) (Moscow: Emes, 1948), 102 pp.

Sources: Shloyme Bikl, Rumenye (Romania) (Buenos Aires, 1961), pp. 298-301; Motl Saktsyer, in Besaraber yidn (Tel Aviv) (August 1977); Yankl Yakir, in Dorem-afrike (Johannesburg) (March-June 1978); Bay zikh (Tel Aviv) 15 (1979), pp. 123-28.
Ruvn Goldberg

[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), pp. 364-65].


BOREKH RIVKIN (February 24, 1883-June 9, 1945)
            A literary critic and journalist, he was born Borekh-Avrom Vaynrib in Yakobshtadt (Ekabpils), Courland, into a poor family.  He attended religious elementary school, later the crown Jewish school.  He graduated from the “municipal school” around 1899.  He joined the Bund in 1903, but he was more inclined philosophically to anarchism.  He was active in illegal political work.  He lived in Mitave (Mitava), Libave (Liepāja), Riga, and Odessa.  In 1905 he made his way abroad—to Berlin, Hamburg, Geneva, Paris, and London.  In late 1911 he settled in New York.  He was active on behalf of Jewish schools in the United States and pioneer colonies in the land of Israel, being close to the Labor Zionists.  His literary activities began with Russian anarchist organs in Geneva around 1908, using the pen name B. Sp-a (Baruch Spinoza).  In Yiddish he debuted in print in 1911 in the London anarchist serials Zherminal (Germinal) and Arbayter fraynd (Workers’ friend), using the pen name B. R.  In London he also edited anarchist publications in Yiddish.  In America he initially contributed to Avrom Reyzen’s weekly newspaper Dos naye land (The new country).  His articles there—such as “Dos problem fun idishen folks-shafen” (The issue of Jewish folk creations), “Ideal un ferbrekhen” (Ideal and criminal), and “Dos religyeze misfershtendenis” (The religious misunderstanding), among others—introduced a new tone into Yiddish journalism.  With issue no. 7 (under the changed title, Di literarishe velt [The literary world]), Rivkin took over editorship.  He also contributed literary criticism and journalistic articles to: Dos naye leben (The new life); Tsukunft (Future), for which for three years starting in 1915 he was secretary of the editorial board; Literatur un leben (Literature and life); Di idishe velt (The Jewish world) (1915-1916); Shriften (Writings), issues II and V; the weekly Naye post (new mail); Glaykhhayt (Equality); Idisher kempfer (Jewish fighter); Naye velt (New world); Fraye arbeter shtime (Free voice of labor); the daily Tog (Day), for which he was a regular contributor (1917-1919, 1940-1945); Herman Bernshteyn’s Haynt (Today) in 1920; Yidishes tageblat (Jewish daily newspaper); Di idishe velt in Philadelphia (1922-1940); Yidishe kultur (Jewish culture); Studyo (Studio); Getseltn (Tents); Opatoshu and Leivick’s Zamlbikher (Collections); Yidishe shrftn (Yiddish writings); Epokhe (Epoch); Di feder (The pen); Brikn (Bridge) in Chicago; and Dos fraye vort (The free word) in London; among other serials.  He edited the weekly Frayhayt (Freedom) in New York, Ershter “ikor”-almanakh fun filadelfyer komitet (The first IKOR almanac from the Philadelphia Committee) (Philadelphia, 1927, 87 pp.), and the weekly for psychic research and new Messianism Natur un vunder (Nature and wonder) in New York (1922).  He published longer works in Di feder: “A karahod arum dray froyen” (A circle dance around three women); “A teritorye far idishe kinstler” (A territory for Jewish artists) about Volinski and Zangwill; “In an ekspeditsye nokh avrom reyzen” (In an expedition following Avrom Reyzen); “Finf doyres idishe poetn in eyn kafe” (Five generations of Yiddish poets in one café).  In the publications of the Yiddish writers’ group with the Federal Writers’ Project, Di idishe landsmanshaften in nyu-york (Jewish native-place associations in New York) (New York, 1938): “Di sotsyale role fun di landsmanshaften” (The social role of the native-place associations); in Idishe familyes un familyenkrayzn fun nyu-york (Jewish families and family circles in New York) (New York, 1939): “Der fundament fun der idisher familye” (The foundation of the Jewish family); and in other periodicals and publications.  He wrote journalism under the pen name R’, literary and theater criticism and feuilletons under the pen name Abe Lilyen, psychic research and spiritualism under the pen name Mark Toleroz, religious and philosophical matters under the pen name B. A. Vaynrib, and journalistic articles as B. Skutelski.
