YISSACHAR [S.] BONTSHEK (1890-April 29, 1974)
Born in the town of Sokole, Poland. His father, Mordechai-Avigdor, was initially a rabbi in Yablonke and later an elementary school teacher. At age 8-9, he had already become an orphan [on his mother’s side], and he became an assistant in his father elementary school. He suffered hardship and homelessness while still a child. At age eleven, he moved to Warsaw, where he worked making belts. There he became active in the first professional unions, and he assisted in organizing strikes. He participated in Jewish self-defense work in 1905. At age fifteen, he became active in the Labor Zionist movement in Warsaw. In 1907 he emigrated to the United States (to Cleveland), where he worked hard in numerous sweatshops. He studied in evening courses and in “Irion Preparatory School,” and he later studied to be a pharmacist. He was the assistant secretary of the Yidisher natsyonaler arbeter-farband (Jewish National Workers Alliance), assistant secretary of Poale-Tsiyon, and secretary of Pioneers movement, among others. He was one of the founders of the Jewish public schools in the United States. He was the director of the municipal committee of the Jewish National Workers Alliance in New York, and the vice-director of the Alliance. He authored a volume of memoirs, entitled Vi es gedenkt zikh (As I remember it) (New York, 1955), 238 pp. He died in New York.
Sources: B. Tsukerman, in Yidisher kemfer (June 24, 1955); Yankev Glatshteyn, in Yidisher kemfer (September 23, 1955); Sh. Izban, in Amerikaner (July 8, 1955); Y. Shulevitsh, in Forverts (July 24, 1955); B. Ornshteyn, in Keneder odler (November 7, 1955).