Saturday 30 April 2016


GOLDE VIGDER-LEVIN (b. August 17, 1917)
            She was born in Podeloy (Podu Iloaiei), Romania, the sister of the three writing brother Shvarts.  In 1932 she moved to Czernowitz.  In 1935 she graduated from the seminary for Yiddish literature and language learning.  She was a Yiddish teacher until 1963, thereafter a teacher of Romanian studies.  From 1976 she was living in Toronto.  Over the years 1948-1958, she compiled and translated schoolbooks, as well as plays for the Yiddish state theater in Bucharest.  From 1950 she published children’s poetry and reportage pieces in Ikuf-bleter (Pages from IKUF [Jewish Cultural Association]) in Bucharest.  She compiled and translated (beginning in 1949-1950, for the Romanian State Publishing House in Bucharest): Yidishe shprakh (Yiddish language); Geshikhte fun altertum (History of antiquity); Geshikhte fun rumenye (History of Romania); Haynttsaytike geshikhte (Contemporary history); Yidishe shprakh, gramatik un ortografye, farn ershtn elementar-klas (Yiddish language, grammar and orthography for the first, elementary class) (1954), 64 pp.; Yidishe shprakh, gramatik un ortografye, farn tsveytn elementar-klas (Yiddish language, grammar and orthography for the second, elementary class) (1957), 102 pp.; Aritmetik, farn ershtn klas (Arithmetic for the first class) (1958), 152 pp.; Aritmetik, farn tsveytn klas (Arithmetic for the second class) (1958), 246 pp.

Sources: Y. Kara, Yorn yunge un vayniker yunge (Years young and not so young) (Bucharest, 1980), p. 214; Sh. Rubinger, in Bukareshter shriftn 6 (p. 122).

Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), cols. 235-36.


LITMAN VIGDER (March 7, 1901-October 17, 1972)
            He was born in Podeloy (Podu Iloaiei), Romania.  He graduated from middle school and in 1925 from the electro-technical institute in Jassy.  He survived concentration camps during WWII.  From 1948 he was living in Bucharest.  He edited Ikuf-bleter (Pages from IKUF [Jewish Cultural Association]) in Bucharest and contributed to Kultur-vegvayzer (Cultural guide) there as well.  He translated into Yiddish Lider (Poems) (Bucharest, 1966), 238 pp., by the Romanian poet Tudor Arghezi.  He also placed a piece in the anthology Oyfshtayg (Ascent), ed. M. Rispler (Bucharest, 1964).  He died in Bucharest.

Source: Y. Kara, in Folks-shtime (Warsaw) (November 19, 1966).
Y. Kara

Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 235.


YISROEL VIGODSKI (August 5, 1888-early May 1972)
            He was born in Kosov (Kosów), Grodno district, Russian Poland, into a poor family.  He studied in religious primary school and in yeshivas, and in 1906 he received ordination into the rabbinate.  In 1907 he moved to the United States and became a laborer.  He was active in the Jewish labor movement.  He was a leader in Jewish school curricula in New Jersey.  He began writing while still a student and debuted in print with a story in Fraye arbeter shtime (Free voice of labor) in New York in 1915.  From that point he published poems, stories, and impressions of New York in: Forverts (Forward), Tog (Day), and Dzhoyrzi-shtime (Voice of Jersey), among other serials.  He was co-editor of the literary publication Ineynem (Altogether), published by the Yehoash writers’ union in Jersey City and Bayonne in 1930.  He died in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Source: Zalmen reyzen-arkhiv (Zalmen Reyzen archive) (New York, YIVO).


YANKEV VIGODSKI (JAKUB WYGODZKI) (April 3, 1856-July 1941)
            He was born in Bobruisk, Byelorussia.  He studied in religious elementary school and yeshiva, and early on turned his attention to secular subjects; at age fourteen he entered the fifth class of high school in Marianpol, later studied at the medical-surgical academy in St. Petersburg, received his diploma in 1882 as a doctor of medicine, and in 1883 settled in Vilna where he rapidly became one of the most favored and popular doctors and a prominent community leader.  During the years of WWI, when Vilna was occupied by the German army, Vigodski was an important member of the representatives of the Jewish population before the occupying authorities.  The Germans interned him for his protestation against imposed contributions in Match 1917 in a camp for prisoners of war.  Returning in April 1918 to Vilna, Vigodski joined the Zionist organization and was sent by it to be a minister in the first Vilna government, when in 1919 Vilna was for a short time independent.  He was selected in 1922 to be a deputy from the Vilna region in the Polish Sejm.  He served as a member of the education committee of the Sejm and energetically spoke out for the rights of Hebrew and Yiddish schools.  He was later selected to be chair of the Vilna democratic Jewish community.  He was also one of the principal supporters of the Vilna Troupe (1920), later a founder and chair of the Jewish Theatrical Society in Vilna.
            Vigodski began to write soon after taking up his medical practice.  Over the course of several years, he published in Russian and German popular science articles on medicine and hygiene.  He began writing in Yiddish when interned in the POW camp.  In the first years after WWI, he published his articles in: Di yidishe tsaytung (The Jewish newspaper), Unzer fraynd (Our friend), Di tsayt (The time), Tog (Day), and Di vokh (The week)—in Vilna; and Haynt (Today), Moment (Moment), and Unzer lebn (Our life)—in Warsaw.  He also contributed to the Vilna Pinkes (Records), edited by Zalmen Reyzen, among other publications.  In all the newspapers he wrote about Jewish and general politics in Poland, about Zionist issues, and also about medicine.  His books include: In shturm, zikhroynes fun di okupatsye-tsaytn (In the storm, memoirs from the era of the occupation) (Vilna, 1926), 286 pp.; In gehenem, zikhroynes fun di daytshe tfises beshas der velt-milkhome (In hell, memoirs from the German prisons during the world war) (Vilna, 1927), 114 pp.; In sambatyen, zikhroynes fun tsveytn seym, 1922-1927 (In the Sambation, memoirs of the Second Sejm, 1922-1927) (Vilna, 1931), 161 pp.  He edited (with Y. Yafe): Di yidishe tsaytung, a daily newspaper in Vilna (1919); and Vilner togblat (Vilna daily newspaper) (1919-1920).  In 1940 when the Red Army took possession of Vilna, Vigodski called upon them with an appeal to Stalin that the Soviet Union should not close the Yiddish and Hebrew schools in the newly occupied regions of Poland and Lithuania.  When the Nazis seized Vilna in 1941, Vigodski—an old man of eighty-five—was severely ill.  Stirred from the habit of many years’ duration, masses of Jews flowed to his home and sought his help in this time of emergency.  As sick as he was, barely able to get up from his sickbed, Vigodski dressed in his finest state garb, with the yellow patch only recently sown on, and—in the hope of getting them to repeal something of their harsh decrees—he went shaking to speak on behalf of Jewish affairs.  The Nazi official wiped his hands with a handkerchief and had the sick and elderly man thrown down the steps.  Bloodied all over, Vigodski barely was able to make his way home.  When a bit later Gestapo agents came to arrest him, the old man refused to go with them.  Battered and bruised, he was taken by them to the Lukishker Prison.  Others who were with him in the same cell later reported that the entire time he was in jail, he held himself with a rare pride and tried to encourage his fellow arrestees.  His condition in prison deteriorated.  Without the least medical help, on a stone floor, the Vilna Jewish leader of many years died in one of the last days of July 1941.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1; Z. Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 1; Pinkes yekopo (Records of Yekopo [Jewish Assistance Committee for the Victims]) (Vilna, 1931); E. Y. Goldshmidt, in Vilna anthology, edited by Y. Yeshurin (New York, 1935); A. Sutskever, in Yidishe kultur (New York) (January 1945); Sh. Katsherginski, in Tsukunft (New York) (September 1946); Katsherginski, Khurbn vilne (The Holocaust in Vilna) (New York, 1947); A. Tsintsinatus, in Bleter vegn vilne, zamlbukh (Pages about Vilna, a collection) (Lodz, 1947); Shmuel Niger, Kidesh hashem (Sanctification of the name) (New York, 1947); Mark Dvorzhetski, Yerusholaim delite in kamf un umkum (The Jerusalem of Lithuania in struggle and death) (Paris, 1948); D. Tsharni, (Daniel Charney), Vilne (Vilna) (Buenos Aires, 1951); Y. Grinboym, Pene hador (Faces of the generation) (Jerusalem, 1857/1958), pp. 396-99; H. Abramovitsh, Farshvundene geshtaltn (Images gone) (Buenos Aires, 1958), pp. 56-63.
Borekh Tshubinski

Friday 29 April 2016


            He was born in Żarek, near Wieluń, Poland.  He studied in religious primary school and yeshivas.  In 1874 he moved to England.  He published poetry in Fonograf (Phonograph) and Di tsayt (The time) in London.  He was the author of the pamphlets: Mayn lebns geshikhte (My life story) (London, 1930), 16 pp., in which he described in verse the life of a Jewish boy from Poland and his wanderings; and Shire zimra (Songs to sing), nature and love songs in Yiddish and Hebrew (London, 1933), 19 pp.  He died in Dublin, Ireland.