He suffered considerable poverty in America, and from his hundreds of published essays it appears that only one book emerged in print in his lifetime: Der mitlveg tsvishn ideal un praktik in kultur-arbet (The middle way between ideal and practice in cultural work) (Chicago: L. M. Shteyn, 1935), 64 pp.  Rivkin’s second wife, Mina Bordo-Rivkin, later compiled and published the following books by her husband: A gloybn far umgloybike (A belief for unbelievers) (New York: Dovid Ignatov Literary Fund, 1947), 256 pp.; Yidishe dikhter in amerike (Yiddish poets in America), vol. 1 (New York: Tsiko, 1947), 308 pp., vol. 2 (Buenos Aires: Yidbukh, 1959), 314 pp.; Grunt-tendentsn fun der yidisher literatur in ameriḳe (Basic tendencies in Yiddish literature in America) (New York, 1948), 339 pp.; Yoysef opatoshus gang (Joseph Opatoshu’s course) (Toronto: G. Pomerants, 1948), 72 pp.; Yidishe yontoyvim (Jewish holidays) (New York: M. Sh. Shklarski, 1950), 255 pp.; Unzere prozaiker (Our prose writers) (New York: IKUF, 1951), 320 pp.; H. leyvik, zayne lider un dramatishe verk (H. Leivick, his poems and dramatic works) (Buenos Aires: Yidbukh, 1955), 249 pp..  Rivkin also composed two dramas: Arum a nes (Surrounding a miracle) and Der prints fun sekond avenyu (The prince of Second Avenue)—neither were published.  He also translated a number of works: Georg Brandes, Di hoypt shtremungen in der literatur fun nayntsenten yorhundert (The main trends in nineteenth-century literature) (New York: N. M. Mayzel, 1920); Mikhail Artsybashev, Milyonen (Millions [original: Milliony]) and A glik (A good fortune) (New York: Yankovski, n.d.), 159 pp.; N. I. Kokhanovskii, Dos leben un der toyt fun a gasen froy, dramatishe ertsehlung (The life and death of a woman of the streets, dramatic story) (London: Progres, 1911), 60 pp.; P. Rutenberg (Pinas Ben-Ami), Di natsyonale viderbalebung fun dem idishen folk (The national revival of the Jewish people) (New York: N. M. Mayzel, 1915), 31 pp.; Leonid Andreev, Yekaterina andreyevna (Catherine Andreyevna) (New York: Yiddish Art Theater, 1927); and writings by Arthur Schnitzler.  There were as well the misplaced galleys of a pamphlet: Di zelbst-gekroynte forshteyershaft (The self-appointed representative).
“Rivkin is one of the most original and most profound Yiddish journalists and critics,” noted Zalmen Reyzen, “temperamentally and spiritually aspiring to popularize the new Messianism.”  “As a critic,” wrote Arn Glants-Leyeles, “he was a master interpreter.  As such he exercised a formidable influence on the writers themselves.  He was able to take a person with utterly limited talent, and in his slender or sparse lines of text he would see in it something extraordinary such that the person would begin to believe that he is second only to Homer.  Even greater and utterly extraordinary talents were affected by B. Rivkin’s exaggerations.”  “B. Rivkin was…an encyclopedia of assorted ideologies,” commented A. Mukdoni, “…a spiritualist, a religious mystic, a literary critic, a theatrical showman, a worldly Jew….  He considered himself a literary Messiah whose mission it was to make Yiddish literature great, to be revealed in its great ideas or to interpret in them with his own great ideas.”  “Everything that Rivkin wrote,” noted Yankev Glatshteyn, “was hot, and his coolest thoughts and analyses were also heated to glowing….  He believed that a writer’s work resembled an arena for which he first had to create a show….  When Rivkin turned to take up the ideas of Yiddish writers, he set out on a route that rescued him, that afforded him broad possibilities for expression, but that was not a blessing for literature.”  “He is no quiet, contemplative critic,” wrote Avrom-Ber Tabatshnik.  “He is…an interested party.  There is insufficient value for him just to judge, for he has to ‘tear open,’ to liberate the charge from its artistic form…so as to arouse and ‘creatively transform the reader.’…  He is by nature a maximalist….  Maximalism…is his strength and his weakness….  Rivkin’s literary historical conceptions are themselves too intuitive, too objective, too a priori to be able to give a methodical justification and consistent description of the literary historical process…that dwells upon Rivkin’s great work is not the principal idea, but…the brilliant and sensible observations of literary events, his genuinely magnificent characterizations of a number of significant Jewish writers” is.  He died in New York.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 4; H. Leivixk, in Tog (New York) (May 15, 1943); Abba Gordin, Denker un dikhter (Thinker and writer) (New York, 1949), pp. 58-68; Yankev Glatshteyn, In tokh genumen (In essence) (New York, 1947), pp. 150-56; Glatshteyn, Mit mayne fartogbikher (With my journals) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1963), pp. 452-59; Mina Bordo-Rivkin, B. rivkin, lebn un shafn (B. Rivkin, life and work) (New York, 1953); Shmuel Niger, in Tog (January 25, 1953); Niger, Habikoret uveayoteha (Inquiry and its problems) (Jerusalem: Mosad Bialik, 1957), pp. 181-88; Zishe Vaynper, Shrayber un kinstler (Writer and artist) (New York, 1958), pp. 240-51; Yeshurin, B. rivkin biblyografye (B. Rivkin bibliography) (New York, 1953); A. Mukdoni, in Tsukunft (New York) 8 (1954); Shmuel Leshtsinski, Literarishe eseyen (Literary essays), vol. 2 (New York: Gershuni, 1955), pp. 225-47; Nakhmen Mayzil, Noente un eygene, fun yankev dinezon biz hirsh glik (Near and one’s own, Yankev Dinezon and Hirsch Glick) (New York, 1957), pp. 169-82; Arn Glants, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (January 13, 1960); Y. Ḥ. Biltski, Masot (Essays), vol. 2 (Tel Aviv, 1960), pp. 99-105; Avrom-Ber Tabatshnik, Dikhter un dikhtung (Poets and poetry) (New York, 1965), pp. 455-73; Uri-Tsvi Grinberg, in Tsukunft 3 (1973); Lili Berger, In gang fun tsayt, eseyen (In the course of time, essays) (Paris, 1976), pp. 239-46.
Berl Cohen

