Tuesday, 30 May 2017
Monday, 29 May 2017
Sunday, 28 May 2017
Saturday, 27 May 2017
Friday, 26 May 2017
NOKHUM LEVIN (1908-1950)
He was a literary critic, journalist, and editor, born in Minsk, Byelorussia, into a laboring family. He attended religious elementary school and later a high school; in 1927 he graduated from the Yiddish division of the literature department of the Second Moscow State University. He worked as a teacher of history and literature in Jewish middle schools in Homyel' (Gomel) and Minsk, and later at the theater school of the Moscow Yiddish State Theater, while at the same time contributing to: Oktyabr (October), Shtern (Star), Yunger arbeter (Young worker), and Yunger leninyets (Young Leninist)—in Minsk; Shtern in Kharkov; Birobidzhaner shtern (Birobidzhan star); and other serials. He was an editor and internal contributor to Der emes (The truth) and to the publishing house of “Der emes” in Moscow, for which he edited the works of Soviet Yiddish writers and translated for the press a number of textbooks for Jewish schools, among other items: N. Ribkin, Zamlung ufgabes af geometrye far der mitlshul (Collection of problems in geometry for the middle school); Aleksey I. Gukovski and Orest V. Trakhtenberg, Di epokhe fun feodalizm, lernbukh far der mitlshul (The era of feudalism, textbook for middle school [original: Istoriia epokha feodalizma, uchebnik dli︠a︡ srednei shkoly) (Moscow: Emes, 1934), 347 pp.; A. S. Barkov, Fizishe geografye (Physical geography); and the five-volume Geshikhte fun fss"r (History of the USSR [original: Historiia SSSR]), ed. Anna M. Pankratova (Moscow: Emes, 1941); among other works. Together with Kh. Ayzman, he wrote the pamphlet Gezerd un internatsyonale kinder-dertsiung (Gezerd [All-Union Association for the Agricultural Settlement of Jewish Workers in the USSR] and international children’s education) (Moscow: Central Gezerd Management, 1930), 28 pp.
As a lieutenant he took part in the battles against the Nazis on all fronts—from Moscow to Berlin—and he was decorated with medals and awards. In 1945 and early 1946 he was in the army in the Far East. He was an editor with the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee and head of the literature division of the newspaper Eynikeyt (Unity); he published reviews of Yiddish books and of performances of Yiddish theater, and he actively contributed to Jewish cultural life in Moscow. People who knew him personally believed that there was lost in him a genuine prose writer and playwright, but first and foremost he was a brilliant editor. He was treasured as such, even by the likes of Dovid Bergelson whose novel Bayn dnyepr (By the Dnieper) Levin edited. Thereafter, until the liquidation of Yiddish culture, he contributed to Eynikeyt in Moscow and to Emes publishers. For the Moscow Yiddish theater, he translated plays by Molière and Goldoni. Among his other literary translations: Maxim Gorky, Dos lebn fun klim samgin (The life of Klim Sangin [original: Zhizn' Klima Sangina]); and Lion Feuchtwanger, Di mishpokhe openhaym (The family Oppenheim [original: Die Geschwister Oppenheim]).
When the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee and the newspaper Eynikeyt were closed down, he worked for a time as an editor at the Moscow publisher “Fizkul'tura i sport” (Physical culture and sport), but he was arrested on September 16, 1949. In response to inquiries from his family about his fate, they received an official document that he had died of heart failure on December 26, 1952. In fact, he was shot on November 23, 1950 in a camp.
Sources: Y. Vitkin, in Oktyabr (Minsk) 76 (1935); A. Roytblat, in Shtern (Kharkov) 279 (1935); T. Gen, in Eynikeyt (Moscow) (October 2, 1945); M. Notovitsh, in Yidishe kultur (New York) (December 1945); N. Mayzil, Dos yidishe shafn un der yidisher arbeter in sovetn-farband (Jewish creation and the Jewish worker in the Soviet Union) (New York, 1959), see index; Chone Shmeruk, comp., Pirsumim yehudiim babrit-hamoatsot, 1917-1961 (Jewish publications in the Soviet Union, 1917-1961) (Jerusalem, 1961), see index; information from Y. Emyot in Rochester, New York, and Y. Birnboym and H. Vinokur in New York.
Khayim Leyb Fuks
[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 348; 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. 217-18.]
