Wednesday 4 March 2015


YOYSEF BEKER (b. 1881)
He was born in Nyesvizh (Niasviz), Byelorussia, the son of a gardener.  Until age thirteen or fourteen, he attended religious primary school and a yeshiva.  His first exposure to general education came with a Russian public school.  His journalistic activities began with an article entitled “Di folksshprakh un ir badaytung” (The vernacular and its significance) in the monthly journal, Dos lebn (Life) 4 (1905).  Later, he was the St. Petersburg correspondent at the Duma for the Warsaw serial, Der veg (The way).  In 1906 he visited Shedlets (Siedlce), following the pogrom there, and he described the events in the Bundist Folkstsaytung (People’s newspaper) in Vilna.  He later contributed to Moment (Moment) in Warsaw, edited the daily Sholem aleykhem (Greetings!) in Odessa, and then returned to Warsaw and placed pieces in Fraynd (Friend) and subsequently Dos lebn.  In 1913 he published in Vokhenblat (Weekly newspaper) articles concerning the issue of Jewish public schools, Jewish public education in Poland, and the language question in Greece, among other such topics.  He also contributed to Der yidisher veker (The Jewish alarm), and as a correspondent for the newspaper he traveled to St. Petersburg and there also placed pieces in the Russian press.  He was later assistant secretary to the St. Petersburg Jewish community and published in the local Tagblat (Daily newspaper) before and after the revolution in 1917; he retired from the newspaper when it became pro-Zionist and began publishing in Maxim Gorky’s daily Novaia Zhizn’ (New life) until it went under in 1918.  He visited Lithuania and Byelorussia during WWI, and he depicted his impressions in Pinkes (Record), edited by Zalmen Reyzen in Vilna.  Over the years 1920-1921, he served on the editorial board of Tog in Vilna.  He then traveled to Riga, and there he edited the Russian-language daily Novyi Put’ (New path).  In 1923 he again moved to Leningrad and became a contributor to the Soviet Russian press.  His subsequent fate remains unknown.  Among his books: Lite un di litviner (Lithuania and the Lithuanians) (Vilna, 1920), 31 pp.; Di groyse rusishe revolutsye (The great Russian Revolution), two vols: 1. “from February to October 1917” (Vilna, 1920), 123 pp. (with portraits and pictures); 2. “from October 1917 to July 1918” (Vilna, 1921), 164 pp.  In Russian, he wrote Pod vlast’iu okkupantov (Under the power of invaders), about the Germans in Pskov, Crimea, and Lithuania (Leningrad, 1925).  Among his pseudonyms: Y. Bek, Bertus, Dr. Rozenberg, A-Z, A-V, and the like.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1 (Vilna, 1926), pp. 341-42; N. Bukhbinder, in Yevreiskaia vestnik (Leningrad, 1928), p. 246.

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