Sunday 18 December 2016


VOLF YUNIN (February 29, 1908-May 31, 1984)
            Born with the surname Hokhman in Irkutsk, he was a poet, folklorist, and theater enthusiast.  He was raised in Bialystok and Bielsk.  He studied in a “cheder metukan” (improved religious elementary school), compulsory German school, and a Jewish public school.  He completed locksmith and blacksmith training in the Bialystok artisans’ school.  He engaged in a variety of physical labors.  As a ship’s worker in 1928, he traveled the world.  In 1930 he settled in New York.  He taught Yiddish in the Berlitz School in New York (1964-1965) and was a Yiddish instructor at Rutgers University.  Beginning in 1948 he wrote journalistic, folkloric, and language research articles in Tog (Day) and Tog-morgn-zhurnal (Day-morning journal), and from 1972 to 1980 in Forverts (Forward) and Fray arbeter-shtime (Free voice of labor)—all in New York.  On language issues, he wrote 227 articles for Tog-morgn-zhurnal (August 28, 1966-December 28, 1971), 423 articles in Forverts (March 27, 1972-August 1980), and a dictionary of Hebrew words in Yiddish (New York: Forverts, 1979-1980).  For poetry, he debuted in print in the daily newspaper Dos naye lebn (The new life) in Bialystok (spring 1928).  He published a fragment of his long poem Shoseyen (Highways) in Vilner tog (Vilna day).  In New York’s Tog he published a novel in verse (December 1950-June 17, 1951).  Over the years 1933-1980, he published a number of poems in: Tsukunft (Future) in New York (1933); Oyfkum (Arise) in New York (1935); Signal (Signal) in New York (1936); Literarishe bleter (Literary leaves) in Warsaw (1937); Yidishe kultur (Jewish culture) in New York (1943); Goldene keyt (Golden chain) in Tel Aviv (issues 5, 17, 20, 101, 105); Vayter (Further) in New York (1955); Arbeter-vort (Workers’ word) in Paris; Di prese (The press) in Buenos Aires; Frimorgn (Morning) in Riga; Fraye arbeter-shtime (Free voice of labor) in New York; Kinder-zhurnal (Children’s magazine) in New York; Kinder-tsaytung (Children’s newspaper) in New York; Yungvald (Young forest) in New York; Kinderfraynd (Children’s friend) in Warsaw; and Argentiner beymelekh (Little Argentinian trees) in Buenos Aires.  Over the course of thirty years, he wrote and adapted one-act plays, scenarios, monologues, and songs for choruses and theatrical ensembles and songs for plays in drama repertoires.  Musical composers wrote music for Yunin’s several dozen sets of lyrics.  He also acted in two German films put out by UFA.  His books include: 7 lider (Seven poems) (Bialystok), 24 pp.; Der draytsnter sheyvet, roman in verzn (The thirteenth tribe, a novel in verse) (New York, 1956), 128 pp.  He edited Alef (Alef), a “laboratory-literary journal” (New York, 1940).  Among his pseudonyms: Batkin, Dinkin, Y. Volf, Dr. S. F. Vaynerman, Dr. Y. Valakh, Dr. Y. Volfson, and Y. Vilkin.  He died in New York.

Sources: Goldene keyt (Tel Aviv) 101 (1955); Dina Abramowicz, in Forverts (New York) (June 15, 1984); Leyzer Ran, in Yidishe kultur (New York) 9-10 (1984) and 2 (1985).

Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), cols. 301-2.

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