SOFYE DUBNOV-ERLIKH (SOPHIA DUBNOW-ERLICH) (March 9, 1885-May 4, 1986)
She was born in Mstislavl, Byelorussia, the eldest daughter of Shimon Dubnov (Simon Dubnow). When she was five years of age, her family moved to Odessa. She studied in a secular high school and Jewish subjects with her father. Graduating in 1902, she enrolled in a special higher course of study in St. Petersburg. In 1903 she was expelled for having taking part in student demonstrations. She joined the Russian Social Democratic Party. After the October Revolution of 1905, she was accepted into St. Petersburg University in the faculty of history and philosophy. In late 1906 she came to Vilna where her family was then living. She joined the Bund and engaged in enlightenment work among young Jewish students. In 1911 she married Henryk Erlich. During WWI and the early period after the Bolshevik Revolution, she was living in Petrograd. She had begun writing already in her high school years, in the main poetry in Russian. Her first publication came in 1903, a poem in a Russian Jewish journal Budushchnost’ (Future). This poem, “Haman and His Demise,” was an allegory for the ruthless Tsarist minister of the time, Plehve. The Tsarist regime discovered what the poem was saying and confiscated this issue of the journal. She continued to contribute to Russian Jewish journals of that era and to the monthly Letopis’ (Annals), edited by Maxim Gorky. In addition to poems, she published stories and translations from Yiddish and Hebrew literature, poetry as well as prose; among other works, she translated for Letopis’, at Gorky’s request, a number of Bialik’s poems and prose works. In Vilna she contributed to the Bundist journal Nashe slovo (Our word) in 1906. She moved to Warsaw in 1918, and for twenty years she remained a stable contributor to the Bundist press in Poland: Lebens-fragen (Life issues), Folkstsaytung (People’s newspaper), and others. She published literary criticism and literary historical treatises, primarily concerning writers and books of world literature, but also on writers and books drawn from Jewish literature. She was a regular theater critic for Folkstsaytung. She kept readers up-to-date on all the important Jewish and non-Jewish theatrical events. She was also in charge of the regular reportage rubric, “Shpritsn fun lebn” (Bits of life). Among her books: Osennaya svirel (Autumn pipe), poems (1910-1911); Mat’ (Mother) (St. Petersburg, 1918); Garber bund un bershter bund, bletlekh geshikhte fun der yidisher arbeter-bavegung (The tanners’ union and the brush union, pages from the history of the Jewish labor movement) (Warsaw, 1937), 262 pp. With the outbreak of WWII, she escaped to Vilna, and later to Kovno. After a long and difficult period of wandering, in 1941 she reached Canada. In 1942 she came to New York. In 1943 she published in the anthology Vladimir medem a longer work, entitled “Dos lebn fun vladimir medem” (The life of Vladimir Medem), pp. 25-123. Her biographical work on her father appeared in 1951 in New York in Russian, and it was subsequently translated by Moyshe Ferdman with the title Dos lebn un shafn fun shimen dubnov (The life and work of Simon Dubnov) (Mexico, 1952), 322 pp. She was living in New York. She also completed a book about Yoysef Khmuner (Leshtshinski). She also participated in writing the history of the Bund, and she published articles in Unzer tsayt (Our time) in New York, and elsewhere.
[N.B. Dubnov-Erlikh lived to the age 101 and published well after this biography went to press. She published a memoir entitled Khleb i matsa (Bread and matzoh) in 1994—JAF.]
Sources: Sh. Dubnov, in Tog (New York) (December 17, 1932); F. Kurski, Gezamlte shriftn (Collected writings) (New York, 1952), pp. 137-38, 355; B. Shefner, in Novolifye 7 (Buenos Aires, 1955), p. 77; A. Menes, in Forverts (New York) (March 16, 1958).