Wednesday 3 June 2015


            He was born in the frontier town of Kipel (Kupel), Proskurov region, Podolia, into a family of butchers.  His father died when he was five years of age.  He studied in religious primary school, and at age seven he began reading secular books in Hebrew.  Under the influence of the poetry of Kh. N. Bialik and Shaul Tchernichovsky, at age twelve he began writing Hebrew verse.  The difficult material conditions in his home compelled him at age fourteen to try to support himself by giving private lessons.  At the same time, he devoted himself to self-education.  In 1925 he drew closer to the illegal Zionist youth movement in the Soviet Union.  Using the pseudonym Shimon Hatarsi (Simon of Tarsus), he debuted with his poems entitled “Yehudi ani!” (I am a Jew) in Al hamishmar (On guard), the illegal organ of “Hashomer hatsair” (The young guard).  At the beginning of 1927, he withdrew from Hashomer.  At the end of that year, he moved to Odessa and joined the local Jewish Pedagogical Technicum.  He began at this point to write poetry in Yiddish and placed his first such works in Di yunge gvardye (The young guard) in Kharkov.  He was embraced by the Odessa literary group of young writers which would often assemble under the direction of a lecturer in Yiddish literature at the Technicum, A. Vorobaytshik.  His poems also appeared in Odeser arbeter (Odessa laborer), Berditshever arbeter (Berdichev laborer), Shtern (Star) in Kharkov, Oktyabr (October) in Minsk, and Zay greyt! (Be prepared!).  After a long trip through the Jewish colonies in the Odessa region, he published a cycle of poems about Jewish peasant life, entitled “In step” (In the steppe) in Prolit (Proletarian literature) 6 (1930).  In 1930 he completed the teacher’s course of study at the Odessa Institute for Popular Education.  At that same time, his family emigrated to the United States, while he remained in the Soviet Union and took up a post as teacher in the Jewish workers’ school in nearby Balta.  He moved to Kharkov in 1931 and became a regular contributor to the pioneer journal Zay greyt!  His poems also appeared in Prolit, Di royte velt (The red world) (the poem “Makar,” no. 11-12, 1931), and Shtern in Minsk (the poetic series “Lebn mayns!” [My life!]), among others.  The long epic poem “Makar” and poetic series “Lebn mayns!” are—due both to their imagery and their language—considered as the finest of his creations.
            In 1932 the Kharkov publishing house of “Literatur un kunst” (Literature and art) brought out his first collection of poems, In umru beboyrene (Born in chaos) (1928-1931), 108 pp.  His second volume of poems, Lider un balades (Poems and ballads) (1931-1934), was published by Ukrnatsmind (Ukraine national minorities) publishers (Kharkov-Kiev, 1936), 120 pp; in 1938 his only book of stories appeared: Heymland (Homeland) (Kharkov-Kiev: Ukrnatsmind), 120 pp.  He also was involved with translation work.  He died on the front.

Source: M Khashtsherginski, in Shtern (Kharkov, 1931).

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