SHMUEL VIGODA (October 8, 1895-December 11, 1990)
            He was born in Dobzhin (Dobrzyn), Plotsk district, Poland, to a father who was a cantor.  As a youth he moved with his parents to Hungary, studied in religious primary school, in the Pressburg (Bratislava) and Klausenburg (Cluj-Napoca) yeshivas, and later graduated from high school.  He worked for a time as a Hebrew teacher in a village.  Over the years 1916-1918, he served in the Austrian military and was on the Russian front, later settling in Budapest where in 1923 he worked as a cantor for the Arena Street Synagogue.  From 1923 he was living in the United States.  He took up cantorial positions in New York and other cities.  He visited Europe, as well as Central and South America.  He began writing on the cantorial art in Di shul un di khazonim velt (The synagogue and the world of cantors) in Warsaw (1934).  From that point he wrote about cantors for: the anthology Khazones, zamlbukh (Cantorial art, anthology) (New York, 1937); in Keneder odler (Canadian eagle) in Montreal; Forverts (Forward), Morgn-zhurnal (Morning journal, and Tog (Day) in New York; Di shtime (The voice) in Mexico City; among others.  He adapted and wrote music for poetry by Yiddish and Hebrew poets.  In album format: Goles-kinder un shtumer protest (Diaspora children and quiet protest) (New York, 1930), 6 pp.  From June 1959 he published every Friday in Forverts a popular series of articles, “Barimte khazonim” (Famous cantors).

Sources: E. Zaludkovski, Kultur-treger fun der yidisher liturgye (Culture bearers of the Jewish liturgy) (Vilna, 1930), pp. 282-83; Khazones, zamlbukh (Cantorial art, anthology) (New York) (1937), pp. 171-72; S. Kahan, Muzikalishe eseyen (Musical essays) (Mexico City, 1956), pp. 135-36; Sh. Secunda, in Forverts (New York) (June 26, 1959).


SHIMEN VUZEK (b. January 24, 1895)
            He was born in Sluzheve (Służewo), Poland.  He studied in religious elementary school and was a chorister with cantors in Polish cities.  He worked as a coal miner in Essen, Germany, and in 1938 he was taken away by the Germans to Zbonshin (Zbonszyn), Poland.  In 1939 he arrived in Rochester where he worked as a tailor.  He debuted in print with a poem in Moment (Moment) in Warsaw, but only from 1953 did he begin to publish his poems in a series of periodicals: Fraye arbeter shtime (Free voice of labor), Bitokhn (Confidence), Undzer eygn vort (Our own word), and Oyfsnay (Afresh), Zayn (To be)—all in New York; Dorem-afrike (South Africa) in Johannesburg; and others.  He translated poems by Else Lasker-Schüler and Nelly Sachs.

Source: Elvi (Z. Levi), in Dorem-afrike (Johannesburg) (May-June 1980).

Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), cols. 234-35.


SHMUEL WHITE (January 24, 1891-1971)
            His original name was Vays (Weiss).  He was born in Lodz, Poland, into a wealthy Hassidic family.  He studied in religious primary school and secular subject matter with private tutors.  In 1901 he moved with his parents to London, England.  Until 1915 he was employed in chemical manufacturing, and from 1918 in leather manufacture.  He served in the British army, 1917-1918.  In 1913 he began to publish poems and stories in London’s Idisher ekspres (Jewish express).  From that point he published his work in Yiddish-language venues in London: Der idisher zhurnal (The Jewish journal), Der fonograf (The phonograph), Yontef bleter (Holiday sheets), Fraynd (Friend), Advertayzer (Advertiser), Idishe post (Jewish mail), Tsayt (Time) edited by Morris Meyer, Loshn un lebn (Language and life) edited by Nokhum Shtentsl, Idishe shtime (Jewish voice), Teater-shpigl (Theater mirror), and Yidish london (Jewish London) (1939).  He also contributed to the Loshn un lebn almanac: Vaytshepl lebt (Whitechapel lives).  He published as well in: Literarishe bleter (Literary leaves) in Warsaw, and Fraye horizontn (Free horizons) and Der teater-shpigl (The theater mirror) in Paris.  His books include: Neshome-klangen (Sounds of the soul), poetry (London, 1941), 84 pp., with a foreword by Morris Meyer; Pamokhet, der khelmer poet (Pamokhet, the poet from Chelm) (London, 1954), 71 pp.  His poems also appeared with notation: Kol yehuda (Voice of Judah) and Baym kineres shteyt a yosem (An orphan stands by the Sea of Galilee), music by Y. Rozenberg and Sam Goldberg.  A poem of his may also be found in the English-language anthology, The Golden Peacock, edited by Joseph Leftwich.  He died in London.

Sources: M. Ziskind, in Di tsayt (London) (January 19, 1943); L. Sh. Kreditor, in Teater-shpigl (London) (March 1946); Y. H. Levi, in Loshn un lebn (London) (1951); Levi, in Frayland (Paris) (April 1954); Levi, Gezamlte shriftn (Collected works), vol. 2 (London, 1958); Fraye horizontn (Paris) (July-September 1951); A. Goldberg, in Loshn un lebn (August 1955); Ben A. Sokhatshevski, in Idishe shtime (London) (July 5, 1955); Joseph Leftwich, ed., The Golden Peacock (Cambridge, Mass., 1939), p. 729; Who Is Who in World Jewry (New York, 1955); “Book Briefs,” The Jewish Chronicle (November 5, 1955).
Zaynvl Diamant


FROYM (FISHL) VASHITS (March 26, 1879-January 31, 1945)
            He was born in Yezyerne (Ozerna), eastern Galicia.  He graduated from high school in Zlatshev (Zolochiv) and Lemberg University as a lawyer.  From his student years, he was an active Zionist and a delegate to all Zionist congresses.  He was a leader in Jewish sports organizations in Galicia.  He served as an officer in the Austrian army during WWI.  He was a founder of Jewish self-defense in Lemberg during the pogroms of 1918.  In that year, out of fear of repression, he left Poland, traveled to Copenhagen, Denmark, where he succeeded in influencing the world renowned writer Georg Brandes to appear publicly against the pogroms against Jews in Poland.  From Copenhagen he came to Vienna and from there to the land of Israel, where he lived in Jerusalem and Haifa and where over the course of years took a prominent role as a defender of Jews in English courts.  In 1930 he chose to join the Revisionist Party.  He began writing in Yiddish in Der yud (The Jew) in Cracow (1905-1907), of which he was a cofounder and co-editor.  He was also cofounder of Togblat (Daily newspaper) in Lemberg, where in 1918 he frequently wrote detailed articles concerned with the contemporary Jewish state of affairs in Galicia and Poland generally.  He died in Jerusalem.  After his death there appeared under the editorship of Dr. B. Lubutski a book dedicated to Vashits, entitled Derekh ḥayav shel tsiyoni loḥem (The path in life of a Zionist fighter) (Jerusalem: Aḥiasaf, 1947), 159 pp.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1; D. Tidhar, in Entsiklopedyah leḥalutse hayishuv uvonav (Encyclopedia of the pioneers and builders of the yishuv), vol. 4 (Tel Aviv, 1950), pp. 1805-6; Sefer haishim (Biographical dictionary) (Tel Aviv, 1936/1937), p. 345; Dr. M. Naygreshl, in Fun noentn over (New York) 1 (1955); Dr. N. M. Gelber, Toldot hatenua hatsiyonit begalitsiya (History of the Zionist movement in Galicia) (Jerusalem, 1958).


