Thursday 30 November 2017


MARK MRATSHNI (1892-March 29, 1975)
            He was born with the surname Klavanski in Kovno.  He attended religious elementary school, graduating in 1911 from a Russian high school.  He studied in Leipzig, Paris, and later in New York, where he settled in 1934 and received his doctoral degree in psychology.  He was active in the anarchist movement in Russia (which he left in 1922) and in America, whence he arrived in 1928.  Until 1934 he was a teacher in the Workmen’s Circle schools of Detroit and Los Angeles.  He published numerous articles current events, essays of criticism, and on anarchist theoretical matters.  Over the years 1934-1940, he edited the anarchist newspaper Fraye arbeter-shtime (Free voice of labor) in New York.  He died in New York.

Source: P. Konstan (A. Thorn), in Fraye arbeter-shtime (New York) (May-June 1975).

Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), cols. 384-85.


            He was born in Shepetovke (Shepetivka), Volhynia district, Ukraine.  He studied in religious elementary school and on his own in synagogue study hall, and he later graduated from a Russian state school.  In 1914 he arrived in the United States, settled in Philadelphia, and worked as a carpenter.  He was active in the community in the National Jewish Workers’ Alliance, with Labor Zionism, and principally in the Alliance school in Philadelphia.  He debuted in print as a writer with poetry in Russian in Voskhod (Sunrise) in St. Petersburg (1906), and he later published poems in Hebrew in Hazman (The times) in Vilna.  In America he contributed to: Tog (Day) in New York; and Di idishe tsaytung (The Jewish newspaper) in Philadelphia; among other serials.  In book form: Far kinder un kindskinder (For children and posterity) (Philadelphia, 1947), 96 pp., with a foreword by the author and an introduction by A. L. Belkovits—it was used in Alliance schools in America.  He was last living in Philadelphia.  In more recent years he had pulled back from work and was full engaged with writing.

Sources: A. L. Belkovits, introduction to Far kinder un kindskinder (Philadelphia, 1947), pp. 5-6; Tsukunft (New York) (July 1947); information from Sh. Davidzon in Philadelphia.
Khayim Leyb Fuks


            He lived in Moscow.  He published in Pyoner (Pioneer) and other serials.  He was the author of the books: Fizkultur, hantbukh far yugnt (Physical culture, handbook for youth) (Moscow: Shul un bukh, 1927), 120 pp.; Fizkultur un shul (Physical culture and school) (Moscow: 1928), 48 pp.; Militerishe un fizishe ibungen (Military and physical exercises) (Moscow: 1930), 156 pp.; Hantbukh farn arbeter-turist (Handbook for the worker-tourist) (Moscow: 1932), 61 pp.; Pyoner, hit dayn gezunt! (Pioneer, protect your health!) (Moscow: 1932), 94 pp.

Source: Chone Shmeruk, comp., Pirsumim yehudiim babrit-hamoatsot, 1917-1961 (Jewish publications in the Soviet Union, 1917-1961) (Jerusalem, 1961), see index
Benyomen Elis


ZALMEN MERKER (ca. 1890-1928)
            He was born in Mlave (Mława), Poland.  He received a traditional Jewish education.  He was a Hebrew teacher and a member of the Mława society “Ḥoveve Sefat ever” (Lovers of the Hebrew language).  He moved to Antwerp, Belgium.  He contributed to the local Yiddish press, working mostly as a journalist, but from time to time he also wrote poetry.  He died in Antwerp.

Sources: Arbeter-ring (Brussels) (March 15, 1928); D. Lehrer, in Idishe tsaytung (Brussels) (October 28, 1928); Pinkes mlava (Records of Mława) (New york, 1950), p. 36.
Yankev Kahan


MOYSHE MERKIN (b. May 3, 1887)
            A brother of Max Erik, he was born in Shlov (Szkłów), Mohilev district, Byelorussia.  His mother was a sister of Yitskhok Peysakhzon, one of the founders of the Bund, and a granddaughter of Rabbi Shneur Zalmen the “Baal Hatanya” (Master of the Tanya).  When he was still a child, he was brought to Sosnovits (Sosnowiec), Poland, where he received an education befitting the Jewish Enlightenment.  For a time his Hebrew teacher was Ḥaim Nachman Bialik who was living in Sosnowiec at the time.  In 1904 he made the acquaintance of Dr. Chaim Zhitlovsky, and under the latter’s influence he was attracted to socialism, became a member of the Zionist Socialist Labor Party, and soon became the leader of the party in Zaglembye (Zagłębie) district.  He spent some time in prison for his political activities, and he was barred from the Sosnowiec senior high school, although later he was allowed to sit for the examination as an external student and graduated from the school in 1907.  He studied political economy in the St. Petersburg Polytechnicum and graduated in 1913.  His doctoral dissertation concerned the social and economic problems of labor in the Dombrovo industrial district.  He wrote for various Russian newspapers and journals on economic questions.  In 1915 he was editing the journals Ekonomicheskii vestnik (Economic herald) and Khlebnii vetsnik (Granary herald), and he contributed work to the newspaper Rus’ (Russia).  At the same time, he was active in the Zionist socialist movement and served as chairman of the St. Petersburg committee of the party.  In 1917 he graduated from the law faculty of St. Petersburg University and went on to become a lawyer.  As the representative of the Zionist Socialist Party after the Revolution of 1917, he was a member of the Petersburg Soviet of Workers and Soldiers.  Until 1923 he worked as a lawyer on the Northwestern railway and ran criminal trials.  On several occasions he was arrested by the Soviet authorities and in 1923 escaped from Soviet Russia.  Until 1925 he lived in Danzig.  That year he moved to Berlin, and in 1934 he left for Paris and from there in 1935 immigrated to Chile in South America.  There he contributed to the local Yiddish press.  Together with M. D. Giser, Yitskhok Blumshteyn, and Yankev Pilovski, he contributed to the publication and editing of Pasifik (Pacific), “monthly journal for literature, art, criticism, and cultural issues” in Santiago; he also placed work in Dos idishe vort (The Yiddish word), and he wrote for the Spanish-language press as well.  From 1936 he was living in Buenos Aires, Argentina, was a regular contributor to Di idishe tsaytung (The Jewish newspaper), and published articles as well in: Der shpigl (The mirror) in Buenos Aires; Folksblat (People’s newspaper) in Montevideo; Der veg (The way) in Mexico City; Yidishe prese (Jewish press) in Brazil; Der tog (The day) in New York; Havaner lebn (Havana life) in Cuba; and Di naye tsayt (The new time) in Buenos Aires; among other serials.  In book form, he published: Siluetn fun dorem-amerike (Silhouettes from South America) (Buenos Aires, 1946), 245 pp., “to the lustrous memory of my late brother Zalmen Merkin” (Max Erik).  He also wrote “Yidn in der argentiner provints” (Jews in the Argentinian provinces), fragments of a monograph, in Antologye fun der yidisher literatur in argentine (Anthology of Jewish literature in Argentina) (Buenos Aires, 1944), pp. 851-60.  On several occasions from 1937 he was elected president of the Argentinian Jewish writers’ association named for H. D. Nomberg.  He was active in ORT (Association for the Promotion of Skilled Trades), in Argentina’s YIVO, the Argentinian division of the World Jewish Culture Congress, and the society for secular schools.  On assignment for ORT he made frequent trips through the countries of Latin America and published his travel narratives in the press.

Sources: Sh. Rozhanski, Dos yidishe gedrukte vort in argentina (The published Yiddish word in Argentina) (Buenos Aires, 1941), pp. 99, 102, 184; N. Khain, A rayze iber tsentral- un dorem-amerike (A voyage through Central and South America) (New York, 1942), p. 248; Antologye fun der yidisher literatur in argentine (Anthology of Jewish literature in Argentina) (Buenos Aires, 1944), pp. 851-52; Dr. M. Shor, in Yivo-bleter (New York) 29.1 (1947); Ort-yoyvl almanakh (ORT jubilee almanac) (Havana, 1950); Der shpigl (Buenos Aires) (June-July 1958); A. Oyerbakh, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (March 16, 1959); Y. Botoshanski, in Almanakh (Almanac) (Buenos Aires: Association of Knitting Factories, 1961), pp. 297-98.
Zaynvl Diamant


VOLF MERKUR (WOLF MERCUR) (November 10, 1897-August 1972)
            He was born in Lemberg, Galicia.  He studied in religious elementary school, yeshiva, and a Polish public school.  In 1916 he served in the Austrian army.  After WWI he became an actor and performed in Gimpel’s Yiddish theater in Lemberg and with a number of traveling troupes.  In 1920 he came to New York, played at the Liberty Theater in Brooklyn, wrote lyrics to various theatrical works, and adapted and translated plays from other languages which prominent stage actors sometimes performed.  From 1930 he published in L. Libman’s Nyu yorker vokhnblat (New York weekly newspaper) essays and critiques of books, theater, and painters.  In 1932, he edited the journal of satire and humor, Pekh un shvebl (Pitch and sulphur), in Chicago—only one issue appeared.  In 1934 he began publishing in Morgn-frayhayt (Morning freedom) in New York a column entitled “Efsher yo un efsher neyn” (Maybe yes and maybe no).  Over the years 1939-1948, he had charge of a satirical column, “Merkuryozn” (Merkuriana), in Der tog (The day) in New York.  He also placed work in various publications in Canada and Mexico.  In book form: Merkuryozn (Philadelphia, 1948), 256 pp., humorous stories about Yiddish theater and Yiddish actors; Di velt in khelm (The world of Chełm), preface by E. Almi (Buenos Aires, 1960), 280 pp.; Vent hobn oyern (Walls have ears) (New York, 1968), 235 pp.  He died in New York.  “Merkur,” wrote Shmuel Niger, “has language and ideas….  He can divert the reader’s attention.  [He has] good judgment about actors and playwrights.  The series of Chełm sages is the best part of the book.”

