ZALMAN GORDIN (b. June 20, 1888)
He was born in Shtshedrin colony, Bobruisk region, Byelorussia. Until age fifteen he studied in religious elementary school and with a private tutor for Russian. In 1904 he moved to Poland to study in middle school, initially in a private Realschule in Warsaw and later in a commercial school in Tomaczów, Pyotrków (Pyetrikov) district. In October 1905, the students at the Tomaczów school put out a list of revolutionary demands, and the authorities closed the school down. Gordin then left for Warsaw. En route the police stopped his cart and found in it a revolver and Bundist proclamations. All of the passengers were arrested and taken to the Pawiak prison in Warsaw. Already at that time a Bundist, he spent a month there. In 1907 he attended the Realschule in Łowicz, Poland, and graduated in 1909. He then proceeded to study medicine in Strasbourg, Alsace (Germany, at that time). He graduated from the faculty of medicine in 1914, and he became a military doctor in the Russian army prior to WWI. Following the outbreak of the Russian Revolution in 1917, he was in Dvinsk (Daugavpils), and he joined the “executive committee of the Jewish soldiers on the northern front.” He attended as a delegate the first conference of Jewish soldiers in Kiev. In 1919 he was sentenced to death by the Bolsheviks—he was then a member of “Tseire Tsiyon” (Young Zionists)—and he escaped through Russia back to Dvinsk, which from January 1920 belonged to the newly founded, independent Latvian republic. Over the years 1921-1933, he was chairman of the Dvinsk organization of Tseire Tsiyon, as well as a member of the local city council and of the Jewish community administration. He was active in ORT (Association for the Promotion of Skilled Trades) and OZE (Obschestvo zdravookhraneniia evreev—Society for the Protection of the Health of the Jewish Population). In 1935 after the semi-fascist coup of Kārlis Ulmanis in Latvia, he departed for the Land of Israel.
Gordin began writing prior to WWI. He published in Fraynd (Friend) in Warsaw, Togblat (Daily newspaper) in Petrograd, and later in Latvia in Dos folk (The people), Unzer veg (Our way), and Frimorgn (Morning) in Riga. Over the years he edited Folksgezunt (Public health), the supplement to Frimorgn, as well as the Russian Dvinskaya zhizn’ (Dvinsk life) which appeared twice each week (1933-1934). He wrote primarily on the topic of hygiene. Among his books: Tuberkulyoz (Tuberculosis) (Dvinsk, 1924), 28 pp.; Shul un gezunt (School and health) (Dvinsk, 1927), 54 pp.; Klepike krankeytn (Contagious diseases) (Dvinsk, 1929), 31 pp. All of these were published by OZE in Dvinsk. In Israel he wrote primarily in Hebrew. He contributed to Haolam (The world) and Zemanim (Times). Over the years 1939-1940, he published (among other works): Mipinkaso shel rofe (From the doctor’s notes), 63 pp.; Shituk yeladim (Childhood paralysis); Askara (Diphtheria); Ḥatsevet (Measles); Shanit (Scarlet fever); Hishtamnut (Obesity); and Hasukeret (Diabetes). In 1953 the New York journal Amerikaner (American), April 10 and May 8 issues, published his description of the life of Jews from the distant past in Shtshedrin colony, written together with B. Gordin.
Source: M. Gerts, 25 yor yidishe prese in letland (25 years of the Yiddish press in Latvia) (Riga, 1933), p. 48.
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