Sunday 13 December 2015


DOVID HOKHBERG (b. February 16, 1880)
            He was born in a village near Bohuslav, Kiev region, Ukraine.  Over the years 1904-1910, he worked as a teacher in schools of the “Khevre mefitse haskole” (Society for the promotion of enlightenment [among the Jews of Russia]) in St. Petersburg, and there he began a struggle for a school in Yiddish.  After graduating from the law faculty (1910), he administered a school for Jewish children in Kremenchuk, Ukraine, and little by little transformed it into a school in which the language of instruction was Yiddish.  In 1912 he organized in Vilna—for a group of students from the Jewish teachers’ institute—a seminar in Yiddish on pedagogy.  As a plenipotentiary from the Moscow division of the “Khevre mefitse haskole,” in 1915 he founded for refugees from the Tambov region a network of schools in Yiddish, and in 1916 he administered the first Yiddish teachers’ conference in Tambov.  His literary activities began in 1905 with a compilation concerning the French Revolution.  He later published articles (under his own name and under various pseudonyms) in: Fraynt (Friend), Yudishe velt (Jewish world), Di vokh (The week), and Vestnik ope (OPE Herald)—in St. Petersburg; Naye tsayt (Our time) in Kiev; Kultur un bildung (Culture and education) and Emes (Truth) in Moscow; among others.  Through the “Khevre mefitse haskole,” in 1913 he published the first curriculum in Yiddish and a catalogue of books in Yiddish for children.  Following the October Revolution of 1917 in Russia, he served as editor of the scientific pedagogical division of the Jewish Commissariat, in the Commissariat for National Minorities, in the Central Bureau of the Jewish Section, and he edited and translated a series of textbooks and scholarly works.  From 1920 he was director of the dialectological section of the institute for the study of Yiddish history, philology, and literature.  He also contributed to the orthographic reform of the Jewish alphabet in Yiddish, wrote an array of treatises on Yiddish phonetics and grammar, as well as an evaluation of Yiddish literature of the previous epoch, and composed a teaching method for Yiddish literature.
            Among his books: Di naye shul, an ilustrirter alef-beys mit a groysn materyal tsum leyenen nokhn alef-beys (The new school, an illustrated alphabet with a great deal of material to read after the alphabet) (Vilna: B. A. Kletskin, 1913), 114 pp., second edition (Kiev, 1918), third edition (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1919); Metodishe onvayzungen tsu lernen leyenen yidish (Methodical instruction for learning to read Yiddish), with an introduction by K. Zhitomirski (Vilna, 1913), 97 pp.; Bamerkung un metodishe onvayzungen tsu der “nayer shul” (Observation and methodical instructions for the “new school”) (Kiev, 1918), 46 pp.  He translated into Yiddish the following works: Otto Schmeil, Di reformatorishe shtrebungen inem gebit fun der natur-historisher shilderung (The reformist pursuits in the field of the descriptions of natural history), “toward a method for natural history” (Moscow, 1920); Schmeil, Geviksn, botanik (Plants, botany), “the foundations of natural science from the standpoint of biology” (Moscow, 1920), 223 pp., second edition (Kiev, 1926); A. Bogdanov and Y. Stepanov, A kurs politishe ekonomye (A course in political economy [original: Kurs politicheskoi ekonomii], vol. 1 (Kiev, 1921), 86 pp.; V. A. Nikol’ski, Fun shteyn tsu metal (From stone to metal) (Kiev, 1925), 128 pp.; N. Lenin, Di imperyalistishe milkhome (The imperialist war [original: Imperialisticheskaia voina i raskol sotsializma (Imperialist war and the split in socialism)] (Moscow, 1925), 159 pp.; Lenin, Oysgeveylte verk (Selected works) (Moscow, 1934); He edited: six issues of Undzer veg (Our way), socio-political and literary weekly, organ of central bureau of the United Jewish Socialist Workers’ Party (Moscow, 1918), appearing from June 28 to August 23, 1918); N. M. Nikol’ski’s Dos uralte folk yisroel (The ancient people Israel) (Moscow, 1919), 277 pp.; Nikolai Bukharin and Yevgeni Preobrazhenski, Der alef-beys fun komunizm (The ABCs of Communism), trans. A. Rozental (Moscow, 1920), 353 pp.; P. L. Malchevski and G. Yakubson, Eynike poshetste eksperimentn farn elementar-limed (fizik) (Several very simple experiments for elementary subject matter, physics) (Moscow, 1920), 72 pp.; A. Zaretski, Matematik (Mathematics) (Kiev, 1921), 66 pp.; In der heym, in shul, in vald, in feld (In the home, in school, in the forest, in the field), from English, trans. Y. H. (Moscow, 1924), 237 pp.; Professor K. A. Timiryazev, Dos lebn fun a geviks (The life of a plant [original: Zhizn’ ratenii︠a︡]), trans. H. Farber (Moscow, 1925), 162 pp.; B. Herber, Lernbukh fun elementarer geometrye (Textbook for elementary geometry [original: Uchebnik elementarnoi geometrii]), trans. A. Margolin part 1, planimetrics (Moscow, 1925), 80 pp., part 2, stereometrics (Moscow, 1925), 70 pp.; A. V. Kragyus, Grodlinike trigonometrye (Rectilinear trigonometry), trans. Sh. Dolginov (Moscow, 1929), 163 pp.  Hokhberg remained in Soviet Russia; his subsequent fate remains unknown.

Sources: Zalmen reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1; Y. Bostomski, in Di naye shul (Warsaw, 1923); A. Abtshuk, Etyudn un materyaln (Studies and materials) (Kharkov, 1934), p. 25; Kh. Sh. Kazdan, Fun kheyder un shkoles biz tsisho (From religious and secular primary schools to Tsisho) (Mexico, 1956), see index.

Aleksander Pomerants

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