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).

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