Tuesday 25 April 2017


MORTKHE LIPSON (April 24, 1885-January 14, 1958)
            The adopted name of Mortkhe Yanodovski, he was born in Bialystok, Russian Poland.  He attended modernized religious primary schools and later the Radun yeshiva of the Chofets Chaim.  He was a fierce follower of the Musar movement.  In 1903 he received a permit to officiate as a rabbi.  From a desire to pursue his education, he left in 1905 for Antwerp, Belgium, where he initially worked as a Hebrew teacher and later as an employee in the diamond industry.  From 1907 he was publishing correspondence pieces, articles, and features in: Hazman (The time), Hatsfira (The siren), Hamevaser (The herald), Hayehudi (The Jew), and Haolam (The world).  In 1912 he published in Belgium a humorous sheet entitled Der antverpener lets (The Antwerp clown).  Together with Sh. Cohen, Y. Kreplyak, and Y. Podruzhnik, in 1913 he founded the first Yiddish newspaper in Belgium, the weekly Der mayrev (The West), which was to be the organ of the Jewish communities in Belgium, Holland, French, and Switzerland and for technical difficulties was published in Copenhagen, Denmark (only four issues appeared in print).  In the fall of 1913 he traveled to the United States, and he contributed there to Hayom (Today) and Kundes (Prankster), for which he wrote the humorous editorials “Zalts un fefer” (Salt and pepper), as well as feature pieces under the pen name Motele.  From 1914 he was assistant editor of the Zionist organ Dos yidishe folk (The Jewish people), in which, aside from features, he published a translation of Moshe Smilansky’s novel Toldot ahava aḥat (Story of one love).  He was later active primarily in Hebrew.  He co-edited Hatoran (The duty officer), edited Haivri (The Jew) (1916-1922), and published translations of Dovid Bergelson’s Arum vokzal (At the depot), Yitskhok-Meyer Vaysenberg’s Dos shtetl (The town), and Yoysef Opatoshu’s Hibru (Hebrew).  In separate editions, he translated: Knut Hamsun’s Pan, mireshimotav shel haletenant tomas glan (Pan, from the papers of Lieutenant Thomas Glahn [original: Pan]) (New York, 1919), 169 pp.; and Opatoshu’s Beyaarot polin, roman (In the Polish woods, a novel [original: Poylishe velder]) (New York, 1921), 268 pp.  He also edited Luaḥ aḥiever, vol. 2 (New York, 1921).  In September 1921 he founded and edited the Hebrew-language daily Hadoar (The mail), later published as a weekly, and he went on to become a regular writer for Yidishes tageblat (Jewish daily newspaper), in which, aside from journalistic articles and feature pieces, he published a translation of Chaim Chemerinsky’s autobiographical work Mayn shtetl motele (My town of Motele) and published a large collection of sayings and jokes entitled Yidishe gedolim, vi zey vertlen zikh (Jewish giants, how they joked).  In book form the latter appeared under the title: Di velt dertseylt, mayselakh un vertlakh, hanhoges un mides fun anshey-shem bay idn (The world recounts, stories and sayings, behaviors and habits of famous people among the Jews), 2 vols. (New York: Doyres, 1928); published in four volumes in Hebrew as Midor dor (New York, 1937).  In 1922 he published in Literarishe bleter (Literary leaves) in Warsaw a fragment of a drama in two scenes, entitled “Der sagi nehor” (The blind man).  In 1930 he moved to Israel and edited Bustenai (Bustenai) (1931-1932).  For several months in 1933 he edited Doar hayom (Today’s mail).  Over the years 1938-1944, he served as editor of the Mizrachi daily newspaper Hatsofe (The spectator).  In book form: a literary reworking of the Dubner preacher’s proverbs; translation into Hebrew of Y. Y. Zinger’s Mishpokhe karnovski (The family Carnovsky) as Bet karnovski (Tel Aviv, 1945/1946), 479 pp.; of Opatoshu’s volume of stories Ven poyln iz gefaln (When Poland fell) as Ḥurbn polin (The destruction of Poland) (New York, 1947), 214 pp.; and of a book by Rudyard Kipling.  In 1945 he worked as editor at the publishing house Omanut, where he published a collection Moed (Holiday), which included chapters on the holidays from Midor dor.  He died in Tel Aviv.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2; Zalmen Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 2 (New York, 1934); H. L. Gordon, Sefer hayovel shel hadoar (Anniversary volume for Hadoar) (New York, 1926/1927), pp. 64-67; Yude Elzet, in Tsukunft (New York) (January 1930); P. Vyernik, in Morgn-zhurnal (New York) (April 19, 1931); D. Tidhar, in Entsiklopedyah leḥalutse hayishuv uvonav (Encyclopedia of the pioneers and builders of the yishuv), vol. 3 (Tel Aviv, 1949), p. 268; A. Sh. Hershberg, in Pinkes byalistok (Records of Bialystok), vol. 1 (New York, 1949), p. 419; D. Perski, in Hadoar (New York) (Shevat [=January-February] 1959).
Yankev Kahan

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