Sunday 6 December 2015


YISROEL DRAKHLER (April 15, 1885-March 13, 1948)
            He was born in Zavale, near Kamenets-Podolsk (Kamianets-Podilskyi), Ukraine, into a well-off and religiously observant family.  He studied with his father and with private tutors.  While still quite young he was active in Jewish community and cultural life.  He was later a teacher in a number of Yiddish and Hebrew schools in Podolia.  During the years of WWI, he worked for the Red Cross.  He was a member, 1919-1920, of the council of the Jewish ministry in Ukraine, and he worked for the archive concerned with Jewish pogroms.  In 1922 he emigrated to Canada; in 1924 he settled in the United States.  He was one of the most active pedagogues and leaders in Jewish school curricula in America.  He was a teacher and director of the Jewish school in Hurleyville, New York.  He was later a teacher in Detroit.  He was the founder and long-time secretary of the Yiddish division of the Detroit Jewish Community Council.  He began his writing work in 1920 with sketches of Jewish life during WWI and by writing up his experiences during the era of pogroms against Jews in Ukraine.  He contributed to: Moment (Moment) in Warsaw; Keneder odler (Canadian eagle) in Montreal; Forverts (Forward), Tsukunft (Future), Tog (Day), Dos naye lebn (The new life), and Kinder-zhurnal (Children’s journal) in New York; Di yidishe shtime (The Jewish voice) in Detroit; and Grininke boymelekh (Little green trees) in Vilna; among others.  He published stories, articles, poems, one-act plays, and memoirs.  Among his books: Esterkes kholem, purim-shpil in fir bilder (Little Esther’s dream, a Purim play in four scenes) (New York, 1928), 32 pp.; Mayses fun a kleynem vanderer, erinerungen fun a yidishn yingl in ukrayne beys der milhome un pogromen (Stories of a little wanderer, the experiences of a Jewish boy in Ukraine during the war and pogroms) (Vilna, 1928), 52 pp.; Neshomes (Souls), a one-act play (staged by the Detroit drama troupe).  He adapted and dramatized for the stage a number of stories by Sholem-Alekhem which were staged by children at the Yiddish school in Detroit.  He compiled (with Y. Kamay): Yidishe froyen leyen kreyzn in ditroyt (Jewish women in reading circles in Detroit) (1939), 28 pp.  He translated in manuscript a number of works concerning pedagogical methods and a long, incomplete “History of Jewish Education from Ancient Times until Our Own Day.”  He died in Detroit.

Sources: Biblyografishe yorbikher fun yivo (Bibliographic yearbooks from YIVO) (Warsaw, 1928); D. Charney, Di yidishe emigratsye (Jewqish emigration) (Berlin, 1929); Y. Rayzman, in Idisher kemfer (New York) (April 2, 1948); Yorbukh fun zvanits (Yearbook of Zvanets) (New York, 1949). (April 15, 1885-March 13, 1948)

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