Tuesday 3 March 2015


DOVID (DAVID) BENDAS (1896-1953)

He was a Soviet prose writer and playwright, born in Bielsk (Bel’sk), Byelorussia, into a rabbinical family. In his youth he became known as a prodigy and was ordained into the rabbinate. He early on became active in community work.  In 1918 he moved to Poltava, Ukraine; until 1922 he was a fierce Labor Zionist; and thereafter a member of the Communist Party. From 1919 he was working as a teacher and educator in Soviet Jewish schools associated with children’s homes. For three years (1923-1925), he held the position of inspector in the Jewish section of Uman district (Kiev region)—later, he was inspector in the Kiev educational district. From 1927 to 1930, he was director of the Kiev Cooperative Technichum, and later director of the Kiev Yiddish State Theater (in which his wife, Esther, was an actress). He went on to serve as dean of the Jewish faculty in the M. Lysenko Ukrainian Theatrical Institute. Over the years 1932-1935, he was a researcher in the literature and criticism section of the Kiev Institute for Jewish Culture; there he worked on the dissertation, “Klasn-kamf in der mishpokhe in shayn fun der sovetisher yidisher dramaturgye” (Class struggle in the family in light of Soviet-Yiddish playwriting).  During the years of WWII, he was evacuated and later returned to Kiev, where he worked in the Department of Jewish Culture within the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences. The department was liquidated in 1949, and the majority of its associates were purged. He then became a librarian in a Ukrainian children’s library. He began writing stories and one-act plays in the 1920s, with his first publications appearing in 1928. He died in Kiev.

In 1938 his short volume of stories, entitled Freydike yorn (joyful years), appeared in Kiev (Ukrainian state publishers for national minorities), 15 pp.  Other works include: Ongrif (Assault) (1918), plays; Di pyane shpilt (The piano plays), stories (Kiev: Ukrainian state publishers for national minorities, 1938), 69 pp.; Dertseylungen un noveln (Stories and novellas) (Kiev: Ukrainian state publishers for national minorities, 1940), 161 pp.; Vos kumt do for? (What is taking place?) (1947).

Sources: H. Davidovitsh, “An ovnt in a yidisher mitlshul” (An evening in a Jewish middle school), Eynikeyt (Moscow) (December 12, 1946); Y. Rabin, “Vegn eynike fragn” (A few questions), Eynikeyt (March 27, 1948).

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 98; 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), p. 50.]

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