Sunday 22 March 2015


PINKHES BERNIKER (April 12, 1908-1956)
He was born in Lyubtsh (Lubtsha, Lubča), Byelorussia.  His father, Shmuel, was the local rabbi.  He studied in religious primary school, as well as in the yeshivas of Navaredok (Navahrudak), Eyshishok (Eišiškės), and Vilna.  He graduated from the Hebrew high school of Dr. Epstein in Vilna and from the pedagogical course offered by Tarbut.  He worked as a teacher.  In 1925 he emigrated to Cuba, where he served as a teacher in the Havana Jewish School.  His first publication (1927) was a sketch which appeared in Amerikaner (American).  He published stories in Keneder odler (Canadian eagle), as well as a series of pedagogical articles in Dos kind (The child) in Warsaw.  Late in 1931 he moved to the United States.  He published stories and articles in Forverts (Forward), Tog (Day), Yidisher kemfer (Jewish fighter), Kinder-zhurnal (Children’s magazine), and Meksikaner shriftn (Mexican writings), as well as in the Warsaw publications: Ekspres (Express), Dos naye vort (The new word), and Literarishe bleter (Literary leaves).  He also wrote in Hebrew.  In Havana, he edited (as head of a board) Kubaner yontef bleter (Cuban holiday leaves) and Oyfgang (Arise) (forty issues).  Among his books: Shtile lebns, dertseylungen (Quiet lives, stories) (Vilna, 1935), 228 pp.; Ershte trit (First step), about Jewish life in Cuba, was to be published in the late summer of 1939 in Vilna by Kletskin Farlag, but with the outbreak of WWII, the manuscript was lost.  Only a few chapters were published in Meksikaner shriftn (Mexican writings) in 1937 and thereafter in Havaner lebn (Havana life) in 1944.  Berniker’s Hanukkah play A nes (A miracle) was published in New York by Vaad hameḥankhim haivrim lemaan erets yisrael haovedet.  He was living in Rochester, where he worked as the director of a Talmud-Torah.

Sources: Dos yidishe vort (special issue, dedicated to Pinkhes Berniker) (Havana) (December 1931); Y. Botoshanski, in Di prese (Buenos Aires) (January 9, 1936); Literarishe bleter (Warsaw) (March 13, 1936); M. Glikovski, in Veg (Mexico) (September 6, 1936); Ts. Tarlovski, in Dos naye vort (Warsaw) (October 11, 1935); D. Tsharni (Charney), Literarishe bleter (Warsaw) (March 13, 1936); Dr. A. Mukdoni, in Morgn-zhurnal (New York) (March 11, 1936); M. Melamed, in Yidishe velt (Philadelphia) (February 9, 1936); Dr. Sh. Shteyman, in Yidisher kemfer (New York) (May 6, 1936); G. Pomerants, in Fraye arbeter shtime (New York) (December 18, 1936); Y. Kisin, in Forverts (New York) (March 22, 1936); Sh. Rabinovitsh, in Tsukunft (New York) (June 1937).

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), cols. 109-10.]

1 comment:

  1. While in the United States, the man now known mainly as Pinkhes Berniker actually anglicized his name as Pincus Bernikier. In the 1960s, he moved from Rochester to Hartford, CT, where he taught for many years at a conservative synagogue, often organizing extra-curricular classes in Torah reading. After his death in New York in 1984, the University of Hartford presented an endowed bi-annual "Pincus Bernikier Memorial Lecture Series," though it appears that the series is no longer active. Bernikier had two children, one of whom was a rabbi for many years in New York.