Friday, 24 April 2015


ROKHL BROKHES (September 23, 1880-1942)
            She was born into a poor family in Minsk.  Her father, Volf, was a follower of the Jewish Enlightenment and wrote a great deal in Hebrew, but did not publish it.  When she was nine years of age, her father died, and shortly thereafter she was compelled to seek work as a tailor.  She later worked as a teacher of handicrafts in the Minsk Jewish Artisanal School for Girls.  She first published in 1899 in Der yud (The Jew): a story entitled “Yankele.”  Later she published stories in Fraynd (Friend) in St. Petersburg and Tsukunft (Future) in New York.  She also wrote dramas.  Until the Soviet period, she mainly portrayed the life of the Jewish wife and mother, of the Jewish child, and of female Jewish laborers; later, she wrote stories for children.  In her last years, she frequently published in Shtern (Star) in Minsk and Oktyabr (October).  A number of her short stories were translated into Russian, German, and English.  She wrote more than 200 stories, numerous children’s stories, and a handful of plays.  The state publishing house of Byelorussia had planned to publish her collected writings.  The first volume was set in type and ought to have appeared, but the Nazi invasion made this impossible.  She suffered and was murdered in the Minsk ghetto.  Among her books: A zamlung dertseylungen (A collection of stories) (Vilna, 1922), 96 pp.; In pyonerishn lager (In a pioneer camp) (Minsk, 1936), 40 pp.; Gelke, stories (Moscow, 1937), 38 pp.; Odlerl un shoymele, a vunder-maysele (Odlerl and Shoymele, a wondrous tale) (Moscow, 1939), 16 pp.; Shpinen (Spiders) (Minsk, 1940), 30 pp.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1, pp. 441-43; Avrom Reyzen, Epizodn fun mayn lebn (Episodes from my life), part 1 (Vilna, 1929), pp. 168, 169, 171, 181-84, 187; part 2, p. 63; Uri Finkl, in Eynikeyt (Moscow) (July 14, 1945); Binyomin Yud, in Kultur un dertsiung (New York) (November 1945).

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