Monday 30 June 2014


MORTKHE (MARCOS) ALPERSON (1860-July 24, 1947)
Born in Lantskorun, Podolye.  His father was a businessman and a school teacher.  He received a traditional Jewish education, though he became a Maskil and early on began writing in Hebrew.  After marrying, he tried a variety of ways to earn a living.  In 1891 he made his way with his wife and children to Argentina, together with the first group of YIKO (Jewish Cultural Organization) emigrants.  He was among the founders of the colony in Mauricio where he devoted himself to working on the land until well into old age.  He was an ardent support for the ideals of Jewish agriculture, and for many years he led a war against the methods of the YIKO administration, publishing pamphlet articles concerning this in the Argentinian and general Yiddish press as well as in Hamelits (The advocate).  Using the pseudonym “Echad haikarim” (one of the farmers), in 1911 he published a pamphlet entitled Chalutsim harishonim (The first pioneers), a cry from those who were not happy with the YIKO administration in Argentina.  The history of the Argentinian YIKO colonization was a subject that he later took up in his three-volume work, Draysik yor in argentina, memuarn fun a yidishn kolonist (Thirty years in Argentina, memoirs of a Jewish colonist) [Buenos Aires, 1922-1928], which made quite an impression in the Jewish world.  In his introduction to this work, H. D. Nomberg dubbed Alperson “the Jewish Robinson Crusoe.”  The first volume appeared with the title Kolonye mauritsyo, draysikyorike ik”o-kolonizatsye in argentine (Mauricio Colony, thirty years of YIKO colonization in Argentina) (Buenos Aires, 1922), 381 pp.; the latter two volumes were published between 1923 and 1928.  In Hebrew translation by Moshe Beygl, Sheloshim shanot hityashbut hayehudit beargentina, with an additional preface by H. D. Nomberg, volume 1 (Tel Aviv, 1930), 232 pp.  Alperson’s other books include: Goles, drame in dray aktn (Diaspora, a drama in three acts) (Buenos Aires, 1929), 36 pp.; Di kinder fun der pampa, drame in dray aktn (Children of the pampas, a drama in three acts) (Buenos Aires, 1930), 51 pp.; Af argentiner erd, roman (On Argentine soil, a novel) (Buenos Aires, 1931), 213 pp.; Di arendators fun kultur, komedye in dray aktn (The lease-holders of culture, a comedy in three acts) (Buenos Aires, 1933), 63 pp.; Rus, historishe drame in dray aktn (Ruth, a historical drama in three acts) (Buenos Aires, 1934), 62 pp.; Der lindzhero, roman (The lindzhero, a novel) (Buenos Aires, 1937), 210 pp.; Dertseylungen fun feld (Stories from the fields) (Buenos Aires, 1943), 207 pp.; In argentine (In Argentina) (Buenos Aires: Y. Lifshits-Fond, 1967), 314 pp.  He also contributed to the Argentinian Yiddish press in the first years of its origins: Di folks-shtime (The peoples’ voice, 1898-1914), Der yudisher kolonist (The Jewish colonist, 1909-1912) under the pen name “Ben Yisroel,” Der fartaydiker (The defense, 1912-1913).  Alperson was regarded as the dean of Yiddish literature in Argentina.  He spent the summers of the last thirteen years of his life, following the death of his wife, in Mauricio on his own land, and the winters in Buenos Aires.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1; Antologye fun der yidisher literatur in argentine (Anthology of Yiddish literature in Argentina) (Buenos Aires, 1944), p. 17; P. Kats, Geklibene shriftn (Collected writings), vol. 5 (Buenos Aires, 1946); Y. Botoshanski, “Dos gedrukte yidishe vort in argentine” (The published Yiddish word in Argentina), Zamlbukh argentine (Collection, Argentina) (Buenos Aires, 1938); Y. Botoshanski, Mame-yidish (Mother Yiddish) (Buenos Aires, 1949), pp. 169, 172, 173, 191, 193, 194, 196, 202, 217, 273; Sh. Rozhanski, Dos yidishe gedrukte vort un teater in argentine (The published Yiddish word and theater in Argentina) (Buenos Aires, 1941); Dr. L. Zhitlovsky, in Yidishe kultur (New York) (March 1944); Hayim Leaf, Hasifrut haidit betargum ivri (Yiddish literature in Hebrew translation).


Born in Lahishin (Lahiszyn), Polyesye [Byelorussia].  She studied in a high school in Pinsk.  She published works for children in Grininke beymelekh (Little green trees) in Vilna.  During WWII, she roamed as far away as Uzbekistan, and after the war she was in the displaced persons camps in Austria, later settling in Palestine.  She published stories in the weekly Pinsker lebn (Pinsk life) as well as in various other publications in provincial Polish cities.  She issued a pamphlet entitled Bentsh undz, zeydenyu (Bless us, Grandpa) on the centenary of Mendele’s birthday, published in Nay velt (New world) (Tel Aviv, 1949-1950), as well as in collections concerning the cities of Stolin and Lomzhe (in Hebrew).  He was the author of Unter fremde un eygene himlen (Under foreign and one’s own heavens) (Tel Aviv: Naye-lebn, 1972), 2 vols.

Source: Y. Pat, “Akht obheyber tsuzamen” (Eight starters together), Vokhnshrift far literatur (April 8, 1932) in Warsaw.


ARN (AARON) ALPERIN (b. January 31, 1901)
Born in Lodz, Poland.  He studied in religious elementary school, public school, middle school, and high school.  In 1919 he published his first story in Lodzher tageblat (Lodz daily news).  He traveled to Paris in 1928.  He wrote current events articles for: Lodzher tageblat, Tageblat (Daily news), and Undzer tageblat (Our daily news) in Lodz; Haynt (Today) in Warsaw; Haynt in Paris; Yidishe shtime (Jewish voice) in Kiev; Frimorgn (Morning) in Riga; Di tsayt (The times) in London; and Di yidishe tsaytung (The Jewish newspaper) in Buenos Aires, among others.  He was on the editorial board of Lodzher tageblat over the period 1924-1925; and he served as editor-in-chief of Haynt in Paris, 1928-1940.  He was rescued from France in 1940 at the time of the Nazi invasion, and in 1941 he arrived in New York.  He served on the editorial board of Tog morgn-zhurnal (Daily morning journal) where he ran the weekly column concerning Jewish life around the world.  He was managing editor, 1951-1952, of Dos yidishe folk (The Jewish people) in New York.  Among his books: Zalbetsveyt (Two together), poems (together with Pinkhes Goldhar) (Lodz, 1921); Żydzi w Łódzi: pocza̜tki gminy żydowskiej, 1780-1822 (Jews in Lodz, the origins of the Jewish community, 1780-1822) (Lodz, 1928); Geshikhte fun der yidisher kolonizatsye in argentine, yoyvl-bukh fun yidishe tsaytung (History of Jewish colonization in Argentina, jubilee volume from Yidishe tsaytung) (Buenos Aires, 1940); Forn idn kin yisroel, mit shtrom fun der aliya (Jews going to Israel, with the tide of aliya) (Jerusalem: Histadrut, 1966/1967), 102 pp.; A lebn fun shlikhes, byografye fun dr. yisroel goldshteyn (A life on assignment, a biography of Dr. Israel Goldstein) (Jerusalem: R. Mas, 1974), 447 pp.; Nokhum goldman (Naḥum Goldmann) (Jerusalem: Jewish World Congress, 1976), 71 pp.; 70 yor arbeter-tsienizm in amerike (Seventy years of workers’ Zionism in America) (New York: Labor Zionist Alliance, 1976), 34, 28 pp.  He translated: Fyodor Dostoevsky, Vayse nekht (White nights [original: Bel’ie nochi]) (Warsaw, 1924), 347 pp.; Hertsl un zayn dor, idishe perzenlekhkeytn in hertsls tog-bikher (Herzl and his generation, Jewish personalities in Herzl’s diaries) (New York, 1959), 63 pp.; Meyer Weisgal, Vi es volt nekht geven (As it should have been yesterday [original: So Far: An Autobiography]) (Tel Aviv: Hamenorah, 1974), 541 pp.  He also edited In gang fun doyres (In the wake of generations), by Samuel Margoshes (Tel Aviv: Hamenorah, 1970), 359 pp.; and co-edited Bzhezhin yizker-bukh (Brzeziny memorial volume) (New York, 1961), 288, XIX pp.  He also took part in the Zionist movement, and he was a member of the administrative council of the Zionist Organization of America.  He used as a pseudonym: A. Yakubolitsh.  He was living in New York.

