Sunday 13 November 2016


BOREKH TSHEBUTSKI (ca. 1895-1941)
            He was born in Kalushin (Kałuszyn), near Warsaw, Poland, into a poor working family.  In his youth he survived sleeping sickness and remained thereafter a stutterer and partially paralyzed—he described his own physical condition in his stories, “Der shtamler” (The stutterer) and “Der halber guf” (The half body).  He wandered around various and sundry towns near Warsaw and in the final years of his life in Warsaw itself.  “By profession,” wrote Meylekh Ravitsh in Mayn leksikon (My lexicon), “Tshebutski was a kind of itinerant teacher of sort, who taught a little reading and writing of Yiddish in the homes of poor Jews….  He was the father of three children and lived in a basement apartment which was a combination of a potato cellar and a grave.”  In the Warsaw Jewish literary association (13 Tłomackie St.), they called him “Our Gandhi”—because of his short stature, haggard appearance, and consistent state of hunger.  However, a mighty striving to write was stuck in this sickly body of his.  He wrote his stories simply, without any spangles or sequins, directly, and honestly.  He published them in Folks-tsaytung (People’s newspaper) in Warsaw, Forverts (Forward) in New York, and elsewhere.  In 1938 the Yiddish PEN Club in Warsaw published his collection of novellas Shotns (Shadows), 116 pp., which included: “Bay vebshtuln” (At the weaving looms), “Baym shayn fun der levone” (In the moonlight), “Shtrik-mashin” (Rope machine), “A shvere parnose” (A difficult living), “Der shtamler,” “Der halber guf,” “Di zokn-makherin” (The sock-maker), and “Itshe gogele” (Itshe Gogele).  He died of hunger in the Warsaw Ghetto.

Sources: L. Finkelshteyn and A. Ivenitski, in Foroys (Warsaw) (January 6, 1939); D. Tsharni (Daniel Charney), in Tsukunft (New York) (January 1943); M. Mozes, in Der poylisher yid (The Polish Jew), yearbook (New York, 1944); Meylekh Ravitsh, Mayn leksikon (My lexicon), vol. 1 (Montreal, 1945), pp. 110-12; “Yizker,” in Yidishe shriftn (Yiddish writings), anthology (Lodz, 1946); Rokhl Oyerbakh, in Yidishe shriftn 9 (1947); Oyerbakh, in Kidesh hashem (Sanctification of the name), ed. Shmuel Niger (New York, 1947), p. 108; Oyerbakh, in Nayvelt (Tel Aviv) (September 11, 1950); B. Mark, Umgekumene shrayber fun di getos un lagern (Murdered writers from the ghettos and camps) (Warsaw, 1954), p. 54.

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