ARN (AARON) BASTOMSKI (1907-September 1944)
Born in Vilna to a poor carpenter father. He graduated from a “Mefitse haskalah” (Society for the promotion of enlightenment [among the Jews of Russia]) school in 1924. Early on he became active in the Bundist youth organization Tsukunft (Future), writing humoristic sketches, articles, and feature pieces for wall newspapers and regular newspapers. He was one of the most active folklore collectors for YIVO, having gone through the course taught by Y. L. Kahan and later visiting a long list of cities and towns throughout Vilna Province. In 1933, together with the artist B. Michtom and the singer Y. Burgin, he founded the only Jewish artistic marionette theater in Poland, “Maidim”—which existed without interruption until the Nazi occupation of Vilna in 1941. In the dozens of programs that Maidim staged in Vilna (and later in Warsaw, Lodz, Grodno, and other cities and towns of Poland and Lithuania), several dozen images, songs, and scenes were written or dramatized by Bastomski (among others: he staged M. Kulbak’s “Meshiekh ben froym” [Messiah, son of Ephraim] and Y. Opatoshu’s Lintsheray [Lynching]). He published articles (using the pen name “Abe”) concerned with Jewish cultural matters in Faroys (Forward) in 1932, and in Folks-tsaytung (People’s newspaper) in Warsaw, Vilner tog (Vilna day, 1932-1939), Vilner togblat (Vilna daily news) and Vilner emes (Vilna truth) in 1940, Grininke beymelekh (Little green trees) in 1938, and in celebrator anthologies of the “Mefitse haskalah” school. He was a member of the managing committee of the Vilna theatrical society of VILBIG (Vilner yidishe bildungs gezelshaft [Vilna Jewish educational society]) and the dramatic collective of Davke. Under the Nazi occupation, he worked as a carpenter in a peat camp “Reshe” (near Vilna). In 1943 he was led out to Estonian labor camps, and in 1944 he was killed together with 1,800 other Vilna Jews in a fire in Klooge [Estonia].
Sources: M. Minkov, Yoyvl-heft fun der yingl-shul “Mefitse haskole” (Jubilee volume of the boys’ school, “Mefitse haskalah”) (Vilna, 1936), p. 60; Sh. Katsherginski, Khurbm vilne (The destruction of Vilna) (New York, 1947), p. 221.