Friday 1 May 2015


ALTER (BEN-TSIYON) GOTLIB (1884-February 26, 1956)
            He was born in Shedlets (Siedlce), Poland, into a prominent Hassidic merchant household.  He moved with his parents in 1890 to Warsaw, and there he attended religious primary school and later various yeshivas.  He was ordained as a rabbi at the Slobodka Yeshiva.  In 1901 he returned to Warsaw and was a frequent visitor to Y. L. Peretz, Nokhum Sokolow, and Dovid Frishman.  For a time he worked as a teacher of Hebrew and Jewish history in the school run by Sh. L. Gordon.  At the same time he was active in the drama circle of Hazemir and in the Poale-Tsiyon Party.  In 1903 he came to Vienna and studied philosophy and literature in the university there.  He later also studied in Berlin, where in 1907 he graduated from Max Reinhardt’s school for stage acting.  During WWI, he was deported from Germany, as a Russian citizen and an “enemy,” to Alexandria, Egypt.  He was active there in the realm of school and theater.  In 1919 he settled in Palestine, where he worked as a teacher in the teachers’ seminary in Jerusalem and was an active leader of the Haganah.  In 1926 he came to Europe as an envoy of Keren Kayemet (Jewish National Fund).  He lived in Poland, Romania, and Austria.  He later returned to Israel and developed an extended cultural sphere of activities in Tel Aviv.
            Gotlib first published in 1903: articles on literature and theater in Der yidisher arbayter (The Jewish laborer) in Vienna (1903-1907), of which he was a member of its editorial board.  He also contributed to Fraynd (Friend) in St. Petersburg, Haynt (Today), Hatsfira (The siren) in Warsaw, Davar (Word), Hapoel hatsair (The young worker) in Tel Aviv, and others.  He translated into Hebrew works by Y. L. Peretz, Yankev Gordin, Avrom Reyzen, and Dovid Pinski, among others; and from German, Lessings’s Natan haḥakham (Nathan der Weise), and Herzl’s “Salon in Lydien” which was staged in theaters in Israel.  He also contributed to Heatid (The future) (of which he was one of the editors) in Berlin (1909-1910), and there he published his translations from the German of Martin Buber, Ludwig Stein, Herman Cohen, Dr. Nathan Birnbaum, and others.  In his last years, he changed his name to “Ben-Tsiyon Yedidya” and was a lecturer on enunciation in a state seminary.  He died in Tel Aviv.

Sources: Y. Tabakman, in Sefer yizkor lekehilat shedlets (Remembrance volume for the community of Shedlets) (Tel Aviv, 1956), p. 377; D. Tidhar, in Entsiklopedyah lealutse hayishuv uvonav (Encyclopedia of the founders and builders of Israel), vol. 9 (Tel Aviv, 1947-1971), pp. 3297-98; Ni”r, Der yidisher arbeter pinkes (Warsaw, 1928), pp. 115, 124, 128.

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