Sources: Zalmen Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 2 (New York, 1934); Zilbertsvayg, in Keneder odler (Montreal) (December 1, 1963); Z. Vaynper, in Di feder (New York) (1945); M. Dantsis, in Tog (New York) November 6, 1948); Avrom Reyzen, in Di feder (January 1949); Shmuel Niger, in Tog (February 27, 1949); Y. Mestel, in Der veg (Mexico City) (September 15, 1951); Sh. Slutski, Avrom reyzen biblyografye (Avrom Reyzen bibliography) (New York, 1956), no. 5329; Y. Tsudiker, in Di idishe tsaytung (Buenos Aires) (February 12, 1960); Yosl Kohn, Baym rand fun onhoyb (At the edge of the beginning) (New York, 1960), pp. 70-81; Sh. Tenenboym, in Nyu yorker vokhnblat (New York) (June-July 1960); M. Yofe, in Di tsukunft (New York) (June-July 1960); S. Kreyter, in American Zionist (New York) (May 1960).
Benyomen Elis

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 384.]


YISROEL MEREMINSKI-MEROM (October 24, 1891-May 9, 1976)
            He was born in Slonim, Byelorussia.  His father was an employee in the field of forestry and sawmills, a beadle in synagogue, and an arbitrator.  His mother, born Rokhl Kaplan, was a Zionist leader and also a cofounder of “Hazemir” (The nightingale) in Lodz and Warsaw; and she published articles in Unzer leben (Our life) and Haynt (Today) in Warsaw as well as a libretto for an opera entitled Tsien (Zion).  (Hillel Tsaytlin and Y. Grinboym published her stories—in Warsaw in 1930, after her death—in a special collection.)  Until age thirteen young Yisroel studied in religious elementary school, with tutors in the home, and in yeshiva, and he subsequently graduated from a Jewish state public school in Slonim and in 1911 the senior high school in Warsaw.  From 1915 he studied construction engineering and political economy at the Moscow polytechnic institute, before moving to the Kiev institute of commerce in the department of urban self-governance.  Already in his senior high school years, he was leading Zionist activities among the Jewish school youth.  He was active, 1906-1907, in the Zionist socialists.  He was later one of the leaders of the student union Kadima (Onward), which laid the foundations for the organization of “Tseire-Tsiyon” (Zionist youth).  He organized the first conference for Tseire-Tsiyon in Russia (Moscow, 1915).  He served as secretary general of the party in Russia.  After the October Revolution, he worked in Kharkov and Kiev, was a delegate from Tseire-Tsiyon to the provisional Jewish national assembly in Ukraine.  In June 1919, on assignment from the Russian Tseire-Tsiyon, he came to Poland, and at the second national conference of the Polish Tseire-Tsiyon, he assisted in the establishment of an independent party with a socialist spirit.  He was a member of the office of the Tseire-Tsiyon world union, and from 1920 he represented the Tseire-Tsiyon in the Zionist action committee.  Over the years 1920-1924, he was vice-chairman of the Jewish writers’ association in Warsaw.  In 1923 he made aliya to the land of Israel.  Over the period 1923-1939, he was a member of Vaad Leumi (National council), of the central committee of Aḥdut haavoda (Union of labor), and later of Mapai (Workers’ Party in the Land of Israel).  During those same years, he was one of secretary generals of the Histadrut executive, and he was delegated by Histadrut to the United States, where he established a bond with the AFL (American Federation of Labor) and the CIO (Congress of Industrial Organizations).  He was treasurer for the Histadrut executive and a member of the permanent finance committee of the Jewish Agency.  He was also a guest of Histadrut at the conference of American Federation of Labor convention in Boston (1943).  He debuted as a writer in Russian in the children magazine Yunyi izraelit (Young Israelite) in Ekaterinoslav (1910), and later he wrote for Vozrozhdenie (Renaissance) in Vilna (1912) and Evreiskaia zhizn’ (Jewish life) and Haam (The people), among others, in Moscow.  He was the founder, co-editor, and contributor to the organ of Tseire-Tsiyon, Izvestia Tsentral’nogo Komiteta Ts”Ts (News from the Central Committee of Tseire-Tsiyon) in Petrograd (1917).  He published articles in Razsvet (Dawn) and Unzer fraynd (Our friend) in Petrograd, and in Erd un frayhayt (Land and freedom) in Moscow.  He was founder and editor of the first organ of Tseire-Tsiyon in Russia, Erd un arbet (Land and labor) (1918-1919)—the first five issues were published in Kharkov, the subsequent twenty in Kiev at the time of the Jewish national assembly, with literary editor Avrom Levinson.  At the second national conference of Tseire-Tsiyon in Warsaw (1919), he was selected to be editor of the weekly party organ Bafrayung (Liberation), which lasted until 1923.  Over the years 1920-1923 he edited the monthly journal Haoved (Labor).  Mereminski also placed pieces in: Haynt, Moment (Moment), Haḥaluts (The pioneer), and Haatid (The future), among others, in Warsaw; Idisher arbayter (Jewish worker), Idisher kemfer (Jewish fighter), Forverts (Forward), Der tog (The day), Morgn-zhurnal (Morning journal), Di tsukunft (The future), Advans (Advance), Frontir (Frontier), and others in the United States; Kuntres (Pamphlet), Hapoal hatsair (The young worker), Haarets (The land), and Davar (Word), among others, in Israel.  He wrote under such pen names as: Y. Kosovski, Y. Lvovitsh, Y. Volfzon, Y. Meres, Emet, and Yisrael Merom.  He published the pamphlets: Vegn der yidisher kehile (On the Jewish community council) (St. Petersburg: Tseire-Tsiyon, 1917); Tsum shul-kamf (On school battles) (Kiev: Erd un arbet, 1918), 48 pp.; Dos gebot fun der tsayt, a brif fun goles keyn erets yisroel tsum yudishen arbayter-tsuzamenfor (The order of the times, a letter from the diaspora to the land of Israel on the Jewish labor conference) (Vienna: Bafrayung, 1920), 13 pp., 15,000 copies printed; Boykot oder mithilf dem arbetendn erets-yisroel (Boycott or help laboring Israel) (Warsaw: Bafrayung, 1921), 44 pp., in the “Zionist socialist library”; and one in English (New York, 10941) on Israeli labor pioneers involved in the world struggle, a conference speech presented at the campaign for artisans.  He died in Tel Aviv.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2; D. Tidhar, in Entsiklopedyah leḥalutse hayishuv uvonav (Encyclopedia of the pioneers and builders of the yishuv), vol. 5 (Tel Aviv, 1952), pp. 340-41; Sefer haishim (Biographical dictionary) (Tel Aviv, 1937), p. 170; Zev Barzilai, in Tsayt (New York) (September 24, 1921); P. Vyernik, in Morgn-zhurnal (New York) (December 20, 1931); H. Lang, in Forverts (New York) (October 20, 1932); R. Yuklson, in Morgn-frayhayt (New York) (October 22, 1932); M. Dantsis, in Der tog (New York) (October 31, 1932); Sh. Z. Tsukerman, in Der tog (December 12, 1932); Meylekh Ravitsh, Mayn leksikon (My lexicon), vol. 3 (Montreal, 1958), p. 480; Chone Shmeruk, comp., Pirsumim yehudiim babrit-hamoatsot, 1917-1961 (Jewish publications in the Soviet Union, 1917-1961) (Jerusalem, 1961), see index; M. Ginzburg, in Slonimer buletin (Buenos Aires) (1963).
Mortkhe Yofe

Wednesday 29 November 2017



The adopted name of Avrom Merezheni, he was a current events author, born in the town of Merezhani, Byelorussia (?). He received a traditional Jewish education and also studied in yeshivas. He began community activities as a Zionist and Hebraist, later becoming a fervent Yiddishist. He led a fight for Yiddish and came out openly against Russification and the Hebraists in the Odessa “Khevre mefitse haskole” (Society for the promotion of enlightenment [among the Jews of Russia]), in whose schools he taught for many years. While working as a teacher in an Odessa Jewish orphanage, he began to introduce Yiddish into the institution. He was one of the initiators in the establishment of children’s literature in Yiddish. He was a cofounder of the publishing house of “Blimelekh” (Little trees), which brought out several dozen original and translated children’s books that he himself helped to disseminate. As a journalist he contributed for a time to Russian-language newspapers in Odessa, in which he chiefly wrote about ethnic Jewish issues. After the February Revolution in 1917, he became a member of the Bundist organization in Odessa, and from that point engaged in active political work. He was selected by the local committee of the Bund and took part in a variety of party conferences. He represented the Bund in the Jewish community council of Odessa and on the Odessa city council. He was later selected onto the national Jewish assembly of Ukraine. It was in this period that he composed his pamphlet Bund un tsienizm (The Bund and Zionism) (Odessa: Odessa Committee of the Bund, 1917), 45 pp., which was also published in Russian. On the same theme, he gave lectures in various cities in Ukraine and Greater Russia. He also contributed to the Odessa Bundist publications: Nash golos (Our voice), Rabochii ezhenedel'nik (Labor weekly), Ponedel'nik (Monday), and Der glok (The bell), among others. He was one of the initiators on the part of the Bund, who with the representatives of the left wing of the “Fareynikte” (United socialists)—Mikhl Levitan and Yude Novakovski—established the Kombarbund (Communist union), which soon joined the Communist Party. When the White Army under Denikin occupied Ukraine, Merezhin was active in the underground, illegal Communist movement in and around Zhytomyr. After the revolution’s victory, he took on leading posts in Soviet institutions. He later moved to Moscow, where he assumed an important position in the Yevsiktsye (Jewish section) and was one of the leaders of Jewish Communists in Soviet Russia. Together with M. Kiper, he helped organize Jewish artisans in Russia, in an effort to turn tradesmen into productive members of Soviet society. As the chairman of Komerd (Committee for Land Settlement of Jewish Laborers), he directed Jewish colonization, and for his service in the field (for which he was very popular), several Jewish colonies were named for him. He worked tirelessly in “productivization”—to get small businessmen, artisans, and the jobless to work on the land. His journalistic activities were linked to his political work. He wrote on a variety of topics for Komunistishe fon (Communist banner) in Kiev and for Emes (Truth) in Moscow, of which he was co-editor (with Moyshe Litvakov) over the years 1919-1921. His articles, reportage pieces, and essays would often be reprinted in other Yiddish publications. He was arrested in the 1930s and murdered along with other leading figures in the Yevsektsye in the Soviet Union during the Stalinist purges.

