Monday 2 March 2015


YANKEV BELER (JACOB BELLER) (b. December 11, 1898)

He was born in Grodzisk, Galicia.  He attended religious primary school, graduated from the local middle school, and later studied at a yeshiva in Rayshe.  During the census, he gave Yiddish as his mother tongue—and he had therefore to leave the yeshiva.  He came to Vienna in 1912 and studied at a commercial school.  In 1913 he entered the teachers’ seminary Tachkemoni in Lemberg.  He later worked as a teacher in Galicia.  During WWI, he served in the Austrian army.  In 1918, he was back in Vienna.  He studied at the Imperial Export Academy.  In 1920 he was in Germany, having arrived in Mainz to be a Hebrew teacher of theological pedagogy.  In 1922 he moved to Argentina, and he worked as a teacher in the Narsis-Levin colony.  His first publications, correspondence pieces, appeared in Lemberger tageblat (Lemberg daily newspaper), and he later published a treatise on Jewish minority schools in Galicia.  In Argentina he published articles and stories in Far groys un kleyn (For [people] big and small) and Di prese (The press).  In 1924 he visited a number of European countries.  He published in Di prese (Buenos Aires) a series of articles about the Marranos, as well as correspondence pieces.  In 1928 he was in Canada.  He took over the director’s position of the Jewish National Fund in Ontario.  He published in: Keneder odler (Canadian eagle) and Yidisher zhurnal (Jewish journal).  In 1929 he was in the United States, where he worked as a teacher in Jewish schools in New York.  He published in: Tageblat (Daily newspaper), Morgn-zhurnal (Morning journal), Forverts (Forward), and Amerikaner (American).  In 1946 he visited twenty Latin American countries, and he published reportage essays in Tog (Day) in New York, Yidishe tsaytung (Jewish newspaper) in Buenos Aires, and Davar (Word) in Tel Aviv.  In 1947 he came to Israel, and in that same year he was sent to South Africa as a representative of the Red Mogen Dovid.  His books include: Mayn heym in galitsye (My home in Galicia) (London, 1927); Iber vayte yamen (Across distant seas) (New York, 1942), 158 pp.; Erets yisroel (Buenos Aires, 1948), 287 pp.; Iber tsvantsik latayn-amerikaner lender (Across twenty Latin American countries) (Buenos Aires, 1953), 339 pp., which received an award in 1956 from the Surovich Fund of the Jewish Culture Congress in New York.  He was living in Toronto, Canada.

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