Monday, 17 June 2019


MORTKHE RIVESMAN (1868-May 9, 1924)
            Born in Vilna, he was a Russian-Yiddish storyteller, playwright, and folk poet.  In Russian he was known as R’ Maks Semyonovitsh.  Until age twelve he studied in religious elementary school, thereafter in a Vilna high school.  He worked for five years in the Russian Jewish schools in Vilna, and from 1896 he was a teacher in a school run by the “Khevre mefitse haskole” (Society for the promotion of enlightenment [among the Jews of Russia]) in St. Petersburg and was a leader of the local Yiddish theater society.  He debuted in print with stories in Russian and later wrote both in Russian as well as translated into Russian several works by Y. L. Perets, Sholem-Aleichem, Khayim Tshemerinski, Mendele, and An-ski.  He began writing in Yiddish in 1892 for Perets’s Di yudishe biblyotek (The Yiddish library), and after a lengthy interruption he again came back to Yiddish with the establishment of Fraynd (Friend) in 1903, in which he published for five years stories of impoverished Jewish life as well as poetry.  He also contributed work to: Di velt (The world), Der tog (The day), Di folksshtime (The voice of the people), and Riga’s Yudishe shtime (Jewish voice) (1909-1910).  In the humor magazines Der sheygets (The impudent boy) and Der bezem (The broom), a supplement to Fraynd, he published under the pseudonym Motele satirical feature pieces in verse.  He made a name for himself with his book Dem “zeydens” mesholim (“Grandpa’s” fables), “a free and Judaized adaptation following [Ivan] Krylov” (St. Petersburg, 1908), 112 pp., enlarged edition (St. Petersburg, 1918), 167 pp.  A selection of these fables under the title Der “zeyde” di eyniklakh (The grandfather, the grandchildren), adapted for children, was published by the Commissariat for Jewish Affairs (St. Petersburg, 1919), 40 pp.  He also wrote several works for the theater, among them the comedy Glikn (Good fortune); the miniatures, R’ meyer bal-hanes (Reb Meyer the miracle worker), Nohkn tsholnt (After the cholent), and In aylenish (In a hurry); the dramas, Ende zumer (End of summer) and Di finstere nakht (The dark noight); and translated Karl Gutzkow’s Uriel Acosta for Aleksey Granovsky’s chamber theater.  He also wrote a series of children’s plays in Russian.  Under the pen name Mevaser, he published Royte frayhayts-lider (Red poems of freedom) (St. Petersburg: Commissariat for Jewish Affairs, 1919), 15 pp.  Rivesman’s poetry appeared in numerous readers for Jewish schools, as well as in the anthologies: Di idishe yugend (The Jewish youth) (Vilna, 1906), Frayhayt (Freedom) (Vilna, 1907), Frihling (Spring) (Vilna), and Blumen (Flowers) (New York, 1920, edited by Y. Levin), among others.  He often appeared at literary evenings with readings from his works and was extremely successful before his audience.  “For the semi-assimilated…Jews…in Russian St. Petersburg,” wrote Yisroel Tsinberg, “Rivesman was truly a treasury…of folk witticisms, puns, [and] rhyming combinations, and people rolled with laughter at his Judaized Krylov fables, poems, declamations, stage scenes, and humorous sketches.”  He died in St. Petersburg.