            He was a Polish politician, ethnographer, journalist, and writer.  He co-founded the Jewish section of the Polish Socialist Party (PPS [Polska Partia Socjalistyczna]) in the late 1890s.  Between the world wars, he was the Polish minister and ambassador in Latvia.  He was the author of a series of works, such as: Die Judenfrage in Kongress-Polen, ihre Schwierigkeiten und ihre Lösung (The Jewish question in Congress Poland, difficulties and solution) (Vienna, 1915), 45 pp.  During party activities, he mastered speaking and reading Yiddish.  He contributed to: Der arbayter (The laborer), Yiddish organ of the PPS (London-Cracow-Warsaw, 1898-1906), and he edited issues 2, 3, 4, and 5; and Di proletarishe velt (The proletarian world) (London, 1902), and he edited its October issue.  He died in Warsaw.

Sources: P. Shvarts, Yuzef Pilsudski, zayn batsiung tsu der yidn-frage, un zayn kamf kegn “Bund” (1893-1905) (Józef Piłsudski, his connection to the Jewish question and his struggle against the Bund, 1893-1905) (Warsaw, 1936), see index; Zamlbukh lekoved dem tsveyhundert un fuftsikstn yoyvl fun der yidisher prese, 1686-1936 (Anthology in honor of the 250th jubilee of the Yiddish press, 1686-1936), ed. Dr. Y. Shatski (New York, 1937), p. 325; Shtern (Kiev) (September 25, 1940); Buletin fun bund-arkhiv (New York) 1 (January 1960), p. 6.
Khayim Leyb Fuks


MOYSHE VARSHE (1887-April 22, 1921)
            He was born in Antopol (Antopolye), Grodno district, to a father who was a poor elementary school teacher.  He grew up in Plotsk, Poland, to which his parents moved when he was still a child.  He studied with his father and privately.  He was carried away early on by the revolutionary movement on the eve of 1905, joined the Bund, and for his revolutionary work he was thrown in prison on several occasions in Plotsk, Warsaw, and Kalish.  In 1906 he moved to the United States, worked in a factory, sold newspapers, suffered from hunger, lived an ascetic life, avoided people, and was tortured by nightmares and physical and mental illnesses until his fatal end in 1912.  The sole consolation in his tragic life was the friendship that he established with several young Jewish writers who would later become well-known as “Di yunge” (The young ones).  Varshe was closer to Zishe Landau, Moyshe Nadir, and Kolya Teper than to the others.  Together with Teper, he translated Chekhov’s plays into Yiddish: Der onkl vanya (Uncle Vanya [original: Diadia Vanya]), Der vaser-foygl (The seagull [original: Chaika]), and Der karshn-gortn (The cherry orchard [original: Vishenvyi sad]); with B. Lapin, he translated Knut Hamsun’s Viktorya (Victoria) and Leonid Andreev’s Dos lebn funem mentshn (The life of man [original: Zhizn' cheloveka]).  Varshe worked the last weeks of his life as a night watchman in an apartment house which was then in the middle of construction.  One night he was high up in the complete darkness of the unfinished building and plunged downward.  When he was found lying on the sidewalk, he was already dead.  K. Teper and Z. Landau later published his collected writings: Vegn fun a neshome, togbukh, ferzn, bletlekh (Pathways of a soul, diary, verses, pages) (New York, 1913), 111 pp.
            “Varshe’s problems were ‘sin,’ ‘no good,’ ‘good,’ and the like,” wrote B. Vladek.  “Kabbala was reality for him.  And suffering from definite forms of nervous illnesses and material poverty, he never mentioned things that would have the slightest connection to materiality.  Like many other lost spirits, he sought salvation in books.  In his Bletlekh (Pages) which was full of extracts from books, one can see that he read a great deal and he looked hopelessly everywhere for an answer to his unhappy existence.”

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1; Z. Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 1; Kh. L. Fuks, in Folksblat (Lodz) (June 20, 1918); R. Ayzland, in Zishe landoy zamlbukh (Zishe Landau anthology) (New York, 1936), pp. 38, 40, 42; Ayzland, Fun undzer friling, literarishe zikhroynes un portretn (From our spring, literary memoirs and portraits) (New York, 1954), pp. 15-19; Sh. Kruk, Plotsk, bletlekh geshikhte fun idishn lebn in der alter heym (Plotsk, pages from the history of Jewish life in the old country) (Buenos Aires, 1945), pp. 130-32; B. Vladek, in Plotsk, pp. 151-52.
Borekh Tshubinski


OYZER VARSHAVSKI (April 15, 1898-October 10, 1944)
            He was born in Sochaczew, Warsaw district, Poland, into a well-off family.  His father was a follower of the Jewish Enlightenment who had lived for a time in London.  Oyzer received a traditional Jewish education, for a short time worked as a Hebrew teacher, and thereafter mastered the art of photography.  He began writing during WWI.  In 1920 I. M. Vaysenberg (Weissenberg) published his work Shmuglers, a novel in three parts about Jewish life in Poland under German occupation (illustrated with drawings by Y. Zaydenbeytel) (Warsaw, part 1, 94 pp.; part 2, 94 pp.; part 3, 120 pp.).  The book made a huge impression among Yiddish readers in Poland, Russia, and various other countries.  In a short period of time, it appeared in several editions (Warsaw: Kultur-life, 1922; Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1930; Vilna: Kletskin, 1930), in Hebrew translation by Y. H. Yeivin, as Mavriḥim, roman (Smugglers, a novel) (Tel Aviv, 1930), 231 pp., and in a Russian translation by Yankev Slonim, Spekulianty (Moscow, 1927), 294.[1]  “He gives us the smugglers so crude and brutal, and perhaps cruder and more brutal than they were in life…,” wrote Shmuel Niger.  “His depiction of them is fresh and moist, like a section of a field about to be ploughed….  The crude life is painted crudely—this is The Smugglers—a sprout of a not yet mature but fresh and full artistic kernel.”  It was also reprinted much later: (Buenos Aires: Lifshits fund, 1969), 315 pp.
            After the great success of his book, Varshavski remained in Warsaw.  He wrote more, and people expected more work from him.  He took part in activities of writers’ associations.  He published correspondence pieces in Di tsayt (The times) in London, and from time to time places stories in New York’s Tsukunft (Future); “In di berg” (In the mountains), Khalyastre (Gang) 1 (1922), pp. 36-39 (Warsaw); “Vayberish” (Womanly), Dos naye lebn (The new life) (1922) (New York); “Der mundir” (The uniform), Khalyastre 2 (1924), pp. 25-66 (Paris).  He published fragments of a new book, “Shnit-tsayt” (Harvest time), in: Literarishe bleter (Literary leaves) in Warsaw, Di royte velt (The red world) in Kharkov, Albatros (Albatross, edited by Uri-Tsvi Grinberg) in Warsaw, Milgroym (Pomegranate) in Berlin-London, and elsewhere.  Due to some sort of confusion with his documents, in 1923 he left Poland, spent some time in Berlin and London, and in 1924 settled in Paris.  In 1926 he edited a one-off publication in Paris, entitled Literarishe revi (Literary review) in which he published his story, “In keler bay berele bas” (In the cellar with Berele Bas), and from there he also published his writings in various magazines, among them in the revived Yidishe velt (Jewish world) in Warsaw.
            In 1926 Varshavski’s novel Shnit-tsayt (381 pp.) was published by the Vilna publishing house of Kletskin.  This novel did not realize the hopes that the Yiddish literary critics had placed on him.  It was received coldly by both critics and readers.  He was discouraged and could write very little thereafter.  At least he was able to derive satisfaction from artists’ circles in Montparnasse and took up painting and writing essays on art and artists.  In this genre he published: Pinkhes kremer (Pinkhes Kremer), in the series “Monographs on Jewish Artists” (Paris: Triangl, 1928), 16 pp. in album format; and Avrom manyevitsh un zayne molerishe verk biz haynt (Avrom Manyevitsh and his work in painting until today), with a foreword by A. Lunatsharski (New York, 1930), 64 pp.  In the 1930s, when publication began in Paris on the “General Encyclopedia” supported by the Dubnov Fund, Varshavski performed technical editorial work on it, but he kept himself entirely aloof from the life of a Yiddish writer.  He associated all the more with artists and those working in the plastic arts in Montparnasse.  He was often in the company of Perets Markish and Ilya Ehrenburg when they spent time in Paris.  Foreign guests from the family of Jewish writers regretted his literary decline and sought an explanation for it.  “It seems to me,” wrote Y. Botoshanski, “that no writer among us has so fallen—so to speak—to the spiritual nadir as has Oyzer Varshavski….  He glimpsed the abyss, and he gave no accounting of it that under the water in the well is more soil, that from the other side of the abyss are more people with new endeavors, with new complications.  Varshavski has not gone further.”
            With the outbreak of WWII, Varshavski was faced with a spiritual crisis.  Filled with his artistic sensibility that gruesome events were impending, particularly for Jews, he feverishly prepared for the great theme: Jews during WWII.  He regularly jotted down, registered, recorded everything that he saw and what was looming about him.  In May 1941 when the Germans were approaching Paris, he was able to reach Marseilles, and there sought out a possibility of emigrating anywhere to a country west of the ocean, and then as he lost all hope for this plan, he departed for the small village of Gard in Vaucluse department.  He was there with his wife as well as many other Jews at the time, as “involuntary residents” under police supervision.  For a period of time in 1942 he was in Nice.  In the summer of 1943 when the Germans took all of France, he was able to save himself and make his way to Saint Gervais in Savoie which was then under Italian occupation.  Thereafter as the Italians concluded a separate armistice and the Nice Jewish community assembled the Jews from the southern zone, so that—according to an agreement with the Italian authorities—they could evacuate to Italy, Varshavski, although the plan did not come to fruition, left with the receding Italian army.  In September 1943 he reached Rome, and over the course of several months he lived tormented under extremely severe circumstances, in hiding, for a lengthy period of time in prison in Rome, and in 1944 he was deported from there to Auschwitz.  According to testimony of a survivor in the Oswego refugee camp (in the United States), Aba Furmanski, Varshavski was seized by the Gestapo on May 17, 1944.  The last information that we have of him dates to October 1944.  In the Paris remembrance volume and in the local Jewish press, several fragments from his work were published which indicate that in these most fateful of moments for him, he was still writing.  He died there at Auschwitz.

