HILEL ALEKSANDROV (1890-1972)
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.]