AVROM TSHESKIS (TSHEKIS) (August 18, 1879-1935)
He was a current events writer and historian, born in Ludmir (Volodymyr-Volyns'kyy; Pol., Włodzimierz), Ukraine. Until age fifteen he studied in religious primary school and synagogue study hall, before beginning to read Jewish Enlightenment literature (his friends at the time were M. Z. Fayerberg and Shmuel-Tsvi Zetser). At age eighteen he departed for Odessa to study, and there he fell under the influence of Aḥad Haam’s circle. Under the impact of Marxist literature, he wrote in Hador (This generation) in 1902 a series of articles entitled “Sifrutenu” (Our literature), in which he elucidated from a Marxist perspective the development of Hebrew literature. In late 1903 he joined the Bund in Odessa, and because of police persecutions, he soon moved to work in the Bundist organization in Zhitomir where he was arrested. After spending sixteen months behind bars, he went on to conduct revolutionary activities in Rovno. As a member of the Grodno committee of the Bund, he participated in the sixth conference of the Bund in Zurich (October 1906), wrote proclamations for the party, corresponded for the Bundist Letste nakhrikhten (Latest notices) in Geneva, was active in the southern district committee of the Bund, and was arrested in Kremenchug and sent back to the city of his birth. He was arrested again in Dvinsk (Daugavpils), and upon his release he made his way to Warsaw, served as a delegate to the London conference of the Russian Social Democratic Workers’ Party (RSDWP), and later settled in Warsaw and Paris where he studied languages and philosophy. Over the years 1912-1914, he contributed to the French-language journals Revue Historique and Synthèse Historique and to the Parisian Yiddish periodical Sotsyalistishe tribune (Socialist tribune). In 1915 he was among the founders of the Parisian “League to Defend Oppressed Jews” and a member of the editorial board of the monthly journal Émancipation Juive. After the February Revolution (1917), he returned to Russia, became active once again in the Bundist movement, contributed to the Bundist daily Folks-tsaytung (People’s newspaper) in Kiev (1918), and was one of the founders of the Jewish people’s university in 1918 in Kiev, at which he delivered lectures on psychology and sociology; he then moved over to join the Communists, edited (September-October 1919) the semi-weekly Der komunistisher veg (The Communist way) in Homel (Gomel), and soon thereafter returned to Kiev and joined the editorial board of Komunistishe fon (Communist banner) (1919-1920). From 1920 until his death he was professor of historical materialism in the Jewish section of the Communist University of National Minorities of the West in Moscow, and a contributor to Emes (Truth) in Moscow and Russian newspapers and magazines as well. In the winter of 1935 he fell from a Moscow street car and died on the spot.
In book form: Zhan zhores, zayn lebn un shafn (Jean Jaurès, his life and works) (Ekaterinoslav: Di velt, 1918), 43 pp.; Lektsyes ṿegn historishn materyalizm, araynfir in marksistisher sotsyologye (Lecture on historical materialism, introduction to Marxist sociology) (Moscow: Shul un bukh, 1924), 96 pp.; and a work in Russian on Ludwig Feuerbach and the philosophy of materialism (Moscow: Krasnaia nov, 1922).
(His brother JOSEPH I. CHESKIS was a professor of Spanish language and literature at Brandeis University and published a number of works on Judeo-Spanish.)
Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1; Sh. Ts. Zetser, in Hadoar (New York) (Sivan 4 [= May 23], 1947), a footnote to an article about M. Z. Fayerberg.
[Additional information from: 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. 168.]