YEHUDE-LEYB GERSHT (GIRSHT) (February 1906-July 4, 1963)
He was born in Lodz, Poland, into a Hassidic family. He attended religious primary school and yeshivas. From his early youth, he was interested in literature and Jewish community issues, was under the influence of Dr. Nosn Birnboym (Nathan Birnbaum) and his religious works, and later he became Birnboym’s student and personal friend. He was founder and chairman of the religio-ethical circle “Olam-dibbur” (World of speech) in Poland, thanks to Dr. Birnboym. He lived in Lodz until WWII, and there he was active in Poale agudat yisrael (Agudat Israel Workers), as well as a leader and teacher in Beys-Yankev schools. He was a lecturer and speaker, mainly on literary, philosophical topics. From 1940 until August 1944, he was in the Lodz ghetto. For a time he was a teacher in the Jewish schools and the founder of a Jewish teachers’ seminary (1941). In the Lodz ghetto he published teachers’ course materials for Yiddish. In August 1944 during the liquidation of the ghetto, he was deported to Auschwitz. He was later in other camps as well. In May 1945 he was liberated from Dachau. Until 1947 he lived in Bergen-Belsen, where he was active in the community. He later settled in Israel. His first publications appeared in 1922: a monograph on R. Shmuel Hanagid in the Journal Unzer veg (Our way) in Vienna, and from then he contributed articles on literature, philosophy, history, and education, as well as poems, stories, and literary readers for schools in Yidishe arbeter shtime (Voice of Jewish labor) of which he was the literary editor in Lodz; Togblat (Daily newspaper), Moriya (Mount Moriah), and Diglenu (Our banner) in Warsaw; Beys yankev (House of Jacob) and Der idisher arbeter (The Jewish laborer) in Lodz; Hamodiya (The herald) in Jerusalem; and Yivo-bleter (Pages from YIVO) in New York), among others. Among his books: Yidishkeyt un veltishkeyt (Jewishness and worldliness), with an introduction by Yankev Rozenheym (Lodz, 1938), 155 pp.; Unzer yidish (Our Yiddish), a reader for the Beys Yankev schools (Lodz, 1932), 160 pp.; Yidishe klangen (Yiddish sounds), a reader (Lodz, 1937), 64 pp. He also helped compile the textbook Yidish klangen for the first year of schooling (Lodz, 1932). In Hebrew: Min hametsar (Out of distress), concerning the Lodz ghetto and concentration camps, as well as a fragment of the poem “Nerot khanuka beoshvits” (Chanukah candles at Auschwitz) (Jerusalem, 1949), 176 pp.; Taḥanot besifrut yisrael (Camps in the literature of Israel) (Jerusalem, 1955); Benetivot hazman vehanetsaḥ (On the paths of time and glory) (Jerusalem, 1955). He died in Jerusalem.
Sources: Y. Opatoshu, in Literarishe bleter (Warsaw) 750; Opatoshu biblyografye (Opatoshu bibliography) (New York) 2 (1947), no. 1530; Yivo-bleter (New York) 30 (1947), pp. 152-55; A. Ayzenbakh, in Yidishe shriftn, anthology (Lodz, 1948); B. Mark, Umgekumene shrayber fun di getos un lagern (Murdered writers in the nghettos and camps) (Warsaw, 1954), p. 161; David, Zaritsky, in Hamodiya (Jerusalem) (Av 1955); Kh. L. Fuks, in Fun noentn over 3 (New York, 1957).
[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 167.]