Wednesday 24 June 2015


YUDE-LEYB GORDON (September 2, 1860-Octoer 21, 1927)
            He was born in Myadl, Vilna region.  He studied in religious primary schools and yeshivas, among them the Volozhin Yeshiva.  For a time he worked as a village elementary-school teacher, later he turned to secular education.  He mastered German, became a follower of the Jewish Enlightenment, and then subsequently opened a model elementary school in Oshmene (Oshmiany), Vilna region, where students studied Talmud, Tanakh, and Hebrew grammar, but also Russian.  At the beginning of 1900 he emigrated to the United States, gave private lessons in Hebrew, and at the same time worked as an itinerant preacher in synagogues.  He traveled across the country, collecting subscriptions for his historical Sidur bet yehuda (Prayer book of the house of Yehuda), with a half-German translation and a commentary in Yiddish; the first part was published in Vilna, and the other two parts in Petrikov, Poland.  In America, his book Sefer tseda lederekh (Provisions for the road) was also quite popular—concerning Jewish law and customs, concerning deceased and mourners, with a Yiddish translation.  Gordon also for many years worked on a major edition of the Pentateuch, Hatora vehadaat (The Torah and the faith), with a philological commentary in Hebrew and a Yiddish translation.  The first part had an introduction—in both Hebrew and Yiddish—concerning the cosmogony of the Egyptians, Hindus, Babylonians, and Canaanites.  He also penned treatises, poetry, and ballads for various American Jewish newspapers.  In M. Bassin’s Antologye, 500 yor yidishe poezye (Anthology, 500 years of Yiddish poetry), his ballad “Heshayne rabe-nakht” (Hoshana Rabba night) appears.  His books include: Der zelbst-merder (Suicide), “an interesting and instructive story of suicide and struggle for life, grounded in philosophy and scientific facts,” with a foreword by Elyokim Tsunzer (Zunzer) (New York, 1918?), 36 pp.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1; M. Bassin, Antologye, 500 yor yidishe poezye, vol. 1 (New York, 1917), p. 255—he gives Gordon’s year of birth as 1855.

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