Thursday 18 May 2017


YITSKHOK (ISAAC) LEVITATS (September 3, 1907-September 1985)
           He was born in Zhager (Žagarė), Lithuania.  He attended religious elementary school and Rameyle’s yeshiva in Vilna, and for secular subjects a Russian-Jewish school and a Hebrew high school in Shavel (Šiauliai).  Over the years 1924-1926, he worked as a teacher in a Tarbut school in Kurshan (Kuršėnai), Lithuania.  In 1926 he arrived in the United States.  He worked as a Hebrew teacher in New York.  He received his B. A. degree in 1929 from Columbia University and his M. A. in 1933 in Hebrew literature from Stephen Weiss’s Jewish Institute of Religion and from Columbia.  In 1934 he received a research stipend from Columbia, and he lived in Israel 1935-1940, where he was a teacher in Petaḥ Tikva and Haifa, and then returned to the United States where he served as director of the bureaus of Jewish education in Akron, Ohio, Syracuse, New York, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  His writing activities commenced in Yiddish in 1935 in Yivo-bleter (Pages from YIVO).  He contributed work to Dertsiungs-entsiklopedye (Encyclopedia of education), edited by Hyman Bass (vol. 1: New York, 1957): “Inspektsye” (Inspection), cols. 249053; “Byuroen far yidisher dertsiung” (Bureaus of Jewish education), cols. 456-63; “Bar-mitsve” (Bar Mitsvah), cols. 482-90; “Hebreish (lern-metodn)” (Hebrew, teaching methods) (vol. 3, New York, 1959), col. 203-14; “Haskole (dertsiungs-idealn fun haskole)” (Jewish Enlightenment, educational ideals of the Jewish Enlightenment), cols. 186-96.  He was the author of The Jewish Community in Russia, 1774-1844 (New York, 1943), 300 pp.; Jewish Board of Education in America, doctoral dissertation (Syracuse University, 1952, 300 pp.).  He also contributed to the two-volume work: Esco Foundation for Palestine, Inc., Palestine: A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1947).  He also placed writings in YIVO’s English-language publications.  He published frequently in Hadoar (The mail) in New York.  He served as director of education for Temple Beth El in Bellmore, Long Island.

Sources: Yivo-biblyografye (YIVO bibliography), part 1, 1925-1941 (New York, 1943), part 2, 1942-1950 (New York, 1955); notices and chronicles in YIVO publications; Who’s Who in World Jewry (New York, 1955).
Zaynvl Diamant

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