Sunday 29 June 2014


A. ALPERT (1871-September 2, 1939)
Born in Kovno, Lithuania, he was a pioneer in the Yiddish press in Massachusetts, a leader of immigrant assistance, and the Boston correspondent for Tog (Day) in New York.  He used the pen name of Ish Kovna (the man from Kovno).  He edited the weekly Yidishe velt (Jewish world) in 1894, and Der izraelit (The Israelite) in Boston; the latter closed down in 1895 or 1896.  The Yiddish supplement to the English Jewish Advocate was known as Yidisher advokat.  He edited it in 1905, work later done by Dr. Vartsman.  One of the publishers of the Der izraelit was Samuel Mason who was not on its editorial board.  Alpert’s books include: Der oytser (The treasure), though the place of publication and character of the work remain unknown.  He died in Roxbury, Massachusetts.

Sources: Z. Broykhes, Yorbukh, amerikaner opteyl fun yivo (Yearbook of the American section of YIVO) (New York, 1939), vol. 2; American Jewish Year Book, 5701 (Philadelphia, 1910).


ALPERT (ALPEROVITS) (b. January 25, 1883)
Born in Russia, he studied at a religious elementary school, a trade school, and at secular high schools in Minsk and Dvinsk (Daugavpils).  In 1904 he published some poetry in Russian.  In 1908 he was in London, and from 1909 on he was in the United States.  He worked as the Washington correspondent for the Forverts (Forward).  He published poems, sketches, and newspaper novels in: Arbayter fraynd (Workingman’s friend) and Naye tsayt (New times) in London; Fraye arbeter shtime (Free voice of labor), Dos yidishe folk (The Jewish people), Arbayter prese (Workers press), Di tsayt (The times), Firer (Leader), and Yidishe arbayter shtime (Voice of Jewish workers) in New York; Nuarker vokhenblat (Newark weekly news) and Yidishe shtime (Jewish voice) in New Jersey; and Yidishe velt (Jewish world) in Philadelphia, among others.  He was a practicing doctor in Atlanta, Georgia.

Source: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1.



Born in Krokow, Galicia.  He attended secular high school and a business academy in Krakow and Vienna.  At age fourteen, he joined the socialist movement.  He was an active leader among the Jewish youth and a member of the central committee of the Bundist youth group “Tsukunft” in Poland.  He was a member of the Krakow committee of the Bund.  He was chairman of the Jewish people’s educational association in Krakow.  From 1941 he was in the United States where he was active in the Bund and the trade union movement.  He began publishing articles concerning various issues in Yugnt-veker (Youth alarm) in Warsaw.  He also contributed to Krokever veker (Krakow alarm), Unzer tsayt (Our times) in New York, and Foroys (Forward) in Mexico.  He died in New York.


Born in Grodno, on Tshortkes Alley where the poverty-stricken resided.  He worked as a tanner.  In his youth he joined the underground Communist Party of Poland together with four older and younger brothers.  He was forced to escape from Poland to Soviet Russia.  In Moscow he studied for several years in “Mayrevke” (the Jewish section of the Communist University of the Peoples of the West, run by Ester Frumkin).  There he was editor of the Jewish student journal Mayrevnik (together with A. Brakhman) in Moscow (first issue: 1927).  At the same time he was writing articles for the Soviet Yiddish press.  He was sent to Poland to carry out illegal party work.  There he edited both Yiddish and non-Yiddish illegal publications, until he was arrested.  He escaped from jail and was sentenced to death in absentia.  Shortly thereafter, he was seized under a false name and sentenced to eight years in prison.  There he remained for several years, and then he was released following an amnesty.  When the Red Army entered Grodno in 1939, he and his brother assumed important positions there.  After being ambushed by the Nazis, they made their way slowly to Minsk.  In the massacre of March 2, 1942 in the Minsk ghetto, the Nazis murdered his wife, Mashe, and buried alive his six-year-old child.  He departed with the partisans, serving as a political leader of the best known partisan brigades in Byelorussia.  He edited (together with the Minsk Jewish writer, H. Dobin) a literary journal of the partisans and a series of satirical publications: Krizka-malishka.  After the victory over Hitler, he was awarded high decorations.  According to published notices, after the war he was partially paralyzed and was placed in a hospital in Minsk.  His subsequent career remains unknown.

Sources: Hersh Smolyar, Fun minsker geto (From the Minsk ghetto) (Moscow, 1946), pp. 22, 72, 135-39; Fani Bakhrakh, in Grodner opklangen (Grodno echoes), no. 1 (Buenos Aires, 1948), p. 13; H. Smolyar, in Grodner opklangen, no. 12 (Buenos Aires, 1948); L. Reyzner (New Zealand), in Grodner opklangen, no. 3-4; M. Koyfman, in Grodner opklangen, no. 7, p. 9.

Friday 27 June 2014


VILHELM ALEKSANDROVITSH (November 28, 1893-ca. 1942)
Born in Krakow into a well-to-do commercial family.  At age fourteen, he became a socialist and took a leading position among Jewish socialist youth in Galicia.  He belonged to Żydowska Partia Socjalistyczna (Jewish socialist party; the Galician Bund).  In 1918 when the Żydowska Partia Socjalistyczna after the war revived publication of its organ, Sotsyal demokrat (Social democrat), he was one of the two editors of this newspaper.  By trade he was a lawyer.  He was killed during the Nazi massacres in Tarnov (Tarnów), probably in 1942.

Source: Undzer tsayt (September-October, 1945) (New York).


Born in Krakow, Galicia.  He graduated from a secular high school and studied at the Universities of Krakow, Lemberg, and Vienna.  He was a doctor of jurisprudence.  From his high school days, he was active in the socialist movement.  He was a member of the executive of the Jewish social-democratic party in Galicia and chairman of the Krakow organization of the Bund.  In November 1918 he was one of the commandants of the Jewish self-defense during the Lemberg pogrom.  Until WWII he was a lawyer in Krakow.  In 1940 he was in Vilna where he was giving lectures at YIVO concerning the economic history of the Jewish people.  From 1941 he was in the United States.  From 1946 he was professor of economic science at Hobart College in Geneva, New York.  He started writing article on social and economic issues in Sotsyal democrat (Social democrat) in Krakow in 1908.  He edited Głos związku (Voice of the club) (Krakow, 1913-1914) in which he also published works concerned with the history of Jewish literature in which there was a detailed review of Shmuel Niger’s Pinkes (Register) of 1913, written by Dr. Y. Shatski who also gave a course on Yiddish literature in the Jewish socialist academic union which Aleksandrovitsh chaired.  He was also a contributor to Nowe życie (New Life), Walka (Battle), and other works in Polish; as well as Poland Fights and Unzer tsayt (Our times) in New York.  He published under the pseudonym of A. Herder.

Source: Dr. Y. Tenenboym, Galitsye, mayn heym (Galicia, my home) (Buenos Aires, 1955), pp. 222, 230, 232.


