Wednesday 28 September 2016


           He was born in Droye (Druja, Druya), Vilna district.  His parents brought him to Riga when he was two years of age.  At age eleven he published a correspondence piece in Halevanon (Lebanon).  Later, in 1889, he published a series of features in Hamelits (The advocate).  He published the reader Even hayeladim (The children’s Eden), later compiling More hayeladim (The children’s teacher) and More hasignon (The style teacher), among others, in which he used Judeo-German and Russian for his explanations.  In 1905 he moved to Vilna, became a regular contributor to Hazman (The time), and founded the daily newspaper for children, Haḥaver (The comrade).  Tavyov demonstrated his animosity for Yiddish at every opportunity, and in the revived Hatsfira (The siren) he wrote “Meolam lo tinafti et eti bezhargon” (I have never sullied my pen with zhargon [Yiddish]), but all of this notwithstanding, when Hazman brought a Yiddish daily Di tsayt (The time) in Vilna (1906), he published features and articles under the pseudonym “A Trakhter.”  In 1908 he returned to Riga and published his treatises and features pieces in such venues as: Hatekufa (The epoch), Hashelaḥ (The weapon), and the collection Hazman.  He edited the Hebrew-language anthology Mivḥar hasifrut (The selection of literature) (Pyotrków, 1899), 502 cols.  He was also the author of Torat hanikud (Rules of pointing) (Warsaw, 1904), 64 pp., and of Mikhtavim livne haneurim (Letters to youngsters) (New York: Hebrew Publishing Co., 1920), 102 pp.  From his philological works that were assembled in the volume Kitve y. ḥ. taviov (Writings of Y. Ḥ. Tavyov) (Berlin: Moriya, 1923), 346 pp., of interest to Yiddish philologists would be: “Al hameshalim vehapitgamim” (Concerning proverbs and sayings), “Hayesodot haivrim bezhargon” (The Hebrew foundations in Yiddish) which includes a dictionary of Hebreisms in the Yiddish language, “Hayesodot haselavim bezhargon” (The Slavic foundations in Yiddish), and “Shemot hayehudim” (Jewish names), but “the considerable scholar value of these writings,” wrote Zalmen Reyzen, “is hindered by the marked tendency to humiliate the Yiddish language and deny its national significance.”  He displayed this very tendency in his introduction to Elazar Shulman’s Sefat yehudit-ashkenazit vesifruta (The Ashkenazi Jewish language and its literature) (Riga, 1913), which he edited.  At the beginning of WWI, he moved to Moscow where he worked as a translator for Shtibl Publishers.  When the Bolsheviks shot his son, Tavyov went to join his son-in-law in Samara, and after the latter’s death, with great trouble made his way back to Riga and died there of a heart attack.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1; D. A. Fridman, in Hatekufa (Moscow) 1 (1918), pp. 634-55; Ts. H. Maslyanski, Zikhroynes (Memoirs) (New York, 1924), p. 129; Maslyanski, in Morgn-zhurnal (New York) (November 4, 1932); Y. D. Berkovitsh, in Forverts (New York) (March 1, 1931); M. Gerts, 25 yor yidishe prese in letland (25 years of the Yiddish press in Latvia) (Riga, 1933), pp. 21-22; Dov Sadan, Kearat tsimukim (A bowl of raisins) (Tel Aviv, 1950); B. Ts. Kats, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (January 2, 1955); Kh. Sh. Kazdan, Fun kheyder un shkoles biz tsisho (From religious and secular primary schools to Tsisho) (Mexico City, 1956), pp. 228-29; Evreiskaia entsiklopedia (Jewish encyclopedia), vol. 14, col. 673.
Zaynvl Diamant

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