Wednesday, 25 January 2017


SHIFRE KHOLODENKO (1909-July 1974))
            She was born in the village of Bartkova Rudniya, Ukraine, the sister of the poet Dovid Hofshteyn.  Their father, an employee in the timber business, had settled the family in the late 1890s in Volhynia.  On her mother’s side, she descended from the well-known Berdichev folk musician Pedatsur Kholodenko.  In 1928 she was a student in the faculty of physics and mathematics at the first state university in Moscow.  She worked on scientific expeditions to the north, which later was reflected in her creative work.  She debuted in print with poetry in the literary and artistic monthly Shtrom (Current) (Moscow) 3 (1922).  Her poetic voice soon found a distinctive place in the world of Soviet poetry.  Her first collection of poems was entitled Lebn (Life) (Kiev: Ukrainian state publishers for national minorities, 1937), 62 pp.; the second collection was Lider (Poems) (Kiev: Ukrainian state publishers for national minorities, 1940), 119 pp.  She later contributed to the Kiev almanac Ukraine (Ukraine) and other Soviet Yiddish periodicals.  She also wrote stories, and five of them appeared in 1940 in book form under the title Gantsfri (Completely free) (Moscow: Der Emes), 40 pp.  Also, a portion of his poetry appeared as a book entitled Undzer kraft (Our strength) (Moscow: Der Emes, 1947), 128 pp.  This volume of poetry had five sections: 1. “Undzer kraft”—“I did not know until now of my strength, / I cannot now weight or measure it, / It has been tested on every grid, / With every struggle I feel it getting steadier”; 2. “Vander” (Migrating); 3. “Gevikst” (Waxed); 4. “Erd” (Earth); 5. “Lebn” (Life).  She later published: Dos vort (The word) (Moscow: Sovetski pisatel, 1974), 163 pp.  His work was represented as well in: Tsum zig (To victory) (Moscow, 1944); and the poetry collection Yugnt (Youth) (Kharkov, 1922).  One senses the feelings of a woman and a mother in her poetry.  She suffered greatly over the years.  The death of her brother, who was for her a continual support and a consolation throughout her life, was a personal tragedy.  It was exacerbated by the fact that she could in no way express her feelings publicly—in written or oral form.  After her death there was discovered in the drawer of her writing table poems of great pain in which she expressed her feelings.  She died in Moscow.

Sources: Y. Nusinov, in Royte velt (Kharkov) 9 (1926); D. Tsharni (Daniel Charney), in Literarishe bleter (Warsaw) 3 (1927); E. Korman, Yidishe dikhterins (Jewish women poets) (Chicago, 1928), pp. 300, 302, 346; N. Y. Gotlib, in Tsukunft (New York) (1951); N. Mayzil, Dos yidishe shafn un der yidisher shrayber in sovetnfarband (Jewish creation and the Yiddish writer in the Soviet Union) (New York, 1959), see index.
Mortkhe Yofe

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), cols. 313-14; and 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. 183-84.]

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