Thursday, 30 June 2016
Wednesday, 29 June 2016
Tuesday, 28 June 2016
NOSN (NATAN) ZABARE (December 27, 1908-February 19, 1975)
He was a prose author, born in the town of Rogatshev (Rahachow), Volhynia, Ukraine, into a family of tradesmen. He studied in religious elementary school, graduated from a Ukrainian school, and until 1931 worked in construction, later serving in the army in a radio battalion. During the years of the revolution, he moved to Kiev. In the early 1930s he was a government-supported research student at the Institute for Jewish Culture in the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences in Kiev. His literary activities began with a story entitled “A geshvir” (An ulcer) which was published in 1930 in the Kharkov journal Prolit (Proletarian literature). Two years later, his first book appeared in print, Radyo-roman (Radio novel), a work about the education of radioman in the Red Army, about the path of a young man to mastering the specialty of the radio as a profession. The young writer was attempting to find his own style, and he chose to recount his protagonists, using the form of a diary, on the backdrop of which was depicted the problem of a “triangle” that was “as old as the world” (a love-collision among two boys and a girl). His second novel was Nilovke, roman (Nilovke, a novel), an attempt to create his own “Tuneyadevke” [lit., “idlers’ town,” a fictitious place appearing in classical Yiddish fiction], a type of a renowned Jewish town in the years of Soviet industrialization. He continued this effort in the novel Fun land tsu land (From country to country) of 1938, in which the main protagonists bear the same names as in Mendele Moykher-Sforim’s Masoes benyomin hashlishi (The travels of Benjamin the Third): Benyomin and Senderl. Finally, there is his Der foter, roman (The father, a novel) of 1940 which completed his Nilovke cycle, in which converge virtually all of the lines of his earlier works and in which there emerges the past and the perspectives of Nilovke, the fate of its various generations—the parents and the children. Der foter was also an advance for the writer in the sense of his language and style.
With the outbreak of the Nazi-Soviet war, he was mobilized and took part in battles. After WWII he was with the Red Army in Germany and in contact with Jewish people in the British and American zones, rekindling his interest in things Jewish. At a meeting of the Jewish writers section of the Soviet Ukrainian writers’ union in Kiev, Zabare spoke about a publication that confronted Soviet Yiddish literature: “To explain to the people about the wonderful, historical feat accomplished by the Soviet Army which liberated Europe from the fascist yoke.” He added that this was “really the theme of my new book that I’m about to finish.”
He survived the years 1948-1952 during the extermination of Yiddish writers under Stalin, though he was arrested on May 13, 1950 and charged with handing American officials information about the state of Jewry in the Soviet Union and generally for directing Zionist and anti-Soviet propaganda. He was sentenced to ten years of deportation to a camp in the North. He was rehabilitated and returned from the gulag on April 27, 1956. He returned to activity in Kiev, where he lived and worked over the course of many years. An entirely new period opened up for him in his postwar writings. He participated in the war as a journalist and fighter (and also after the war, for a certain period of time, he wrote for a Berlin newspaper), and he published in a front newspaper and the German press a series of articles and reportage pieces about contemporary Russian literature, artists, and composers. Some of this material later was included in a special German collection (published in Berlin) about literature, music, theater, and art. The experience of his Berlin period was later reflected in his novel Haynt vert geboyrn a velt (Today a world is being born), which was dedicated to the last day of the war.
He once again began publishing in 1961 in Sovetish heymland (Soviet homeland): Haynt vert geboyrn a velt, 1965: 3 (pp. 3-88); A poshete mame (A simple mother), 1967: 9, 10, 11, in which he narrated the lives of Jewish heroes of the October Revolution; the historical story “Af gekreytste vegn” (On crossed roads), in which he described the literary circles of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (Lesya Ukrainka [1871-1913], Ivan Kotliarevsky [1769-1838], Mordechai Zev Feierberg [1874-1899], and Moyshe Olgin [1877-1939], among others). These historical novels and stories concerning the recent and distant past prepared the author for his final stage of creative writing, when he was writing novels of historical epics (also in Sovetish heymland): S’iz nokh groys der tog (The day is longer still), 1972: 9, 10; Unter der heyser zun fun provans (Under the hot sun of Provence), 1973: 9, 10; In mitn heln batog (In the middle of a bright day), 1975: 1, 2, 3; 1977: 7. All of these were united under the title Gilgl hakhoyzer, roman (Man’s fate, a novel). His fundamental idea consisted of sort of parallel fate between various epochs in general and Jewish history, a parallelism in which the attack of everything evil received, ultimately, “an inevitable historical defeat.” There should have been his fourth work in this cycle, but a heart attack wrenched the pen from his hand—and he died in Kiev.
