Sunday 9 July 2017


PEYSEKH (PERCY) MATENKO (June 30, 1901-May 1, 1987)
            He was born in Ekaterinoslav, Ukraine, the son of a Yiddish teacher.  In 1906 he moved with his parents to Canada.  He graduated from the Y. L. Peretz School and studied at the University of Toronto, from which he received his B. A. and M. A. degrees.  In 1933 he received his doctoral degree in linguistics from Columbia University in New York.  He was the founder of the Yiddish Cultural Association in the Hillel Foundation at Brooklyn College and the academic advisor to the foundation (1947-1957).  He debuted in print with a poem in Di varheyt (The truth) in New York (1916), edited by Louis Miller.  Over the years 1918-1925, he was a regular contributor to Der idisher zhurnal (The Jewish journal) in Toronto.  He placed a piece as well in Yude a. yofe-bukh (Volume for Yuda A. Yofe) (New York, 1958).  He served as advisor to the editorial board for Yiddish and German for the second edition of the Britannica World Language Dictionary; and he contributed in English to Symposium, among other pieces an essay on “Dostoevsky and Leivick.”  In book form: Lieder (Poems) (Toronto, 1917), 23 pp. [and many more in other languages].  He was professor at Brooklyn College until his retirement in 1974.  He died in Los Angeles.

Sources: A. Reynvayn, in Der idisher zhurnal (Toronto) (August 8, 1917); Y. Rabinovitsh, in Yoyvl-bukh keneder odler (Jubilee volume for Keneder odler) (Montreal, 1932); Rabinovitsh, in Keneder odler (Montreal) (October 30, 1959); Groyser verterbukh fun der yidisher shprakh (Great dictionary of the Yiddish language) (New York, 1961), p. 25.
Khayim Leyb Fuks

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