Thursday, 28 September 2017
MOYSHE MAYDANSKI (1900-1973)
He was a linguist, teacher, and literary scholar, born in the town of Polonne, Ukraine, where he received a traditional Jewish upbringing and education. As a Soviet Yiddish linguist, he served as a scholarly contributor at the Office of Jewish Culture in the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences in Kiev in the late 1920s. In his many years of scholarly activity, he worked in two main areas: language-teaching methodology and linguistic-literary research. The former was connected to school curricula in the 1920s and 1930s. He worked on textbooks regarding syntax, orthography, and punctuation, the same issue that dominated the research work that one finds in his articles for Afn shprakhfront (On the language front). The syntax of a simple sentence was the subject of his dissertation for candidature, which he worked on during the years of WWII while an evacuee. He concentrated a series of works on problems of translation (specifically on the translations of Taras Shevchenko’s Ukrainian poems into Yiddish and Sholem-Aleichem’s work in Russian [see examples below]). He published his writings in scholarly anthologies, journals, newspapers, and books, such as: “Der novi” (The prophet), in the collection Tsum yortsayt fun taras shevtshenko (Toward the anniversary of the death of Taras Shevchenko) (Kiev, 1920); with L. Prusman, Lenins ruf (Lenin’s call), “textbook for illiteracy liquidation posts” (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1925), 76 pp.; Lenins ruf, lernbukh far veynik-ivredike (Lenin’s call, a textbook for the nearly illiterate), part 2, “by a group of teachers, including Zingerman, Safyan, Faynerman, Kruglyak, and Ravinski, edited by Yankl Kantor and M. Maydanski” (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1926), 223 pp., second edition (1928), 120 pp., third edition (1929), 128 pp.; “Problemen fun shprakh-unterrikht in shtifs arbetn” (Problems in language instruction in Shtif’s works), Afn shprakhfront (Kiev) 2 (1935), pp. 39-69; “Vegn di lernbikher af shprakh” (On the language textbooks), Afn shprakhfront 4-3 (1935), pp. 230-48; with Moyshe Shapiro, Alef-beyz far dervaksene (The alphabet for adults) (Kharkov-Kiev, 1933), 58 + 2 pp.; Ortografye un punktuatsye (Orthography and punctuation), “collection of rules and exercises, auxiliary text for middle school” (Kiev: Ukrainian State Publishers for National Minorities, 1936), 159 pp. (several editions appeared, the fifth in 1941, 144 pp.); with Khayim Loytsker and M. Shapiro, Leyenbukh far yidishe shuln (Textbook for Jewish schools) (Kiev-Kharkov, 1936), 68 pp.; “Vegn dem epitet bay sholem-aleykhemen” (On the epithets used by Sholem Aleichem), pp. 67-80, and “T. g. shevtshenkos dikhtung in yidish” (T. G. Shevchenko’s poetry in Yiddish), pp. 163-206, in Afn shprakhfront 4 (1939). During WWII Maydanski was not mobilized into the army because of his age, and he continued his work in the office in which, from 1932, he led the seminar on Yiddish at the Institute of Ukrainian Linguistics. In 1942 he worked on a dissertation entitled “Problemen fun yidishn sintaks” (Problems in Yiddish syntax) and, together with Kh. Loytsker and Elye Spivak, on a work entitled “Etyudn vegn der yidisher literarisher shprakh, vegn ir geshikhte un haynttsaytikn tsushand” (Studies concerning the Yiddish literary language, on its history and contemporary state). He held the title “candidate in philological science.” In 1943 he prepared a piece: “Der sintaks fun eynfakhn zats” (The syntax of a simple sentence).
At the beginning of 1945, Maydanski and the Soviet Jewish folklorist Moyshe Beregovski traveled around the western regions of Ukraine, collecting new Yiddish folkloric materials concerned with WWII, and later they went to the cities and towns of Bukovina, at the behest of the Kiev office of Jewish culture, to collect folkloric material from the Jewish ghettos of Transnistria and to attend a writers’ conference in Czernowitz in 1945. He demonstrated the materials they had collected on phonograph albums there. Together with M. Shapiro, Kh. Loytsker, and R. Lerner, in 1946 he prepared for publication a major Russian-Yiddish dictionary. He helped in compiling the history of the Holocaust, especially the Jewish tragedy in Kiev (Babi Yar) and the Kiev region. He contributed to a book on the Jewish partisans. He also wrote a work on “the Russian and Ukrainian translations of Sholem Aleichem.” There was no news concerning his fate during and after the murder of Yiddish writers (1948-1952), but he went on to publish a series of works in Sovetish heymland (Soviet homeland).
Sources: Biblyografishe yorbikher fun yivo (Bibliographic yearbooks from YIVO), vol. 1 (Warsaw, 1928); Dos yidishe bukh in f.s.r.r. (The Yiddish in the Soviet Union), for the years 1917-1921 (Kiev, 1930); N. Rubinshteyn, Dos yidishe bukh in sovetnfarband in 1933 un 1935 (The Yiddish book in the Soviet Union in 1933 and 1935), (Minsk, 1935); Yudel Mark, in Yivo-bleter (New York) 16.2 (1940), pp. 157-60; A. Kahan, in Eynikeyt (Moscow) (April 5, 1943); Emkin, in Eynikeyt (March 3, 1945); P. Novik, Eyrope tsvishn milkhome un sholem (Europe between war and peace) (New York, 1948), p. 269; N. Mayzil, Dos yidishe shafn un der yidisher shrayber in sovetn-farband (Jewish creation and the Yiddish writer in the Soviet Union) (New York, 1959), p. 130; Anon., “In cabinet far yidisher kultur” (In the office of Yiddish culture), Eynikeyt (July 15, 1942; January 4, 1945); Anon., “A groyser oyftu in antviklen di yidishe kultur un visnshaft” (A great accomplishment in developing Yiddish culture and scholarship), Eynikeyt (April 2, 1946); the cultural chronicle in the anthology of Afn shprakhfront (Kiev) and Tsukunft (New York) (April 1945); Sovetishe biblyografye (Soviet bibliography) in the YIVO archives.