In book form, he published: Bund un tsienizm, 2nd edition, with a foreword by Vladimir Medem (Warsaw: Lebns-fragn, 1918), 63 pp.; Dray yor erd-aynordenung fun di arbetndike masn (Three years of land management of the working masses) (Moscow: Gezerd, 1928), 62 pp.; Vegn birobidzhan (On Birobidhzan) (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1929), 111 + 3 pp.; Durkhoysike kolektivizatsye un di yidishe ibervanderung (Total collectivization and Jewish migration) (Moscow-Kharkov-Minsk: Central People’s Publishers, 1930), 94 pp.; Vos iz azoyns birobidzhan? (What is this Birobidzhan?) (Moscow: Gezerd, 1930), 95 pp.; and with Aleksander Tshemeriski and Y. Gontar, he compiled the pamphlet Dos ferte yor yidishe erd-aynordenung (The fourth year of Jewish land management) (Moscow-Kharkov-Minsk: Central Publishers, 1929).

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2; Agurski, Di yidishe komisaryatn un di yidishe komunistishe sektsyes, 1918-1921, protokoln, rezultatsyes un dokumentn (The Jewish Commissariats and the Jewish Communist Sections, 1918–1921, protocols, resolutions, and documents) (Minsk, 1928); Kh. Dunyets, In kamf af tsvey frontn (In a struggle on two fronts) (Minsk: Byelorussian Academy of Sciences, 1932); B. Smolyar, in Tog (New York) (June 5, 1932); D. Tsharni (Daniel Charney), in Di tsukunft (New York) (October 1938); Chone Shmeruk, comp., Pirsumim yehudiim babrit-hamoatsot, 1917-1961 (Jewish publications in the Soviet Union, 1917-1961) (Jerusalem, 1961), see index; Solomon Schwartz, Jews in the Soviet Union (New york, 1951), see index.

Benyomen Elis

[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. 242-43.]


MATISYOHU (MAX) MERMELSHTEYN (b. January 15, 1925)
            He was born in Skala, eastern Galicia.  He attended religious elementary school, a Tarbut school, and later a Polish high school in Lemberg.  He was an active leader in the youth organization Gordonia, “Young Maccabee.”  During WWII he was confined in the Borshchiv ghetto and later hid out in the forest around Skala.  He lived in Lodz (1945-1946) and contributed to the local Gordonia publication in Polish, Słowo młodych (Voice of youth).  In 1947 he departed for Austria and contributed there to the Gordonia periodical Baderekh (On the road) in Linz and Renaissance (in German) in Vienna.  In 1948 he arrived in New York.  He studied English literature at Hunter College and attended courses in the Hertzliya teachers’ seminary.  He published reviews of Yiddish books in Hadoar (The mail) and journalistic articles in Der idisher kemfer (The Jewish fighter) in New York.  From 1956 he was an official in the New York bureau for the Labor Histadrut in the state of Israel, and he edited various Histadrut publications, primary for the “union campaigns.”  He compiled and edited a pamphlet, Berl katsenelson, tsu zayn fuftsenten yortsayt (Berl Katsenelson, on the fifteenth anniversary of his death) (New York: Latin America Department, Histadrut, 1959), 52 pp.  He was last living in Brooklyn, New York.
Benyomen Elis


AVIGDOR MERMELSHTEYN (1850-September 14, 1925)
            He was born in Borislav (Boryslaw), Galicia, where his father ran an oil refinery.  He traveled around the region a great deal, was in the land of Israel and India (Calcutta), and lived for a certain period of time in Romania.  He experienced all phases of a Galician follower of the Jewish Enlightenment, and over the years 1879-1881, he co-edited the assimilationist, biweekly newspaper in Hebrew Haohev amo veerets moledeto (One who loves his people and the land of his birth), later turning his attention thoroughly to Hebrew educational work.  Around 1883 he funded the first Hebrew school in Przemyśl and led it until 1909, before becoming engaged in retail commerce in Belsk, Silesia.  He published a series of pamphlets in Yiddish (under the pseudonym Hatsiyoni [The Zionist]) and in Hebrew, including: A brief fun tsien tsi alle ihre liebe kinder in goles (A letter from Zion to all you beloved children in the diaspora), “sent by Hatsiyoni on the ninth of Av…” (Lemberg: H. Rohatin, 1894), 32 pp.; Khanike likhter (Hanukkah candles) (Przemyśl, 1897); Arbe kashes (Four questions); and in Hebrew he published, among other items, “Al yede haskala leḥerut” (To freedom via the Enlightenment), in Y. Fernhof’s Sifre shaashuim (Books for enjoyment) (Buczacz, 1896-1898).  He also wrote a work of grammar and left in manuscript a Hebrew reader.  He died in Bilsk.

Source: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1, with a bibliography.


SHMUEL MERLIN (January 4, 1910-October 4, 1994)
            He was born in Kishinev, Bessarabia.  He studied in the city’s Hebrew high school run by Agudat Yisrael.  His higher education was acquired at the Sorbonne in Paris, where he also studied at the L’École des hautes études en sciences sociales (School for advanced studies in the social sciences).  He began writing in Hebrew while still in school.  He served as editor of his school’s student magazines Aḥdut (Unity) and Nitsanim (Buds).  He was a member of Betar and one of its organizations in Romania.  He worked as a close assistant to Jabotinsky and was the first editor of the Irgun’s Yiddish daily newspaper Di tat (The action) in Warsaw.  He wrote in Hebrew, Yiddish, and English.  He placed work in the Yiddish-language Betar organs: Unzer tsayt (Our time) in Romania and Unzer velt (Our world) in Warsaw.  He also wrote for Tog (Day), edited by Noyekh Prilucki, in Paris (1936).  He translated for the weekly Pariz (Paris) in 1938 from M. Aldanov’s book Portretn (Portraits) the chapters on: “Hitler,” “Pilsudski,” and “Lloyd George.”  In Hebrew he wrote for Hamashkif (The spectator) and Hayarden (The garden) in the state of Israel.  He died in Israel.

Sources: D. Tidhar, in Entsiklopedyah leḥalutse hayishuv uvonav (Encyclopedia of the pioneers and builders of the yishuv), vol. 4 (Tel Aviv, 1950); information from Israel London in New York.


KATERINA MERISON-YEVZEROV (March 22, 1870-October 25, 1928)
            The wife of Y. A. Merison, she was born in Nevel, Vitebsk district, Byelorussia.  She received an ardently traditional education, studied Hebrew in her childhood, and at age ten had mastered the language.  In 1882 she moved with her parents to Velizh, and there she turned her attention to secular education.  As an external student, she passed the examinations for a high school course of study.  In 1888 she immigrated to the United States and settled in New York, where she became active in the Jewish labor movement, while at the same time studying medicine at New York University, receiving her medical degree in 1893.  From 1895 she joined the campaign for women’s rights and herself, as a doctor, on many occasions helped the Jewish working population of New York’s East Side.  With the founding of the Workmen’s Circle, she examined candidates for membership.  During WWI she was secretary of the “aid organization for Russian prisoners of war in Germany and Austria” and a delegate from the organization to the International Red Cross.  She published articles on women’s issues in the monthly Fraye gezelshaft (Free society) in New York (1900), and later published articles on medicine, children’s education, and societal issues, as well as stories, sketches, and surveys of Russian literature in: Tsukunft (Future), Fraye arbeter-shtime (Free voice of labor), Di glaykhhayt (Equality), Der arbayter (The worker), and Der tog (The day), among others, in New York.  She was the author of the anarchist “confessional prayers” which were published for “Kol Nidre Balls” over the years 1889-1893 in New York.  In book form: Di froy in der gezelshaft (Women in society) (New York: Zherminal, 1907), 82 pp., initially published in the journal Fraye gezelshaft in New York.  She also published under such pen names as: K. Yevzerov, Roze Ziserman, and Ezra Sofer.  She died in New York.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2; G. Botvinik, in Forverts (New York) (October 26, 1928); Elye (Elias) Shulman, Geshikhte fun der yidisher literatur in amerike (History of Jewish literature in America) (New York, 1943), p. 70; Y. Yeshurin, in Yoyvl-numer tsukunft (Jubilee issue of Tsukunft) (New York, 1962); obituary notices in the Yiddish press.
Khayim Leyb Fuks

