Sunday, 26 June 2016


ARN (ARON) VERGELIS (May 7, 1918-April 7, 1998)
            He was born in Lyubar, Zhitomir 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 Institute in Moscow.  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, a company commander, a member of the editorial board of Heymland (Homeland), a front newspaper, and editor of a radio hour in Yiddish.  He was wounded on several occasions.  The Moscow newspapers had even listed him among the dead, but in 1945 he returned to Moscow.  He published a cycle of poems: “Fun smolensk biz berlin” (From Smolensk to Berlin).  His books would include: Bam kval, lider (By the spring, poems) (Moscow, 1940), 95 pp.; Birobidzhaner dor (Birobidzhan generation), 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 pisalel, 1970), 358 pp.; Raizes (Travels) (Moscow: Sovetski pisatel, 1976), 454 pp.  He edited: Horizontn (Horizons) (Moscow, 1965), 533 pp.
            He also wrote reportage pieces, stories, and a monograph entitled Birobidzhan in der yidisher literatur (Birobidzhan in Yiddish literature).  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 1956 he published in Moscow a volume of poems in Russian: Zhazhda, stikhi i poemy (Thirst, verse and poems).  He contributed to the publication of a Russian translation of a series of works by murdered Yiddish writers and wrote the introductions.  These included a volume of poems by A. Kushnirov (Moscow, 1956); a volume of selections from Dovid Bergelson (Moscow, 1957); a collection of poems by Izzy Kharik (Moscow, 1958); and a volume of poems and children’s poetry by Itsik Fefer (Moscow, 1958).  He compiled the final volume of Oysgeveylte verk (Selected works) by Sholem-Aleykhem (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, 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).  From 1961 he was lead editor of Sovetish heymland (Soviet Homeland).  He died in Moscow.

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 shrayber in sovetn-farband (Jewish creation and the Yiddish writer 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).
Binyumin Elis

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 251.]

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