Wednesday 14 September 2016


AVROM-YANKEV ZHITNIK (b. December 15, 1890)
            He was born in Korostishev (Korostyshiv), near Zhitomir, Ukraine, into a Hassidic family.  He studied in religious primary school and in the Kovel (Kovle) and Radomyśl Yeshivas.  In 1908 he received ordination into the rabbinate.  In 1909 he settled in Novoselits (Novoseltsa), Bessarabia.  He was a Zionist orator, who traveled about with sermons through Jewish towns, later becoming active in the Zionist labor movement and serving as a delegate to the first conference of Histadrut Haovdim (Federation of Labor) in Vienna.  During WWI he was a rabbi in Kiev, while also helping with the work of Yekopo (Yevreyskiy komitet pomoshchi zhertvam voyny—“Jewish Relief Committee for War Victims”) on behalf of Jews in Lithuania and Poland made homeless due to the war.  He was a cofounder of the cooperative for Jewish craftsmen.  After the October Revolution in Russia (1917), Zhitnik worked with the Bolsheviks, and he established and administered the well-known “Setmas” (Union of the Jewish Working Masses).  A spirited speaker, he fought with the help of Jewish soldiers in the Red Army for control in the democratic, Jewish communities in the first years of the Soviet regime.  From 1921 he was living in the United States.  He began publishing essays in Hatsfira (The siren) in Warsaw in 1914, later contributing work to Hagola (The Diaspora) in Kiev in 1915.  He was chief contributor and editor of the first Yiddish periodical on the war front: Flugblat (Leaflet) in Kovel (1917).  He edited the weekly Folks-viln (People’s will) in 1918, which later changed to a daily newspaper Der telegraf (The telegraph) (Kiev, 1918).  He published a pamphlet entitled Genug (Enough), “a letter to Jewish laborers” (Kiev, 1919), 8 pp.  In America he published in Frayhayt (Freedom) in New York a series of stories drawn from Jewish life in Soviet Russia, some of which was included later in his book, Di idn in sovet-rusland (The Jewish in Soviet Russia) (Cleveland, 1925), 132 pp.  He later published Dos harts fun folk, fun der serye “idn in amerike” (The heart of the people, from the series “Jews in America”) (New York: Idn, 1928), 185 pp.  His name on the frontispiece is given as: Dr. Z. Abrams.  He was last living in Chicago.

Sources: Zalmen reyzen-arkhiv (Zalmen Reyzen archive) (New York, YIVO); K. Marmor, in In shpan (Berlin) 1 (1925); Frayhayt (New York) (May 30, 1926); Biblyografishe yorbikher fun yivo (Bibliographic yearbooks from YIVO) (Warsaw, 1928), see index.
Khayim Leyb Fuks

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