Thursday 5 January 2017


MORTKHE YARDENI (July 16, 1906-April 1, 1982)
            The pseudonym of Motl Sherman, he was born in Sloveshne, near Zhitomir, Ukraine, to a father who was a Talmud teacher, a merchant, and a prayer leader.  He studied Bible and Talmud in religious elementary school, and Hebrew and general subjects with private tutors.  With assistance from the Joint Distribution Committee and the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, in 1921 he made his way to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where his father had earlier arrived.  In 1929 he published for the first time a humorous poem and humorous prose sketch in Forverts (Forward) in New York.  That same year he began more frequently to publish in Di idishe velt (The Jewish world) in Philadelphia.  He contributed thereafter to: Tog (Day), Morgn-zhurnal (Morning journal), Forverts, Idisher kemfer (Jewish fighter), Fraye arbeter-shtime (Free voice of labor), Yidishe kultur (Jewish culture), Kultur un dertsiung (Culture and Education), Nyu-yorker vokhnblat (New York weekly newspaper), Der amerikaner (The American), and Byalistoker shtime (Voice of Bialystok)—in New York; Di prese (The press) in Buenos Aires); Di shtime (The voice) in Mexico City; Keneder odler (Canadian eagle) in Montreal), and Heymish (Familiar) in Tel Aviv; among others.  In New York’s Tog, where he was a regular contributor over the course of ten years, he published, among other items, a series of articles on Jewish and Gentile composition, conducting, and cantorship.  His books include: Intervyus mit yidishe shrayber (Interviews with Jewish writers) (New York: Malkah, 1955), 160 pp.; Leo lyov, momentn fun zayn lebn un shafn, shtrikhn tsu a portret fun a barimter muzikalisher perzenlekhkeyt bay idn (Leo Low, moments from his life and work, features for a portrait of an important musical personality among Jews) (New York: Nigun, 1960), 435 pp. in Yiddish, 16 pp. in English; 50 yor idish gezang in amerike (Fifty years of Jewish music in America) (New York: Jewish Music Alliance, 1964), 236 + 79 pp.; Vort un klang, eseyen, esyetn (Word and sound, essays, short essays) (New York: Malkah, 1979), 3 volumes.  He published musical compositions in the five-volume Antologya ḥazanit (Cantorial anthology) which Gershon Ephros published in New York.  He wrote music (for voice with piano accompaniment) to chapters of Psalms, to prayers from the Siddur and Maḥzor, as well as to poems by well-known Jewish poets which were included in Jewish school books.  He was also renowned as a cantor and concert singer.  He was vice-president and secretary of the Jewish Radio Guild in America.  He was a member of the Jewish actors and cantors societies.  In 1953 he received an honorary diploma from the Hebrew Union School of Sacred Music.  In 1959 he became the administrative editor of Nyu-yorker vokhnblat in place of L. Libman, who had become ill at the time, and after Libman’s death he was the newspaper’s editor until it ceased publication in December 1960.  Among his pen names: M. Malkin, M. Sloveshnyer, M. Malkes, M. Sheritan, M. Sheri, Ben Khayim-Avrom, Aḥi Yaakov, Aḥi Yosef, M. Tapuḥi, M. Yud.  He died in Miami Beach.

Sources: M. Gelbart, in Nyu-yorker vokhnblat (New York) (July 14, 1939); Y. Botoshanski, in Di prese (Buenos Aires) (April 15, 1943); A. Z. Berebitshes, in Der veg (Mexico City) (March 13, 1948); Professor S. Kahan, in Der veg (February 17, 1948); Kahan, in Di shtime (Mexico City) (December 17, 1960); Yankev Glatshteyn, in Morgn-zhurnal (New York) (March 14, 1951); B. Ts. Goldberg, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (May 20, 1956); Y. Varshavski, in Forverts (New York) (June 3, 1956); M. Knapheys, in Ilustrirte literarishe bleter (Buenos Aires) (January-February 1958); Dr. N. Sverdlin, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (June 11, 1959); Y. Cohen, Baym rand fun onhoyb (At the edge of the beginning) (New York, 1960), pp. 134-41; Sh. Secunda, in Forverts (December 10, 1961).
Borekh Tshubinski

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 306].

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