His books include: Radyo-roman (Kharkov-Kiev, 1932), 220 pp.; Khevre (The gang), children’s stories (Minsk: Byelorussian State Publishers, 1933), 21 pp.; Nilovke, roman (Moscow: Emes, 1935), 109 pp.; Mentshn un tsaytn, noveln un fartsaykhenungen (Men and times, stories and jottings) (Kiev: Ukrainian State Publishers for National Minorities, 1935), 22 pp.; Fun land tsu land (Kiev: Ukrainian State Publishers for National Minorities, 1938), 300 pp.; Der foter, roman (Kiev: Ukrainian State Publishers for National Minorities, 1940), 518 pp.; Gilgl hakhoyzer, roman (Moscow: Sovetski pisatel, 1979), 469 pp.
Sources: Kh. Lutsker, in Shtern (Kharkov) 280 (1935); M. May, in Sovetishe literatur (Kiev) (June 1939), p. 107; L. Brovarnik, in Sovetishe literatur (June 1939), p. 131; M. Dublyet, in Shtern (Minsk) (July 1939); A. Kushnirov, in Naye prese (Paris) (July 27, 1945); A. Emkin, in Eynikeyt (Moscow) (June 26, 1947); N. Mayzil, Dos yidishe shafn un der yidisher arbeter in sovetn-farband (Jewish creation and the Jewish worker in the Soviet Union) (New York, 1959), see index.
[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 253; 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), pp. 148-49.]
Monday, 27 June 2016
Sunday, 26 June 2016
SHMUEL VERITE (b. January 10, 1901)
A prose author and writer on current events, he was born in the colony of Dombraveni, Bessarabia (Moldova), into a family of tobacco planters. Although some believe “Shmuel Verite” to be a pen name for S. Vaysblat, Khone Shmeruk (in a letter of March 11, 1982, to Berl Kagan), had a letter from “S. Verite” himself (dated 1977). In 1920 he graduated from a Romanian middle school, and one year later entered university in the city of Jassy (Iași). Soon thereafter, the university was closed down, and he chose to emigrate to the Soviet Union. In 1923 he crossed the border river Dniester and reached Kharkov. The Commissariat of Education in Ukraine sent him to work in Kremenchuk, Poltava district, where he became director of the Yiddish Club and began contributing in the press. He was active among Jewish Communist youth and in the anti-religious movement in Soviet Russia. In 1924 he published in the Moscow newspaper Emes (Truth) a series of jottings about Bessarabia. That same year, in the Kharkov newspaper Der shtern (The star), he published a cycle of notes about Jewish life in Kishenev (Chisinau). From that point in time forward, he was a regular correspondent for an array of publications. In 1929 he became a member of the editorial board of Der shtern in Kharkov. Over the years 1933-1935, he lived in Odessa where he worked as a special correspondent for Odeser arbeter (Odessa laborer). From 1936 to 1939, he was the secretary of account for the urban newspaper Krementshuger arbeter (Kremenchuk laborer). On the eve of WWII, he was living in the Jewish ethnic district in Nay-Zlatopol (Zlatopil'), Zaporiz'ka, Ukraine. He was at the front during the war. After the war, he settled in Zaporizhzhya and published work in Moscow’s newspaper Eynikeyt (Unity). Perets Markish included a story of his in the anthology Heymland (Homeland) (Moscow: Emes, 1943) which he compiled and edited. When the journal Sovetish heymland (Soviet homeland) commenced publication in Moscow in 1961, he composed a series of new stories and placed them there.
He authored the booklets: Unter der boyarisher hershaft (Under the rule of the Boyars) (Kharkov: State Publ., 1930), 51 pp., in which he depicted the economic condition of Jewish laborers, farmers, office workers, and craftsmen under the Tsarist regime in Bessarabia; Mir, ḳrigerishe apiḳoṛsim, anṭireligyeze shmuesn (We pugnacious heretics, anti-religious discussions) (Kharkov: Ukrainian State Publishers for National Minorities, 1932), 73 pp.; Pravozhitelstvo (The right [in Tsarist times] to live outside the Pale of Settlement), a play (Kiev, 1939); Besaraber erd (Bessarabian soil), stories (Kiev: Ukrainian State Publishers for National Minorities, 1941), 58 pp.; and Ven di erd hot gebrent (When the earth burned), from the life of the tobacco planters in a Bessarabian Jewish colony (Moscow: Emes, 1946), 70 pp. He translated from Russian into Yiddish several books of Communist Party materials, among them: 17tn konferents (Seventeenth conference), together with Kh. Futman and Y. Shapiro (Kharkov-Kiev, 1932), 208 pp. The journal Nay-lebn (New Life) in 1949 reissued several items by Verite, such as: “Di brokhe fun der erd” (The blessing of the earth) and “Broyt” (Bread).