Tuesday 28 November 2017


Y. A. MERISON (May 6, 1866-January 18, 1941)
            The adopted name of Yankev-Avrom Yerukhimovitsh, he was born in Yevye (Vievis), Vilna district.  He attended religious elementary school and a yeshiva in Novigoror (an area within Vilna).  At age twelve he left for Kovno, where he studied on his own and in the synagogue study hall under the supervision of the Musar follower, Rabbi Hirsh, head of the Slobodka yeshiva.  It was there that he secretly consulted a Hebrew grammar, as well as grammars of Russian and German, read works of the Jewish Enlightenment movement, and under the influence of M. L. Lilienblum’s Ḥatot neurim (Sins of youth), turned his attention to secular education, abandoned his studies, roamed through various towns, served for several terms as a village teacher, worked as a Hebrew teacher in Vilna and other cities, mastered Russian and German, and continued reading Enlightenment works.  Under the influence of Leo Pinsker’s Selbstemanzipation (Auto-emancipation), he became a “Ḥovev tsiyon” (Lover of Zion).  In 1887 he came to the United States.  He worked at first in a sweatshop stitching shirts, while at the same time industriously studying English, giving lessons in Hebrew and English, and later studying medicine at Columbia University.  In 1892 he completed his studies to be a doctor and practiced medicine in New York.  After arriving in America, Merison became one of the leaders of Jewish anarchist movement there.  His literary work began in 1889 as a contributor and member of the editorial board of the periodical Di varhayt (The truth)—together with Yoysef Yaffa, M. Kats, H. Zolotarov, and L. Luis—in which he was in charge of a section (writing as “F. A. Frank”) entitled “Folks-verterbukh” (people’s dictionary) in which he explained in an anarchist manner revolutionary and natural scientific concepts.  Later—using such pseudonyms as F. Frey, Sar Shel Yam, F. Frank, and Dr. M-n—he published journalistic pieces on issues of socialism and anarchism in: Fraye arbeter-shtime (Free voice of labor) and Abend blat (Evening newspaper) in New York; and Arbayter fraynd (Workers’ friend) in London; among other serials.  He assisted Morris Rozenfeld with language, grammar, and the like in bringing out Di glokke (The bell) (New York, 1888), 67 pp. (which includes, coincidentally, a poem by Merison).  He worked for a time in 1890 as an editor for Fraye arbeter-shtime.  Over the years 1899-1902, he served as editor of the revived anarchist monthly Fraye gezelshaft (Free society) in New York.  Around 1906 he became an adherent of parliamentarism, and in June of that year he published a series of articles on this subject in Fraye arbeter-shtime (the articles shortly thereafter appeared in pamphlet form).  This led to a stinging polemic in anarchist circles, as well as between him and the anarchist leaders, and Merison thus withdrew from anarchist activities.  Aside from practicing medicine, Merison dedicated himself entirely to scholarly work and to his translations of philosophical, sociological, and pedagogical works from other languages into Yiddish.  He was a close contributor to Dos naye leben (The new life), a monthly out of New York, edited by Dr. Chaim Zhitlovsky, and there he published, among other items, the philosophical study, “Di eyntsikeyt fun mentshn in veltal” (The uniqueness of people in the universe), and in the last year of the journal’s publication (1922) he was in charge of the section “In der velt fun filosofye un visnshaft” (In the world of philosophy and science).  In 1920 following the resignation of Sh. Yanovski as editor of Fraye arbeter-shtime, he edited the journal in New York over the months April-August.  Together with Leybush Lehrer and Yankev Levin, in 1924 he co-edited the bimonthly pedagogical journal Undzer kind (Our child), published by the education section of the Kultur-lige (Culture league) in New York.  Of his original work in book form, we have: Der anarkhizmus un di politishe tetikeyt, a kritik un a forshlog (Anarchism and political action, a critique and a proposal) (New York: Max N. Mayzel, 1905), 48 pp., second edition (1906); Muter un kind, a lehrbukh far der muter vi zikh tsu fihren beysn shvangern un vi tsu hodeven dos kind (Mother and child, a textbook for mothers on how to conduct oneself during pregnancy and how to raise the child) (New York: Mayzel and Comp., 1912), 64  pp. “published based on the latest medical sources”; Ideal un virklekhkeyt (Ideal and reality) (New York: Frayhayt, 1914), 31 pp., “anarcho-syndicalist monthly of the Yiddish language federation of America”; Higyene, di lehre vi tsu farhiten dos gezund (Hygiene, the teaching of how to care for one’s health), with images (New York: Workmen’s Circle Education Committee, 1917), 100 pp.; Fizyologye, ershter teyl: der mentshlekher kerper, a kurs lektsyes gegebn in dem yidishn folks-universitet (Physiology, part 1: The human body, a course of lessons given at the Jewish people’s university) (New York: Workmen’s Circle Education Committee, 1914), 94 pp., second edition (1915), bearing the subtitle: “Der mentshlekher kerper: gevebn, beyner un muskuln” (The human body: tissues, bones, and muscles); Fizyologye, 2ter teyl: di blut-tsirkulatsye un der protses fun othemen (Physiology, part 2: Circulaiton of the blood and the process of breathing) (New York: Literarishe farlag, 1918), 96 pp., subsequent editions followed; Fizyologye, 3ter teyl: der protses fun fardeyung (Physiology, part 3: The process of digestion) (New York: Workmen’s Circle Education Committee, 1918), 106 pp.  He later went on to publish: Di fizyologye fun mentshn (The physiology of people), 5 parts (New York: Workmen’s Circle Education Committee, 1925)—the first three parts were reprinted from his earlier works, parts 4 and 5, “Der nerven-sistem” (The nervous system), 217 pp.; Di teorye un praktik fun anarkhizm, geklibene shriften (The theory and practice of anarchism, selected writings) (New York: Naye gezelshaft and Ferer senter [branches of Workmen’s Circle], 1927), 371 pp.; Meditsinishe visnshaft, di sibes, simptomen un farhitung fun farsheydene krankhaytn (Medical science, the causes, symptoms, and prevention of diseases), vol. 6 of “Populere visnshaftlekhe biblyotek” (Library of popular science) (New York-Warsaw, 1929), 167 pp.; Di printsipen fun anarkhizm (The principles of anarchism) (New York: “Naye gezelshaft,” Br. 364 of Workmen’s Circle, 1934), 62 pp.  Among his translations, the following appeared in book form: Henry David Thoreau, Di flikht fun ungehorkhzamkeyt tsum shtat (On the Duty of Civil Disobedience), with an introduction about Thoreau and his times (New York: N. Mayzel, 1907), 64 pp.; (using the pen name F. A. Frank) Enrico Malatesta, Der anarkhizmus (Anarchism) (London, 1908), 43 pp.; John Stuart Mill, Frayhayt (On Liberty), with a biography of the author and a preface by Dr. Chaim Zhitlovsky (New York: A. M. Evolenko, 1909), 258 pp.; Dr. Paul Eltzbacher, Der anarkhizm (Anarchism [original: Der Anarchismus]) (New York: Internatsyonale biblyotek, 1909), 347 pp., second edition (1910); Herbert Spencer, Di ershte printsipn fun a system fun sintetisher filozofye (The first principles of a system of synthetic philosophy), “translated from the English original” (New York: Internatsyonale biblyotek, 1910), 197 pp., second edition published by “Literarishe farlag”; Spencer, Di ertsihung, gaystig, moralish un fizish (Education: Intellectual, Moral, and Physical) (New York: M. N. Mayzel, 1910), 279 pp., second edition (1911); (using the pen name A. Yam) Henrik Ibsen, Hedda gabler (Hedda Gabler) (New York: Mayzel et Co., 1910), 137 pp.; Di froy fun yam (The lady from the sea [original: Fruen fra Havet]) (New York: Mayzel et Co., 1910), 133 pp., and included in Gezamlte dramen (Selected plays) (New York: Mayzel et Co., 1926); Charles Darwin, Di opshtamung fun mentshn in der opkleyb beshaykhes tsu geshlekht (The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex), with a biographical sketch of Darwin and an introduction to Darwinism by Professor J. Arthur Thomson, 3 vols., illustrated (New York: N. Mayzel, 1921), 364 pp., 368 pp., 312 pp.  Merison also edited social scientific works that others translated.  In 1913 he founded in New York the “Kropotkin Literature Society,” which functioned until 1921 and over the course of the eight years of its existence published a great number of social science works and disseminated them in many thousands of copies.  This press also published his translation of Peter Kropotkin’s works: Gegenzaytige hilf bay khayes un menshen als a faktor fun entviklung (Mutual aid among animals and people as a factor of evolution [original: Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution]), including a special foreword by Kropotkin to the Yiddish edition (New York, 1913), 433 pp.; Felder, fabrikn un verksheper, oder industrye ferbunden mit agrikultur (original: Fields, Factories, and Workshops or Industry Combined with Agriculture and Brain Work with Manual Work]), “translated following the last, improved edition” (New York, 1914), 410 pp.; Di etik, di opshtamung un antviklung fun moral (Ethics, the origin and evolution of morals), part 2 of vol. 1, with an introduction by N. Lebedyev (New York, 1924), 283 pp., (1932 edition as well).  In the 1930s, YIVO in Vilna began publishing Merison’s works.  As a beginning they published: Di ershte printsipn fun a system fun sintetisher filozofye by Herbert Spencer, “translated from the English original by Dr. Y. A. Merison,” with a foreword by Dr. Chaim Zhitlovsky, entitled “Hegel, Spencer, and Marx” (Vilna: YIVO, 1937), 538 pp. + 22 pp.  To express acknowledgement to distinguished scholars, YIVO created the Merison Fund to publish in Yiddish translation classics of social science and, first of all, his own translations.  Just before the outbreak of WWII, there appeared a translation of Herbert Spencer’s Di printsipn fun etik (The principles of ethics), vol. 1, part 1 (Vilna: Merison Fund, YIVO, 1939), 292 pp.  The war and the Holocaust interrupted YIVO’s publishing activities in Vilna, and the second part of this work in Dr. Merison’s translation remained in manuscript.  In the summer of 1939 Merison had already completed his translation of Franz Boas’s Der gayst fun primitivn mentshn (The Mind of Primitive Man).  It turned out, though, that just then the author (Boas) published a second edition with considerable emendation.  YIVO asked Merison to make the necessary changes, and Merison preferred (in the summer of 1940) to translate the entire second edition of the new work, but because of the war and the Holocaust this manuscript as well remained unpublished.  (Merison’s handwritten manuscript may be found in the YIVO archives.)  He also published in Pinkes (Records) “A por verter vegn di tfile-zakes” (A couple of words about the confessional prayers), and he prepared for YIVO editions of other works.  In the late 1930s, he became so ill that had to relinquish his medical practice which he had begun close to a half century earlier among the Jews on New York’s East Side, both in his private office and as one of the most prominent physicians in the Workmen’s Circle.  Merison belonged to that sort of Jewish doctor who not only took poor patients without any money, but often gave them the money to purchase medicine.  For a long period of time, he was a teacher of biology at the Jewish teachers’ seminary in New York.  He was so weak over the years 1940-1941 that he was unable to leave his bed, but he was still writing for Fraye arbeter-shtime and other serials.  His last work, which began to be published in Fraye arbeter-shtime one day before his death (Friday, January 17, 1941), was his Yiddish translation of Vilhjalmur Steffanson’s “Dos eynfakh un gut lebn fun a primitive folk” (The simple and good life of a primitive people), which was carried in installments until February 21, 1941.  He died at his home in the Bronx.