KHAYIM (CHAIM) ALEKSANDROV (August 20, 1869-June 24, 1909)
Pseudonym of Khayim Miller, he was born in St. Petersburg.  His father was a Nikolayev soldier [who had served twenty-five years in the Tsar’s army] was a poor dealer in second-hand goods.  He studied in religious schools, later in a private Russian school with help from Jewish social circles.  From his early childhood years, he read voluminously and became interested in Yiddish literature, and in his subsequent school years he began writing poetry in both Russian and Yiddish.  In 1885 he set out for Vilna and arrived at the teachers’ institute there.  He quickly acquired a good reputation among his teachers and fellow students for his serious and diligent studying, but in 1887 the pedagogical council expelled him for his Yiddish poems which were full of protest against the harsh discipline of the institute.  The incident became known to the police, and he was sent under escort to Kronshtadt (Kronstadt).  There he learned a great deal and began publishing articles in Russian journals.  From that time he changed his name from Miller to Aleksandrov.
In 1898 he emigrated to the United States, and there he grew close to the Socialist Workers Party, and he became a contributor to Abendblat (Evening news), Arbayter tsaytung (Workers newspaper), Arbayter (Workers), and Tsukunft (Future)—all in New York—as well as Arbeter velt (Workers’ world) in Chicago, Fraynd (Friend) and Dos lebn (Life, a monthly periodical) in St. Petersburg, and other serial publications in the United States and Europe.  He wrote poetry, feature articles, translations, literature and theater criticism, and popular scientific articles.  In Fraynd and Dos lebn, he published longer correspondence pieces about Jewish political and cultural life in America.  He was quite a capable writer and stood at a high cultural level.  His poem “Brider, mir hobn geslosn…” (Brothers, we have forged…) became very well known in the revolutionary years on the eve of 1905; it was sung as folksong.  In the period January-August 1904, he published and edited in New York a monthly journal entitled Di fraye shtunde (The free hour).  Among his books: Lyev Tolstoy (Lev Tolstoy) (New York, 1903), 32 pp., second printing (New York, 1916); Dertsyelungen (Stories), translations from the writings of Maxim Gorky (New York, 1903), 92 pp.  He also translated Zhid (Yid) by G. A. Machtet (New York, 1904), 54 pp.; Tsum arbeter-folk (K rabochemu narodu = To the working people) by L. Tolstoy (New York, 1907), second printing (New York, 1917), 63 pp.; Intervyuen mit m. gorki (Interviews with M. Gorky) (New York, 1908), 110 pp.  His drama, Di ershte libe oder dos fargiftete gevisn (The first love, or the poisoned conscience) was staged in New York in 1905.  His pseudonyms include: Don Kikhot and Sore Rives
Aleksandrov was among the founders of the Jewish Literary Union (New York in 1904).  In a long article for Dos lebn (St. Petersburg, no. 5, 1905), he wrote, inter alia, “The Jewish Literary Union sees the Jewish folk language not as a jargon, not as a provisional medium to convey education among Jews, but as an independent national language which will become the literary language of the entire Jewish people.”  In 1905 he became secretary of the Yiddish publisher, “Di internatsyonale biblyotek” (The international library).  He visited Europe and attempted to establish ties with Jewish writers concerning publishing their works in the United States.  He suffered hardship his entire life.  First and foremost, in his very last years he reached a certain material security, but he was then stricken with a severe illness which brought an end to his life in the prime of his creativity.  “He brought to the United States the best traditions of Russian literature and in all of his writing and publicist activities he sought to transplant them on the fresh, though desolate, terrain of Jewish America.  He was one of the first to have the courage and with full consciousness to fight against the wantonness of the press.” (Zalmen Reyzen)

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1; Z. Zilbertsvayg, Teater leksikon, vol. 1; Algemayne entsiklopedye, vol. 3; Der arbayter (New York) (July 3, 1909); articles by Dr. Frenk Rozenblat, Yoyl Entik, Dr. Kh. Zhitlovski, Yoysef Shlosberg, and Moris Vintshevski, in Der arbayter (July 12, 1909); M. Shtarkman, in Yivo-bleter 4 (1932), pp. 354-87; Zalmen Reyzen, in Yivo-bleter 5 (1932), pp. 137-54; Shmuel Niger, in Tsukunft (September 1940) and (May 1942); N. B. Minkov, in Yivo-bleter 35.2 (1945), pp. 235-60, and 35.3 (1945), pp. 441-65; D. B. Tirkel, in Pinkes (New York) (1927), p. 261; A. Shulman, Geshikhte fun der yidisher literatur in amerike (History of Yiddish literature in America) (New York, 1943), p. 87; In dinst fun folk, almanakh fun yidishn ordn (In service to the people, almanac of the Jewish order) (New York, 1947), p. 294; materials in the archives of YIVO (New York).
B. Tshubinski



He was a historian and literary scholar, born in Bobryusk, son of Sh. Aleksandrov who was the author of semi-maskilic religious texts in Hebrew (and Aramaic).  At age twelve entered a state-run high school from which he graduated with honors. This distinction afforded him the opportunity to enroll at St. Petersburg University in the law faculty, from which he graduated in 1914. At the same time as his university lectures, he attended courses on Oriental Studies run by Shimen Dubnov. In 1917 he started his scholarly work. He settled in Minsk, Byelorussia, as a teacher and a scientific researcher.  He worked with the Jewish Section of the Institute of Byelorussian Culture. His scholarly writings on the problems of the Jewish shtetl assumed an important place in his work. In 1924 he was certified as a candidate in history and an instructor at the Byelorussian State University. He published his work on historical, economic, and literary issues in numerous journals, collections, and special publications. In the 1930s, he worked in Leningrad as scholarly secretary of the historical commission of the Soviet Academy of Sciences. He was arrested at one point and sentenced with Yisroel Tsinberg to exile. This fate brought him together with Tsinberg, when in late 1939 they happened to meet on a train en route to a camp in the Far East. They promised one another that, should one of them survive, he should occupy himself with publishing the literary legacy which would remain after them. Tsinberg did not make it back from the deportation, and Aleksandrov did so years later to Leningrad. He worked in the Oriental Faculty of Leningrad University, where he taught a lecture course, “History of the Jews in Antiquity and Middle Ages.” In the Institute of Oriental Studies, he systemized and annotated the research work of Yisroel Tsinberg (whose archive was preserved by his wife and daughter) and published on the basis of this material a series of articles. At the same time, he collected materials for his own historical work on the Jews of Russia. He died in Leningrad.

Among his more important works, one should note: “Mitteylungen un materyaln, sotsyale kegnzatsn in yidishe kehiles in 16nt un 17nt yorhundert” (Information and materials, social contrasts in Jewish communities in the 16th and 17th centuries), Tsayshrift 2.3 (1928) (Minsk); “Di yidishe bafelkerung in di shtet un shtetlekh fun vaysrusland” (The Jewish population in the cities and towns of Byelorussia), Tsayshrift 2.3 (1928), and the like.  Among his published books: Der veg tsum ershtn may (The route to May First), a collection (Minsk, 1926), 39 pp.; Forsht ayer shtetl (Investigate your shtetl) (Minsk, 1928), 16 pp.; Gezelshaft-kentenish, arbet-bukh farn 5tn lernyor (Societal knowledge, a workbook for grade five), part 1 (Minsk, 1928), 104 pp. (prepared with Y. Rubin, L. Khantun, L. Holmshtok, and H. Dordak); Undzer kant, bashraybungen fun der vaysrusisher sotsyalistisher sovetn republik (Our area, descriptions of the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic), part 1 (Minsk, 1929), 84 pp., part 2 (with H. Rozenhoyz), 106 pp.; Yidn in v.s.s.r. (Jews in the Byelorussian S.S.R.) (Minsk, 1930), 154 pp. (with Arn Vorobeytshik); Sotsyalistisher boy (Socialist construction), a reader and workbook for grade three (Minsk, 1930), 414 pp.; Mit trit fun finfyor v.s.s.r. (In step with the fifth year of the Byelorussian S.S.R.), vol. 1, supplement to the workbook (Minsk, 1931), 32 pp.; Der proletariat in v.s.s.r. (The proletariat in the Byelorussian S.S.R.) (Minsk, 1933).

Sources: Biblyografishe yorbikher fun yivo (Bibliographic yearbooks from YIVO), vol. 1 (Vilna, 1926); Biblyographishe arkhiv fun yivo (Bibliographic archive from YIVO) (New York); Dr. Y. Shatski, “Geshikhte fun bildung bay yidn” (History of education among Jews), Shriftn far psikhologye un pedagogic (Writings on psychology and pedagogy), vol. 1 (Vilna: YIVO, 1933).

[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. 24-25.]

Thursday 26 June 2014


MOYSHE ALEKS (b. May 11, 1860)

Born in Shklov (Škłoŭ) in Mahilyow (Mogilev) district, Byelorussia.  His father died when he was scarcely nine months old, and he was raised in an orphanage.  He studied in a yeshiva in Bobryusk.  He worked as a bookbinder and as a tailor, and he labored in other trades as well.  In Odessa he made the acquaintance of Yiddish writers.  In 1900 he came to the United States.  He lived in New York, later settling in Washington, D.C.  On his seventieth, eightieth, and eighty-second birthdays, his Washington friends published three books, which, despite being quite primitive, had a distinctive historical value: Mayn lebns-geshikhte (My life history) (Washington, 1930); Lider fun mayn lebn (Poems from my life), which includes a kind of collection dubbed by the author “der pinkes fun vashingtoner yidishn lebn” (records of Jewish life in Washington) (Washington, 1940), 123 pp.; and Fertsik yor in vashington, oder ver iz ver (Forty years in Washington, or who is who?) (Washington, 1942), 126 pp.


