Wednesday 7 September 2016


YOYSEF ZELIKOVITSH (1897-September 1944)
            He was born in Konstantin (Konstantynów), near Lodz, Poland, into a well-to-do Hassidic family.  He studied in the yeshivas of Kozhminke (?) and Blashki (Błaszki).  At age eighteen he received ordination into the rabbinate.  During WWI he took up business in Błaszki, later graduating from a teachers’ seminary and until 1919 working as a teacher in a state school in Lutomiersk, near Lodz.  Over the years 1919-1921 he served in the Polish military and took part in the battles against the Bolsheviks.  From 1922 he worked as a bookkeeper in Lodz, and simultaneously was active in local Jewish cultural life.  He was a member of the administration of the Lodz division of YIVO and of the “Lodz Theater Studio,” as well as director of the theatrical group of the Folkspartey, which staged several of his dramatizations of Perets’s works.  He began his literary activities in Polish in the military newspaper Żołnierz Polski (Polish soldier) in Warsaw (1920).  In 1925 he switched to Yiddish and published Hassidic tales, humorous sketches, features, reportage pieces, impressions, and articles—mainly on Jewish historical topics and Jewish folklore—in: Nayer folksblat (New people’s newspaper), Lodzer tageblat (Lodz daily newspaper), Ekstrablat (Extra news), Lodzher veker (Lodz alarm), and Lodzher arbeter (Lodz laborer)—in Lodz; Naye folkstsaytung (New people’s newspaper), Literarishe bleter (Literary leaves), Arbeter-tsaytung (Workers’ newspaper), Moment (Moment), and Unzer ekspres (Our express)—in Warsaw; Yidish far ale (Yiddish for all) and Yivo-bleter (Pages from YIVO)—in Vilna; Forverts (Forward), Morgn-zhurnal (Morning journal), and Amerikaner (American)—in New York; Keneder odler (Canadian eagle) in Montreal; and in the provincial Yiddish press in Poland.  In Lodzer visnshaftlekhe shriftn (Lodz scholarly writings) 1 (1938), on whose editorial board he served, he published: “Der toyt un zayne bagleyt-momentn in der yidisher etnografye un folklor” (Death and its accompanying moments in Jewish ethnography and folklore) (pp. 149-90) and “A bild funem yidish-gezelshaftlekhn lebn in a poylish shtetl in der tsveyter helft 19tn yorhundert” (A picture of Jewish communal life in a Polish town in the second half of the nineteenth century).  He was a correspondent for YIVO and had a collection of 50,000 items, among them a wealth of material specific to Lodz Yiddish.  He continued his collecting work in the Lodz ghetto during the Nazi occupation.  He was a cofounder and teacher in the pedagogical course at the Seminar for Yiddish Knowledge, a contributor to the Lodz ghetto archive, and editorial board member of the planned Geto-entsiklopedye (Ghetto encyclopedia) of 1942-1943, for which he wrote a number of important entries.  During the liquidation of the ghetto, he was transported to Auschwitz and murdered there.  A number of his writings were discovered after the war amid the ruins of the Lodz ghetto, while others of his works—among them, two monographs on the Jewish towns of Konstantin and Lutomiersk—were lost.

Sources: Zalmen reyzen-arkhiv (Zalmen Reyzen archive) (New York, YIVO); Biblyografishe yorbikher fun yivo (Bibliographic yearbooks from YIVO) (Warsaw, 1928), see index; Y. Shpigel, in Dos naye lebn (Lodz) 15 (1945); V. H. Ivan, in Dos naye lebn 45 (1946); Y. L. Gersht, in Yivo-bleter (New York) 30 (1947); A. Ayzenbakh, in Yidishe shriftn (Lodz, 1948), anthology; Dr. F. Friedman, in Yivo-bleter 34 (1950); A. V. Yasni, Di oysrotung fun lodzer yidn (The extermination of Lodz Jewry) (Tel Aviv, 1950), p. 55; Ts. Shener, in Dapim leḥeker hashoa vehamered (Tel Aviv) (Tevet-Nisan [December-May] 1950-1951); B. Mark, Umgekumene shrayber fun di getos un lagern (Murdered writers from the ghettos and camps) (Warsaw, 1954), pp. 161, 169; Unzer lodzh (Buenos Aires) 3 (1954); Khayim Leyb Fuks, in Fun noentn over (New York) 3 (1957), pp. 192, 250, 256, 264, 264, 273; Zonabend-zamlung (Zonabend collection) (New York, YIVO).
Khayim Leyb Fuks

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