Tuesday, 17 May 2016


HERSHL VAYNROYKH (January 5, 1903-May 21, 1983)
            This was the adopted name of Hershl (Grigori) Vinokur, born in Okhrimove (Okhrimovo), Kiev district, Ukraine.  He father, Ben-Tsien Vinokur, divorced his mother and moved to the United States, where he was a teacher in the Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin in Brooklyn, New York.  When Hershl reached one year of age, his mother and her second husband, Gershon Dulman, a furrier, moved to Odessa.  He studied in religious elementary school, later in a Talmud-Torah (of which, incidentally, Mendele Moykher-Sforim was the manager), but at a very young age he was forced to break off his studies and go to work, because his stepfather died and his mother was left a widow with four young children.  At age fifteen he volunteered to join the Red Army and experienced the civil war of 1920-1921.  He worked, 1922-1926, in the Odessa clothing factory of Shveyprom (Shveinaia promyshlennostꞌ, Tailoring Department).  At the same time, he returned to his studies and in 1932 graduated from the literature faculty of the Odessa Pedagogical Institute.  He began writing in Russian, but under the influence of the “Yiddish Section” in the Communist Party, he switched to Yiddish.  His first story, “Itke fun shveyprom” (Itke from the Shveyprom) was published in Emes (Truth) in Moscow (March 8, 1926).  He published fictional work in: Emes; Shtern (Star) in Kharkov; Oktyabr (October), Yunger arbeter (Young laborer), and Shtern in Minsk; Forpost (Outpost) in Birobidzhan; Di royte velt (The red world) in Kharkov-Kiev; Provesen in Odessa (in Russian); and in Vos geven un vos gevorn, zamlbukh (What was and what has become, anthology) (Kiev, 1937).  He spent the years 1932-1938 in Birobidzhan.  He served as assistant editor of Birobidzhaner shtern (Birobidzhan star).  He was co-editor, 1940-1941, in Bialystok of Byalistoker shtern (Bialystok star).  In 1941 he was confined in the Minsk ghetto, where he organized a partisan group and joined up with the Red Army.  He then spent 1942-1945 again serving in the Red Army, became a lieutenant, was wounded, received a military commendation, and later an invalid’s pension.  In 1946 he was active in the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee in Moscow.  That year he left for Romania.  For a short time in 1947, he was in the displaced persons’ camp in Munich, Germany.  He was the first president of the Jewish Writers’ and Journalists’ Union among the survivors.  From there he departed for Israel.  In July 1948 he came to the United States.  He published works in: Unzer veg (Our way) in Munich; Davar hashavua (Word of the week) in Tel Aviv; Forverts (Forward), Tog (Day), and Tsukunft (Future) in New York; and elsewhere.  Among his books, as “Hershl [or Grigori] Vinokur”: In oyfkum, dertseylungen (Arising) (Moscow, 1932), 223 pp.; Tayge-berg (Taiga mountains) (Minsk, 1935), 109 pp.; A brik iber der bire (A bridge over the Biru [River]) (Minsk, 1936), 85 pp.; Der ershter yeger (The first hunter) (Minsk, 1939), 83 pp.; Dos yingl fun okhrimove (The boy from Okhrimovo), a novel (Minsk, 1942).  Under the name “Hershl Vaynroykh”: Goles bayern, noveln un skitsn (Diaspora in Bavaria, stories and sketches) (Munich, 1947), 59 pp.; Blut af der zun, yidn in sovet-farband (Blood on the sun, Jews in the Soviet Union) (Brooklyn, 1950), 207 pp.; Durkh zibn fayern, roman (Through seven fires, a novel) (New York, 1951), 363 pp.; Adamizm, der mitl-punkt fun filozofye, ideologye, politik un religye far haynt un morgn (Adamism, the mid-point among philosophy, ideology, politics, and religion for today and tomorrow) (New York, 1954), 64 pp.; Komisarn, roman (Commissars, a novel) (Buenos Aires: Union of Polish Jews, 1962), 2 volumes; Ven di zun fargeyt un di muze vaynt (When the sun sets and the muse cries) (New York, 1982), 156 pp.[1]  He died in New York.

Sources: Y. Kvitni and Y. Mitlman, in Morgn-frayhayt (New York) (January 9, 1933); Sh. Klitenik, in Forpost (Birobidzhan) 2 (1936); Y. Horn, in Yidish tsaytung (Buenos Aires) April 16, 1950); Kh. Liberman, in Forverts (New York) (May 10, 1950); Dr. A. Mukdoni, in Morgn-zhurnal (New York) (June 11, 1950; February 17, 1952); Y. Varshavski, in Forverts (October 15, 1950); A. Almi, in Fraye arbeter shtime (New York) (July 1, 1955); Y. Gar, in Fun noentn over (New York) 3 (1957), pp. 171, 174; Who Is Who in World Jewry (New York, 1955).
Zaynvl Diamant

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 240.]

[1] Several of his books have appeared in English translation: Adamism (Tucson, 1954); The Commissar (New York, 1965); A Grain of Salt (New York, 1965); A Ballad about Jerusalem (New York, 1982)—JAF.

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