Wednesday 25 January 2017


LEON KHAZANOVITSH (October 5, 1882[1]-September 17, 1925)
            The adopted name of Casriel Shuv, he was born in Shirvint (Širvintos), Vilna district, Lithuania.  His father was the town ritual slaughterer and cantor (from which he took his later name Khazanovitsh [lit., “son of a cantor,” as a sort of Russo-Jewish patronymic—JAF]).  He studied in religious elementary school and yeshivas, later turning his attention to secular subject matter.  Around 1904 he joined the Labor Zionist movement, which at the time had just begun to organize, and before and after the Russian Revolution of October 1905, he quickly became (using the party name of Casriel) a traveling agitator and organizer of the party through the cities and towns of Lithuania and Poland.  At the beginning of 1906, he was arrested, spent several months in the Petrokov Prison, and was exiled deep into Russia, which for him turned out well as he fled abroad.  In Switzerland, where he lived for one and one-half years, he studied foreign languages and philosophy.  In 1907 he returned to Vilna, and from there he went on to Cracow and contributed there (in July) to the first conference of the Labor Zionist Party.  In 1908 he became editor of the party organ for Galicia, Der yudisher arbayter (The Jewish laborer), initially in Cracow and later in Lemberg.  In the collection Di yugend (The youth), which Zerubavel published in Vilna (summer 1908), he placed his first long work: “Di velt-virtshaftlekhe grund-gezets fun tsienizm” (The world-economic basic law of Zionism), an essay which strengthened his reputation as a serious theoretician in the party.  At the first Yiddish Language Conference in Czernowitz (August 1908), he was one of the most active speakers on behalf of the national radical groups and was selected as secretary of the bureau to lead the fight for the rights and due respect of the Yiddish language.  At that time he was one of the most important cofounders of the Labor Zionist world union, in whose secretariat he was later active over the course of many years as an organizer, speaker, and writer.  On assignment for the party in 1909, he made a trip to North America and from there to Argentina.  In Buenos Aires he was a cofounder of the biweekly organ of the local Labor Zionist organization: Broyt un ere (Bread and honor), which existed until 1910.  In Argentina, he was introduced to life in the colonies of YIKO (Jewish Cultural Organization).  The despotism of the YIKO administration toward the colonists profoundly shocked him, and from that point on he led a bitter struggle with the YIKO satraps, created in the colonies an association for mutual aid, and campaigned for an organized resistance against the leaders of YIKO.  The latter reported him to the authorities as a dangerous anarcho-terrorist, leading to his arrest and deportation from the country in chains.  He returned to Lemberg, where he again became editor of Der yidisher arbayter, and on the condition of the Jewish colonies in Argentina he published his pamphlet: Der krizis fun der idisher kolonizatsye in argentine un der moralisher bankrot fun der “yiko”-administratsye (The crisis in Jewish colonization in Argentina and the moral bankruptcy of the YIKO administration) (Stanislav, 1910), 128 pp.  In 1911 he became a member of the bureau of the Labor Zionist association.  On behalf of the bureau, in 1912 he made a trip to Canada and spent several months in Montreal where he edited the organ of the local free socialists: Di folkstsaytung (The people’s newspaper).  In 1913 he settled in Vienna and until 1919 was the secretary of the Labor Zionist world association.  Following the outbreak of WWI, he departed for The Hague, Holland, and (in the summer of 1915) founded the “Yidishe arbeter-korespondents” (Jewish labor correspondence), an organ to inform the international socialist press about the Jewish question and to popularize the idea of national-personal autonomy and a national Jewish home in Palestine.  He later moved to London, where—together with Morris Meyer, the editor of London’s Tsayt (Times), to which Khazanovitsh was a long-time contributor—he founded the “Arbeter-farband” (Workers’ Alliance).  In 1916 he moved to New York.  There, with Ber Borochov, he led a campaign on behalf of a “Jewish Congress.”  For a time (summer 1916), he edited the Labor Zionist organ in America: Der idisher kempfer (The Jewish fighter).  After the Russian Revolution of 1917, he returned to Europe.  He contributed to the most important international socialist conferences of that era.  In 1919 at the conference of the world union of Labor Zionism in Vienna, with all his energy he attempted not to allow the Labor Zionist party to split into right and left factions, and when this proved fruitless, he experienced the rift in the party as a personal calamity.  In 1920 after a second time in the United States, for a short time he co-edited the daily party organ, Di tsayt (The times), but he could find no place for himself in the party now that it had split apart.  The wave of pogroms in Ukraine broke him spiritually and physically even more.  He settled in Berlin and, isolated from everyone, threw himself completely into journalistic work.  He regularly wrote pieces for: Tsayt in London; Idishe tsaytung (Jewish newspaper) in Buenos Aires; Keneder odler (Canadian eagle) in Montreal; and Tsukunft (Future) in New York; among others.  In his articles and correspondence pieces, he was mainly concerned at the time with describing the Jewish catastrophe in Ukraine.  He also published in book form: Der yidisher khurbn in ukraine, materyaln un dokumentn (The Jewish destruction in Ukraine, materials and documents) (Berlin, 1920), 108 pp.  In the last years of his life, he became interested in the work of ORT (Association for the Promotion of Skilled Trades) among Jewish farmers in Carpathian Russia, and it was while engaged in this work that he died in the village of Volkhovtse.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2 (with a bibliography); Zerbavel, ed., Yidisher arbeter-pinkes, tsu der geshikhte fun der poyle-tsien bavegung (Jewish labor records, on the history of the Labor Zionist movement) (Warsaw: Naye kultur, 1928), pp. 481-87; A. Sh. Yuris, Kemfer un dikhter (Fighters and poets) (Riga, 1931), pp. 63-67; Y. Rabinovitsh, in Yoyvl-bukh keneder odler (Jubilee volume for Keneder odler) (Montreal, 1932), see index; Borekh Hoyberman, in Argentine zamlbukh di prese (Argentinian collection for Di prese) (Buenos Aires, 1938), see index; L. Shpizman, in Geshikhte fun der tsienistisher arbeter-bavegung fun tsofn-amerike (History of the Zionist labor movement in North America) (New York, 1955), see index.
Borekh Tshubinsk

[1] According to Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2, it was “around 1880.”

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