                Varshavski            Varshavski (left), with Perets Markish to his left and        H. Leivick facing him; man on right unidentified

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1 (with a bibliography); H. Leivick, in Tsayt (New York) (May 8, 1921); Shmuel Niger, in Tsukunft (New York) (May 1921), pp. 315-20; Niger, in Tsukunft (1924), pp. 325-29; Niger, Shuesn vegn bikher (Chats about books) (New York, 1922), pp. 309-15; N. Mayzil, Noente un vayte (Near and far), vol. 2 (Vilna, 1926), pp. 204-13; Mayzil, Geven amol a leybn (As life once was) (Buenos Aires, 1951), pp. 76-78, 107, 336; Y. Y. Trunk, Idealizm un naturalizm in der yidisher literatur (Warsaw, 1927), pp. 137-57; Trunk, Di yidishe proze in poyln in der tekufe tsvishn beyde velt-milkhomes (Yiddish prose in Poland in the era between the two world wars) (Buenos Aires, 1949), pp. 32-49; Trunk, in Poyln (New York) 7 (1953), pp. 78-81; Trunk, in Unzer tsayt (New York) (July, August, September 1958); Y. Y. Zinger, in Literarishe bleter (Warsaw) (February 4, 1927); P. Markish, in Shtern (Minsk) (March 1928), pp. 23-28; Biblyografishe yorbikher fun yivo (Bibliographic yearbooks from YIVO), vol. 1 (Warsaw, 1928); Avrom Reyzen, in Tsukunft (March 1930); Y. Botoshanski, Portretn fun yidishe shrayber (Portraits of Yiddish writers) (Warsaw, 1933); Botoshanski, in Di naye tsayt (Buenos Aires) 92 (1950); B. Vinogura, in Literarishe bleter (December 11, 1936); Report of the first World Jewish Culture Congress (Paris, 1937); Z. Shaykovski, Yidn in frankraykh (Jews in France) (New York: YIVO, 1942); D. Tsharni (Daniel Charney), in Tsukunft (January 1943); M. Ravitsh, Mayn leksikon (My lexicon), vol. 1 (Montreal, 1945); “Tsum ondenk fun oyzer varshavski” (To the memory of Oyzer Varshavski), Naye prese (Paris) (March 22, 1946); A. Tsaytlin and Y. Y. Trunk, eds., Antologye fun der yidisher proze in poyln (Anthology of Yiddish prose in Poland) (New York, 1946); Kh. Aronson and Y. Vagman, Yizker-bukh tsum ondenk fun 14 umgekumene parizer yidishe shrayber (Remembrance volume to the memory of fourteen murdered Parisian Yiddish writers) (Paris, 1946); B. Y. Rozen, in Tsukunft (February 1947); Z. Diamant, Loshn un lebn (London) (June 1947); Diamant, in In gang (Rome) 4-5 (June-July 1947); Diamant, in In dinst fun folk, almanakh fun yidishn folks-ordn (In the service of the people, almanac of the Jewish People’s Order) (New York, 1947), p. 436; Diamant, in Yivo-bleter (New York) 37 (1953), pp. 334-37; Diamant, in Fun noentn over (New York) 4 (1958); M. Litvin, in Naye prese (March 13, 1948), including a list of Varshavski’s literary heritage; Kh. Lits, Hasefer haivri (The Hebrew book) (New York, 1948/1949); L. Kenig, in Di goldene keyt (Tel Aviv) 14 (1952); B. Kutsher, Geven amol varshe (As Warsaw once was) (Paris, 1955); A. Bekerman, Bleter far geshikhte (Warsaw) 8.1-2 (January-June 1955), p. 63; Y. Rodak, Kunst un kinstler (Art and artists) (New York, 1955), p. 180; Y. Papyernikov, Heymishe un noente (Familiar and close) (Tel Aviv, 1958), pp. 230-77; Z. Diamant, in Yivo Annual of Jewish Social Science (New York) 8 (1953).
Zaynvl Diamant

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 234.]

[1] In 2008 an English translation by Golda Werman, Smugglers, appeared (New York, 234 pp.); and in French by Aby Wievorka et Henri Raczymow, Les Contrebandiers, roman (Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1989), 219 pp. (JAF)

Thursday 28 April 2016


MARK VARSHAVSKI (November 26, 1848-1907)
            He was born in Odessa, Ukraine, into a prominent family.  In his youth he moved with his parents to Zhitomir, studied there for four years in the rabbinical school, then graduated from high school, studied law for a year at Odessa University, and completed his studies in 1875 in Kiev.  He married in 1879 and then for many years practiced as a courtroom lawyer.  He was also employed by the district court and the superior court.  A man with good-natured humor and considerable spiritual virtue, he was beloved of Kiev intellectuals and was a major hit with his improvised humorous couplets, but he suffered materially, barely able to make ends meet.  Only in 1903 when he became legal counsel for the Belgian firm of Huttes, did his situation improved.  Early in 1905 he became seriously ill and returned to Kiev where he grew weak over the final two years of his life and greatly suffering.  He died of apoplexy in Kiev.
            Over the course many years, Varshavski wrote poems with his own tunes (just like Avrom Goldfaden who was a frequent visitor in his father home and throughout his life remained Varshavski’s friend), but he did not want to make use of them.  He thought they had no literary value and did not even want them to be published.  At the end of the 1890s, he was discovered by Sholem Aleykhem who pushed him to write down his poems with the melodies, and a portion of them—twenty-five in all—were (with the help of Kiev Zionists) published in a collection entitled: Yudishe folks lider mit notn (Jewish folksongs with notation), with a preface by Sholem Aleykhem (Warsaw, 1901), 78 pp.  The collection had extraordinary success and made it possible that he and Sholem Aleykhem would appear on stage together in the evenings, and he would attempt to sing his own songs.  A second edition of his book with a biographical, critical preface by Sholem Aleykhem and with the addition of twenty-one new songs—two of which were initially published in Yud (Jew) and Yudishe familye (Jewish family)—appeared in print only after Varshavski’s death (Odessa: Moriya, 1914), 93 pp. and 14 pp.  Another edition of his folksongs was published in 1918 in New York (80 pp.), with a number of new, previously unseen songs that emerged from his posthumous writings.  Certain of his poems were published with the music, such as: Afn pripetshok, oder alef-beys (On the hearth, or the ABCs) (New York, 1913), 14 pp. (second edition, 1914); Dem milners trern (The miller’s tears) (New York, 1917), 3 pp.; and many more.  Finally there was published a new edition of his folksongs with thirty-one tunes, edited and with an introduction by Shmuel Rozhanski (Buenos Aires, 1958), 213 pp.; this edition includes, in addition to Varshavski’s poems and musical notation, “fragments of research work on their character and memoirs concerning Varshavski” by Sholem Aleykhem, Itsik Manger, Yankev Fikhman, V. Zhabotinsky, Elye Lipiner, B. Shefner, and Zalmen Hirshfeld, as well as renditions of his works: Komets alef-o (Komets-alef [is pronounced] “o”)—(including extracts of poems): “Der alef-beys” (The ABCs), “Peysekh” (Passover), “Dem milners trern,” “A briv fun amerike” (A letter from America), “A yidish lid fun rumenye” (A Yiddish song from Romania), “Dos lid fun broyt” (The song of bread), “Der yid in veg” (The Jew on the road), “Der kholem” (The dream), “Shtey oyf!” (Rise up!), “Di tekhter fun tsien zingen” (The sisters from Zion sing), “Tsien” (Zion), “Af kidesh-hashem” (To the martyrs), and “Leshono habo birusholaim” (Next year in Jerusalem); and A khasene bay yidn) (A wedding among Jews)—including extracts: “Der shadkhn moyshe-arn” (The matchmaker Moshe-Aharon), “Di bobe” (Grandmother), “Sore un rivke” (Sarah and Rebecca), “Der bekher” (The goblet), “Der zeyde mit der bobe” (Grandfather with Grandmother), “Dos freylikhe shnayderl” (The happy little tailor), “Kalenyu, veyn-zhe, veyn” (Our bride, go ahead and cry), “Di rod” (The wheel), and “A freylekhs” (A cheerful tune).  Certain of his songs were genuine folksongs, such as: “Der alef-beys,” “A briv fun amerike,” “Afn pripetshok,” “Sore un rivke,” “Der zeyde mit der bobe,” “A milners trern,” “Dos lid fun broyt,” “Der bekher,” and “Di muzinke” (The female musician).  His songs were of the same essence as Jewish folk poetry itself and just like them reflected Jewish folk life with all its suffering and delights.  The language of Varshavski’s songs was just as authentic and not contrived in their content.  The beautiful heartfelt songs were fitted completely to the motifs of the texts, and altogether brought about a situation in which his songs could be sung anywhere one heard a word of Yiddish.