            His brother A. RIVESMAN published, with B. Bernard, in Vilna an illustrated journal for literature and scholarship, Di idishe yugend—in two editions, Fir yugend (For children) and Far kleyne kinder (For little children).  The first number appeared on April 8, 1906, but the journal did not last long.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 4; Zalmen Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 6 (Mexico City, 1969); A. Forsher, in Forverts (New York) (December 16, 1973); E. R. Malachi, in Forverts (January 20, 1974); Yeshurin archive, YIVO (New York).
Berl Cohen

[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. 364].


            He wrote articles about education which appeared in: Pedagogishe khrestomatye (Pedagogic reader) (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1926); Shriftn (Writings) (Minsk, 1929); and Ratnbildung (Soviet education) (1930).  His books include: Kamf, politisher alefbeys far shuln fun sotsyaler dertsiung (Struggle, political ABCs for schools and social education), with E. Shprakh (Moscow: Central Publ., 1925), 397 pp.; Oktyabr-kinder, farn ershtn un tsveytn lernyor (October children, for the first and second school year), edited with Khayim Holmshtok and Leyb Mishkovski (Moscow, 1925), 115 pp. and 311 pp., second edition (Moscow, 1926-1927); Erste trit (First steps) (Minsk: State Publ., 1926), 120 pp.; Sotsyale forshtelungen fun di hayntike kinder in vaysrusland (Social conceptions of today’s children in Byelorussia) (Minsk, 1929), 10 pp.  His work also appeared in Der veg fun farat, kamf kegn bundizm un menshevizm in der yidisher proletarisher literatur (The road of treachery, the struggle against Bundism and Menshevism in Yiddish proletarian literature) (Moscow-Minsk, 1932).

Source: Chone Shmeruk, comp., Pirsumim yehudiim babrit-hamoatsot, 1917-1961 (Jewish publications in the Soviet Union, 1917-1961) (Jerusalem, 1962), see index.
Berl Cohen


YANKL RIVES (January 6, 1886-1975)
            He was an author of stories and novels, born in Osveye (Aśvieja), Byelorussia, into a poor family of fishermen.  He worked as a tailor.  From his youth, he was involved in the revolutionary movement, and from 1919 he was a member of the Communist Party.  During the years of the Soviet civil war, he worked with the Bolshevik underground in Byelorussia.  He published his first stories in 1919 in Vilner vokhenblat (Vilna weekly newspaper), Tog (Day), Der shtern (The star), and Der shnayder (The tailor), and later in Sovetish (Soviet), and Sovetish heymland (Soviet homeland), among other serials.  His work also appeared in Dertseylungen fun yidishe sovetishe shrayber (Stories by Soviet Yiddish writers) (Moscow, 1969).  His works include: Untererd, dertseylungen (Underground, stories) (Moscow: Central Publ., 1929), 135 pp.; Bam yam un andere dertseylungen (By the sea and other stories) (Moscow-Kharkov-Minsk: Central Publ., 1931), 160 pp.; In teg fun fargreytung (In the days of preparation), stories (Minsk: State Publ., 1935), 99 pp.; Yan dzembo, khronik (Yan Dzembo, a chronicle) (Moscow: Emes, 1938), 157 pp.; Farborgene koykhes (Hidden strength) (Moscow: Emes, 1941), 210 pp.; Bol’sheviki, roman (Bolsheviks, a novel) (Moscow: Sovetski pisatel, 1966), 167 pp.; Der veg tsum zig, roman (The road to victory) (Moscow: Sovetski pisatel, 1975), 182 pp.  In Rives’s stories and novels, which bear a memoirist, autobiographical character, there is reflected the revolutionary work with which he was personally involved in Russia.

