Tuesday 26 July 2016


            He was born in Elizavetgrad, southern Russia.  His father was a tailor—a Jew of a new sort with higher spiritual interests, he later was among the first to join the society “the spiritual-biblical brotherhood,” which was founded by his fellow townsman Yankev Gordin.  Hilel Zolotarov studied in a senior high school.  In 1881, after the pogrom on Elizavetgrad, he left the school and in 1882 came to the United States with his parents in the first group of “Am Olam” (Eternal people) [groups aimed at establishing agricultural colonies in the United States].  He initially studied chemistry in Washington, but he quickly abandoned this field and threw himself into the then turbulent anarchist movement.  In order to be more at home with anarchist ideas, he set out to travel on foot across America, and strode across the country from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean.  In the late 1880s he returned to New York, and he helped his father in his tailoring work, while studying medicine in the evenings.  He read a great deal in those years as well: works of philosophy, politics, social science, and literature.  Over time he became known in Jewish anarchist circles as a magnificent speaker and lecturer.  He received his medical degree in 1891 from New York University and began practicing medicine.  He began publishing articles about current events in Folks-advokat (People’s advocate) in New York in 1888.  He went on to contribute to: Di varhayt (The truth), Fraye arbeter shtime (Free voice of labor), Fraye gezelshaft (Free society), Literatur un lebn (Literature and life), Dos naye lebn (The new life), Di tsayt (The times), Idisher kemfer (Jewish fighter), and Tog (Day)—in New York; and Arbayter fraynd (Workers’ friend) and Zherminal (Germinal) in London.  His articles excelled in their high idealism and passionate style.  He wrote on anarchism, socialism, later on Zionism, and shortly before his death: critical assessments of Bolshevism.  On a number of occasions, he also published treatises on general and Jewish literary and artistic questions.  Under the pseudonym Orditshev, he also published stories which largely reflected the life of the Jewish immigrant intellectual.  He signed a small number of poems which he published with the initials XYZ.  He also wrote the plays: Far ire kinder (For her children), four acts (first staged in 1917 in New York); Der yingster shumruni (The youngest Samaritan), a dramatic fantasy in three acts; Di bafrayung (The liberation), a one-act play; Der shturem fun der neshome (The storm of the soul), a drama in three acts with an epilogue (this last one he wrote in English, translated into Yiddish by M. Shveyd).
            After the Kishenev pogrom of 1903, he washed his hands of his cosmopolitan ideas.  In a series of articles in Fraye arbeter shtime, entitled “Ernste fragn” (Serious questions), later published in a pamphlet, he appealed to Jewish socialists and anarchists that they should reassess their attitude to the Jewish national question generally and to Zionism in particular.  At the time he was approaching the socialist territorialist movement and, together with Dr. Chaim Zhitlovsky and Moyshe Kats, he was editing (1906) a weekly (in Philadelphia) for the movement: Dos folk (The people).  He later stood with the Labor Zionists, though he did not formally join the party, and he never severed his connections with the anarchist movement and its press.  He died in New York.  Aside from a few pamphlets, during his lifetime he composed a pamphlet about the Betsalel School in Jerusalem (1906), and a collection of his stories appeared in book form entitled In shtrom (In the current), under the pen name Orditshev (Vilna, 1909), 227 pp.  His Geklibene shriftn (Collected writings), edited by Yoyel Entin, appeared in three volumes New York in 1924, with a prefatory articles by Dr. Zhitlovsky, Sh. Yanovski, and Dr. Mikhl Kon.  The first volume is divided into: stories, poetry, “from world literature,” and “on Jewish literature”; the topics of the last part were: “tradition,” “folk character,” “the personal greatness,” “Meyer Blinkin,” and “art, literature, and life”—altogether 292 pp. in Volume 1.  Volume 2 includes drama and articles about the Yiddish theater, about the European stage, and treatises on art—altogether 252 pp.  Volume 3 is comprised of nearly fifty longer and shorter articles and treatises on social-philosophical and current events themes—altogether 423 pp.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1 (with a bibliography); Z. Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 1; Dr. K. Fornberg, in Tsukunft (New York) (April 1906), pp. 65-66; M. Leontyef, in Tsukunft (June 1909), pp. 362-65; A. Liessin, in Tsukunft (June 1921), p. 375; Dr. Chaim Zhitlovsky, in Tog (New York) (May 1, 1931); K. Marmor, Der onhoyb fun der yidisher literatur in amerike (The beginning of Yiddish literature in America) (New York, 1944), see index; Tsen yoriker yubiley fun arbeter-ordn (Ten-year jubilee of the Workers’ Order) (New York, 1940); Moyshe Shtarkman, in Tog (April 28, 1946); L. Shpizman, in Geshikhte fun der tsienistisher arbeter-bavegung fun tsofn-amerike (History of the Zionist labor movement in North America), vol. 1 (New York, 1955), see index; Yankev Glatshteyn, in Idisher kemfer (New York) (March 23, 1956); B. Tsukerman, in Idisher kemfer (Rosh Hashanah issue, 1957/1958), pp. 56-61.
Borekh Tshubinski

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