SH. ALEK (1888-1037)
From 1930, he was editor of the daily newspaper, Der odeser arbeter (The Odessa laborer).  His books include: Ibergeburt (Overburdened) (Kharkov: Tsentrfarlag, 1931), 30 pp.; Farmekte vegn, zikhroynes fun a gevezenem anarkhist (Erased paths, memoirs of a former anarchist), concerning the time of the civil war, intervention, and occupation (Berdichev, 1932), 208 pp.; In ongli (In the heat) (Kharkov, 1932), 144 pp. [second volume of previous title]; Tempn, fartaykhenungen (Tempos, notes) (Kharkov-Kiev, 1932), 175 pp.  He also wrote article about Yiddish language and literature.  His career is otherwise unknown.

Sources: Y. Kvitni and Y. Mitlman, “Di yidishe sovetishe literatur” (Soviet Yiddish literature), Morgn-zhurnal (January 9, 1932); Afn shprakhfront 3-4 (1935) (Kiev).


Using this name, a highly promising writer published stories in Shtern (Stars) in Minsk in 1919.  Biographical details are unknown.

Sources: B. Orshanski, Di yidishe literatur in vaysrusland nokh der revolutsye (Yiddish literature in Byelorussia after the revolution) (Moscow, 1931), pp. 165-68; B. Orshanski, “Di yidishe poezye in vaysrusland nokh der revolutsye” (Yiddish poetry in Byelorussia after the revolution), Tsaytshrift (Minsk, 1931), vol. 5.



He was a Communist leader in the Warsaw Ghetto.  After the war, he was a colonel in the Polish army.  He was the author of the pamphlet, Dray kemfer far a fray sotsyalistish poyln (Three fighters for a free socialist Poland) (Warsaw, 1953), 15 pp., with memoirs concerning Yoysef Levartovski, Nyuta Taytlboym, and Shmuel Yeger.  He was living in Poland.

Wednesday 25 June 2014


MORDEKHAI OLEY (OLEI) (b. February 13, 1900)
     Born in Lask (Łask), near Lodz.  He studied in religious schools through yeshiva as well as by himself.  He worked as a private tutor, 1914-1918, of Yiddish and Hebrew.  He served in the Polish military in 1939 in Warsaw.  He was close to the leftist proletarian movement and a member of the revolutionary writers group that initially assembled around the weekly Literarishe tribune (Literary tribune).  In September 1939, he escaped from the Nazis and came to Bialystok, became religiously observant, and broke off ties to the leftist movement.  In 1941, he and a group of writers succeeded in escaping from Bialystok.  He settled then in Novouzensk in Saratov where he worked in a collective farm, and later he was in Samarkand where he worked as a teacher of young children to support himself.  There he joined the Chabad Hassidim who offered him help so that he need not work in any Soviet enterprise on Shabbat or religious holidays.  He returned to Lodz in 1946, joined a collective of religious Jews, and together with them illegally left Poland for Palestine.  There he worked as a clerk in the office of the Chief Rabbinate in Tel Aviv.  He began to write poetry and stories at age fourteen.  He published his first sketch, written under the name “Der shtumer” (The silent one), in Lazar Kahan’s Lodsher folksblat (Lodz people’s news) in 1915.  From that time forward, he published poems, stories, and literary critical essays in Gezangen (Songs) in Lodz (1919), Vaysenberg’s (Weissenberg’s) Unzer hofenung (Our hope), Literarishe tribune, Literarisher bleter (Literary leaves), Moment (Moment), Radyo (Radio), and others.  After the war, he wrote for Dos naye lebn (The new life) and Yidishe shriftn (Jewish writings) in Poland, Tsukunft (Future) in New York, Der veg (The way) in Paris, as well as in Yiddish and Hebrew publications of Mizrahi and Workers of Agudat Yisrael in Israel.  His books include: Vinklen (Corners), stories (Warsaw, 1932), 94 pp.; Orime shveln, lider (Poor thresholds, poems) (Warsaw, 1934), 32 pp.; Erd un vent (Earth and wind), poetry (Warsaw, 1936), 76 pp.  He was one of the students of I. M. Vaysenberg (Weissenberg), and in his polemical articles (in Moment and elsewhere) he always came out against all those who offended Vaysenberg.  In Vaysenberg’s Unzer hofenung, he published several articles with the title “Vegn unzer shprakh” (About our language).

Sources: B. Shnaper, in Literarishe bleter (October 16, 1936); Sh. Apter, in Zhelekhover byuletin (Chicago) (July-August 1950); Kh. L. Fuks, Ksovim fun khayim krul (The writings of Khayim Krul) (New York, 1954).


E. ALMI (January 2, 1892-September 24, 1963)
The adopted name of Elyahu-Khayim ben Shloyme-Zalmen Sheps, he was born in Warsaw to a very poor family.  He studied in religious school until age ten.  In 1907 he published on his first try a poem in Roman-tsaytung (Novel news).  In 1908 he went to Krakow where he published poems in Avrom Reyzen’s Kunst un lebn (Art and life).  Back in Warsaw, he joined a folklore group founded by Noyekh Prylucki; they collected folk poetry, stories, and women’s prayers.  With the founding of the Warsaw newspaper, Der moment (The moment), he became a regular contributor and for a time the editorial secretary as well.  Aside from features and poems, he published therein a series of folk stories concerning the part played by Jews in the Polish uprising of 1863.  He also published poems in Peretz’s collection, Yidish (Yiddish), in Litvin’s Lebn un visnshaft (Life and science), and in Der shtral (The beam of light), among others.  At the end of 1912, he emigrated to the United States and became a contributor to Tageblat (Daily news).  Using the pseudonym “Elyash,” he contributed to Groyser kundes (Great prankster), among other serials.  For a short time, he lived in Canada as a contributor to Keneder odler (Canadian eagle).  He also edited there the monthly Der kval (The spring) which only issued one number, and the collection Epokhe (Epoch) with Y. Y. Sigal and A. Sh. Shkolnikov.  With the demise of Tageblat, he wrote for Forverts (Forward), Tog (Day), and Morgn-zhurnal (Morning journal) in New York, and he published poems and essays in Tsukunft (Future) in New York, Literarishe bleter (Literary leaves) in Warsaw, as well as Yidishe tsaytung (Jewish news), Der shpigl (The mirror), and Davke (Dafke) in Argentina, though mainly he wrote in Fraye arbeter shtime (Free voice of labor) from 1923.  His various pseudonyms include: Eli Elin, Elyash, L. Yash, Dr. B. Gitlin, Dr. E. Elkin, Sh. Elyahu, E. Tishby, Elyahu Zaydler, Kh. Reyzlin, E. Elshi, and Kh. Elshi.
Among his books are the following: Di tsveyte eksistents (The second existence), concerning the immortality of the soul (New York-Montreal, 1921), 104 pp.; Bay di randn (By the rows), poetry (New York, 1923), 92 pp.; In elyashs kenigraykh (In Elyash’s kingdom), playful children’s poetry (Warsaw, 1924), 112 pp.; Di khinezishe filosofye un poezye (Chinese philosophy and poetry) (New York, 1925), 102 pp.; Far di likht (Before the light), poetry (Warsaw, 1927), 99 pp.; Di reyd fun buda (Speech of the Buddha) (Vilna, 1927), 180 pp.; Yidishe povstanye mayses (Stories of Jewish rebels) (Warsaw, 1928; Polish translation: Warsaw, 1929); Mentsh un velt (Man and world), essays (Warsaw, 1928), 176 pp.; Humoristishe shrift (Humorous writings), two volumes (New York, 1928-1929), 324 pp.; Ven s’glust mir tsu lakhn (When I have to laugh), features and caricatures (New York, 1930); Literarishe nesies (Literary travels), essays (New York, 1931), 500 pp.; Mit zikh un mit andere (With myself and with another), episodes and stories) (New York, 1932); Mentshn un ideyen (Men and ideas), essays (Warsaw, 1933), 332 pp.; Geklibene lider (Collected poems) (New York, 1933), 292 pp.; Kritik un polemik (Critique and polemic) (New York, 1939), 264 pp.; Gezang un geveyn (Song and lament), ghetto and Holocaust poetry (New York, 1943); Momentn fun a lebn (Moments in a life), memoirs from childhood and youth (Buenos Aires, 1948), 254 pp.; Letste gezangen (Last songs), poetry (Buenos Aires, 1954), 79 pp.; In gerangl fun ideyen, eseyen (Struggling with idea, essays) (Buenos Aires, 1957), 226 pp.; Kheshbn un sakhakl, kapitlen fun mayn seyfer hakhayim, zikhroynes un makhshoves (Accounting and summing up, chapters from the book of my life, memoirs and thoughts) (Buenos Aires, 1959), 359 pp.; Sholem ash, a sakhakl (Sholem Asch, a summing up) (Chicago, 1959), 20 pp.; Spinoza kontro spinoza (Spinoza against Spinoza) (Buenos Aires, 1963), 56 pp.; Shirot aḥaronot (Last poems), translated from Yiddish (Letste gezangen) by Shlomo Shenhod (Tel Aviv: Peretz Publ., 1966), 205 pp.; and several pamphlets concerning communal matters.  In honor of his seventieth birthday, Almi bukh (Almi book) was published in Buenos Aires (1962), 214 pp.
Almi’s poetry was often satirical or humorous; it was also simple and clear when lyrical or philosophical.  He awakened with his popular essays an interest in religious and mystical issues.  His literary criticism was sharply polemical.  His literary memoirs possess a truly special value.  He died in New York.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1; Morris Bassin, Finf hundert yor yidishe poezye (Five hundred years of Jewish poetry) (New York, 1917); Shmuel Niger, in Tog morgn-zhurnal (New York) (March 1955); Y. Botoshanski, Yorbukh tst”v (Yearbook for 1954) (Buenos Aires), pp. 243-47; B. Kutsher, Geven amol Varshe (As Warsaw once was) (Paris, 1955), see index; Sh. Tenenboym, in Keneder odler (Montreal) (August 11, 1945).


