HIRSH-LEYB GORDON (November 22, 1896-January 20, 1969)
He was born in Dugelishok, Vilna region, where his father Eliyahu Gordon was rabbi. He studied in religious primary school and in the yeshivas of Slobodka and Volozhin. Over the years 1912-1914, he lived in Odessa where he graduated from the rabbinical seminary. From late June 1914 until January 1915, he served as an envoy of Hatsfira (The siren) and Dos lebn (The life) in the Land of Israel. Following the entry of Turkey into WWI, he was deported from Israel. He left for Alexandria, Egypt, where he managed a program to assist thousands of homeless who found themselves there at the time. Together with Zhabotinsky and Trumpeldor, he founded the Jewish Legion. For political reasons, he left the army for Florence, Italy, where he worked as a teacher in a rabbinical seminary, and at the same time studied in the local university. In 1917 for the first time he came to the United States, and the next year he returned to the Land of Israel with the Jewish Legion. In 1919 he again made his way to the United States, continued his studies at various universities, and received a series of titles: doctor of philosophy and Semitic languages, Yale University, 1922; doctor of literature and Egyptology, Columbia University, New York, 1923; Master of diplomatic arts, American University, Washington, 1924; Master of psychology, 1926, of pedagogy, 1927, and of the history of art, 1928. Over the years 1930-1935, he studied medicine in Berlin and in Rome. From 1941 he devoted himself to medicine.
He began to write in Hebrew in Har hazman (The mountain of time), issue no. 110, in Warsaw (1910), where he published, using the pen name “Gil,” an article about the Volozhin Yeshiva; and in Yiddish in Der id (The Jew) in Odessa (1912), a satirical story entitled “A mayse mit a blayshtift” (A story with a pencil). From that point on, he wrote political, critical, and biographical articles, scholarly treatises, travel impressions, and poems in Hebrew and Yiddish newspapers: Hatsfira, Dos lebn, Der fraynd (The friend), Moment (Moment), and Har hazman in Warsaw; Tog (Day), Forverts (Forward), Yidishes tageblat (Jewish daily newspaper), Varhayt (Truth), Morgn-zhurnal (Morning journal), Dos idishe folk (The Jewish people), Tsukunft (Future), Di naye velt (The new world), Der amerikaner (The American), Der kundes (The prankster), Hahad (The echo), Haivri (The Jew), Hatoren (The mast), Hadoar (The mail), and Harofe haivri (The Jewish doctor), among others, in New York.
Dr. Gordon occupied himself with scholarly research in the field of Semitic and ancient Egyptian archeology. He was the author of books in Yiddish, Hebrew, English, and Italian concerned with various issues, among them medicine. He Yiddish he published: Dramen (Dramas)—including Der mekubl (The Cabbalist) and Der nister (The hidden one)—(Warsaw, 1938), 108 pp.; Dos eybike likht (The eternal light), a drama which, despite protests from many Israeli organizations, was staged in Yiddish in the amphitheater of the Jewish Legion near Lod (March 1919); In goldenem shayn (In golden light), a one-act play, in the anthology Unzer bukh (Our book) (New York, 1929). In English: a monograph concerning his father, Rabbi Elijah Gordon, His Life and Works (New York, 1926), 33 pp.; The Maggid of Caro: The Mystic Life of the Eminent Codifier Joseph Caro as Revealed in His Secret Diary, a psychological biography of Joseph Caro, author of the Shulḥan arukh (New York, 1949), 400 pp.; The Jewish Legions in the British Army during the World War (1914-1918) (New York, 1940). In Italian, among other works: Mattia Ben Haresh medico romano del primo secolo (Matthew ben Ḥaresh, Roman doctor of the second century) (Rome, 1935). He also translated and adapted a series, Shenste mayses fun der velt (Most beautiful stories from around the world), from eighty masterworks of the Russian, German, French, English, Italian, Spanish, and Arabic literatures, among others. He published translations in Yiddish of the Egyptian hieroglyphic “Der vaks-krokodil” (The wax crocodile), in Forverts (November 1921). He edited the medical monthly Gezund (Health) in New York (1940-1941). He also published under the pseudonyms: Gil, Bar-Kokhba, Leon Gordi, Don Gorani, De Leon, Albatros, and Hirsh Katsenelenboygn, among others. He was living in New York until his death, and he often gave lectures on psychotherapy and psychology on the Yiddish radio.
Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1; Z. Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater, vol. 1; Zilbertsvayg, Hintern forhang (Behind the curtain) (Vilna, 1928), p. 145; Dr. Y. Shatski, in Hadoar (New York) (December 14, 1956); Shloyme Slutski, Avrom reyzen biblyografye (Avrom Reyzen bibliography) (New York, 1956), no. 5198. Review of his book on Joseph Caro can be found in: Journal of the History of Medicine (New York, 1950), pp. 130-32; Prof. H. Baruck, in Revue d’histoire de la medicine hebraique (Paris, April 1950); Who’s Who in World Jewry (New York, 1955), p. 282.
Khayim Leyb Fuks