Varshavski (second row from front, third from left)
with the Sons of Zion (Sholem Aleykhem is two over to his left)

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1 (with a bibliography); Y. Entin, Yidishe poetn (Jewish poets), part 1 (New York, 1927), pp. 117-20; Y. Sh. (Shatski), in in Pinkes, amerikaner opteyl fun yivo (Records of the American section of YIVO), vol. 2 (New York, 1929); N. Shtif, Yidishe literatur (Yiddish literature), part 1 (Kiev, 1928); I. Manger, Noentn geshtaltn (Recent impressions) (Warsaw, 1938), pp. 163-69; N. Mayzil, ed. and comp., Amerike in yidishn vort, antologye (America in the Yiddish word, an anthology) (New York, 1956), see index; Shmuel Niger, in Tog-morgn zhurnal (New York) (December 9, 1956); Yankev Glatshteyn, in Idisher kemfer (New York) (July 11, 1958); B. Ts. Goldberg, in Tog-morgn zhurnal (July 1`3, 1958); N. Sverdlin, in Tog-morgn zhurnal (August 7, 1958); Y. Yeshurin, Mark varshavski-biblyografye (Bibliography of Mark Varshavski) (New York, 1958); Dr. A. Mukdoni, in Tog-morgn zhurnal (September 7, 1958).
Khayim Leyb Fuks


            He lived in Warsaw.  He studied at the Institute of Judaic Studies, founded in 1928 by Professor Mayer Balaban, and received his M. A. degree from Warsaw University.  He was a member of the circle of young Jewish historians in the society “Friends of YIVO” in Warsaw.  He distinguished himself in this group of young historians by his talents and his sensibility when it came to “primary sources”; he worked through archival materials and often read his papers before the historians’ circle.  He wrote in both Polish and Yiddish.  He published: “Yidn in di nay-oysgeboyte shtet in kongres-poyln” (Jews in the newly built cities in Congress Poland), Yivo-bleter (Pages from YIVO) 3 (1932), pp. 28-35, in Vilna; and a highly valuable work, “Yidn in kongres-poyln (1815-1831)” (Jews in Congress Poland, 1815-1831), Historishe shriftn (Historical writings) 2 (1937), pp. 222-54, a YIVO publication in Vilna.  The latter of these essays is constructed in its first part on archival materials, and in the second part (entitled “Yidn in der geheymer politsey” [Jews in the secret police]) is built upon new, hitherto unknown, materials concerning well-known men who secretly served or aided the Tsarist police in Poland—among them, Antoni Ayzenboym (Anthony Eisenbaum), the founder of the first Yiddish newspaper in Poland, Der beobakhter an der vaykhsel (The observer on the Vistula).  He worked together with Dr. Emanuel Ringelblum who thought highly of the young historian.  He died during the Nazi occupation—when and where remain unknown.

Sources: Dr. P. Fridman, the collection “Bleter fun geshikhte” (Pages of history), Yivo-bleter (New York) 34 (1950), pp. 232, 239; oral information from Yishaye Trunk who worked with Varshavski in the group of historians at YIVO in Warsaw.


YAKER VARSHAVSKI (JAKIR WARSZAWSKI) (March 14, 1885-Summer 1942)
            He was born in Mlave (Mława), Poland, into a Hassidic merchant household.  He studied in religious elementary school, in the shtibl (small prayer house) of the Alexander Hassidim, and secular knowledge and foreign languages through self-study.  He was a friend in his youth of Yoysef Opatoshu, with whom he studied introspective Hassidic texts, Kabbala, the Jewish Enlightenment, and Hassidism.  From his youth he was active in the community, principally in the Zionist movement.  He was cofounder of the first library in Mlave (1904).  He worked as a private Hebrew teacher and as a bookkeeper in the local Jewish savings and loan.  He was also a traveling emissary for the Zionist central bureau for Poland, as well as a Hebrew teacher in Gostynin and in the Plotsk Jewish high school.  As a newspaper correspondent for Warsaw’s Haynt (Today), he accompanied an excursion to Israel in 1914, later inspiring the Jewish world with his reports from the trip.  For many years he was an instructor at the Jewish National Fund.  He debuted in print in Hebrew with “Tsiyurim” (Designs), full of spiritual images and sketches of nature, in Hadegel (The banner) in London (1908), and in Y. Ḥ. Brenner’s Hameorer (The awakening) in London.  In Yiddish he debuted in Roman-tsaytung (Fiction newspaper) in Warsaw (1909), and thereafter published in: Yudishe vokhnblat (Jewish weekly newspaper), Der fraynd (The friend), Unzer lebn (Our life), Velt-shpigl (World mirror), Literarishe bleter (Literary leaves), Unzer ekspres (Our express), and Haynt—all in Warsaw—in which he published stories, sketches, and current events articles; he also wrote for the Forverts (Forward) in New York (receiving first prize for his sketch “Dokter rabinovitsh” [Dr. Rabinovich] in a Forverts competition in 1931); and he contributed to, and for a time served as editorial secretary of, Hatsfira (The siren) under the editorship of Yosef Heftman.  He also placed work in Dovid Frishman’s Hador (The generation), Reshafim (Sparks), and Baderekh (On the road)—in Warsaw, as well as in other Yiddish and Hebrew periodicals in the Diaspora and in Israel.  His books include: Min hamoledet (From the motherland), travel impressions from the land of Israel, Egypt, and the Orient (Warsaw, 1919), 160 pp.; Hegyonot vezaazuim (Reason and tribulations), philosophical considerations (Warsaw, 1919), 148 pp.; Maalot umoradot (Ups and downs), stories and sketches (Warsaw, 1929), 196 pp.; Hakore hatsair (The young reader), a series of booklets of illustrated stories for young people (Warsaw, 1937).  In Yiddish: Di letste, fun mayn khasidishe heym (The last ones, from my Hassidic home), stories of Jewish circumstances and Hassidic life in the Polish shtetl, portions of which were published in the anthology Di yidishe proze in poyln tsvishn beyde velt-milhomes (Yiddish prose in Poland between the two world wars) (New York, 1947) and in Pinkes mlave (Records of Mlave) (New York, 1950).  His two books—Fun der heym (From home), scenes from the shtetl, and Dos un yents (This one and that one), features, current events, Zionist, and pedagogical articles and essays—were typeset in 1939, but were never published because of the war.  He published as well under such pen names as: Ben Aharon and Y. Varshai.  “Yaker loved seclusion, a blade of grass, a pebble, a cabin, a mound of soil,” wrote Y. Opatoshu.  “Not a single thing passed him by.  He observed everything with his eyeglasses.  The least little thing was in his eyes deserving of life.”  Until September 1939 he worked as a Hebrew teacher in the community schools in Warsaw.  Later he was confined to the ghetto and worked as a clerk in the work office.  He wrote memoirs from the war and the ghetto, as well as a series of stories.  During the selection in the summer of 1942, the Nazis murdered him.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1; M. Natish, in Naye folkstsaytung (Warsaw) (November 30, 1928); Y. Perle, in Moment (Warsaw) (December 3, 1928); Y. M. Nayman, in Di yidishe velt (Vilna) (December 1928); Ab. Cahan, in Forverts (New York) (May 24, 1931); Dr. R. Feldshuh, Yidisher gezelshaftlekher leksikon (Jewish communal handbook) (Warsaw, 1939), p. 900; D. Perski, in Hadoar (New York) (May 3, 1946); Yanos Turkov, Azoy iz es geven (That’s how it was) (Buenos Aires, 1948), p. 246; Y. Y. Trunk, Di yidishe proze in poyln (Yiddish prose in Poland) (Buenos Aires, 1949), p. 154; Y. Opatoshu, B. Varshavski, A. D. Vinditski, and Dr. Y. Rozental, in Pinkes mlave (New York, 1950); Dr. Emanuel Ringelblum, Notitsn fun varshever geto (Notices from the Warsaw Ghetto) (Warsaw, 1952), p. 297; B. Mark, Umgekumene shrayber fun di getos un lagern (Murdered writers from the ghettos and camps) (Warsaw, 1954), p. 67; Kh. Finkelshteyn, in Fun noentn over (New York) 2 (1956); M. Flakser, in Fun noentn over (New York) 3 (1957), p. 379.
Khayim Leyb Fuks