B. ALMUNI (ALMONI) (1892-1953)

Pseudonym of Ben-Tsien Makhtey, he was born in the Vilna region.  In the 1920s he was a teacher in the schools of the “school organization for Vilna province.”  In the early 1930s, he moved to South Africa and settled in Johannesburg where he quickly became the editor-publisher of the Afrikaner yidisher tsaytung (African Jewish newspaper), a weekly.  He later published an illustrated Jewish Almanakh (Almanac) in English.  He wrote articles and travelogues under the pseudonym “Dr. B. Almuni” for Yiddish-language newspapers in Vilna as well as in New York.  He died following an operation in New York.


SHMUEL (SAMUEL) ALMAN (August 9, 1877-1947)
Born in Sobolivke, Ukraine, into a Hassidic family.  He studied in religious schools, and early on became a choirist to the shtetl cantor.  In 1895 he set out from Odessa.  He studied in the conservatory there.  After his military service, in 1902 he studied in the conservatory in Kishinev.  He studied in Warsaw for a short time in 1903, and from there he made his way to London.  In 1912 he composed the first Yiddish opera, Der meylekh akhaz (King Akhaz) with a libretto adapted from A. Mapu’s novel, Ashmat shomron (Gult of Samaria).  The opera was staged by “Dos naye yidishe teater” (The new Yiddish theater) in London in March 1912.  He also translated the following operas into Yiddish: Rigoletto, Cavalleria rusticana, Faust, and The Barber of Seville, which were performed in various Yiddish theaters.  He published a series of articles (1933-1938) in Shul- un khazonim velt (Synagogue and cantors’ world) in Warsaw concerning Jewish music.  His Shire bet hakneset (Song of the assembly) was published by Yuval publishers (Tel Aviv-Berlin, 1925).  Alman also composed a number of compositions to accompany poems by Jewish writers.  For many years he served a choir director at the Great Synagogue (Duke’s Place) in London.

Sources: Z. Zilbertsvayg, Teater-leksikon, vol. 1; Moris Mayer, Yidish teater in London, 1902-1942 (London, 1943)


SHMUEL ELYASHIV (October 11, 1899-June 20, 1955)
Literary and adopted name of Dr. Shmuel Fridman (Samuel Freedman), born in Pinsk, Russia.  He was the son of Shmaryahu Fridman, grandson of Rabbi Dovidl Karliner; and on the mother’s side, nephew of Dr. Isidor Elyashev (Bal-Makhshoves).  He was raised in Kovno, where he lived until WWI.  He studied in religious schools.  In 1917, he graduated from the Kovno commercial school; he studied jurisprudence in Moscow and Kiev Universities and graduated in Kharkov in 1921.  He received his doctorate in 1927 in political science from the University of Toulouse (France).  In 1928 he was practicing as a jurist in Kovno.  Over the years 1927-1934, he was chairman of the central committee of the Zionist Socialist Party, served on the committee for working in the land of Israel, and chair of the Palestine office—all in Kovno, Lithuania.  He was a member (1929-1934) of the action committee of the World Zionist Association, and later a member of honorary- and court-congress.  He emigrated to Palestine in 1934.  Between 1934 and 1937, he was a member of the executive committee of the Tel Aviv workers council.  From 1937 to 1945 he was secretary of the central control commission of Histadrut, and from 1945 to 1948, he served on the executive of Histadrut.  He was manager (1948-1950) of the East European section in the Foreign Ministry of the state of Israel.  He served as Israeli ambassador (1950-1951) to Prague, Czechoslovakia and Budapest, Hungary.  In 1950 and 1952, he was a member of the Israeli delegation to the United Nations.  He also served as Israel’s ambassador to Moscow, 1951-1955.
He debuted as a writer in Evreyskaya zhizn’ (Jewish life) in Moscow (1915).  In 1918 he published in Poltavskie novosti (Poltava news) and in the organ of the Young Zionists in Kiev, Erd un arbet (Land and labor).  He was a contributor (1921-1922) to Yidishe shtime (Jewish voice) in Kovno, writing under the pseudonym “Safri,” and in the journal Di tribune (The tribune) in Berlin (edited by M. Grosman).  In the years 1927-1933, he wrote for: Yidisher emigratsye (Jewish emigration), edited by A. Tsherikover; Fraye shriftn (Free writings), edited by Y. N. Shteynberg; Morgn-zhurnal (Morning journal) in New York; Di tsayt (The times) in Kovno, edited by R. Rubinshteyn; Di naye tsayt (The new times) in Riga, edited by M. Shats-Anin.  In 1934 he was correspondent for Dos vort (The word) in Kovno.  In Hebrew he published works in: Davar (Word), Moznaim (Balance), Beterem (Beforehand), Mearbot (Guide), Shenaton (Yearbook), and Besaarah (Into the storm), as well as the annual collection, Kneset (Assembly).  His books include: Ukrainishe motivn (Ukrainian motifs), short stories (Berlin-Paris, 1926), 86 pp.; Le problème des minorités ethniques (Paris: Librairie Generale de Droit and de Jurisprudence, 1927); Rishme masa (Impressions of a journey) (Tel Aviv, 1951), 112 pp.; Hasifrut hasovyetit hachadashah (New Soviet literature) (Tel Aviv, 1953), 254 pp.  He also edited (1921-1922) Erd un arbet, organ of the Kiev Young Zionists; Unzer veg (Our way), organ of the Zionist socialists (1924-1932); and Di tsayt, the political-literary journal, 1932-1933.  Together with A. Shteynberg, he edited the volume of the work of Bal-Makhshoves entitled Untern rod (Under the wheel), published by the Y. L. Peretz Fareyn (New York, 1927).  He also wrote a preface to the volume, Geklibene verk (Collected works) of Bal-Makhshoves, published by the L. M. Stayn Folks-bibliotek of the Congress of Jewish Culture (New York, 1953).  He translated from Russian into Yiddish a work by Y. N. Shteynberg, Der moralisher ponem fun der revolutsye (The moral face of the revolution) (1924); and the textbook concerning the Histadrut and its institutions: Di histadrut (The Histadrut) (Tel Aviv, 1947).

Sources: N. Y. Gotlib, “Dos yidishe sheferishe vort in lite” (The creative Yiddish word in Lithuania,” Lite, vol. 1 (New York, 1951); B. Rivkin, “Mayn khaver” (My friend), Fraye arbeter shtime (New York) (July 31, 1942); Who’s Who in Israel (1952); Who’s Who in the World (New York, 1955).

