Thursday 28 January 2016



            He was a translator, born in the city of Bobruisk, Byelorussia, into the family of an artisan.  His father was a carpenter, his mother a stocking maker. In his youth, he helped his father with his work, while at the same time attending school. He graduated from secondary school, and then began working in the city library. He left his hometown in 1927 and came to Moscow to study literature. After completing his courses, he did his army service, and then moved to Birobidzhan to work as director of literature in the Yiddish State Theater. He left Birobidzhan in 1936 and settled in Minsk, where he became a consultant for the newspaper Sovetskaya Belarus’ (Soviet Byelorussia). On June 22, 1941, he went off to the war front. After the war he worked as a bookseller. By happenstance he met the Yiddish poet Shmuel Halkin, who lived next door to him, in the suburban Moscow community of Malakhovka. The poet discovered in his gifted neighbor a creative talent and encouraged him to try his hand at translating from Yiddish into Russian, and first of all to do so with Halpern’s own poetry. The editors at the Russian literary journals in Moscow published his translations, and Gurevitsh became a professional translator. And, thanks to him, Russian readers have become acquainted with the works of Yiddish writers, among them the classical authors—Sholem-Aleichem, Mendele-Moykher Sforim, and Y. L. Perets. In translation he also published the work of Yiddish poets: Leyb Kvitko, Osher Shvartsman, Itsik Fefer, Zyame Telesin, Itshe Borukhovitsh, and others. His translation of Sholem Ash’s Di muter (The mother) received the highest reviews on the part of critics and readers.

Source: Sovetish heymland, Materyaln far a leksikon fun der yidisher sovetisher literatur (Materials for a handbook of Soviet Jewish literature) (September 1975).

Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 156; additional information from: Chaim Beider, Leksikon fun yidishe shrayber in ratn-farband (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers in the Soviet Union), ed. Boris Sandler and Gennady Estraikh (New York: Congress for Jewish Culture, Inc., 2011), p. 80.

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