[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), p. 238.]
Wednesday, 27 September 2017
YISROEL MITLMAN (1898-1951)
His was a bibliographer, born in Satanov (Sataniv), Podolia, Ukraine. Until age ten he studied in religious elementary school. He prepared to sit for the examinations to enter a Russian middle school, but they would not accept more than the normal percentage of Jews. He moved with his family to Uman on the eve of WWI. Shortly after the Revolution, he passed the examinations into the sixth class of high school in Uman. In 1920 he joined the Ukrainian “Spilka” ([Social Democratic] Union) in Kiev, served as secretary of the Communist cell, and was a delegate to regional conferences. In 1924 he continued his education the Chemistry Department at the Kiev Institute for People’s Education, but he was unable to complete his studies due to financial difficulties. From 1928 he was contributing work to: Kritik (Critic), Royter biblyotek (Red library), and Literatur-tsaytung (Literature newspaper)—in Kiev. At that time, he began working with the library and the division for book knowledge and bibliography at the Kiev Institute for Jewish Culture. He published the following works: “Der tsushtand fun undzer biblyografye” (The condition of our bibliography), Kritik 2, 4, and 5 (1929); on Yiddish “Cards in the Ukrainian book room,” on the Yiddish section of the Ukrainian people’s library, and the bibliographic commission and bibliographic center of the Institute for Jewish Culture (all published in Biblyografisher zamlbukh [Bibliographic anthology], Kiev, 1930); “Di yidishe burzhuaze prese in dinst fun der imperyalistisher milkhome” (The Yiddish bourgeois press in service of the imperialist war), in Visnshaft un revolutsye (Science and revolution), vol. 3 (Kiev, 1935). He gained a great deal of acclaim for his work in the field of the Yiddish classics; he discovered forgotten pages from rare publications of Sholem Aleykhem and his epistolary heritage. He did not escape the purge of researchers at the Kiev Institute for Jewish Culture in the latter half of the 1930s. He was freed after three months, continued his bibliographical searches, and published a number of such writings until the beginning of WWII. At the start of the war, he was evacuated with his family to Kazakhstan and for a time lived in the city of Petropavlovsk. He disappeared during the liquidation of Yiddish writers in Soviet Russia.
Other writings include: with Khatskl Nadel, Fargesene bletlekh (Forgotten pages) of the writings of Sholem-Aleichem (Kiev: Ukrainian State Publishers for National Minorities, 1939), 336 pp.; with Kh. Nadel, “Sholem-aleykhem der redaktor un aroysgeber” (Sholem-Aleichem, editor and publisher), in the anthology Sholem-aleykhem (Sholem-Aleichem) (Kiev, 1940).
[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. 237-38.]
MOYSHE MIZHIRITSKI (1892-1951)
He was a literary critic, born in the town of Khabne (Khabnoye, Polis'ke), Kiev district, Ukraine. He attended religious elementary school and a yeshiva, later graduating from the Literature and Linguistics Department of Moscow State University. He was for a time a teacher in Jewish schools. In the 1930s he was a researcher at the Kiev Institute for Jewish Culture (working with Maks Erik), and later a scholarly contributor to the Institute, where he defended a dissertation on the works of Dovid Bergelson and received the title of “candidate in philological sciences.” He debuted in print in 1924 and went on to contribute literary critical articles on Yiddish writers in such journals and newspapers as: Prolitpen (Proletarian pen) and Farmest (Challenge) in Kharkov; Proletarishe fon (Proletarian banner), and Sovetishe literatur (Soviet literature), among other serials. He also worked on the compilation of school textbooks for Jewish schools: with Avrom Abtshuk and Yitskhok Rodak, Literatur (Literature), textbook for the fifth school year (Kharkov-Kiev: Ukrainian State Publishers for National Minorities, 1932), 80 pp.; with A. Abtshuk, Literatur, textbook for the seventh school year (Kharkov-Kiev: Ukrainian State Publishers for National Minorities, 1932), 124 pp.; with Shloyme Brianski, Lernbukh un khrestomatye fun literatur, Vtn klas (Textbook and reader for literature, fifth class) (Kharkov-Kiev: Ukrainian State Publishers for National Minorities, 1933), 287 pp., second edition (1934), 286 pp., third edition (1935), 206 pp., fourth edition (1936), 206 pp. Over the years 1941-1944, he was evacuated to deep inside Russia, and after the war he returned to Kiev, where he worked in the department of Jewish culture in the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences. He contributed to the compiling of the history of the Jewish tragedy in Ukraine during the Nazi occupation. He also worked with materials on “Babi Yar” and documents concerning the role of Jewish partisans in the fight against the Germans. He was arrested in 1948 and murdered in 1951.
Other works of his would include: Dovid bergelson (Dovid Bergelson) (Kiev-Kharkov: Ukrainian State Publishers for National Minorities, 1935), 163 pp.; Literarish-kritishe etyudn (Literary critical studies) (Kiev: State Publ., 1940), 159 pp.; and “Gorki un sholem-aleykhem” (Gorky and Sholem Aleichem) to the anthology Sholem-aleykhem (Sholem Aleichem) (Kiev, 1940). Aside from separate critical writings on individual Yiddish prose writers and poets in Soviet Russia, he was also working on a volume entitled: Der onhoyb fun der sovetish-yidisher proze (The beginning of Soviet Yiddish prose).
[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 371; and 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. 236-37.]