Tuesday 24 June 2014


LEYB OLITSKI (LEIB OLITZKY) (1894-September 1, 1975)
Born in Trisk (Turiysk), Poland.  He received a Jewish and a general education.  He was a Yiddish teacher in the Tsisho (Central Jewish School Organization) schools in Trisk as well as in Warsaw.  He was in Warsaw until 1939 and thereafter in Kowel.  In 1941, he was in a far-off place in Bashkiria where he performed unskilled labor.  From 1942 to 1945, he worked as an attendant in a military hospital in Ufa.  In 1945 he was in Moscow, a contributor to the Jewish section of the union of Polish patriots in Russia.  In 1946 during the repatriation of Polish citizens, he returned to Poland and settled in Lodz.  From 1949 he was living in Warsaw.  He served on the editorial board of the publisher “Yidish-bukh” (Jewish book).
He first published in Varshaver almanakh (Warsaw almanac) [Warsaw, 1923], published by the fiction-writers’ association in the Yiddish Literary Union, with a story entitled “Di estraykhishe tlie” (The Austrian gallows).  In 1924 his first book appeared: In an okupirt shtetl (In an occupied shtetl) (Warsaw), 263 pp., which portrayed the German occupation, the contraband during the first years of Polish unification.  The author had no sympathy for the demoralized and frightened Jews in his shtetl; he actually ridiculed them.  “Artistic tact is missing from this story” (Shmuel Niger, in Tsukunft, May 1924).  His collection of short stories is written in the same tone: In shayn fun flamen (In the glow of flames) (Vilna-Warsaw, 1927), 276 pp.  His Mesholim far kinder un groyse (Fables for children and adults) (Warsaw, 1929), 92 pp., has a “proletarian” content.  His novel Gerangl (Struggle) (Warsaw, 1932), 576 pp., is tendentious, although written with talent.  Olitski’s other books in prose and in verse include: Zun antkegn (Against the sun), short stories for youth (Warsaw, 1933), 108 pp.; Huntman, roman (Dog man, a novel), two printings (Warsaw, 1937), 190 pp.; Vent hobn oyern (The walls have ears), fables (Warsaw, 1938), 100 pp.; Der mentsh vet zayn gut, mesholim (Men will be good, fables) (Lodz, 1947), 96 pp.; Durkh toyt tsum lebn, dertseylungen (Through death to life, stories) (Buenos Aires, 1949), 104 pp.; Mesholim-bukh (Books of fables) (Lodz, 1949), 262 pp.; Opklayb (Selection), short stories (Warsaw, 1953), 343 pp.; Mentsh in klem (Man in a predicament), short stories (Lodz, 1951), 155 pp.; Mitn ponem tsu der zun, mesholim un lider (Facing the sun, fables and poems), among them poems to the Red Army and to the new Poland (Warsaw, 1952), 186 pp.; Zogt di velt a moshl (Tell the world a fable) (Warsaw: Yidbukh, 1956), 341 pp.; Folkstimlekhe baladn (fun der hebreisher dikhtung) (Popular ballads, from Hebrew poetry) (Warsaw: Yidbukh, 1957), 313 pp.; Yeshive-layt (Yeshiva people) (Tel Aviv: Peretz, 1958), 356 pp.; Mentshn fun mayn shtetl (People from my town) (Warsaw: Yidbukh, 1959), 320 pp.; Mayn harts-rayze, yisroel-lider (My heart-trip, Israeli poems) (Tel Aviv: Peretz, 1960), 74 pp.; Shparunes in hartsn (Cracks in the heart) (Tel Aviv: Tur-Arye, 1962), 94 pp.; Fun eygenem feldz (From one’s own cliff) (Tel Aviv: Buk-komitet, 1964), 94 pp.; Vor un vern, naye yisroel-lider (Reality and warning, new Israeli poems) (Tel Aviv: Hamenorah, 1967), 110 pp.; Fun goldenem krug, fun der hebreisher dikhtung (From a golden jug, from Hebrew poetry) (Buenos Aires: Kiem, 1968), 265 pp.; Tsum zun in tsahal, lider, leven betsahal, shirim (To my son in the military, poems) (Tel Aviv: Shekediya, 1969), 102 pp.; Af di randn fun tanakh, lider un mesholim (On the edges of the Hebrew Bible, poems and stories) (Tel Aviv: Eshel, 1969), 105 pp.; In shayn un shotn fun eygenem boym (In the glow and shadow of the same tree) (Tel Aviv: Shekediya, 1970), 166 pp.; Voliner yidn, roman (Jews of Volhynia, a novel) (Tel Aviv: Al hamiftan, 1973), 454 pp.; Fun der heym un fun der fremd, dertseylungen (From home and from afar, stories) (Tel Aviv:Yisroel-bukh, 1976), 186 pp.; Lider tsu a bruder (Poems to a brother), with Mates Olitski (Tel Aviv: Nakhmeni, 1964), 62 pp.
His translations include: Krilovs mesholim (Krylov’s fables), with an afterword concerning the fable generally and Krylov’s fables specifically (Warsaw, 1950), 250 pp.; Tsigeyner (Tsygany = Gypsies), a narrative poem by A. S. Pushkin (Wrocław, 1949), 32 pp.; Nahum Sokolov’s Ishim (People) as Perzenlekhkeytn un folk (Personalities and people) (Jerusalem: 1965), 401 pp.; and his was translated from Yiddish into Hebrew by D. B. Malkin and Ḥayim Peleg, Dodye koval (Dodye the smith) (Tel Aviv: Am oved, 1968), 244 pp.  He also published Eybike kvaln (Eternal springs), collected stories, sayings, and poems from the people (Warsaw, 1953), 106 pp.  He edited: Mayn blut iz oysgemisht, lider un gezangen (My blood is mixed, poems and songs), a collection of poems from his murdered brother, the poet Borekh Olitski, with a foreword (New York, 1951), 160 pp.; Dimentn far ale (Diamonds for all), a collection of fables by Jewish writers (Warsaw, 1951), 112 pp.; On a maske (Without a mask), portraits of war provocateurs (Warsaw, 1952), 118 pp.  He served on the editorial board of the journal and almanac, Yidishe shriftn (Yiddish writings) (Lodz-Warsaw, 1946-1954).  He also compiled (with Y. Rotenberg) a reader for third-graders: Trit bay trit (Step by step) (Warsaw, 1938), 244 pp.  He published in Foroys (Forward), Vokhnshrift far literatur (Weekly writings for literature), Varshever almanakh, Literaturishe bleter (Literary leaves), and Naye folkstsaytung (New people’s newspaper), all in Warsaw; Yivo-bleter (YIVO leaves) in Vilna; Yidishe kultur (Jewish culture) in New York; Ikuf (IKUF [Jewish Cultural Association]) in Buenos Aires; Yidishe shriftn, Dos naye lebn (The new life), and Folks-shtime (Voice of the people) in Poland; as well as in Sovetishe heymland (Soviet homeland) (Moscow, 1943) and Tsum zig (To victory) (Moscow, 1944).  Most recent publication: Opklayb (Selection), collected poems (Warsaw, 1955); and Dodye koval, roman (Dodye Koval, a novel) (Warsaw, 1955).  He died at Givatayim.

Sources: Shmuel Niger, in Tsukunft (May 1924), p. 328; L. Finkelshteyn, in Literaturishe bleter, no. 35 (1932); A. Mark, in Arbeter tsaytung, no. 2 (Warsaw, 1930); Kh. Sh. Kazdan, in Vokhnshrift far literatur, no. 38 (Warsaw, 1932); Y. Rapaport, in Literaturishe bleter, no. 39 (1929); D. Spard, in Yidishe shrift (Warsaw, 1956).
Khayim-Leyb Fuks

[Translator’s note: Olitski moved to Israel in 1958, and he continued writing and translate into Yiddish.]


Born in Trisk (Turiysk), Polish Volhynia.  He was the brother of the Yiddish poets Leyb and Matis Olitski.  He studied in religious school as well as in a Hebrew-language school.  He lost his father at age ten, and was raised by an uncle in the shtetl of Ratne (Ratno).  He was a teacher in Jewish schools in Volhynia.  He had a tough life—from unemployment to a bankrupt businessman.  From 1934 to 1938, he lived in Warsaw and in Lodz, and in 1939 he was in Soviet Grodno.  Due to passport difficulties, he was forced to live in the shtetl of Lyakhovits, near to Baranovitsh.  His first poems appeared in Literarishe bleter (Literary leaves) in 1925.  He published as well in Varshever shriftn (Warsaw writings), Nay-velt (New world), and Varshe (Warsaw), as well as in Soviet Yiddish publications.  His books include: Mayn blut iz oysgemisht, lider un gezangen (My blood is mixed, poems and songs) (New York, 1951), 160 pp., edited by his brother Leyb (the book also includes memoirs and appreciations by L. Olitski, Z. Vaynper, and N. Mayzil).  He was one of the group of young Yiddish lyricists who emerged in Poland between the two world wars.  He was last seen in the shtetl of Lyakhovits.  He was murdered by the Nazis.