Sources: Biblyografishe yorbikher fun yivo (Bibliographic yearbooks from YIVO), vol. 1 (Warsaw, 1928), p. 238; N. Rubinshteyn, Dos yidishe bukh in sovetn-farband in 1934 (The Yiddish book in the Soviet Union in 1932) (Minsk, 1935), pp. 11, 328; M. L. in Oyfboy (Riga) 10 (May 1941); N. Mayzil, Dos yidishe shafn un der yidisher arbeter in sovetn-farband (Jewish creation and the Jewish worker in the Soviet Union) (New York, 1959), p. 128.
Khayim Leb Fuks
[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 252; 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), pp. 146-47.]
ARN (ARON) VERGELIS (May 7, 1918-April 7, 1999)
He was a poet, prose writer, journalist, and playwright, born in the town of Lyubar, Zhytomyr district, Ukraine. In 1928 he moved with his parents to Birobidzhan, where he graduated from a ten-year Yiddish school. He was a student in the Yiddish division in the literature and philology department at the Moscow Pedagogical Institute. He debuted in print in 1936 with a poem in issue 2 of Forpost (Outpost) in Birobidzhan. From that point in time on, he published poetry as well in Birobidzhaner shtern (Birobidzhan star) and in Emes (Truth) in Moscow. During WWII he was a parachutist in the Soviet Army and a company commander. He was wounded on several occasions. The Moscow newspapers had even listed him among the dead, but in 1945 he returned to Moscow. After demobilization, he settled in Moscow, was editor of the Yiddish radio transmission of the All-Soviet Radio Committee, and deputy to the editor-in-chief of the anthology Heymland (Homeland).
His first collection, Bam kval, lider (By the spring, poems), appeared in 1940, and his second, Birobidzhaner dor (Birobidzhan generation), in 1948. After the arrest in 1948 of the Moscow Yiddish writers, Vergelis left for Birobidzhan, and he worked there for several years for a factory newspaper, from time to time publishing items in Birobidzhaner shtern. From 1955 he was back in Moscow. In the 1950s, he prepared, for publication for the Russian-language publishers in Moscow, the works of Sholem-Aleichem, selections from Dovid Bergelson (Moscow, 1957), writings by Osher Shvartsman, a volume of poetry by Arn Kushnirov (Moscow, 1956), a collection of poems by Izi Kharik (Moscow, 1958), a volume of poems and children’s poetry by Itsik Fefer (Moscow, 1958), and others. In 1956 he published in Moscow a volume of poems in Russian: Zhazhda, stikhi i poemy (Thirst, verse and poems) (Moscow: Sovetskii pisatel'), 120 pp.
Beginning in 1961 and through its last issue (December 1991), he was chief editor of the journal Sovetish heymland (Soviet homeland) in Moscow, and thereafter with its successor, Di yidishe gas (The Yiddish street). Over the course of many years, he was an influential figure in Soviet Yiddish literature. His work played an important role at various stages: Until WWII he was considered a lyrical poet who embodied the genesis of a new taiga region and the feats of its first builders. This was a decidedly new page in the history of Soviet Yiddish literature—a page about how nature and mankind living within it become one, and one is hard-pressed to separate them. Everything with the richness of nature from Far Eastern regions lives, sparkles, and rushes forth in Vergelis’s poems about Birobidzhan. The second stage of his creative work is marked by the theme of heroism. It dominates his writing for the war years. In the 1950s the poet embodied the complicated problems of the postwar era. In the 1960s and 1970s, his poetry excelled with a marked socio-political character and purposiveness. And, finally, the last period was characterized by a new direction in his lyric poetry and was embodied in two cycles: “Lider fun der yidisher gas” (Poetry of the Jewish street) and “Bibl-lider” (Bible poetry). Aside from his poetic, prose, and journalistic writings, which appeared in separate publications, Vergelis wrote a large number of articles and dramatic works, two of which were staged by the Moscow Yiddish Drama Ensemble. With the passing of Arn Vergelis, this was indeed the last period of Soviet Yiddish literature. He died in Moscow.