            He was born in Radom, Poland.  He graduated from the Jewish public school in Warsaw.  He cofounded the Zionist Revisionism organization from the Revisionist Zionist youth organization Masada in Poland.  He served as vice-director of a Tarbut school in Warsaw.  In 1930 he became a resident of Bialystok and leader of the local Revisionist movement.  He was a member of the Bialystok city council.  He contributed pieces to Undzer lebn (Our life) in Bialystok, as well as to a series of Zionist Revisionist organs.  His books include: Di organizatsye fun der yidisher kehile in poyln (The organization of the Jewish community in Poland) (Bialystok, 1932), 110 pp.  He was murdered by the Germans in WWII.

Sources: Byalistoker leksikon (Bialystok handbook) (Bialystok, 1935); Undzer lebn (Bialystok) (April 3, 1938).
Yankev Kohen


            He was born in Vilkovishki (Vilkaviškis), Kovno district, Lithuania.  He studied economic science at Kovno University.  In the 1930s he was general secretary of the Jewish people’s bank.  He published articles on economic issues in Dos vort (The word), organ of the Zionist Socialist Party in Lithuania.  In book form: Ber borokhov (Ber Borochov), with Tsvi Brik (Kovno, 1934), 64 pp.  He was an active leader in “Tseire-tsiyon” (Young Zionists) in Kovno.  He died in a Nazi concentration camp during WWII.

Sources: Biography of Tsvi Brik in vol. 1 of this Leksikon (New York, 1956) [translated on this website]; information from Y. Gar in New York.

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 234.]

Wednesday 27 April 2016


DOV-BER VARSHAVSKI (September 15, 1904-November 14, 1983)
            He was born in Drohitshin (Drohichyn), near Pinsk, Byelorussia, into an Orthodox family.  He studied in a “cheder metukan” (improved religious elementary school) and later in a number of yeshivas.  In 1933 he received ordination into the rabbinate in Warsaw.  From his early youth, he was active in the Zionist youth movement, initially in “Tseire-Tsiyon” (Young Zionists) and later the Zionist Revisionists.  Over the years 1932-1938, he administer a yeshiva in Warsaw, cofounded the “Religious Front” within the Revisionist Party in Poland, served as secretary to Dr. R. Feldshuh in preparing his Yidisher gezelshaftlekher leksikon (Jewish communal handbook) (publ. Warsaw, 1939).  From late 1938 until 1950 he was living in London, after that in the United States.  He worked as a rabbi in Chicago.  He began writing articles in 1929 for Grodner moment (Grodno moment), and from that point he contributed as well to: Grodner ekspres (Grodno express); Dos yudishe togblat (The Jewish daily newspaper), Haynt (Today), Moment (Moment), Unzer ekspres (Our express), Radyo (Radio), and Nayes (News)—in Warsaw; Dos vort (The word) in Vilna; and Di shtime (The voice) in Pinsk; Di shtime in Brussels; among others.  He published topical poems, articles, reportage pieces, and novellas.  His books include: Ikh bashuldik (J’accuse) (London, 1941), 18 pp.; Falshe meshikhim (False Messiahs) (London, 1942), 20 pp.; Gasn-menshn (Street people) (London, 1942), 20 pp.; Megiles eykhe fun dritn khurbn (The scroll of Lamentations from the third destruction) (Chicago, 1952), 64 pp.; In shpigl fun tsayt (In the mirror of time) (New York, 1986), 320 pp.  He published and edited Shikager tsayt-shrift (Chicago periodical) (1950-1951) and Buletin (Bulletin) in Chicago (April-June 1954).  He adapted and edited the remembrance volume Drohitshin, “500 years of Jewish life” (Chicago, 1958), 424 pp.[1]  This last volume also include an array of important writings.  He died in Chicago.

Sources: Dr. R. Feldshuh, Yidisher gezelshaftlekher leksikon (Jewish communal handbook) (Warsaw, 1939), pp. 898-99; Dr. A. Mukdoni, in Morgn-zhurnal (New York) (January 23, 1952); N. Shemen, in Der amerikaner (New York) (August 1, 1958); D. Naymark, in Forverts (New York) (August 24, 1958).

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 234.]

[1] This has now appeared in an English translation by David Goldman, edited by Florence Schumacher: Drohitchin Memorial Book: 500 Years of Jewish Life (New York, 2014), 716 pp. (JAF)


BUNEM VARSHAVSKI (June 16, 1893-March 2, 1956)
            He was born in Mlave (Mława), Poland.  He studied in religious elementary school, synagogue study hall, and with private tutors.  In 1911 he arrived at the physics and mathematics department of Liège University in Belgium.  In 1914, following the invasion of the German army into Belgium during WWI, he was interned as a Russian citizen by the Germans into a camp in Germany.  In 1916 he returned to Mlave.  He was active in the local “Hazemir” (The nightingale) drama group and the main library.  In 1919 he moved to Warsaw and served in the Polish military.  In Warsaw he was active in the Bund, in the trade union and cooperative labor movement, and in the statistics division of the Joint Distribution Committee.  From March 1939 he was living in Australia.  He began publishing with short sketches in Hadegel (The banner) in London (1909), and from that point he contributed articles, essays on literature, travel narratives, reportage pieces, and translations to: Di folkstsaytung (The people’s newspaper), Yugnt-veker (Youth alarm), Vokhnshrift (Weekly writing), Foroys (Onward), Literarishe bleter (Literary leaves), and Druker-arbeter (Publisher laborer) in Warsaw; Vilner tog (Vilna day); Unzer tsayt (Our time) and Pinkes mlave (Records of Mlave) in New York; Oyfboy (Construction), Melburner bleter (Melbourne leaves), Unzer gedank (Our idea), Melburner yidishe nayes (Melbourne Jewish news), and Oystralish-yidishe post (Australian Jewish mail) in Melbourne; Unzer shtime (Our voice) in Paris; Davar (Word) and Lebns-fragn (Life issues) in Tel Aviv; Foroys in Mexico City; and Di prese (The press) in Buenos Aires.  He also wrote in Polish and English.  His books include: Di farloyrene basmalke (The lost princess), a story in verse (following R. Nakhmen Braslaver) (Melbourne, 1944), 128 pp.  He wrote in clear verse, particularly fitting for younger readers; his popular pamphlets include (each 64 pp.): Maks nordoy (Max Nordau) (Warsaw, 1935); Leon blum (Léon Blum); Tshingis-khan, der mongolisher velṭ-hersher (Chinggis Khan, the Mongolian ruler of the world) (Warsaw, 1936); Suez kanal (Suez Canal); Oysern-mongolye (Outer Mongolia) (Warsaw, 1936)—using the pseudonyms B. Adelas, Binski, and others, and all published by the Groshn-biblyotek (Penny library) in Warsaw.  He translated Henri Barbusse’s Le feu (The fire) as Dos fayer (Warsaw, 1924), 515 pp., which went through three printings.  He edited: the monthly journal Druker-arbeter in Warsaw (1926-1939); and 50 yor lebn, zamlbukh gevidmet lozer klog (Fifty years of a life, anthology dedicated to Lozer Klog) (Warsaw, 1936), 172 pp.  He co-edited: Tsveyter oystralish-yidisher almanakh (Second Australian Jewish almanac) (Melbourne, 1942), 448 pp.; 10 yor yidishe shul in melburn (Ten years of Jewish school in Melbourne) (Melbourne, 1945), 252 pp.; and Unzer gedank (Melbourne); among others.  He wrote under such pen names as: B. Varski, Simkhe, Firet, Semper, and Idem.  He died in Melbourne.