Muter un kind (Mother and child), price: 20 cents

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2, with a bibliography; Zalmen Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 2 (New York, 1934), under “A. Yam”; Dr. K. Fornberg, in Tsukunft (New York) (November 1905; December 1905); Fornberg (writing as K. F.), in Tsukunft (May 1910; August 1910); L. B. Budyanov-Budin, in Tsukunft (March 1907); Y. Klohrbakh, in Tsukunft (November 1910); Tsvien, in Tsukunft (April 1911); R[ivkin], B., in Tsukunft (January 1915); Ben-Yakir (Dr. F. Rozenblat), in Tsukunft (September 1916); M. Terman, in Tsukunft (1917); Dr. Chaim Zhitlovsky, in Tsukunft (January 1918); Dr. H. Frank, in Fraye arbeter-shtime (New York) (July 22, 1927; July 29, 1927); Frank, editorial in Fraye arbeter-shtime (January 19, 1951), p. 4; Biblyografishe yorbikher fun yivo (Bibliographic yearbooks from YIVO) (Warsaw, 1928), see index; Moyshe Shtarkmen, in Pinkes (New York) 1 (1927-1928); Shtarkman, in Yivo-bleter (Vilna) 4.4-5 (1932); Shtarkman, in Yorbukh (New York) (1942/1943); Shtarkman, in Tsukunft (February 1951); Shmuel Niger, Lezer, dikhter, kritiker (Reader, poet, critic), vol. 2 (New York, 1928), p. 464; Niger, in Tog (New York) (May 29, 1932; July 9, 1932); M. Gordin, in Tsukunft (June 1936); Kalmen Marmor, in Almanakh, 10 yoriker yubiley fun internatsyonaln arbeter ordn (Tenth anniversary of the International Workers Order) (New York, 1940); Marmor, Dovid edelshtat (Dovid Edelshtat) (New York, 1950), see index; M. V[aynraykh], in Yivo-bleter (New York) 17 (1941), pp. 64-67, with a listing of Merison’s writings; Y. Kahan, in Fraye arbeter-shtime (January 31, 1941; August 17, 1951); Kahan, Di yidishe anarkhistishe bavegung in amerike (The Jewish anarchist movement in the United States) (Philadelphia, 1945); Dovid Izakovitsh, in Fraye arbeter-shtime (January 31, 1941); Elye (Elias) Shulman, Geshikhte fun der yidisher literatur in amerike (History of Jewish literature in America) (New York, 1943), pp. 64, 70; Yivo-biblyografye (YIVO bibliography) (New York: YIVO, 1943); E. Tsherikover, Geshikhte fun der yidisher arbeter-bavegung in di fareynikte shtatn (The history of the Jewish labor movement in the United States), vol. 2 (New York: YIVO, 1945), see index; Y. N. Shteynberg, Mit eyn fus in amerike (With one foot in America) (Mexico City, 1951), pp. 140-44; A. Gordin, Eseyen (Essays) (New York, 1951), pp. 179-87; R. Roker, In shturem (In the storm) (Buenos Aires, 1952), see index; Y. B. Beylin, in Morgn-frayhayt (New York) (May 11, 1958; May 18, 1958), index; Arbeter-ring boyer un tuer (Builders and leaders of the Workmen’s Circle) (New York, 1962), p. 250; Who’s Who in American Jewry, vol. 3 (New York, 1938-1939).
Zaynvl Diamant

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 384.]

Monday 27 November 2017


BOREKH MERIN (April 14, 1900-August 7, 1983)
            He was born in Rakev (Rakowa), Byelorussia.  He attended religious elementary school and later the Russian high school in Minsk and the technicum in Bobruisk.  He published from time to time in: Keneder odler (Canadian eagle) in Montreal; and Svive (Environs), Zayn (To be), and Undzer eygn vort (Our own word) in New York.  In book form he wrote: Fun rakev biz kloge, bilder fun a khorever velt (From Rakowa to Klooga, pictures from a world destroyed) (New York, 1969), 192 pp.  He died in New York.

Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 384.


            He was the author of: Portugezish-yidisher lebnbukh, mit a yidish-portugezishn ṿerterbukh (Portuguese-Yiddish textbook, with a Yiddish-Portuguese dictionary) (Warsaw: A. Gitlin, 1929), 223 pp., second edition (1930); Shpanish-yidisher lernbukh, mit a yidish-shpanishn verterbukh (Spanish-Yiddish textbook, with a Yiddish-Spanish dictionary), third edition (Paris, 1929), 190 pp.; Frantsoyzish-yidisher lernbukh, mit a yidish-frantsoyzishn verterbukh (French-Yiddish textbook, with a Yiddish-French dictionary) (Warsaw, 1930), 192 pp.

Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), cols. 383-84.


            She was the author of Kinder-dertsiung (Children’s education) (Warsaw: Yidish bukh, 1955), 160 pp.

Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 383.


DOVID-LEYB MEKLER (June 15, 1891-April 26, 1976)
            He was born in Meyshagole (Maisiagala), Lithuania.  He studied in religious elementary school and yeshiva in Vilna, Vilkomir (Ukmergė), and Shirvint (Širvintos), Vilna district.  He also studied Hebrew, Russian, and German, and he was encouraged by Y. Kh. Tavyov (Tawiow) to write.  He came to the United States in July 1907.  He attended school in Boston and studied engineer at a polytechnical school.  His activities as a journalist began with Boston’s The Jewish Advocate (initially a weekly and later a daily newspaper).  In 1912 he brought out in Boston Dos yudishe vokhnblat (The Jewish weekly newspaper) in Yiddish and English (six months), and later he began writing for Varhayt (Truth) in New York, edited by Louis Miller.  In 1918 he became a regular contributor to Morgn-zhurnal (Morning journal) and Der amerikaner (The American).  In 1934 he became news editor of Morgn-zhurnal, and in 1938 editor of the newspaper, until it merged with Tog (Day).  From that point he served as editor of Tog-morgn-zhurnal (Day-Morning journal) and Der amerikaner.  He wrote stories and journalistic articles, mainly on issues of general politics.  In book form: Fun rebns hoyf (fun tshernobil biz talne, gezamlte khsidishe mayselekh (From the rebbe’s court, from Chernobyl to Talne, collected Hassidic tales) (New York: Hebrew Publishing Company, 1931), 2 vols., 283 pp. and 288 pp.; Mentsh un mashin in sovyet-rusland, faktn, bilder, ayndrukn fun a rayze iber sovyet-rusland (Man and machine in Soviet Russia, facts, images, impressions from a voyage through Soviet Russia) (Warsaw: Y. Ziman, 1936), 412 pp.; Der emes vegn henri ford (The truth about Henry Ford) (New York: Pinkes, 1924), 126 pp.; Di panenka, a maysele (The doll, a story) (New York: Tsveygn, 1925), 15 pp.; as well as volume in English called Miracle Men: Tales of the Baal Shem and His Chassidim (New York: Bloch, 1964), 312 pp.  He wrote for the Sunday issue of Tog-morgn-zhurnal a series of memoiristic articles about the Yiddish press in America.  He was active in national religious educational institutions.  He also used the pen name: Ben Shloyme.  He died in New York.
            “The book Miracle Men,” wrote Menashe Unger, “reads like a modern version of Shivḥe habesht (In praise of the Bal Shem Tov) in English.  Each story that Mekler recounts has a source in Shivḥe habesht, Kahal ḥasidim (Congregation of the pious), Adat tsaddikim (Congregation of the holy), and other Hassidic stories about the Bal Shem Tov [Besht].  Mekler, however, did not turn the stories into literature, but only stylized them, gave them an artistic lift, and where the stories were written in brief, he only perfected them with hints ….  This book Miracle Men, written with an ardent pen, is a much needed book.  It reads easily and thrillingly, and it is a particularly important book for the young, English-reading generation in America to acquaint it with the great personality of the Besht and his students and with the doctrines of Hassidism.”

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2; Dr. A. Mukdoni, in Morgn-zhurnal (New York) (October 6, 1931); Sh. Erdberg, in Tog (New York) (November 28, 1931); D. Tidhar, in Entsiklopedyah leḥalutse hayishuv uvonav (Encyclopedia of the pioneers and builders of the yishuv), pp. 3726-27; Menashe Unger, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (May 15, 1964); Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, vol. 7 (New York); Who Is Who in World Jewry (New York, 1955).


YITSKHOK METSKER (ISAAC METZKER) (July 1901-October 6, 1984)
            He was born in the village of Kazatshine-Lanovits (Kazachina-Lanovichi), Galicia.  He was the author of stories and novels.  For generations his family owned their own fields.  For their children they brought in teachers and tutors from the city.  At age six he began to study Polish and German, and he later attended the Polish high school in Borshchiv, Ukraine.  In 1922 he took classes at the Humboldt senior high school in Berlin, and in 1924 he made his way to New York without a visa, and there he worked by day and studied in the evenings.  After graduating from the Jewish teachers’ seminary in New York, in 1933 he became a teacher in schools run by the Workmen’s Circle.  He debuted in print in 1927 with a story and several poems in Amerikaner (American).  He went on to publish stories—mostly on village life—and reportage pieces in: Fraye arbeter-shtime (Free voice of labor), Frayhayt (Freedom), Kinder zhurnal (Children’s magazine), Tog (Day), and Tsukunft (Future), among other publications.  Metsker’s first story in Forverts (Forward) in New York was published in 1933, and in from 1944 he became a regular contributor.  In addition to stories, he also published there novels: Di eybike shtime (The eternal voice) in 1942; Bitris un ben (Beatrice and Ben) in 1945—both concerned with the lives of Jewish immigrants in the United States; Afns zeydns felder (On Grandfather’s fields) of 1952; and Af amerikaner erd (On American soil).  From 1945 he wrote a weekly reportage piece on the Jewish court in New York.  His work also appeared in Shimshon Meltser’s Zugot, shemona asar sipurim shel shisha asar meḥabrim beyidish (Pairs, eighteen stories by sixteen authors in Yiddish) (Tel Aviv: Hamenorah, 1972), in Eliezer Greenberg and Irving Howe’s Treasury of Yiddish Stories (New York, 1954), and in Greenberg and Howe’s Yiddish Stories Old and New (1977).  He also wrote under such pen names as: Y. M. Metts, Y. M. Kersht, and Y. Fleysher.  In book form: Toli un tobi (Toli and Tobi) (New York: Matones, 1936), 158 pp.; Erd un zun (Land and sun) (New York, 1937), 189 pp.; Don yitskhok abravanel, 1437-1509 (Don Isaac Abravanel, 1437-1509) (New York: Kinder-ring, 1941), 48 pp.; Afn zeydns felder (New York: Matones, 1953), 477 pp., published in Sh. Meltser’s translations as Besedotav shel saba (Merḥavya, 1959), 395 pp.; Gots bashefenishn (God’s creatures) (New York: Matones, 1958), 207 pp.  In English he published A Bintel Brief (New York, 1971), on the lives of Jewish immigrants in America, based “bintel brief” (batch of letters) which were published daily in Forverts over the course of sixty years.  “Deeply rooted in Y. Metsker, it would appear,” noted Shmuel Niger, “is what he absorbed in himself when he was a villager, of nature, as well as what he possesses in himself of silent, powerful instincts.  This is primarily to be found in the young storyteller and that is the innovative elements he introduced into our literature….  We have several authors who depict nature, but Y. Metsker is a nature-describer, not a depicter of nature.”  “Y. Metsker,” noted A. Mukdoni, “is pastoral through and through.  He has a villager’s eyes; he sees just like a cucumber grows….  [His] stories are new, original, and vigorous….  He is a writer with his own face, first and foremost with his own language.”  Concerning his novel Afn zeydns felder, Der Lebediker (Khayim Gutman) wrote that it “could stand at the same rank as Hamsun’s Blessings of the Earth, with the difference that, after the Jewish blessing, there followed behind a curse, the curse of Diaspora….  His book demonstrates, in addition to its extraordinarily colorful storytelling, it also contains poetic-lyrical talent.”  And, on the same book, Yankev Glatshteyn noted: “He erected a village with Jews and Gentiles and went from home to home, from tree to tree, from field to field, from bird to bird, from holiday to holiday, and all in celebration.  At times this song is a poem of joy, at times it is profoundly sad, but a sadness that is part of a complete life.”  He died in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Metsker, second from right, at a meeting of Forverts editors

