Sunday 11 June 2017


Y. SH. LEVMAN (b. 1896)

            He was a poet and literary critic, born in Vitebsk, Byelorussia. He was an active leader in Komyug ([Jewish] Communist youth association) and in the district office of the Jewish section of the Communist Party. He wrote poetry, literary critical articles, and reportage pieces for Der royter shtern (The red star) in Vitebsk (1920-1923), for which he also served as co-editor (with Leyb Abram and Yankev Paykin). He was one of the editors of the Vitebsk literary-artistic journal Kvalyes (Waves) in 1920, in whose first issue he led off with a poem and essay “Der yunger poet” (The young poet), enthusiastically dedicated to Perets Markish’s poetry collection Shveln (Thresholds) of 1919. This was one of the first responses to the poetry of the then still-young poet. He later lived for a time in Kharkov and later still (in 1926) in Moscow. He assisted in editing: Yungvald (Young forest) in Moscow (1923-1925); Der emes (The truth) in Moscow (from 1924); and Vitebsker arbeter (Vitebsk worker) (1925-1926). In 1921 he and a group of young writers published in Vitebsk the anthology Tsum ondenk fun y. l. perets (To the memory of Y. L. Perets) for which he wrote the opening essay, “Y. l. perets un zayn epokhe” (Y. L. Perets and his epoch). His book Prof-ivre (Jewish trade unions) (Moscow, 1927), 161 pp., was “the first attempt to create a textbook on the trade union movement in Yiddish.” His work on the Vitebsk synagogue study halls was published in Der emes in New York in 1921. There has been no news about him since the 1930s. A cycle of his poems—“Mir geyen” (We’re going), “Di lid fun zig” (The poem of victory), “Tshastushkes” (Russian couplets)—appeared in Sovetish heymland (Soviet homeland) 11 (1987).

Sources: Yungvald (Moscow) 5 (1924); A. Kirzhnits, Di yidishe prese in vaysrusland, 1917-1927 (The Yiddish press in Byelorussia, 1917-1927) (Minsk, 1929), no. 183; Z. Ratner and Y. Kvitko, Dos yidishe bukh in f. s. r. r. far di yorn 1917-1921 (The Yiddish book in the USSR for the years 1917-1921) (Kiev, 1930), see index; Y. Kvitko, in Biblyologisher zamlbukh (Moscow) 1 (1930); Y. Bronshteyn, in Atake (Kharkov-Minsk) (1931), pp. 27, 33; B. Orshanski, in Tsaytshrift (Minsk) 5 (1931); Chone Shmeruk, comp., Pirsumim yehudiim babrit-hamoatsot, 1917-1961 (Jewish publications in the Soviet Union, 1917-1961) (Jerusalem, 1961), see index.

Khayim Leyb Fuks

[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. 218.]

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