Wednesday, 19 October 2016


MOYSHE TEYF (1904-December 27, 1966)
            He was born in Minsk, Byelorussia.  Following the Bolshevik revolution, he became a laborer in a wallpaper factory.  He studied in his free time, graduating from an evening school for working youth, and he attended the Yiddish department of the Moscow Pedagogical Institute.  He was active in Komyug ([Jewish] Communist youth association) and began writing poetry in 1920, some of which was included in his book Lider un poemen (Poetry).  In 1924 he was one of the founders of the young writers’ group associated with the journal Der yunger arbeter (The young worker).  He published his poems in: Oktyabr (October) in Minsk; Shtern (Star) and Royte velt (Red world) in Kharkov; Emes (Truth) and Eynikeyt (Unity) in Moscow; as well as in the literary almanacs, Atake, almanakh fun roytarmeyishn landshuts-literatur (Attack, almanac of the Red Army’s national defense literature) of 1934 and Sovetishe vaysrusland, literarishe zamlung (Soviet Byelorussia, literary collection) of 1935, both in Minsk.  Among his books: Hesele fun shlosgesele (Hesele from castle alley), a poem for children (Moscow: Emes, 1932), 32 pp.; Lider un poemen (Minsk: State Publishers of Byelorussia, 1933), 272 pp.; Parizer komune (Paris Commune), poem for children, cover and illustrations by Leyzer Ran (Minsk: State Publishers of Byelorussia, 1933), 19 pp.; Tsuzamen, kinder-zamlung (Together, children’s anthology) (Minsk: State Publishers of Byelorussia, 1935), 119 pp.; Proletarke, shvester mayne, novele (My sister the proletarian, a novella), illustrations by D. Kipnis (Minsk: State Publishers of Byelorussia, 1935), 63 pp.; Toyt oder royt (Dead or red), poetry (Minsk: State Publishers of Byelorussia, 1937), 64 pp.; Milkhome-lider (War poems) (Moscow: Emes, 1947).  Oydserveylts, lider, balades, poemes (Selections: songs, ballads, poems) (Moscow: Sovetski pisatel, 1965), 156 pp.; Lider, balades, poemes (Songs, ballads, poems) (Moscow: Sovetski pisatel, 1985), 63 pp.  His work was also represented in: Kep, lider zamlung (Heads, poetry collection) (Minsk, 1926); and S. Polonski’s 10 pyonerishe lider (Ten pioneering poems) (Minsk, 1929).  His published translations in book form include: Friedrich Schiller, Vilhelm tel (William Tell) (Minsk: State Publishers of Byelorussia, 1935), 143 pp.; Walter Raleigh, Ayvenho (Ivanhoe) (Minsk: State Publishers of Byelorussia, 1937), 413 pp.; Charles de Coster, Til oylenshpigel (Till Eulenspiegel [original: La Légende et les Aventures héroïques, joyeuses et glorieuses d’Ulenspiegel et de Lamme Goedzak au pays de Flandres et ailleurs]) (Moscow: Emes, 1938), 202 pp.  He also translated the drama Untergang (Downfall) by Babel for the Minsk Yiddish theater.  Teyf took part in WWII and for a long period of time as an artilleryman at a frontline position.  Both his wife and child died in the Minsk ghetto.  He was arrested in 1937 and sent to the front shortly after being released in 1941; he was again arrested in 1948 at the time of the Soviet regime’s attack on all of Yiddish culture.  He emerged alive, and was later rehabilitated, from the Stalinist extermination of Yiddish literature and its writers in Russia, and he was living in Moscow until his death.  In 1958 there appeared in Russia a translation of a collection of Teyf’s poetry and ballads.  He contributed as well to Sovetish heymland (Soviet homeland) (Moscow) 1 (July-August 1961) and served on its initial editorial board.  In addition to Russian, his writings have been translated into Byelorussian, Hebrew, and other languages.

Sources: M. Litvakov, In umru (Disquiet), vol. 2 (Moscow, 1926); B. Orshanski, preface to Kep, lider zamlung (Heads, poetry collection) (Minsk, 1926); Y. Dobrushin, Sovetishe dikhtung (Soviet poetry) (Moscow, 1935); N. Mayzil, Dos yidishe shafn un der yidisher shrayber in sovetnfarband (Jewish creation and the Yiddish writer in the Soviet Union) (New York, 1959), see index; A. Sabar, in Davar (Tel Aviv) (Siven 18 [= June 2], 1961), including a Hebrew translation of Teyf’s poem “Kikhlekh un zemelekh” (Cookies and rolls); Yankev, Glatshteyn, in Idisher kemfer (New York) (September 29, 1961).
Leyzer Ran

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 283; Chaim Beider, Leksikon fun yidishe shrayber in ratn-farband (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers in the Soviet Union), ed. Boris Sandler and Gennady Estraikh (New York: Congress for Jewish Culture, Inc., 2011), pp. 163-65.]

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