Sources: B. Heler, Antologye fun umgekumene dikhter (Anthology of murdered poets) (Warsaw, 1951); Leyb Olitski, in Yidishe kultur (New York) (March 1953); Yidishe shrift (Warsaw), no. 1 (57) (1951); Lerer yisker-bukh (Remembrance volume for teachers) (New York, 1954), pp. 15-16.



He was a poet and prose writer, born in the town of Chernikhov, Volhynia (Ukraine); his father was a retailer.  In 1930 he graduated from the Moscow Pedagogical Institute, and in 1932 he was a doctoral candidate at the same institute. He defended his dissertation—“The Creative Work of Dovid Hofshetyn”—for his degree in philology.  His first poems were published in Shtern (Stars) in Minsk in 1926.  From that point in time, he published poems and stories in various Soviet newspapers, journals, and collections.  A talented writer, he reflected in his early work the painful rebuilding process of the Jewish shtetl in the first years after the Revolution and especially in the period of NEP (New Economic Policy) and the events during the Civil War in Ukraine. Later, he sang the praises of heroes of the Civil War.  An important theme in his work was the penetration of Jewish youth into major industry. All of these motifs appear in his collections of poetry, In vuks (Growing) and Shakhte (Mines). Poetry and tales for children also occupied a large pace in his work, as he published work about children, for children, and about the Communist Youth League.  In the early 1930s, he left Moscow for Birobidzhan. He worked there for the local Yiddish and Russian press, as well as serving as the secretary of the editorial board of the journal Forpost (Outpost), in which he placed poems, ballads, and sketches dedicated to the construction of the Jewish Autonomous Region and its people who came from all corners of the world with a dream of building a new Jewish home. He was also a talented prose author, and the motifs of his stories and novels were the same as those of his poems. In particular, he was distinguished for his autobiographical novel Osherl un zayne fraynt (di geshikhte fun a yingl) (Osherl and his friends, the story of a lad) (Moscow: Der emes, 1947), 349 pp., which only appeared after his death. He also wrote about current issues in literature. Among other things, he was the first to publish poems in Yiddish about the air force and aviation.  Others wrote music to accompany many of his poems.  He also translated a few books from Russian.  He was one of the most talented Soviet lyricists and storytellers of the younger generation.  Shortly after the Nazi attack on Soviet Russia, he joined the Red Army as an officer. He served in a military division which in 1941 was on the Western front and took part in the first battles there. He died at the front in the autumn of 1941.

Among his books: Far der bine: dertseylungen, pyeses, lider (For the stage: stories, plays, poems), with musical notation (together with Y. Dobrushin and E. Gordon) (Moscow, 1929), 136 pp.; In vuks, songs (Moscow, 1930), 110 pp.; Shakhte, poetry (Moscow, 1933), 132 pp.; Alts hekher un hekher: luft-fartseykhenungen (Higher and higher, aerial notes) (Moscow, 1933), 63 pp.; Kinder far mayn elter (Children for my old age), children’s stories (Moscow, 1935), 47 pp.; A nakht afn amur (A night on the Amur [River]), stories (Moscow, 1938), 240 pp.; Birobidzhaner lider (Songs of Birobidzhan) (Moscow, 1938); Onheyb lebn, dertseylungen (Start of life, stories) (Moscow, 1939), 254 pp.; Af birobidzhaner erd (On the soil of Birobidzhan), poetry (Moscow, 1940), 82 pp.; Lider (Poems) (Moscow, 1940), 142 pp.; Mayselekh (Stories) (Moscow, 1940), 31 pp.; Osherl un zayn fraynd (Little Asher and his friend) (Moscow, 1947), 350 pp.  His translations include: Lev Kassil’, Shvambranye (Konduit i shvambraniya) (The black book and Schwambrania), stories (Moscow, 1934), 245 pp.; and S. Dimitriev, Kin sibir nokh a moment (Off to Siberia in a moment) (Moscow, 1935), 71 pp.  His work also appeared in: Kep, lider zamlung (Heads, poetry collection) (Minsk, 1926), Komyug, literarish-kinstlerisher zamlbukh ([Jewish] Communist Youth, literary-artistic anthology) (Moscow, 1938), Shlakhtn (Battles) (Kharkov-Kiev, 1932), Lebn un kamf, zamlbukh fun der yidisher linker literatur in poyln (Life and struggle, anthology of leftist Yiddish literature in Poland) (Minsk, 1936), Deklamater fun der sovetisher yidisher literatur (Reciter of Soviet Yiddish literature) (Moscow, 1934), Lider vegn der royte armey (Songs about the Red Army) (Moscow, 1938), Farn heymland in shlakht! (For the homeland in battle!) (Moscow, 1941).  He wrote the foreword to Itsik Fefer’s Lider (Poems) (Moscow, 1935).

Sources: Shmuel Niger, in Tsukunft (New York) (February 1930); Literaturnaya entsiklopediya (Literary encyclopedia) (Moscow, 1934), vol. 8, pp. 275-76; Sh. Klitenik, in Forpost, no. 2 (Birobidzhan, 1936); N. Levin, in Shtern (Minsk) (January 1940), p. 81; Anon., “Tsvishn di yidishe kompozitors” (Among the Jewish composers), Eynikeyt (Moscow) (July 25, 1942); M. Natovitsh, in Eynikeyt (October 28, 1943); Y. Dobrushin, in Eynikeyt (February 27, 1945); Y. Rabin, in Folks-shtime, no. 5 (Warsaw, 1948).

[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. 23-24.]

Monday 23 June 2014


Born in Lask (Łask), near Lodz, to observant parents.  He studied in religious schools, and he taught himself secular subject matter.  At age sixteen, he was already a businessman and supporter of his family.  In 1918, he was in Lodz, working as a stocking salesman and a furniture lacquerer, among other jobs.  For a time he was active in the leftist Jewish workers movement; later he left for a collective of Umaner Hassidim in Lublin and became observant.  From 1931 until the war (1939), he was in Warsaw, later escaping to Bialystok, and from there he was sent to Siberia.  From 1941 to 1947, he was in Central Asia where he worked in various unskilled labor trades, in a collective farm, and ultimate he became a teacher of Jewish children in Turkestan.  During the repatriation of Polish citizens, in 1947 he returned to Poland where he lived in Lodz and Nidershlezye (Niderszlezje [a Jewish settlement in Lower Silesia]).  From 1949 forward, he was living in Israel as a laborer.  He began writing stories at age sixteen under the influence of I. M. Vaysenberg (Weissenberg) who saw to it that Oliner’s first short story appeared in print in Unzer hofenung (Our hope) in Warsaw.  He later published short stories and sketches in Lodzher tageblat (Lodz daily news) and Nayer folksblat (New people’s newspaper) in Warsaw, among others.  After the war, he published in Dos naye lebn (The new life), Yidishe shrift (Yiddish writings), and Nidershlezye all in Poland; and sketches and scenes under the name Leyzer Olei in Di letste nayes (Last news) in Israel.  His writings include: Di shtub, noveln (The home, short stories) (Tel Aviv: Eygns, 1959), 187 pp.; Garber-gas, roman (Tanner street, a novel) (Tel Aviv: Hamenorah, 1967-1970), 2 vols.; Yerushe fun doyres (Heritage of generations) (Tel Aviv: Hamenorah, 1975-1977), 2 vols.; Af fremde erd, roman (On alien terrain, a novel) (Tel Aviv: Eygns, 1979), 1 vol.  A number of his short stories were translated into Hebrew and published by the Israel press.  He was the younger brother of the writer Mordechai Oley.


Y. ELIMEYLEKH (1902-November 30, 1941)
This was the pseudonym of I. Yeshelson, born in Riga.  He studied in religious schools through yeshiva.  Later he became a journalist.  In the 1920s and 1930s, he published articles and features in: Di yidishe shtime (The Jewish voice) in Kovno, Dos folk (The people) and Frimorgn (Morning) in Riga, and Di khazonim velt (The world of cantors) in Warsaw.  When the Nazis seized Riga, he was confined to the ghetto and murdered in the “great action” of November 30, 1941.

Sources: M. Gerts (Gershon Movshovits), 25 yor yidishe prese in letland (Twenty-five years of the Yiddish press in Latvia) (Riga, 1933), pp. 44, 46, 58; Yidishe bilder (Riga), no. 33 (65) (1938); Almanakh fun riger relif (Almanac of Riga relief), no. 3 (New York, 1948).