Sources: Shmuel Niger, in Tsukunft (New York) (October 1924); M. Ravitsh, in Tsukunft (June 1943); Y. Berliner, in Foroys (Mexico City) (October 1945); Kh. Brakazh, in Bleter (Buenos Aires) (May 1946); Dr. L. Zhitnitski, in Di prese (Buenos Aires) (August 26, 1946); Yankev Glatshteyn, in Idisher kemfer (New York) (October 1950); Pinkes mlave (Records of Mlave) (New York, 1950), see index; Y. Rapaport, in Tsukunft (March 1951); R. Federman, in Unzer tsayt (New York) (March 1956); H. Bakhrakh, in Unzer shtime (Paris) (March 28, 1956); E. Shulman, in Unzer shtime (April 7, 1956).
Khayim Leyb Fuks


            He was born in Odessa, Ukraine.  After the Bolshevik uprising in Russia, he moved to England (1918) and settled in Hull where he earned a living as a merchant.  He was the author of Di khokhme hatalmud un di nayeste erfindungen (Talmud scholars and the latest inventions) (Warsaw, 1933), 181 pp.  In the foreword, he wrote that the goal of his book was to demonstrate the influences of the Talmud on modern civilization over the course of the previous 150 years.  He also wrote Kavod hatora velomdeha (The majesty of the Torah and the study of it), a polemical work (London, 1930), 64 pp.  Other biographical information remains unknown.

Source: Yivo-bleter (Vilna) 8.3 (1935).


            He was the author of Rufn (Calls), poetry (Tel Aviv, 1985), 48 pp.  The author is a retired justice of the peace in Israel.

Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 543.


            He was born in Kalish, Poland.  He studied in religious elementary school and later in a middle school in Russia.  His literary activities began in 1920 in Hebrew in the Hebrew-German journal Menora (Menorah) in Vienna.  Thereafter, he published and edited—in Warsaw—the Hebrew-language journals Had hanoar (The echo of youth) and Alim (Pages), was co-editor of Hayom (Today), served as editorial secretary of Hatsfira (The siren), together with Y. Vayngartn edited the children’s newspaper Iton katan (Little newspaper), and together with Y. A. Handelzolts edited Itoni (My newspaper).  He later switched to Yiddish and Polish, wrote articles, critical treatises, and stories in: Moment (Moment), Haynt (Today), Ekspres (Express), Radyo (Radio), Nayes (News), Chwila (Moment), Nowy Dziennik (New daily), Nasz przegląd (Our review), Nowy głos (Our voice), Opinia (Opinion), and Wiadomości literackie (Literary news), among others, in Warsaw.  He also placed pieces in Hebrew-language newspapers in other countries, such as: Haolam (The world), Haarets (The land), Hadoar (The mail), and Davar (Word).  His books would include: Beli emuna (Without faith), short stories (Warsaw, 1927/1928), 143 pp.; Orot meofel (Light from darkness), a novel of Jewish life in Poland (Warsaw, 1930), 188 pp.; Afilot (Late ripeners), sketches (Warsaw, 1935), 124 pp.  In Yiddish he published Poyln (Poland), an anthology of Polish prose (subsidized by the Polish government).  He was also a contributor to the encyclopedia Masada (in German), Entsiklopediya kelalit (General encyclopedia), and Tsienistisher leksikon (Zionist handbook).  He also served as secretary of the Hebrew Pen Club and a member of the executive of the Hebrew literary association of Warsaw.
            In the Warsaw Ghetto he was assistant to the sad and eminent Avrom Gantsvaykh in “Draytsntl” (Thirteenth), “an office to combat usury and speculation,” exposing information for the Gestapo, founded in December 1940 and liquidated in July 1941; they were Draytsntl because their office was located at 13 Leszno Street.  He was Gantsvaykh’s press chief, and he directed loudspeaker propaganda among Jewish writers and artists in the ghetto concerning “great cultural perspectives” that the Draytsntl, under Gantsvaykh’s direction, opened up for Jewish intellectuals in the ghetto.  His propaganda worked for many Jewish writers, but the majority of them soon washed their hands of him.  Only a few remained with him until the end.  Varshavyak also wrote for Gazeta Żydowska (Jewish gazette), “organ of the Jewish council,” for which “no respectable journalist would ever write” (according to Dr. Emanuel Ringelblum, Notitsn fun varshever geto [Notices from the Warsaw Ghetto]).  He wrote there, under the pen name “Varshou,” eulogies for the ghetto police and the like.  He later worked for “First Aid” under Draytsntl and “paraded about with his hat and its little stars” (Y. Turkov, Azoy iz es geven [That’s how it was]).  No one knows what happened to him in 1942 or 1943.  Writers who knew him believe that he was shot in 1942.  In any event, he did not participate in the Ghetto Uprising.

Sources: Dr. R. Feldshuh, Yidisher gezelshaftlekher leksikon (Jewish communal handbook) (Warsaw, 1939), pp. 896-97 (with a bibliography); D. Tsharni (Daniel Charney), in Tsukunft (New York) (January 1943); Yanos Turkov, Azoy iz es geven (That’s how it was) (Buenos Aires, 1948), pp. 92, 155, 162, 166, 168, 246; Dr. Emanuel Ringelblum, Notitsn fun varshever geto (Notices from the Warsaw Ghetto) (Warsaw, 1952), pp. 84, 200; B. Mark, Umgekumene shrayber fun di getos un lagern (Murdered writers from the ghettos and camps) (Warsaw, 1954), pp. 40-44; M. Flakser, in Fun noentn over (New York) 3 (1957), p. 379.


SHMUEL VARSHO (1914-1942)
            He was born in Maltsh (Malecz), near Pruzhane (Prużana), Byelorussia.  From age six he was raised in the nearby town of Antopol (Antopolye).  He received a rigorous religious education and made a name for himself as a prodigy.  At age fourteen he was already leading the local youth organization “Hashomer Hadati” (The religious guard).  He was also among the leadership of the society “Tiferet Baḥurim” (Glory of young men).  He studied thereafter in the yeshiva of Kamenets-Litovsk.  He began his writing activities around 1930, and from that point contributed work to Orthodox publications, such as: Dos vort (The word) in Vilna; Dos yudishe togblat (The Jewish daily newspaper) in Warsaw; and the journal Darkenu (Our way).  In 1936 he was editor of the journal Kneset bet yitsḥak (Congregation of the House of Isaac).  He was murdered by the Nazis during WWII.

Sources: Information from his friend from youth, R. Yankev Fester, and from his uncle, Avrom Varsho.
Zaynvl Diamant


AVROM VARSHO (ABRAHAM WARSHAW) (May 11, 1892-February 22, 1974)
            He was born in Antopol (Antopolye), Byelorussia.  He studied in religious elementary school, synagogue study chamber, and with private tutors.  As a young man he became a house painter.  In 1921 he moved to the United States and settled in Allentown, Pennsylvania.  He later lived in Chicago, where he was active in Jewish community and cultural life.  He began writing poetry and stories in the late 1920s.  He debuted in print in Di yidishe velt (The Jewish world) in Philadelphia (1930), and from that point he published stories, poems, impressions, and reportage pieces in: Idisher kuryer (Jewish courier) and Der idisher veg (The Jewish way) in Chicago; Idishe rekord (Jewish record) in St. Louis; Forverts (Forward) in New York and Chicago; Tog (Day), Idisher kemfer (Jewish fighter), Feder (Pen), and Amerikaner (American) in New York; among others.  In book form: Yorn fun fayer un blut (Years of fire and blood), stories of Jewish life in the old country and in America (Chicago, 1950), 303 pp., with a preface by the author.  He also published under such pen names as: A. Ben-Shloyme, Kh. Harkman, A. Antipolski, and A. Shleymes.  He died in Miami Beach.