Sources: Moyshe Nadir, in Frayhayt (New York) (May 1936); Shmuel Niger, in Tog (New York) (June 1936; April 1938); Niger, Yidishe shrayber fun tsvantsikstn yorhundert (Yiddish writers from the twentieth century) (New York, 1973), pp. 309-13; A. Mukdoni, in Morgn-zhurnal (New York) (June 1936); Mukdoni, in Kultur un dertsiung (New York) (February 1954); Y. Kisin, in Forverts (New York) (June 1936); Y. Botoshanski, in Di prese (Buenos Aires) (June 1936); Avrom Reyzen, in Di feder (New York) (1937); Y. Glantz, in Der veg (Mexico City) (November 1937); H. Rogof, in Forverts (December 1953); Shloyme Bikl, in Tsukunft (New York) (May-June 1954); M. Shtiker, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (January 1955); Yankev Glatshteyn, In tokh genumen (In essence) (New York, 1956), pp. 437-42; L. Fogelman, in Forverts (December 1958); Meylekh Ravitsh, in Keneder odler (Montreal) (February 1959); Der Lebediger, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (February 1959); Avrom Shulman, in Unzer shtime (Paris) (March 1959); Sh. Rozenberg, in Der amerikaner (New York) (April 1959); E. Almi, in Fraye arbeter-shtime (New York) (May 1959); Sh. D. Zinger, in Unzer veg (New York) (December 1959); Kh. Liberman, in Forverts (January 1960); Y. Emyot, in Keneder odler (November 1960); B. Ts. Goldberg, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (June 1963).

Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), cols. 381-83.

Sunday 26 November 2017


            He lived in Lemberg.  He was an active Zionist.  He authored Shoshane (Shoshana), a play in four acts with an epilogue (Lemberg: Pratsa, 1925), 32 pp.
Sh. L.
Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 381.


ADAM MESKO (b. 1864)
            He was born in Aniksht (Anykščiai), Lithuania.  He immigrated to London in 1884 and to New York in 1892.  He published articles and poems in Di tsukunft (The future) in London.  He wrote, translated, and adapted various plays for the Yiddish theater.  His play Di yudishe kolonisten in palestino, natsyonale drama mit gezang (The Jewish colonists in Palestine, a nationalist play with song) was staged—according to Di tsukunft—in 1890.  His play Tkhies hameysim oder tsvishn himl un erd (The resurrection of the dead or between heaven and earth) was performed in 1903 in New York by Boris Tomashevsky.  The play was published anonymously under the title Itsikl vil khasene hobn oder der kales kholem (Itsikl wants to get married or the bride’s dream), an operetta in five acts (Warsaw: Sh. Goldfarb, 1925), 40 pp.  From 1910 he withdrew from the theater and took up business.

Source: Zalmen Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 2 (New York, 1934), pp. 1375-77
Sh. L.
Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 381.


YANKEV MESTEL (MESTL) (February 25, 1884-August 6, 1958)
            He was born in Zlotshev (Złoczów), Galicia.  He attended religious elementary school, a public school, and middle school, and he later enrolled at the Polish-Ukrainian teachers’ seminary in Lemberg, from which he graduated in 1905.  For a time he worked as a teacher, while studying philosophy at Lemberg University.  In public school, he played in a dramatization of Adam Mickiewicz’s Powrót taty (Daddy’s back).  He performed later in various student drama circles.  In 1907 he traveled to Vienna, where he served a year in the military and graduated from officers’ school.  From 1910 he was performing with Vienna’s Stefanie Theater, and he went on tour with the troupe to Romania, Czechoslovakia, Germany, and the German-Austrian provinces.  In WWI he was an officer in the Austro-Hungarian army, was wounded several times, and gained the rank of senior lieutenant.  After demobilization in 1918, he studied directing and playwriting at the Vienna “Akademie für Musik und darstellende Kunst” (Academy for music and performing arts), ran a course in Yiddish literature for the Labor Zionists in Vienna, assisted in the organization of the Vienna “Fraye yidishe folks-bine” (Free Jewish people’s theater), and founded the first Yiddish drama school in Vienna.  After the partition of Austria and Hungary, he was banished from Vienna as an “alien.”  He came to the United States in 1920, at first was engaged by Philadelphia’s Arch Street Theater, and then, over the 1923-1925 period, he acted in the Yiddish Art Theater of Maurice Schwartz, with whom he made a European tour in 1924.  Over the years 1926-1930, he performed with a variety of troupes, and he managed and directed the art studio of Artef as well as a number of dramatic circles and the experimental theater “Nit gedayget” (Don’t worry about it!).  He visited (1931-1932) Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, and a number of cities in the United States and Canada, as the representative of Ben-Ami’s theater.  He adapted, directed, and staged one-acts and other plays from the Yiddish and the European repertoire.  In 1911 the Stefanie Theater in Vienna staged his comedy Mir, shvakhe froyen (We weak women) and his operetta Der shabes-goy (The Sabbath Gentile) which also played in Warsaw under the title Der shabes-fardiner (The Sabbath earner).  He also acted in movies: “Der gekroytster yude” (The crucified Jew), H. Sekler’s Yiskor (Prayer commemorating the dead), “East Side Sadie,” “Onkl mozes” (Uncle Moses),” and “A yidishe tokhter” (A Jewish daughter [= A Daughter of Her People]).  His literary activities began in 1903 with journalistic and critical essays in M. Rikhter’s Vahrhayt (Truth).  From 1906 he was publishing poems in Togblat (Daily newspaper) in Lemberg, G. Bader’s Yudishe folks-kalender (Jewish people’s calendar), and elsewhere.  Together with Gershom Bader and Tsvi Shpitser-Bikels, he edited the anthology Yung galitsisher almanakh (Young Galician almanac) (Lemberg, 1910), 48 pp.  He contributed work as well to: Idishe teater (Yiddish theater) and Literarishe bleter (Literary leaves) in Warsaw; Arkhiv tsu der geshikhte fun yidishn teater (Archive of the history of Yiddish theater) and Yivo-bleter (Pages from YIVO) in Vilna; Kultur (Culture) in Chicago; and Oyfkum (Arise), Bodn (Ground), Di feder (The pen), Morgn-frayhayt (Morning freedom), Yivo-bleter, Yidishe kultur (Jewish culture), and Zamlungen (Collections), among others, in New York.  His work also appeared in M. Basin’s 500 yor yidishe poezye (500 years of Yiddish poetry) (New York, 1917), N. Mayzil’s Amerike in yidishn vort antologye (America in Yiddish, an anthology) (New York, 1955), and Pinkes varshe (Records of Warsaw) (Buenos Aires, 1955).  In book form he published: Farkholemte shoen (Dreamy hours), poetry (Lemberg: Kh. Itskovitsh, 1909), 80 pp.; A liebes-lied (A love poem) (Cracow: Shulamis, 1911), 60 pp.; Vita kheyzd (??) (Cracow: Shulamis, 1913), 43 pp.; Dimyoynes (Fantasies), a dramatic trilogy (Vienna-New york, 1921), 207 pp.; Milkhome-notitsn fun a yidishn ofitser (War notices from a Jewish officer) (Warsaw: Yatshkovski, 1924), 370 pp., part 2 (1924), 386 pp., second edition (Warsaw: Bzhoza, 1927); Soldatn- un payatsn-lider (Soldiers’ and clowns’ poems) (Warsaw: Bzhoza, 1928), 217 pp.; Teater, di bine, drame (Theater, the stage, drama) (New York, 1934), 23 pp.; Di bine (The stage), a play (New york, 1934), 96 pp.; Lukretsyas toyt, a togbukh fun a froy (Lucretia’s death, a diary of a woman) (Warsaw: Bzhoza, 1936), 114 pp.; Unzer teater (Our theater) (New York, 1943), 199 pp., awarded a prize while in manuscript from the Leah Kesman Fund; Zibetsik yor teater-repertyar, tsu der geshikhte fun yidishn teater in amerike (Seventy year of theater repertoire, on the history of Yiddish theater in America) (New York: IKUF, 1954), 112 pp.; Literatur un teater (Literature and theater) (New York: IKUF, 1962), 346 pp.  He published a series of works in Yivo-bleter in Vilna (1932-1934), which came out in a separate imprint as well.  He was co-editor and close contributor to Zalmen Zilbertsvayg’s Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater)—vol. 3 (New York, 1960) was dedicated to Mestel.  He co-edited Yidishe kultur, in which he published a large number of essays and articles.  Aside from his translation of Arthur Miller’s Der toyt fun a seylsman (Death of a Salesman), published serially in Yidishe kultur, he translated for the Yiddish stage plays by Richard Dehmal, František Langer, Frank Kalner (?), Leon Krukowski, Clifford Odetts, Arnold Zweig, Elmer Rice, Yigal Mossinson, Leon Feuchtwanger, and others.  He also translated Alexander Granach’s Ot geyt a mentsh (There goes a man [original: Da geht ein Mensch]) (New York, 1948), 384 pp.; and Leo Katz’s Zrie-tsayt, roman (Seedtime, a novel [original: Brennende Dörfer (Burning villages)]) (Mexico City, 1949), 324 pp.  After his death his autobiographical notes were published in Morgn-frayhayt under the title Yankele der stolyar (Yankele the painter).  He was active in IKUF (Jewish Cultural Association) and other cultural organizations, many of them associated with leftist circles.  He bequeathed to the YIVO archives an assemblage of materials which comprise a valuable collection for the history of the Yiddish theater and of his activities on the Yiddish stage.  Among his pen names: Y. V. Omer and Y. M. Kamila.  He died in New York.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2, with a bibliography; Zalmen Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 2 (New York, 1934), with a bibliography; Zilbertsvayg, in Yidishe kultur (new York) (October 1958); M. Gros, in Literarishe bleter (Warsaw) (June 8, 1930); Avrom Reyzen, “Milkhome-yorn” (War years), Di tsukunft (New York) (October 1930); Khayim Krul, Arum zikh (Around itself) (Vilna, 1930), p. 37; M. Osherovitsh, in Forverts (New York) (March 22, 1931); A. Mukdoni, in Morgn-zhurnal (New York) (February 27, 1931; April 10, 1935); Mukdoni, in Di tsukunft (May-June 1955); D. Tsharni (Daniel Charney), in Der tog (New York) (July 16, 1932); N. B. Linder, in Der tog (December 14, 1934); Sh. Rozhanski, Dos yidishe gedrukte vort in argentina (The published Yiddish word in Argentina) (Buenos Aires, 1941), pp. 201-20; A. Grinberg, Moyshe leyb halpern in ram fun zayn dor (Moyshe Leyb Halpern in the framework of his generation) (New York, 1942), p. 24; Y. Tenenboym, Galitsye mayn alte heym (Galicia, my old home) (Buenos Aires, 1952), p. 168; N. Bukhvald, in Yidishe kultur (New York) (February 1953); Y. Shatski, in Yivo-bleter 38 (1954), pp. 384-85; N. Sverdlin, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (June 24, 1954); B. Grin, in Morgn-frayhayt (New York) (December 10, 1954; August 12, 1958); Y. B. Beylin, in Morgn-frayhayt (March 25, 1956); Z. Vaynper, Shrayber un kinstler (Writers and artists) (New York, 1958), pp. 222-31; L. Zhitnitski, in Di prese (Buenos Aires) (August 9, 1958); Y. Botoshanski, in Di prese (August 13, 1958); A. Mayzels, in Di yidishe shtime (London) (September 5, 1958); Yedies fun yivo (New York) 69 (December 1958); M. Vaykhert, in Letste mayes (Tel Aviv) (September 1958); Vaykhert, Varshe (Warsaw), vol. 1 (Tel Aviv, 1961), see index; N. Mayzil, in Yidishe kultur (October 1958); Mayzil, Tsurikblikn un perspektivn (Retrospectives and perspectives) (Tel Aviv, 1962), see index; Sh. Shtern, in Morgn-frayhayt (March 29, 1959); Sh. Kindman-Mestel, in Morgn-frayhayt (January 16, 1959; November 15, 1959); M. Erdberg-Shatan, in Keneder odler (Montreal) (August 22, 1962); Erdberg-Shatan, Yidishe shrayber in amerike (Yiddish writers in America) (New York, 1963).
Benyomen Elis


