Wednesday 14 December 2016


MOYSHE YUDOVIN (1896-1966)

        He was a poet, born in the town of Beshenkovitsh (Byeshankovichy), Vitebsk district, Byelorussia, into the poor family of a retailer. He studied in the Volozhin Yeshiva, but he broke off his studies and returned home. He then went with his cousin Shloyme Yudovin, later a well-known graphic artist, to the neighboring town of Tshashnik (Čašniki) where he studied watch-making, but due to the severe conditions he again returned to his hometown; there, he began an intensive study of literature, history, philosophy, mathematics and physics, as well as German and French. He debuted in print in 1913 with poems in the newspaper Di tsayt (The times) in St. Petersburg, and he later placed poetry in other publications. After the October Revolution, he first worked with the publishing association in Byeshankovichy (October 1918-April 1919); he then moved to the Lyepyel division of the Commissariat for Education (April 1919-March 1920). He then married and moved to Vitebsk. He worked for over two years on the editorial board of Royter shtern (Red star) in Vitebsk, as manager of the literature and arts division. He went on to study at the Jewish Pedagogical Technicum, while simultaneously working as a teacher at the same institution. In 1922 he published his first and only poetry collection: Kboylen (Clusters) which was received with the notice that a gifted poet had arrived in the world of literature. However, a lengthy interruption in his work ensued, both due to the poet’s dire material conditions and to his disappointment in the ideals in which he had naively placed such trust. An honest and upright man, he simply could not falsify his poetic voice, as so many other poets had done, so as to adapt to the Bolshevik order. He graduated in absentia from the Jewish section of the pedagogical institute in Moscow and produced a number of textbooks for the Jewish schools. Further information remains unknown. His cousin Shloyme Yudovin carved a piece of linoleum for an engraving that appears in the volume Idisher folks-ornament (Jewish folk ornaments) (Vitebsk: Y. L. Perets Association of Vitebsk, 1920).

            His poetry appeared in such journals as: Komunistishe velt (Communist world), Khvalyes (Waves), and Royter shtern. His other work would include: Zalbetsveyt (Two together), a pamphlet by him and L. Abram published the Vitebsk Jewish section (Yevsektsye) by on May 1, 1921, 8 pp.; Knoyln, lider (Clusters, poetry) (Vitebsk: Jewish Educational Bureau, 1922), 64 pp. Together with M. Mogilnitski, Ayzik Rozentsvayg, and Nokhum Solovey, he compiled Arbet un shaf, lernbukh farn tsveytn klas (Work and workshop, textbook for the second school year) (Minsk: Byelorussian State Publishers, 1928), 232 pp.; its second edition was entitled Oyfboy, arbet un shaf (Construction, work and workshop), revised by Yudovin and Solovey, part 1 (Moscow: USSR Central People’s Publishers, 1930), 132 pp.

Sources: Ber Orshanski, Di yidishe literatur in vaysrusland nokh der revolutsye, pruvn fun an oysforshung (Yiddish literature in Byelorussia after the revolution, attempt at an inquiry) (Minsk, 1931), pp. 68-71; Orshanski, “Idgezkom—fir naye shtimen (yudovin, hofshteyn, kushnirov, rosin)” (Jewish Social Committee, four new voices: Yudovin, Hofshteyn, Kushnirov, Rosin), Di tsayt (New York) (January 22, 1921); Elye Shulman, in Fraye arbeter-shtime (New York) (July 18, 1952).

Leyzer Ran

[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. 178-79.]

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