YANKEV (JACOB, YAAKOV) OLEYSKI (December 1, 1900-March 14, 1981)

Born in Shaki (Šakiai), Lithuania.  He received a traditional Jewish and general education in Kovno.  He studied in Germany to be an agronomist, and he later worked as a Yiddish teacher and was a cultural leader in Lithuania.  From 1927 he was director of ORT (Association for the Promotion of Skilled Trades) in Kovno.  He published literary and journalistic pieces in Kovno’s Folks-blat (People’s paper) and in ORT publication in Lithuania.  As soon as the Nazis occupied Kovno, he organized a trade school in the Kovno ghetto.  He assembled the necessary instruments in the deserted houses of Jews expelled from them.  In April 1944, he was deported to Dachau, and in April 1945 he leapt from a train heading to a death camp.  After the liberation, he served as director of ORT in Germany (in the American zone), director of the production department of the central committee of the liberated Jews in Munich, one of the founders of and contributors to Landsberger lager-tsaytung (Landsberg camp newspaper) which was initially published in the Roman alphabet, leader of the cultural office of the Landsberg Displaced Persons Camp, and on the editorial board of Landvirtshaftlekher vegvayzer (Agricultural guidebook) which was a periodical publication of the aforementioned production department.  He participated in the collection Lite (Lithuania), vol. 1 (New York, 1951) with an essay entitled: “Der arbets-aynzats in kovner geto” (Uses of labor in the Kovno ghetto).  He was also a contributor to the publication, Fun letstn khurbm (From the last holocaust) (Munich, 1948-1950).  In 1948 he was on a trip to the United States.  That same year he made aliya to Israel where he served as director of ORT.  He died in Tel Aviv.


Born in Vilna.  He was a Maskil and Hebrew writer, and he was the father-in-law of the famed mathematician, Professor Herman Shapiro, founder of the Jewish National Fund.  At the end of the 1860s, he emigrated to England and took part in the community life of Russian and Polish Jews in London.  He edited (together with Shmuel Distilator) a Yiddish weekly with the title Hashoyfer (The shofar)—the first number dated January 21, 1874 (London).  He was known in Hebrew literature under the pseudonym חזא״ל.

Sources: E. R. Malachi, in Zamlbukh lekoved dem tvey hundert un fuftsikstn yoyvl fun der yidisher prese (Collection in honor of the 250th anniversary of the Yiddish press), ed. Dr. Y. Shatski (New York, 1937), pp. 315-16; Libe Shildkret, in Yivi-bleter, vol. 15, no. 3 (1940), pp. 217-24.

Sunday 22 June 2014



A current events writer and community leader, he was born in the town of Bobr (Bober), Molev (Mogilev) Province, Ukraine [now in Belarus]. His literary work commenced in 1919. He was secretary to the head office of the Jewish Section of the Central Committee of the Ukrainian Communist Party, a member of the editorial collective of the Moscow-based newspaper Der emes (The truth) and the editor of record of the anti-religious journal Der apikoyres (The heretic) (Moscow, 1931-1935). His writing concentrated primarily around issues of atheistic propaganda. He also translated a number of works by V. I. Lenin into Yiddish. He was at some point purged. In the early 1960s, with the appearance of Sovetish heymland (Soviet homeland) in Moscow, he wrote articles for it: “Af di vegn fun haynttsaytikeyt” (On the road to modern times), “Vegn p. markishes poeme ‘Milkhome’” (On P. Markish’s poem “War”), and the like. He died in Moscow.

His works include: Gekasherte neshomes (vegn kheyder) (Koshered souls, on the religious primary school) (Kharkov: Central Committee of the Communist Youth Association in Ukraine, 1922), 32 pp.; Hagode far gloyber un apikorsim (Haggadah for believers and heretics), two printings (Moscow, 1927), 24 pp.; F. s. s. r. (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics), a conversation on the train to be read in clubs and in the home (Moscow, n.d.), 64 pp.; Anti-religyezer lernbukh (Anti-religious reader) (Moscow, 1929), 239 pp.; a second “improved and complementary” printing of the same book was published by Emes in Moscow in 1932, entitled On a got (Without a God), 252 pp.; Vi azoy darf men firn antireligyeze propaganda (How to conduct anti-religious propaganda) (Moscow: Tsentr Publ., 1929), 24 pp.; Komsomolishe hagode (Communist Youth Haggadah) (Kharkov, 1930?), 18 pp.; Shabes, yontev un roshkhoydesh (Sabbath, holiday, and beginning of the month) (Moscow: Emes, 1947), 86 pp.; Guf un neshome (Body and soul) (Moscow, 1948).  He was a member of the editorial board of Yunge gvardye (Young guard).  He also contributed to Afn shprakhfront (On the language front), a collection, in Kiev (1935).  From Lenin’s works, he translated Ershte revolutsye, 1905-1907 (orig., Pervaia Revoliutsiia, 1905-1907 = The first revolution, 1905-1907), vol. 1 (Moscow, 1925), 302 pp., vol. 2 (Moscow, 1927), 314 pp.; and Tsvey taktikes fun der sotsyal-demoktratikye un der demokratishe revolutsye (orig., Dve taktiki sotsial-demokratii v demokraticheskoi revoliutsii = Two tactics in social democracy and the democratic revolution) (Moscow, 1940), 134 pp.

Sources: Sh. Dimantshteyn, Foreword to Altshuler’s Anti-religyezer lernbukh; N. Rubenshteyn, “Di bikher, produktsye af yidish in sov. farb. in 1932” (Books, produced in Yiddish in the USSR in 1932), Afn visnshaftlekhn front (On the scientific front) (Minsk, 1933).

[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. 22-23.]


LEYB (LEO) ALTSHULER (June 7, 1904-1975)
Born in Vilna into an elite family.  His grandfather was the rabbi of Smorgon (Smarhon’), known as the “Broder gaon,” and his uncle, Betsalel-Mortkhe Altshuler, was one of the most visible of Vilna leaders.  He studied in the best religious schools, and his aunt Khane (wife of Betsalel-Mortkhe) taught him secular subjects.  He was later introduced to younger Jewish poetry, especially the poems of Leyb Naydus.  He began writing very early on (songs, poems, and dramatic scenes in verse), but he published little.  In 1923 he graduated from the drama studio of the Jewish Arts Society in Vilna and performed on stage in the best pieces of the Jewish theatrical repertoire at the time.  He wrote the plays: “Asada” and “Herod and Salome” in which he also played a role.  In 1926 he made his way to the United States and settled in St. Paul, Minnesota.  During a visit to Vilna in 1928, he published his first volume of poems, Ershte blitn (First blossoms) with a foreword by E. Y. Goldshmidt (Vilna, 1928), 80 pp.  His second volume, entitled Fun juni nekht (Of June nights), were lyrics for music (Vilna, 1831), 18 pp.  His children’s songs were published in Grininke beymelekh (Little green trees) (Vilna, 1929, 1931).


YITSKHOK ALTSHULER (b. October 5, 1888)
Born in Malatitshi, Byelorussia.  His father was a rabbi.  He studied in yeshivas and worked as a ritual slaughterer in Ostrogozhsk (Voronezh region).  In 1912 he made his way to Argentina where he became a Yiddish and Hebrew teacher in the YIKO (Jewish Cultural Organization) schools, later becoming director of the Jewish elementary school.  He completed the musical conservatory there and served for over twenty years as a cantor.  He was one of the founders of Vaad Hachinuch ([Orthodox] board of education) for the Jewish community of Buenos Aires.  In 1914 he published the first story in Di yidishe tsaytung (The Jewish newspaper) in Buenos Aires.  He also published treatises on pedagogical topics.  He translated A. I. Kuprin’s Shulamis (Shulamit); Kh. N. Bialik’s Der kurtser fraytog (The short Friday, Yom shishi hakatsar); Jaroslav Hašek, Der braver soldat shvayk (The good solder Schweik, Osudy dobrého vojáka Švejka); and various works by the Hebrew writers: Asher Barash, Yaakov Cohen, and Sh. Y. Agnon.  He also published in the journal Penemer un penemlekh (Faces), Di yidishe velt (The Jewish world), Rozaryer vokhnblat (Rosario’s weekly), and in pedagogical journals, such as Di tribune (The tribune).  Among his books: Dertseylungen fun yidishn lebn in argentine (Stories of Jewish life in Argentina) (Buenos Aires: Bikher fun yedn, 1919).  He was on the editorial board of the Hebrew monthly Habima haivrit (The Jewish platform) and contributed to the monthly Atidenu (Our future).  He used the pseudonym: Avrom (Avraham) Sinitskin.

Source: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1.