AVROM MENES (January 29, 1897-October 18, 1969)
            He was born in Grodno, Russian Poland, into a rigorously religious family.  He studied in religious elementary school and yeshivas.  At the time of his bar mitzvah, he completed his studies at the yeshiva in Grodno and went on to study at the Mirer yeshiva.  His older brother became involved (1905-1906) in the revolutionary movement, and from that time began showing him newspapers, books, and secular literature, as well as illegal pamphlets.  From 1913 Menes was studying in various synagogue study chambers in Grodno, while at the same time he became interested in socialist ideas, as he also began to study works of scientific and philosophical literature.  In the summer of 1914, for the first time Menes participated in an illegal Bundist meeting, although he did not become a member of the party.  He spent the years of WWI in Grodno, where he continued studying both religious and secular materials.  In 1917, together with several older Bundists, he founded an illegal Bundist group which launched intensive cultural activities in Grodno and in the surrounding towns.  In late 1918, after the defeat of the German armed forces, Menes took an active part in the construction of Jewish community life in Grodno.  He assumed the position of vice-chairman of the community council and was a member of the executive of the city council.  In late 1920 he made his way to Germany and studied history and Tanakh scholarship at the University of Berlin.  In Berlin he was also active in the Bundist group and contributed to publishing in 1920s Berlin.  With Nokhum Shtif and Elye Tsherikover, Menes established the initiative group that assisted in the creation of YIVO.  After the Nazi takeover in Germany (1933), Menes left Berlin and settled in Paris, where he contributed to the editorial board of Algemeyne yidishe entsiklopedye (General Jewish encyclopedia) and at the same time with other publications as well.  With E. Tsherikover, F. Kurski, and A. Rozin (Ben Adir), he edited the third volume of Historishe shriftn fun yivo, di yidishe sotsyalistishe bavegung biz der grindung fun “bund”: forshung, zikhrones, materyaln (Historical writings from YIVO, the Jewish socialist movement until the founding of the Bund: research, memoirs, materials) (Vilna-Paris, 1939), 830 pp.  In late 1940, Menes with help from the Jewish Labor Committee came to the United States, where he continued his editorial work for Algemeyne yidishe entsiklopedye and wrote for a series of newspapers and periodical publications.  From 1947 he was a regular contributor to the Forverts (Forward) in New York.  His literary activity began with a work about the Hebraic elements in the Yiddish language, published in 1919 in the Grodno anthology Unzer vinkl (Our corner), edited by A. Zak.  Later, during his time in Berlin, his research field began to crystallize for Menes.  He was initially attracted to Jewish history in antiquity (history of Tanakh research), especially the economic and social aspects of Jewish history.  In Bleter far yidisher demografye, statistik un ekonomik (Papers on Jewish demography, statistics, and economics), edited by Y. Leshtshinski, Menes published his first major work entitled “Di sotsyale un virtshaftlekhe farheltenishn bay di yidn in altertum” (The social and economic relations among Jews in antiquity) in Berlin (April-August 1923).  In this period, he contributed as well to the Encyclopaedia Judaica, as well as to the journals: Virtshaft un lebn (Economy and life) in Berlin and Fraye shriftn (Free writings) in Warsaw, among others.  In YIVO’s Shriftn far ekonomik un statistik (Writings on economics and statistics) (Berlin) 1 (1928), he published, among others items: “Melokhe bay yidn in der biblisher un talmudisher tsayt” (Trades among Jews in biblical and Talmudic times) and “Vegn der industrye-bafelkerung bay yidn in rusland, 1897” (On the industrial population among Jewish in Russia, 1897).  He published “A shmad-bavegung in praysn in der ershter helft fun 19tn yorhundert” (A conversion movement in Prussia in the first half of the nineteenth century), in Historishe shriftn fun yivo (Historical writings from YIVO) (Warsaw) 1 (1929); “Sakhaklen un perspektivn” (Summing up and perspectives), Virtshaft un lebn (1929); “Der tanakh un zayn ort in der moderner yidisher literatur” (The Tanakh and its place in modern literature), Fraye shriftn (March 1930); “Tsu der frage vegn onheyb fun der yidisher oytonomye in der biblisher tsayt” (On the issue of the beginning of Jewish autonomy in biblical times), Yivo-bleter (Pages from YIVO) (Vilna) 1 (1931); “Di kemerlekh fun tsiber-lebn bay yidn” (The cells of Jewish community life), Yivo-bleter 2 (1931); “Handl un sotsyalizm” (Business and socialism), Fraye shriftn (May 1931); “Nokh a por verter tsu der frage handl un sotsyalizm” (A few more words about the issue of business and socialism), Fraye shriftn (October 1931); “Der matsev fun yidn in shayn fun konyunktur-antviklung” (The condition of Jewish in light of developing circumstances), Yivo-bleter 3 (1932); “Alte un naye yidishkeyt” (Old and new Jewishness), Fraye shriftn (December 1932; May 1933).  At that time, Menes—together with Rifoel Abramovitsh—published Leyen-bukh tsu der geshikhte fun yisroel (Textbook for the history of Israel) (Berlin, 1923).  He also published in Tsukunft (Future) in New York (January 1924) a study of the stories in Genesis, which also appeared in a German translation under the title “Die sozialpolitische Analyse der Urgeschichte” (Socio-political analysis of prehistory), Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft (Journal of Old Testament scholarship) 43.1 (January 1925).  In addition, he also brought out another series of studies in German on the Tanakh.  Over the course of his years spent in Paris (1933-1940), Menes expanded the area of his research work into the history of the labor movement and socialism.  In Tsukunft (September 1935), he published “Der onheyb fun der yidisher arbeter-bavegung un ir shoyresh in yidishn folks-lebn” (The beginning of the Jewish labor movement and its roots in Jewish folk life); and two years later, in a series of articles also in Tsukunft (January-April 1937), entitled “Sotsyalistishe gezelshaft oder sotsyalistishe gemeynshaft, tsu der revizye fun di ideyen un der praktik fun der sotsyalistisher arbeter-bavegung” (Socialist society or socialist community, on the revision in ideas and practice of the socialist ;labor movement), he confronted the fundamental issues in both Jewish and general socialism.  Also, in the third volume of Historishe shriftn fun yivo (Vilna-Paris, 1939), he published a foundational work, “Di yidishe arbeter-bavegung in rusland fun onheyb 70er biz sof 90er yorn” (The Jewish labor movement in Russian from the early [18]70s until the late [18]90s).  At the same time, Tanakh research and ancient Jewish history still remained the central focus of his scholarly work.  In Yivo-bleter in Vilna 9 (1936), he published “”Neviim un folks-farzamlungen, zeyer ort in efntlekhn lebn bay yidn in der biblisher tekufe” (The prophets and popular gatherings, their place in the public life of Jews in the biblical era).  From time to time he also wrote journalistic articles on contemporary Jewish problems, which he published in the Parisian journal Afn sheyveg (At the crossroads): “Der zinen fun unzer tsayt” (Sense of our times) (August 1939); and “Unzer veg un unzer goyrl” (Our path and our fate) (April 1939).  In New York, Menes continued his research work in all the same fields, but—influenced by the fateful events surrounding the Holocaust—he became ever more engrossed in the issues of Jewish existence and the continuation of Jewish thought.  In his journalistic philosophical studies concerning Jewish beliefs, Jewish ethics, and religious way of life, Menes especially stressed the significance of sanctity and human dignity in the Jewish tradition.  Menes represents for us the idea that religion, which is an independent factor in the life of an individual, establishes in Jewish community life one of the three currents that influence the development of contemporary Jewish culture: religion, Zionism, and secular socialism.  Over the course of many years, these movements contested one another, because the bearers of each of them believed they would become over time the sole dominant force in Jewish cultural life.  