Wednesday 9 August 2017


OSHER MARGOLIS (1891-1976)

            He was a Soviet Jewish historian and literary researcher, born in Rovnoye (Rovno), Volhynia. He graduated from the History Department of Kiev University. When the Institute of Jewish Culture was established at the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, he was appointed manager of the historical section. He authored numerous articles for the press on Jewish history, as well as issues in literature and religion. In 1930 he published Geshikhte fun yidn in rusland (History of Jews in Russia). For his Yidishe folksmasn in kamf kegn zeyere unterdriker (The Jewish masses in struggle against their oppressor), published in 1940, he was awarded the title of “candidate in historical science.” During the years of WWII, he was a member of the historical commission connected with the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee in Moscow. Together with Meyer Viner, he prepared for publication Yisroel Aksenfeld’s novel Dos shterntikhl (The headband) and his story Nokh tsvey hozn (After two rabbits) (Moscow: Emes, 1938), 235 pp. After WWII he lived in Ryazan', Russia, and worked in the local pedagogical institute. In 1946 he prepared a work on Dovid Bergelson’s Prints ruveni (Prince Reuveni) for the first volume of scholarly writings from the office of Jewish culture in the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences in Kiev. His name was signed under the obituary following the death of the Soviet Yiddish prose author Meyer Alberton in Eynikeyt (Unity) in Moscow (November 25, 1947). He later wrote for Sovetish heymland (Soviet homeland) on Sholem-Aleykhem’s Tevye stories, as well as for the almanac Sovetish (Soviet). He died in Ryazan'.

His writings include: Geshikhte fun yidn in rusland, etyudn un dokumentn (History of Jews in Russia, studies and documents), part 1 (1772-1861), a reader (Moscow: Central Publishers, 1930), 468 pp.; Funem farsholtenem nekhtn (From the accursed yesterday), a propaganda brochure (Moscow: Emes, 1938), 19 pp.; Vi azoy lebn yidn in sovetnland (How Jews live in the Soviet Union) (Moscow: Emes, 1940), 103 pp.; Yidishe folksmasn in kamf kegn zeyere unterdriker (Moscow: Emes, 1940), 134 pp. The first study in this last book was entitled “Yidishe folksmasn in kamf kegn zeyere unterdriker in 18th un 19tn yorhundert” (The Jewish masses in struggle against their oppressor in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries); the second study concerned “Kool in laybknekhtishn rusland” (The Jewish community in Russia under serfdom). There were as well a number of appendices in the book: on the Vilna community in 1799; documents on the conflict in Dubno over the years 1834-1851; a specimen of an anonymous denunciation (in Yiddish) from 1853; a report of 1827 on the opposition to the law on recruitment in the town of Bershad and in Alt-Konstantin. He also wrote: “Onteyl fun di yidishe masn in di hunger-umruen fun 1891 yor” (The role of the Jewish masses in the hunger riots of 1891), Forpost (Outpost) 2 (7) (Birobidzhan, 1938), pp. 127-45; “Itsik samsonkin, der emes-zukher” (Itsik Samsonkin, the searcher for truth), in light of archival documents, in Sovetishe literatur (Soviet literature) 6 (Kiev, 1939), pp. 80-89; “Tsu der mendele-forshung” (For research on Mendele), Sovetish 6 (Moscow, 1938).

Sources: A. Abtshuk, Etyudn un materialn tsu der geshikhte fun der yidisher literatur bavegung in FSRR (Studies and material for the history of the Yiddish literature movement in the Soviet Union) (Kharkov, 1934), pp. 33ff; A. Brokhman, in Shtern (Minsk) 7-8 (1940), pp. 184-87; Y. Sh. (Yankev Shatski), in Yivo-bleter (New York) 21 (May-June 1943), p. 343-44; A. Pomerants, A rayze in der tsukunft (A trip to the future) (New York, 1944), p. 89; Professor Z. Grinberg, in Eynikeyt (Moscow) (April 18, 1946); Kh. Sh. Kazdan, Fun kheyder un shkoles biz tsisho (From religious and secular primary schools to Tsisho) (Mexico City, 1956), pp. 35-36; 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.

Zaynvl Diamant

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 367; 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. 228-29.]

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