Monday 21 November 2016


YOYSEF TSHERNYAK (1895-February 1, 1975)
            He was born in Khotimsk (Khotsimsk), Byelorussia, the older brother of Lyube Tshernyak.  He graduated from a pedagogical technicum and a course of advanced studies in the Kiev Institute for Jewish Culture.  Until 1928 he lived in Khotimsk, where he devoted himself to collecting and researching Jewish labor folklore, and later (until 1934) he worked in the ethnographic section of the Institute for Jewish Proletarian Culture at the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences in Kiev.  He was later a school inspector for Fraydorf and other Jewish colonies in the Crimea.  He lived in Moscow, Birobidzhan, and Tashkent, where he took an active part in Jewish school and cultural affairs.  He was as well a contributor to Soviet Jewish periodicals.  In Di yidishe shprakh (The Yiddish language), over the years 1927-1935, he published, among other items, “Di shprakh fun folkslid in farglaykh mit der geredter shprakh” (The language of folksong in comparison with the spoken language).  His work also appeared in Folklor-lider (Folklore songs) (Moscow) 1 (1933) and 2 (1936).  He was a member of the editorial board of Fraydorfer emes (Fraydorf truth) from 1934.  In 1937 he was accused of “bourgeois nationalism” and deported to a camp, but he was freed a short time later.  He authored Shprakhfolkloristisher atlas (Atlas of language folklore) which contains 3,000 items of linguistic folklore and the developmental tendencies of Yiddish semantics.  He also contributed to the field of pedagogy with his “Pedagogishe retenishn” (Pedagogical puzzles) which were practically unique in the field.  Fragments of his larger work, Sholem-aleykhem un shprakhfolklor: di komponentn, definitsye un bashraybung fun zeyere lebns-oyfanim loyt sholem-aleykhems verk (Sholem-Aleykhem and language folklore: The components, definition, and description of their ways of life in the work of Sholem-Aleykhem), were published in Di yidishe shprakh, Yidish shriftn (Yiddish writings) and Folks-shtime (Voice of the people) in Warsaw (1959-1960), and Di yidishe kultur (Jewish culture) in New York in the same year.  His autobiographical book Af di vegn tsu der tsveyter natur, mayne kultur-vegn (On the paths to second nature, my cultural pathways) deals with Jewish cultural life and creations in Russia from the Revolution of 1917 until the present day.  He wrote the preface to the Russian translation of Itsik Kipnis’s Undzer meydele lane (Our girl Lana) (Moscow, 1960).  He made aliya to Israel late in life and died in Netanya.

Sources: A. Blonder, in Shtern (Kharkov) 151 (1934); N. Rubinshteyn, Dos yidishe bukh in sovetn-farband in 1932 (The Yiddish book in the Soviet Union in 1932) (Minsk, 1933), see index; 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; Folks-shtime (Warsaw) (September 3, 1960].
Khayim Leyb Fuks

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 290; 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), p. 170.]

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