YEKHIEL RAVRABI (April 18, 1883-1955)
A Hebrew and Yiddish writer and Orientalist, he was born in Baranovke (Baranovka), Volhynia. He attended religious elementary school, later studied Talmud and commentators with his father. He did middle school (1906-1909 [?]) in Vilna and then went on to live in St. Petersburg. From 1912 he was enrolled in the higher Judaica course of study of Baron Dovid Ginzburg. Over the years 1917-1922, he studied the language and history of the Semitic East at St. Petersburg University. He was a lecturer at the Byelorrusian State University in the department of eastern languages and Semitics. After 1929 he was expelled from his job and returned to Leningrad. He was arrested in 1938 with Y. Tsinberg—he had collected materials for Tsinberg’s literary history. His literary activities began with poetry in Vilna in: Folks-tsaytung (People’s newspaper), Folksshtime (Voice of the people), Der nayer veg (The new path), Der proletarisher gedank (The proletarian idea), and the anthology Di velt (The world), among others. He later contributed work to such serials as: Fraynd (Friend), Leben un visenshaft (Life and science), the collection Yugend (Youth), and Lekoved peysekh (In honor of Passover), as well as a series of Hebrew-language periodicals. In the 1920s he wrote mainly scholarly and memoir-folkloric works for such Russian Jewish publications as: Evreiskaia letopis’ (Jewish chronicle), Evreiskii vestnik (Jewish herald), and Evreiskaia starina (The Jewish past), as well as in Tsaytshrift (Periodical) in Minsk and Shriftn (Writings). He translated into Yiddish from the records and responsa for a collection of such material which the Jewish division of the Byelorussian Academy of Sciences (Minsk) was preparing for publication at the time. He also composed stories. He died in Siberia.
Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 4; Zalmen Shazar, Or ishim (Light of personalities) (Tel Aviv, 1955), pp. 81-89; Yehoshua A. Gilboa, Lashon omedet al nafsha (A language fights for its life) (Tel Aviv, 1977), see index; A. A. Greenbaum, Jewish Scholarship in Soviet Russia (Jerusalem, 1978).
Dr. Avrom Grinboym