Sunday 13 September 2015


LEYVI-KHAYIM (CHAIM) GERSHATER (November 15, 1907-November 4, 1959)
            He was born in Krakinove (Krekenava), Lithuania, and in his childhood moved with his family to Vilna.  His father, R. Dovid Gershater (from the Rokeaḥ [Rokeakh] family), was among the most prominent rabbis in the city.  His articles and “Letters to the editor” on a variety of matters frequently appeared in the Vilna daily press and in the Orthodox weekly newspaper Undzer vort (Our word), and during WWII he was among the first rabbis publicly tortured and murdered by the Nazis in the city.  His son received a religious Jewish education, studying in religious elementary school and in the Ramaile Yeshiva.  After WWI he attended the pedagogical course of study run by Tarbut in Vilna and graduated in 1923.  He also actively participated in the Zionist movement.  He chaired the youth organization “Haḥaver” (The friend) and was a member of the district committee of Tarbut.  In 1926 he emigrated to South Africa, where he graduated with a “Bachelor of Arts” degree from a humanities faculty.  He began his journalistic activities in the 1920s in Hebrew with articles in Hatsfira (The siren) in Warsaw.  Over the years 1927-1930, he was a regular contributor to the weekly newspaper Der afrikaner (The African) in Johannesburg for which he wrote editorials, reports, and feature pieces as well under such pen names as G. Levi Rokeakh.  In the 1930s he became the correspondent for Haarets (The land) (Tel Aviv) and for Morgn-zhurnal (Morning journal) (New York).  He visited Israel and published a book: 30 Days in Israel in English (Johannesburg, 1950?).  He was the chairman of Ofir (Jewish literary and journalist association) until 1949 and a lecturer at the “literary association” in Johannesburg.  He also wrote under the pen names: Kh”G, Khayim, and Mevaker.  He died in Johannesburg.

Sources: Sh. Katsherginski, Khurbn vilne (The Holocaust in Vilna) (New York, 1947), p. 217; Dr. Y. Shatski, in Yivo-bleter (New York) (1956), pp. 254-55.

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