Monday 1 December 2014



He was a poet, born in Chernigov (Chernihiv), Ukraine, into a poor family. His father worked as a wheelwright. After graduating from a seven-year school (at age sixteen), he left his hometown and came to Zhitomir (Zhytomyr) to work in a shoe factory. He later studied at the Odessa Jewish Pedagogical Technikum, graduating in 1929, and then becoming a teacher in one of the Jewish schools in Kamenets-Podolsky (Kam"yanets'-Podil's'kyy). He was drafted in 1930 into the army where he served until 1934. From 1936 he worked as a literary translator for the Kiev newspaper Der shtern (The star). During WWII he living in Bashkiria (Bashkortoshan), and later returned to Kiev. He debuted in print in 1927 in the serial Di royte velt (The red world) in Kharkov with a cycle of poems entitled “In vald far a yeger” (A hunter in the forest). Two years later, when he published the poem “Ataman bozhenko” (Ataman Bozhenko), the editor of Di royte velt, Shakhne Epshteyn, wrote that “a distinctive poet has emerged in Soviet Yiddish poetry.” His lyrical poetry was tied to the contemporary world, to the principal manifestations of Jewish life in Ukraine, to the construction process in the shtetl, and to the difficult problems of an arduous reality. He was arrested in 1951 and accused of Jewish nationalism and Zionism, and sentenced to ten years in prison and labor camps. He returned home in 1956 and continued his creative work. The Ukrainian poet Maksym Rylsky published in 1946 Bukhbinder’s great cycle of poems in Ukrainian translation—among them the poem “Bay dem topol” (By the poplar). In the 1960s through 1980s, he published his poetry in the journal Sovetish heymland (Soviet homeland) and in foreign Yiddish publications, with principally lyrical-philosophical and ethnic motifs. He died in Kiev.

In addition to Maksym Rylsky, his poems were also translated into Ukrainian by Volodymyr Sosyura and Mark Zisman.  Among his books: Lirishe motivn (Lyrical motifs) (Kiev, 1940), 117 pp.; Komandir sizov (Commander Syzov) (Kharkov-Kiev, 1936), 76 pp.; Mit likhtike oygn, lider (With bright eyes, poems) (Moscow: Sovetski pisatel, 1975), 160 pp.; Noente vaytn (Proximate distant) (Moscow: Sovetski pisatel, 1983), 134 pp. Also, a poetry cycle of his appeared in the journal Horizontn (Horizons) (Moscow, 1965). 

Sources: Abrom Avtshuk, Etyudn un materialn tsu der geshikhte fun der yidisher literatur bavegung in FSRR (Studies and material for the history of the Yiddish literature movement in the Soviet Union) (Kharkov, 1934), p. 263; Eynikeyt (Moscow) (April 1, 1947); Biblyografisher arkhiv fun der yidisher sovetisher literatur (Bibliographic archive of Soviet Yiddish literature), YIVO (New York).

[Addition information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 71; and 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. 40-41.]

[1] According to Horizontn, fun der haynttsaytiker sovetisher yidisher dikhtung (Horizons, from contemporary Soviet Yiddish poetry) (Moscow, 1965), his birth date should be 1909.

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