SHLOYME BEYLIS (BELIS-LEGIS) (1908-1995)
Born in Vilna into a poor household, he graduated from the “Mefitse haskalah” (Society for the promotion of enlightenment [among the Jews of Russia]) school in 1924. According to his school records, he excelled at literary knowledge and poetic aptitude. He was editor of a wall newspaper and school magazine, and co-editor (with Sh. Cohen and Dovid Kurland) of the journal Klangen (Vilna, 1924), 50 pp. Using the pen name Sh. Sagalo, he published in 1928 several poems in Morgn frayhayt (Morning freedom) in New York. He was one of the main organizers of the writers’ and painters’ group “Yung vilne” (Young Vilna) during its founding. For a few years he contributed to Vilner tog (Vilna day) in which he published, in addition to articles, poems (1931). That year he edited the daily newspaper Vilner mesles (Vilna day and night), and later he contributed to Vilner ekspres (Vilna express) and Vilner radyo (Vilna radio). In 1933 he was the night editor of the Zionist daily Tsayt (Time) at which he worked until the liquidation of the Jewish press in Vilna in 1939. There he published political reports (under the pseudonyms: Sh. B., Leg, and Bella), as well as articles concerning literature, theater, and art criticism. When the Red Army entered Vilna in 1939, he became editorial secretary of the Communist daily, Vilner emes (Vilna truth), and then they closed the newspaper in 1940. He was editorial secretary in Vilna for Kovner emes (Kovno truth) and he contributed to the magazine Shtraln (Beams) (Kovno, 1941). In June 1941, right after the attacked on Russia by Hitler’s Germany, he was evacuated from Vilna and for a few years lived in Samarkand. In 1943 he joined the Soviet Lithuanian division, with whom he returned to liberated Vilna. Although a member of the Lithuanian writers’ association, there was no possibility for him to publish. The sole permission for the Vilna group of Yiddish writers was to arrange for lectures in Yiddish for a small circle. Beylis was a contributor to the Vilna Jewish museum and wrote the history of the Holocaust and destruction in Vilna under the Nazi occupation. What became of his work—as in general to the Jewish museum after the liquidation of Jewish culture in Soviet Russia—remains unknown. In 1964 he published Portretn un problemen (Portraits and problems) (Warsaw: Yidish bukh), 415 pp.—concerning Jewish writers and literary issues.
[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 82.]
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