Thursday, 25 May 2017
LIPMAN LEVIN (1877-April 25, 1946)
He was a prose author, born in Mohilev (Mahilyow), Byelorussia, the great-grandson of the Mohilev rabbi, R. Khayim Smolyaner. While quite young he demonstrated enormous diligence in his studies, and at age ten he was holding forth from the synagogue pulpit. As he grew older, he began to consult secular books, learned a great deal of Hebrew, and turned his attention to pedagogy. At that time, he began writing in Hebrew, but under the influence of Dovid Pinski, he took to writing in Yiddish as well. He moved to Warsaw in 1900. On the first Sabbath there, he read before Y. L. Perets, Hersh-Dovid Nomberg, and Avrom Reyzen a monologue (“Der oytser” [The treasure]), which was a big hit. Bal-Makhshoves saw in him a major literary talent and recommended him to Dr. Yoysef Lurye, editor of Der yud (The Jew), in which Levin debuted in print with a story entitled “Dos yoseml” (The little orphan). From that time on, he published stories in various Yiddish publications, such as: Der yud, Di velt (The world), and Di yudishe folks-tsaytung (The Jewish people’s newspaper) which was edited by Mortkhe Spektor and Levin’s brother-in-law Khayim-Dov Hurvits; and Hebrew publications, such as Hatsfira (The times), Hashiloaḥ (The shiloah), Luaḥ aḥiasef, and Hazman (The time), among others. In 1904 he moved to St. Petersburg and became a regular contributor to Fraynd (Friend), for which he took charge of the provincial division. In 1908 he settled in Vilna. For the Vilna publisher Sh. Y. Fink, he compiled the holiday magazines: Khanike-blat (Hanukkah newspaper), Lekoved peysekh (Honoring Passover), Zangen (Stalks), and Nay-yor (New year), among others. He also edited: F. Margolin’s Idishe tsaytung (Jewish newspaper); Der holtshendler (The timber merchant) (from 1909), a trade newspaper of the timber business and timber industry; and Vilner vokhenblat (Vilna weekly newspaper) (1909-1914). He also penned journalistic articles under the pen names: Antik, Dekadent, Der Eygener, A Fremder, and Even Saadya. During WWI he worked with F. Margolin’s daily Der fraynd (The friend) and with Had hazman (Echo of the times). Later, after these newspapers ceased publication, he left for St. Petersburg where, during WWI, he was plenipotentiary for Yekopo (Yevreyskiy komitet pomoshchi zhertvam voyny—“Jewish Relief Committee for War Victims”) for Mohilev and Smolensk districts. He was drafted in early 1916 into the Tsarist army, and after the February Revolution (1917), he was living in Smolensk, later moving to Moscow where he was hired as secretary for the Jewish community. As a writer of the pre-revolutionary generation, for many years Lipman Levin was unable to adapt to the new conditions under the Soviet regime and wrote next to nothing. He went on to write original work, mainly his memoirs from the era of the early twentieth century through WWI, memories of Y. L. Perets, and the writing environments in Warsaw and Vilna, but not all of these works were published. Finally, in 1932 he surfaced and began to publish in Soviet journals. During the years of WWII, he was much weakened and out of date. In 1946, shortly before his death, his coming seventieth birthday was marked with articles in the Soviet Yiddish press. He died shortly thereafter in Moscow. His body was cremated on April 26. At his funeral, Leyb Kvitko, Yekhezkl Dobrushin, and Yitskhok Nusinov gave addresses.
In book form he published: Shriftn (Writings), vol. 1 (Vilna: Shreberk, 1909), 208 pp.; vol. 2 (entitled Elende [Miserable]) (Vilna: Shreberk, 1914), 178 pp.; Or vatsel, sipurim vetsiyurim (Light and shadow, stories and paintings) (Warsaw: Tushiya, 1903), 85 pp. He also wrote (in Hebrew) a three-volume novel which he also translated into Yiddish, and it dealt with the epoch from before the first Russian Revolution, between the two revolutions of 1917, and then after October 1917. This work provided the basis for his novels: Doyres dervakhte (Generations awakened), vol. 1 (Moscow: Emes, 1934), 135 pp., vol. 2 (Vilna, 1934), 373 pp.; and Dem shturem antkegn (Into the storm) (Moscow: Emes, 1939), 310 pp. From these same novels he published the pieces: Di zorg-bank, proklamatsye (Bank of worries, proclamation) (Moscow: Emes, 1935), 45 pp.; and Der ershter shtrayk (The first strike) (Moscow: Emes, 1935), 36 pp. (both in the series “Masn-biblyotek” [Library for the masses], nos. 47 and 48); Merke di pyonerke (Merke, the pioneer) (Moscow: Emes, 1939), 14 pp.; Di konstitutsye oysnveynik (The constitution memorized) (Moscow: Emes, 1940), 15 pp.; and Teg fargangene, noveln (Days gone by, stories) (Moscow: Emes, 1941), 198 pp. He translated among other works: Maxim Gorky, Der lezer (The reader [original: Chitatel']) (Warsaw, 1902); Dzuzepo garibaldi, der folks-held un befrayer fun italyen (Giuseppe Garibaldi, the folk hero and liberator of Italy) (St. Petersburg: Naye biblyotek, 1905), 48 pp.; Lev Osipovich Levanda’s two novels, In shturm (In turbulent times [original: Goryachee vremya]) (Warsaw: Tsentral, 1912), 435 pp., and A groyser remiz (A huge fine [original: Bol'shoi remiz, roman iz kommercheskoi zhizni evreev (A huge fine, a novel from the commercial life of Jewry)]) (Warsaw: Tsentral, 1914), 331 pp. He also published a translation of Levanda’s Der poylisher magnat (The Polish magnate [original: Pol'skii magnat]) (Vilna), 63 pp., and other works as well.
Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2, with a bibliography; Avrom Reyzen, in Tsukunft (New York) (1920), pp. 506-8; A. Reyzen, Epizodn fun mayn lebn (Episodes from my life), part 2 (Vilna, 1929), pp. 13017; A. Reyzen, in Forverts (New York) (April 25, 1931); B. Orshanski, in Emes (Moscow) 144 (1935); A. Abtshuk, Etyudn un materyaln (Studies and materials) (Kharkov, 1934), p. 25; D. Tsharni (Daniel Charney), in Tsukunft (October 1935); Charney, Vilne (Vilna) (Buenos Aires, 1951), pp. 174-76; N. Mayzil, Doyres un tkufes in der yidisher literatur (Generations and epochs in Yiddish literature) (New York, 1942), pp. 17, 81, 86; Y. Nusinov, in Eynikeyt (Moscow) (April 1947); obituary notice signed by many Soviet Yiddish writers, in Eynikeyt (April 27, 1946); B. Mark, in Dos naye lebn (Warsaw) 96  (1949); Y. Likhtenboym, ed., Hasipur haivri (The Hebrew story) (Tel Aviv, 1955), p. 520; Chone Shmeruk, comp., Pirsumim yehudiim babrit-hamoatsot, 1917-1961 (Jewish publications in the Soviet Union, 1917-1961) (Jerusalem, 1961), see index.
[Additional information from: 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. 216-17.]