KHYENE YOFE (April 21, 1900-November 20, 1958)
She was born in Schuchyn (Ščučyn), Vilna district, Lithuania. In 1910 she moved to the United States and there received her Jewish and general education. Her literary activities began with short stories in Hebrew, later switching to Yiddish. In 1916 she began publishing articles and journalistic reportage pieces in Yidishes tageblat (Jewish daily newspaper) in New York, and from that point she was one of the most prominent of women journalists in Yiddish. With an unsettled aspiration to wander, she visited many countries. Before WWII she visited Eastern Europe and portrayed local Jewish life in the final years before the plague of Adolf Hitler. She also in artistic fictional form described interesting corners and exotic places around the world. In 1945, soon after WWII, she was among the first Yiddish writers to visit to German concentration camps with the Jewish survivors there, as well as those who returned from their exiles to Poland, Russia, and others lands. When the Yemenite Jews were transported to Israel, she flew with them from Aden and then described this extraordinary voyage in a series of reportage works. She then for a certain period of time lived in the state of Israel and was active there in the work of the American Pioneer Women’s Organization. In 1958 she set out on a world trip, visited Japan, India, and a host of newly awakened African and Asian colonies, and she depicted her voyage in a series of articles which aroused considerable attention both among readers and among writers. From 1920 she was an internal contributor to Der tog (The day) in New York, and following their amalgamation, of Tog-morgn-zhurnal (Day-morning journal). She also published interviews with well-known personalities, as well as reviews of theater, music, art, and literature. Using the name Helen Blum, she ran a regular column in the “Women’s supplement” to Der tog. She also placed work in: Fraye arbeter-shtime (Free voice of labor), Der amerikaner (The American), and Der kundes (The prankster)—in New York; Shmerke katsherginski ondenk-bukh (Shmerke Katsherginski remembrance volume) (Buenos Aires, 1955); as well as in Yiddish newspapers in Poland (until WWII), Canada, South Africa, and the state of Israel. She also published in the Herald Tribune and other English-language newspapers in New York. She died during her last trip on board ship, which was on its way from Hong Kong to India. The Pioneer Women’s Organization in America designated the Haim Greenberg Literary Prize for 1959 in her memory and decided to name one of its institutions in Israel in her name.
Sources: B. Bazilyonski (B. Koralnik), in Der tog (New York) (January 29, 1933); Ray Raskin, in Der tog (November 2, 1957); obituary notice in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (November 23, 1958); editorial, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (November 26, 1958); S. Dingol, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (November 29, 1958); Dr. M. Margoshes, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (December 6, 1958); A. Leyeles, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (December 10, 1958); Meylekh Ravitsh, in Der veg (Mexico City) (December 6, 1958); Hadoar (New York) (Tevet 1 [= December 12], 1958); Berakha Ḥabas, in Davar (Tel Aviv) (Tevet 9 [= December 20], 1958); B. A. Avast, in Davar hapoelet (Tel Aviv) (December 1958-January 1959); Marie Syrkin, in Pioneer Woman (New York) (January 1959); Dvoyre Rotbard, in Di pyonern-froy (New York) (February 1959).
Khayim Leyb Fuks