ELIEZER YERUSHALMI (September 3, 1903-December 10, 1962)
He was born in Horodishtsh (Gorodishche), Byelorussia. He studied in religious elementary school and yeshivas. In 1915 he graduated from middle school as an external student in Volkovisk (Wołkowysk). He studied the humanities in Kharkov, Kovno, and Königsberg Universities, and he received his doctoral degree. He was a teacher of history and linguistics at various middle schools in Lithuania and Poland. He was a member of the Jewish community council in Shavel (Šiauliai), of the central committee of the Labor Zionists in Lithuania, and a leader in Haḥaluts (The pioneer) and ORT (Association for the Promotion of Skilled Trades) in Shavel. From 1941 he was confined in the Shavel ghetto, where he worked as a director and teacher in the ghetto public school. He served as technical secretary of the “Jewish Council” (Judenrat), 1942-1943. He put into writing a great number of testimonies of Jews who escaped from smaller sites. During the bombing of the ghetto (in the night of July 19, 1944), he escaped to the partisans in the forest, later serving for a time in the Red Army, later still working as a teacher in the Jewish public school in Vilna under the Bolsheviks. From June to September 1945, he lived in Lodz, where he was active in the Jewish historical commission; later, with Briḥa (organization to help postwar survivors escape Europe for Palestine) he left for Italy to run the culture and education department of the Center for the Organization of Refugees in Italy. He was a delegate from the Jewish writers and cultural leaders in Italy to the founding conference of the World Jewish Culture Congress in New York. From February 1949, he was living in Haifa where he worked as the director of a government middle school. He began writing in 1923 in German, later contributing to a Russian-language daily newspaper, Sevodnia (Today), in Riga. From 1927 he was writing in Yiddish and Hebrew. He published pedagogical and literary works, political articles, historical pieces, and stories in: Idishe shtime (Jewish voice), Folksblat (People’s newspaper), Dos vort (The word), and Had lita (Echo of Lithuania), among others—in Kovno; Pedagogishe bleter (Pedagogical pages) in Shavel; Dos naye lebn (The new life) in Lodz; Dos vort, In veg (On the road), In gang (In progress)—also serving as editor of these last two—and Baderekh (On the road)—all in Rome; Tog (Day) in New York; Davar (Word), Davar hashavua (Word of the week), Hatsofe (The spectator), Omer (Word), Hador (This generation), Haarets (The land), Gilyonot (Tablets), Hapoel hatsair (The young worker), Karmelit (The Carmelit), Gesher (Bridge), Masa (Burden), Sefer hamoadim (Book of appointed times), Zakhor (Remember), Molad (Birth), Mavoot (Entryways), Reshumot (official gazette of the Israeli government), Haḥinukh (Education), Orim (Lights), and Ha-haḥinukh (Echo of education), among others—in the state of Israel. In book form he published: A kitser fun yidisher geshikhte (A summary of Jewish history) (Rome, 1946), part 1, 68 pp.; Profesor shuster, drame in fir aktn mit a prolog (Professor Shuster, a drama in four acts with a prologue) (Rome, 1947), 38 pp. (can be found in the YIVO archives in New York); Byalik, zayn lebn un shafn (Bialik, his life and work) (Rome, 1947), 32 pp.; Ḥurban yahadut lite (The Jewish Holocaust in Lithuania) (Tel Aviv, 1953), 24 pp., a separate imprint from Reshumot, and a shorter fragment of his work, Der khurbn fun tsofn-litvishn yudntum (The Holocaust of northern Lithuanian Jewry), 450 pp., which received the first prize of the Jewish literary association in Rome; Pesaḥ bevet-hayeladim bevilna hasovetit (Passover at the children’s home in Soviet Vilna) (Tel Aviv, 1959). His work, Pinkas shavli, yoman migeto litai, 1941-1944 (Shavel records, Lithuanian ghetto diary, 1941-1944) (Jerusalem, 1958), 420 pp., with a preface by Professor Ben-Zion Dinur, was originally written in Yiddish (the Yiddish original remains in manuscript). His story “Maysele fun shavl” (A story from Shavel), which was published in Tog, was translated into English and Spanish. A number of his stories about ghetto children appeared in German under the title Das jüdische Märtyrerkind: nach Tagebuchaufzeichnungen aus dem Ghetto von Schaulen 1941-44 (The martyred Jewish children, according to the diary records from Shavel, 1941-1944) (Darmstadt, 1960), 63 pp. Subsequent works in Hebrew include: Yalde hashoa (Children of the Holocaust), stories (Haifa, 1961), 147 pp.; Miyaarot hatsafon ad ḥurshot hakarmel (From the northern caves to the Carmel forests) (Tel Aviv, 1962), 307 pp.; Meḥezyonot hageto, sipurim umaḥazot (Visions of the ghetto, stories and plays) (Haifa, 1963), 258 pp.; Beohole sifrut (Shelters of literature) (Haifa, 1965/1966), 268 pp. Several of these won prizes. He also served as editor of Din veḥeshbon shel hamaḥalaka letarbut (Report of the culture department) (Rome, 1948), 47 pp. He also prepared for publication important materials on the destruction of Lithuanian Jewry, among them: “Togbukh fun ponar” (Diary from Ponar), “Protokoln vegn der lage fun di lagern un zeyer farnikhtung in estland” (Protocols on the condition of the camps and their destruction in Estonia), “Di shkhite in vilkomir” (The massacre in Vilkomir [Ukmergė]), “Di shkhite in zhager” (The massacre in Zhager [Žagarė]), “Protokoln vegn umkum fun di yidn in krestingen, shkud, salant, korten, plotl, dorbyan, rakishki, ponyevezh” (Protocols on the murder of Jews in Krestingen, Shkud [Skuodas], Salant [Salantai], Korten [Kartena], Plotl [Plotele, Plateliai], Dorbyan [Dorbenai], Rakishki [Rokiskes], Ponevezh [Panevezys]). He also published under such pen names as: A. D. Liu and D. Segulim. In the eighth volume of the Haifa yearbook Karmelit (Carmelit), he published fragments from his drama Bemetsada (At Massada). He died in Haifa.
Sources: Eynikeyt (Moscow) (September 18, 1944); Tsukunft (New York) (January 1947); B. Cohen, in In gang (Rome) (February 15, 1949); B. Ts. Dinur, preface to Pinkas shavli (Shavel records) (Jerusalem, 1958), pp. 7-8; Yad Vashem, Reshimot hapisumim (Lists of publications) (Jerusalem, 1958/1959), p. 5; M. Lahav, in Al hamishmar (Tel Aviv) (May 27, 1959); Dr. Shloyme Bikl, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (May 15, 1960); Kh. Sh. Kazdan, in Unzer tsayt (New York) (November 1960).
Khayim Leyb Fuks
[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), cols. 307, 544.]