Sources: Der Lebediker, in Tog-morgn zhurnal (New York) (February 17, 1957); N. Kravets, in Der idisher veg (Chicago) (February 1957).

Tuesday 26 April 2016


            He was the author of Di hayntige velt (The contemporary world), “new Jewish songs for the Jewish people, by Morits Varkivetske (Odessa: M. A. Belinson, 1871), 22 pages.”

Source: Sh. Viner, Katalog fun yidishe folkslider (Catalogue of Yiddish folksongs), supplement to S. M. Ginzburg and P. S. Marek, Yevreiskiye narodniye pecni v Rossii (Yiddish folksongs in Russia) (St. Petersburg, 1901).
Zaynvl Diamant


            He was born in Lodz, Poland, into a Hassidic family.  He studied in religious elementary school, synagogue study chamber, and with private tutors.  He later became a business employee.  He was active in Jewish cultural institutions and drama circles.  He served in the Russian military, 1914-1918.  He then returned to Lodz and became a merchant.  He authored dramas, comedies, and one-act plays which he learned thoroughly with drama circles and staged on literary evenings.  His books include: Dor hafloge oder di moderne ferkerte velt (The generation after the Tower of Babel or the modern world in reverse), a comedy in three acts and four scenes (Lodz, 1914), 39 pp.; Di hayntige yugend (Today’s youth), a play in four acts (Lodz, 1926), 61 pp.  He was living in Poland until WWII.  His subsequent fate remains unknown.

Source: Arkhiv fun zalmen zilbertsvayg (Archive of Zalmen Zilbertsvayg) in Los Angeles.



            He was a literary critic, born in Buczacz (Buchach), Ternipol region, Galicia.  He graduated as a research student from the Jewish division of language and literature at Moscow State Pedagogical Institute. For his dissertation on the writings of Perets Markish, he received the title of candidate in philological sciences. In the late 1930s and early 1940s, he worked as a lecturer in Yaroslav, later in Arkhangelsk and Armavir.

His works include: Perets markish (Perets Markish) (Moscow: Emes, 1937), 189 pp.; compiler (with Shmuel Klitenik), Maksim gorki, zamlbukh fun marksistisher kritik (Maxim Gorky, anthology of a Marxist critic) (Moscow: Emes, 1932), 109 pp., with a foreword by Yitskhok Nusinov; compiler, Tsu der metodologye funem literatur-limed in shul (On the methodology of the subject of literature in school) (Kharkov-Kiev: Ukrainian State Publishers for National Minorities, 1933), 53 pp.; introduction to Tsvey khaverim, liam un petrik (Two pals, Liam and Petrik) by Leyb Kvitko (Moscow, 1933), specially adapted for schools; editor, Dertsyelungen (Stories) by Maxim Gorky (Moscow: Emes, 1933), 243 pp., specially adapted for schools. 

Source: Chone Shmeruk, comp., Pirsumim yehudiim babrit-hamoatsot, 1917-1961 (Jewish publications in the Soviet Union, 1917-1961) (Jerusalem, 1961), see index.

Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), cols. 233-34; 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. 133.


            He lived in Olkenik (Valkininkai), Vilna district.  He graduated from the local Jewish public school.  Later he became a laborer in a cardboard factory.  He administered the Jewish People’s Library and dramatic circle in the town.  For many years he was the Olkenik correspondent for Vilner tog (Vilna day).  When the Soviets occupied the city in 1939, he became the correspondent for Vilner emes (Vilna truth).  He died in the years of WWII.
Leyzer Ran


YEKHEZKEL VORTSMAN (1878-May 16, 1938)
            He was born in Zvonets (Zvonetske), Podolia, Ukraine, into a well-off family.  He studied privately, later in Switzerland, and completed his doctorate in chemistry at Basel University.  Early on he joined the Zionist movement and, together with Nachman Syrkin, Chaim Weitzmann, and others, founded in Berne the first Zionist academic association.  He began writing in his student years; corresponded for the Yiddish weekly Hayoyets (The advisor) in Bucharest, and his first articles concerning current events were published in Der yud (The Jew) in Cracow.  He placed pieces in various Yiddish periodicals in Russia, Galicia, and Romania.  In 1904 he founded in London Di yudishe tsukunft (The Jewish future), “a radical Zionist and literary monthly”; in 1906 he brought the journal to Warsaw where he also contributed to Sokolov’s Telegraf (Telegraph).  In 1907 he moved to the United States.  He published in: Idisher kemfer (Jewish fighter), Dos idishe folk (The Jewish people), Tog (Day), Yidishes tageblat (Jewish daily newspaper), and Morgn-zhurnal (Morning journal), among others.  He published current events articles and treater criticism.  Aside from Di yudishe tsukunft (revived in New York for a short time in 1908), he also edited the anthology Amerike (America) (New York, 1909).  In subsequent years he lived in various cities in the United States and Canada.  In 1909 he edited for a short time the daily newspaper Der bostoner advokat (The Boston advocate), later the weekly Der idisher shtern (The Jewish star) in Atlanta, Georgia; in 1911 he was for a short time editor and theater critic for Keneder odler (Canadian eagle) in Montreal; over the years 1913-1915, he published in San Francisco the weekly Kalifornyer idishe shtime (Jewish voice of California), and later Dos idishe vekhter (The Jewish sentry) in Cleveland, and later still the weekly Di tsayt (The times) in Los Angeles.  He was the theater critic, 1918-1919, for Tog in New York.  His books include: Vos viln di tsienistn? (What do the Zionists want?) (London, 1901), 150 pp.; Der yidisher natsyonal fond (The Jewish National Fund) (London, 1903), 31 pp., published as well at a later date in Paris and Vienna; Ven shvaygn iz a farbrekhn (When silence is a crime), a polemic with the administration of the Jewish National Fund (Cleveland, 1923), 60 pp.  From Russian he translated M. Balabanov’s Di perzenlekhe frayhayt (Personal freedom [original: Lichnaia svoboda]) (Warsaw, 1906), 31 pp.  In 1926 he published a three-act play in Kalifornyer idishe shtime, entitled Der kinstler (The artist), and he also translated a one-act play Der holdopnik (The hold-up guy).  Vortsman made lengthy trips to Europe.  In 1920-1921 he directed a relief action of the Joint Distribution Committee to Eastern Galicia and visited the land of Israel.  He also participated in a number of Zionist congresses.  In New York he worked for a time at the Jewish National Fund office.  Among his pseudonyms: Ben Adam, Bal-Dimyoynes, Der Shvartser Yungermantshik, Ish Emes, and Y. V.  His articles concerning women’s interests were signed: Klara Rayzenberg.  He died in New York.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1; Z. Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 1; Yidish-natsyonaler arbeter-farband, 1910-1940 (Jewish national workers alliance, 1910-1940) (New York, 1940), pp. 54-56; E. R. Malachi, in Tsukunft (New York) (June 1928); D.-B. Tirkl, in Pinkes, amerikaner opteyl fun yivo (Records of the American section of YIVO) (New York, 1927-1928); N. Mishkovski, Mayn lebn un mayne rayzes (My life and my travels) (New York, 1951), vol. 1, p. 274; Geshikhte fun der tsienistisher arbeter-bavegung in tsofn-amerike (History of the Zionist workers’ movement in North America), 2 vols. (New York, 1955), see index; obituary in Hadoar (New York) (May 20, 1938); Moyshe Shtarkman, in Hadoar (4 Sivan [= May 23], 1947), p. 861; Yankev Glatsheyn, in Idisher kemfer (New York) (March 23, 1956); Sh. Slutski, Avrom reyzen-biblyografye (Avrom Reyzen bibliography) (New York, 1956), no. 4519; Kh. Gotesfeld, in Forverts (New York) (January 15, 1959).
Borekh Tshubinski