His books would include: Bam kval, lider (Moscow: Emes, 1940), 95 pp.; Birobidzhaner dor, poetry (Moscow: Emes, 1948), 169 pp.; Azoy lebn mir, dokumentale noveln, fartsaykhenungen reportazh (How we live: Documented novellas, jottings, reportage pieces) (Moscow: Sovetski pisatel, 1964), 485 pp.; Oyg af oyg, lider un poemes (Eye to eye, poetry) (New York: IKUF, 1969), 329 pp.; Fun alef biz tof, lider un gezangen (From A to Z, poems and songs) (Moscow: Sovetski pisatel, 1970), 358 pp.; Raizes (Travels) (Moscow: Sovetski pisatel, 1976), 454 pp.; Di tsayt (The times) (Moscow: Sovetski pisatel, 1981), 477 pp.; Di hiter bay di toyern (The guardian at the gates) (Moscow, 1987); Tsoybergang (The magic way), poems (Moscow, 1984); Leyenbukh far shiler fun der onfang-shul (Reader for students in elementary school) (Khabarovsk: Khabarovsker bikher-farlag, 1989), 199 pp.; Lider un romansn af di verter fun arn vergelis (Poems and romances with the words from Arn Vergelis) (Moscow: Sov Kompozitor, 1987), 109 pp. He edited: Horizontn (Horizons) (Moscow: Sovetski pisatel, 1965), 533 pp. He also published a cycle of poems: “Fun smolensk biz berlin” (From Smolensk to Berlin).
He also wrote reportage pieces, stories, and a monograph entitled Birobidzhan in der yidisher literatur (Birobidzhan in Yiddish literature). He compiled the final volume of Oysgeveylte verk (Selected works) by Sholem-Aleichem (Moscow, 1959), 374 pp., which appeared on the 100th anniversary of the author’s birth. His work was also included in: Komyug, literarish-kinstlerisher zamlbukh ([Jewish] Communist Youth, literary-artistic anthology) (Moscow: Emes, 1938); the anthology Osher shvartsman, zamlung gevidmet dem tsvantsik yortog fun zayn heldishn toyt (Osher Shvartsman, collection dedicated to the twentieth anniversary of his heroic death) (Moscow: Emes, 1940).
Sources: Sh. Klitenik, in Forpost (Birobidzhan) (1936); M. Natovitsh, in Eynikeyt (Moscow) (February 24, 1945); A. Kushnirov, in Eynikeyt (December 18, 1945); N. Mayzil, in Ikuf (Buenos Aires) 43 (1946); Y. Dobrushin, in Eynikeyt (April 27, 1946); Y. M. Kudish, in In dinst fun folk (In service to the people), (New York, 1947), pp. 382-84; I. Fefer, in Folks-shtime (Lodz) 2 (1949); N. Y. Gotlib, in Tsukunft (New York) (May 1951); A. Bik, Vort un tsayt (Word and time) (Buenos Aires, 1951); Yankev Glatshteyn, in Tog-morgn zhurnal (New York) (October 21, 1955); Morgn-frayhayt (New York) (November 6, 1955); G. Kenig, in Morgn-frayhayt (October 21, 1956); Dr. Kh. Shoshkes, in Tog-morgn zhurnal (November 14, 1956); B. Kh. in Hapoel hatsair (Tel Aviv) (Tevet 12 [= December 27], 1955); Y. Gilboa, in Bitsaron (New York) (Kislev [= November-December] 1957); N. Mayzil, Dos yidishe shafn un der yidisher arbeter in sovetn-farband (Jewish creation and the Jewish worker in the Soviet Union) (New York, 1959), see index; Tsvi Efraim, in Der yidisher zhurnal (Toronto) (September 18, 1959); Y. Tsang, “Vi halt es mit idish in sovetn-farband?” (How is Yiddish doing in the Soviet Union?), Tog-morgn zhurnal (October 28, 1959); A. Vergelis, “Ofener briv tsu b. ts. goldberg” (An open letter to B. Ts. Goldberg), Morgn-frayhayt (November 30, 1959); B. Ts. Goldberg, “An entfer” (An answer), Tog-morgn zhurnal (December 30-31, 1959); B. Y. Byalostotski, in Kultur un dertsiung (New York) (December 1959).
[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 251; 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), pp. 145-46.]