Sources: Chone Shmeruk, comp., Pirsumim yehudiim babrit-hamoatsot, 1917-1961 (Jewish publications in the Soviet Union, 1917-1961) (Jerusalem, 1962), see index; Sovetish heymland (Moscow) 3 (1975), p. 189; Yeshurin archive, YIVO (New York).
Berl Cohen

[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. 363].


AVROM RIVES (July 15, 1900-April 1963)
            The author of stories, he was born Avrom Neymovitsh in Lomzhe, Poland.  He attended religious elementary school, later graduating from a technical trade school, where they also taught Russian, Polish, and Hebrew.  He was active in the Labor Zionist movement.  In 1924 he made his way to the land of Israel.  He worked in the construction of roadways and spent twenty years in a factory in Tel Aviv.  In 1929 he joined the newly founded literary club in Tel Aviv.  He began writing feature pieces in 1922 (under the pen name Namuni) and articles in the Lomzhe Labor Zionist serial Der hamer (The hammer), issue 2.  He also placed feuilletons in Dos yidishe lomzhe (Jewish Lomzhe), published by YISHO (Jewish School Organization).  In 1923 he helped to published in Lomzhe a literary journal Tayfun (Typhoon), and in it he placed a novella, using for the first time the pseudonym A. Rives.  He published stories and literary essays in: Velt-shpigl (World mirror), Oyfgang (Arise), Arbeter-tsaytung (Workers’ newspaper), and Literarishe bleter (Literary leaves) in Warsaw; Fraye arbeter shtime (Free voice of labor), Forverts (Forward), and Oyfkum (Arise) in New York; Dorem-afrike (South Africa) in Johannesburg; and in Israel, Shtamen (Roots), Erets-yisroel shriftn (Writings from the land of Israel), Undzers (Ours) (1940, 1949), Nayvelt (New world), Di goldene keyt (The golden chain), and Yisroel shriftn (Israeli writings), among others.  In Letste nayes (Latest news) he published reportage pieces and feuilletons, using the pen name A. Narevski.  His work also appeared in: Arie Shomri, Vortslen (Roots) (Tel Aviv, 1966); Mordekhai alamish, Mikan umikarov, antologya shel sipure yidish beerets yisrael (From near and from far away, anthology of stories in Yiddish in Israel) (Meravya, 1966).  His writings include: Iberflants, dertseylungen (Transplant, stories) (Tel Aviv, 1947), 207 pp.; Mit der shif tshitsherin, roman (On the ship Tshitsherin, a novel) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1959), 204 pp.  “Rives wrote authentic and fine stories,” wrote Meylekh Ravitsh, “drawn from life in the land of Israel and always from the laboring, suffering man.”  He was “one of that group of Yiddish writers,” noted Shmuel Izban, “who made their contribution to Yiddish prose in Israeli literature….  A new epoch was to be depicted, the pathway of a pioneering generation which returned to the land of Creation….  A. Rives helped in his sweeping language to write the Genesis chapter.”  He died in Tel Aviv.

Sources: Meylekh Ravitsh, Mayn leksikon (My lexicon), vol. 3 (Montreal, 1958); L. Kheyn, in Nayvelt (Tel Aviv) 52 (1947); Y. Botoshanski, in Di prese (Buenos Aires) (February 11, 1948); Shimen Ernst, in Idishe tsaytung (Buenos Aires) (December 30, 1948); Mark Shveyd, in Forverts (New York) (July 3, 1949); Shmuel Izban, in Keneder odler (Montreal) (March 30, 1959); Avrom Volf-Yasni, in Letste nayes (Tel Aviv) (May 25, 1959); Yankev-Tsvi Shargel, Fun onheyb on (From the beginning forward) (Tel Aviv, 1977), pp. 47-50; Yeshurin archive, YIVO (New York).
Berl Cohen


HENYE RIVLIN (ca. 1880-July 5, 1923)
            She was a teacher, born in St. Petersburg.  She graduated from high school and attended the “free college” in St. Petersburg.  From 1907 she was working in Jewish public schools (initially with Russian as the language of instruction) in Sebastopol, Golta, Vitebsk, St. Petersburg, and Malakhovka.  In 1915 she organized children’s homes in Vilna and nearby towns.  She was the first to lay a foundation for Jewish kindergartens.  In book form: Di arbayt in kindergortn (Work in kindergarten) (St. Petersburg: Commissariat for Jewish Affairs, 1922), 80 pp.

Source: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 4.
Berl Cohen