KHAYIM BERNIKER (b. May 11, 1898)
He was born in Lyubtsh (Lubtsha, Lubča), Byelorussia, into an affluent family. He studied in religious primary school, later in the yeshivas of Mir, Eyshishok (Eišiškės), Radun’, and Navaredok (Navahrudak). He later became acquainted with the literature of the Jewish Enlightenment and began to acquire a secular education. Following the outbreak of WWI, he set on a career in teaching. In 1919 he opened a “cheder metukan” (improved religious elementary school) in Eyshishok, and he later attended the two-year Vilna pedagogical course of study and became a teacher in the Vilna Talmud-Torah. Over the years 1922-1924, he taughter Hebrew in the Jewish schools in Zhetel (Zdzięcioł), Mir, and Zambrove (Zambrow). In April 1924 he emigrated to Havana, Cuba, and there he became a teacher in the Jewish school at the [Yiddish Cultural] Center. In 1929 he moved to Canada where he worked as a teacher in religious schools and served as a Mizrachi leader. He began writing while still in Vilna, and he was later a pioneer of the published Yiddish word in Cuba: In March 1925 he brought out the first Yiddish periodical there, Dos fraye vort (The free word), printed on a typewriter in ten copies. The unexpected success of the magazine made it possible to reprint this issue in ninety copies. Nine issues of this serial appeared. Berniker wrote articles there concerned with a variety of matters. In 1927 he, together with his brother Pinkhes and Tsvi Shapiro, brought out the first published Yiddish anthology in Cuba: Kubaner yidishe yontev bleter (Cuban Jewish holiday leaves), 44 pp. He was also the editor of the first Yiddish book in Cuba, Kubaner liber (Cuban poems) by Leyzer Aronovski (Havana, 1928), 210 pp. Berniker also published articles in Keneder odler (Canadian eagle), the Zhurnal (Journal) of Toronto, and Dos yidishe vort (The Yiddish word) in Winnipeg. He wrote under such pseudonyms as: Kh. Borekhyahu, Kh. B., Knahles, Ben-Shimen, and Ish Pashut.