Tuesday 26 April 2016


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

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