Thursday 24 March 2016


LIPE HELER (KAHAN) (1915-1990)

            He was a poet (birth name: Kahan), born in the town of Dukor (Dukora), Byelorussia, into the family of a teacher. After graduating from a Jewish middle school, he completed his higher education and worked as a teacher of Yiddish language and literature. He debuted in print in 1928 with poems in Yunger leninets (Young Leninist) and Yunger arbeter (Young laborer), in the 1930s publishing in the journal Shtern (Star) and the daily newspaper Oktyaber (October), both in Minsk. In 1934 he published his poetry collection Geburt (Birth) (Minsk: State Publishers), 68 pp., which received a warm response from Izi Kharik and other writers. In 1937 he graduated from the literature faculty of the Minsk Pedagogical Institute and then moved on to teaching work in Bobruisk. He was at the front during WWII. After the war, he returned to Bobruisk. There were no Jewish schools then in the city, and he made his way by teaching Russian language and literature in one of the middle schools. In 1949 his brother, the Yiddish write Ayzik Kahan, was purged, and Lipe was ordered to leave Bobruisk. He then moved with his family to the Russian city of Smolensk, and there he eked out a living with difficulty as a teacher. At that time, his muse was kept silent for a long time, as he was unable to write for his “desk drawer,” as many others also were doing. He later published poems in Sovetish heymland (Soviet homeland) and Birobidzhaner shtern (Birobidzhan star). In the late 1970s, he returned to Byelorussia, settled in Minsk, and prepared to publish a poetry collection, but it never saw the light of day. He died in Minsk. 

Sources: Oktyaber (Minsk) 263 (1934); N. Rubinshteyn, Dos yidishe bukh in sovetn-farband in 1934 (The Yiddish book in the Soviet Union in 1934) (Minsk, 1936), p. 36

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 222; and 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. 127.]

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