This, however, was not slated to happen, and Menes supported the idea that Jews must have all three forces on the road working together.  In our rich cultural heritage, they must all be part of a joint treasury that can bind us all together.  In this connection, we need note such works as the following by him: “Sotsyale yontoyvim bay yidn” (Social festivals among Jews), Tsukunft (April 1932); “Di tfile fun kidesh hashem” (The prayer for martyrdom), Tsukunft (July 1944); “Di ideye fun mentshlekher khshives in der yidisher traditsye” (The idea of human dignity in the Jewish tradition), Idisher kemfer (Jewish fighter) (Rosh Hashanah [September 10,] 1953); “Ikev hatfile un ikev hakrie” (Forcing the congregation to delay reading the Torah to deal with a personal complaint), Idisher kemfer (Passover [April 5-11,] 1947); “Eybikeyt” (Eternity), Idisher kemfer (April 17, 1953); “A naye velt un a nayer mentsh” (A new world and a new person), Idisher kemfer (Rosh Hashanah [September 29,] 1952); “Shabes, der yidisher tog un di yidishe ideye” (Sabbath, the Jewish day and the Jewish idea), in Seyfer hashabes, shabes in yidishn lebn durkh ale doyres (The book of the Sabbath, the Sabbath in Jewish life throughout all generations), compiled by Israel J. Schwartz (New York, 1947); “Di gaystike geshtalt funem poylishn yid” (The spiritual image of the Polish Jew), Tsukunft (August 1943); “Der yidisher lebnsshteyger un zayn sotsyal-etishe badaytung” (The Jewish way of life and its social-ethical significance), Tsukunft (March 1947); “Di toyre shebal pe fun rusland un poyln” (The oral law [Talmud] in Russia and Poland), Idisher kemfer (August-November 1946); “Der vilner goen un zayn shite” (The Gaon of Vilna and his doctrine), Idisher kemfer (Passover [April 10-16,] 1952); and more.  He also published a great number of articles concerned with Jewish holidays in Forverts, for which he was a regular contributor.  He wrote a series of important works in the fields of history, sociology, and philosophy , as well as methodological issues in Jewish historical research, such as: “Di am-oylem-bavegung” (The Am-Olam movement), in Geshikhte fun der yidisher arbeter bavegung in di fareynikte shtatn (History of the Jewish labor movement in the United States), vol. 2 (New York, 1945); “Der poylisher yid in der yidisher geshikhte” (The Polish Jew in Jewish history), in Di yidn in poyln (The Jews in Poland) (New York, 1946); “Farvos davke aaves yisroel” (Why necessarily love of Israel), Tsukunft (July-September 1949); “Aaves yisroel un yidishe geshikhte” (Love of Israel and Jewish history), Tsukunft (April 1954); “Yidishe demokratye un parteyishe visnshaft” (Jewish democracy and partisan scholarship), Tsukunft (November 1949); “Di shlikhes fun der yidisher visnshaft” (The mission of Jewish scholarship), Idisher kemfer (Rosh Hashanah [September 12,] 1950); and more.  On the problems of Jewish existence in contemporary times, he penned a series entitled “Alte un naye yidishkeyt” (Old and new Jewishness), Tsukunft (October-December 1941 and August 1942), and: “Yidishkeyt bikhides un yidishkeyt betsiber” (Jewishness privately and Jewishness collectively), Tsukunft (November 1945); “Yidish folk, yidish loshn, yidish gloybn” (Jewish people, Yiddish language, Jewish belief), Tsukunft (June 1946); “Yidish gloybn in unzer tsayt” (Jewish belief in our time), Idisher kemfer (Rosh Hashanah [September 15,] 1947); and “Di shlikhes fun undzer dor” (The mission of our generation), Kultur un dertsiung (Culture and education) in New York (February 1959); among others.  Of particular value are Menes’s summing-up writings which appeared in Algemeyne entsiklopedye (General encyclopedia): the piece “Yidish geshikhte” (Jewish history), which embraces the biblical and Talmudic eras, was published in the “Yidn 1” (Jews, vol. 1), pp. 100-86; the survey of Talmudic literature in “Yidn 2” (Jews, vol. 2), pp. 267-213.  In the same volume, Menes placed two further works: “Oykum un geshikhte fun yidishn gloybn” (The emergence and history of Jewish belief) and “Di sotsyalistishe bavegung in rusland un poyln” (The socialist movement in Russian and Poland), with R. Abramovitsh; and “Di mizrekh-eyropeishe tkufe in der yidisher geshikhte” (The Eastern European epoch in Jewish history), pp. 275-430.  In “Yidn 3” (Jews, vol. 3) of Algemeyne entsiklopedye (New York, 1964), pp. 1-46, he placed the introductory essay, “Problemen fun lebn un vidershtand in di getos” (Problems of life and the resistance in the ghettos).  Menes’s works in English would include the following: “The Ethical Teachings of Moses Hayim Luzzatto,” Proceedings of the American Academy for Jewish Research 17 (1948), pp. 61-68; “Patterns of Jewish Scholarship in Eastern Europe,” in The Jews: Their History, Culture and Religion, edited by L. Finkelstein (New York, 1960), vol. 1, pp. 376-424, third edition.  In the English edition of the general Jewish encyclopedia, The Jewish People, Past and Present (4 vols., New York, 1946-1955), he published: “The Yeshivot in Eastern Europe” in vol. 2, pp. 108-18; and “The Jewish Labor Movement” in vol. 4.  This English encyclopedia also included his aforecited writings on Jewish history and Tanakh literature, as well as his essay on the rise of Jewish belief.  His articles in Forverts were much admired by readers.
            His books include: Die vorexilischen Gesetze Israels im Zusammenhang seiner kulturgeschichtlichen Entwicklung (The pre-exilic laws of Israel in the context of its cultural-historical development) (Giessen, 1928), 143 pp., a longer work on the laws of the Torah, which deal with the social and economic development in Israel and Judah in the era of the First Temple; Leyen-bukh tsu der geshikhte fun yisroel (Berlin, 1923), 118 pp. (illustrated), with Rifoel Abramovitsh; Di yidishe folks-hakhnose un sotsyaler budzhet, a pruv fun an analiz (The Jewish people’s national income and social budget, an attempt based on an analysis) (Paris, 1936), 19 pp.; Elye hanovi, agodes un folks-mayses (Elijah the prophet, homiletic tales and folk stories) (New York, 1955), 343 pp.; Der yidisher gedank in der nayer tsayt, dokumentn, eseyen un oystsugn (Jewish thought in modern times: documents, essays, and extracts), vol. 1: “Goles un geule” (Diaspora and redemption) (New York, 1957), 428 pp.; Shabes un yontef, sotsyale gerekhtikeyt, kheshbn hanefesh, geule inem gang fun yidishn yor (Sabbath and holidays, social justice, spiritual stocktaking, salvation in the course of the Jewish year) (Tel Aviv: Hamenorah, 1973), 422 pp.; Yidn un yidishkeyt (Jews and Judaism) (Jerusalem, 1974/1975), 2 vols.  Menes’s books Elye hanovi and Der yidisher gedank in der nayer tsayt drew considerable attention in the Jewish cultural world and were positively reviewed by the critics.  Dr. A. Mukdoni wrote concerning the latter work: “We have here a complete anthology of political Jewish thought in modern times….  A. Menes is qualified for such a job as a scholar, but first and foremost—he is qualified for this job given his disposition, his quiet and pious objectivity.  And, this is just what such a work needs.  Here are intact all opinions, no matter how divergent or contradictory they may be.  All may be found here with equal rights….  For, no matter how contradictory the ideas may be, in the end they are all the spiritual fruit of one people….  Yes, this is a good book and even more: a necessary book.”  Concerning Menes’s Elye hanovi, A. Glants-Leyeles wrote that it is “a valuable volume with texts, scholarly commentary, legends, and folktales about the figure of this remarkable prophet, who so influenced the fantasies of our people for over 2,000 years….  In his highly compact introduction, Menes demonstrates an immersion not only in a considerable amount of learning, but he also establishes on the basis of its basic features the image of Elijah—with all their changes, transformations, and wonder-filled qualities.”  Concerning Menes’s introduction to Elye hanovi, Y. Botoshanski noted: “The introduction—that is, ‘Elye hanovi un zayn tsayt’ (Elijah the prophet and his times)—… is a fine and engrossing study of this prophet, who is to destined to bring the messiah.  And, although the title speaks of Elijah the prophet and his times, we get in the introduction the very essence of Elijah who remains at all times as the most significant personality whom the biblical epoch brought forth after Moses.”  On the anthology Der yidisher gedank in der nayer tsayt, Dr. Sh. Margoshes wrote: “This book is perhaps the most valuable collection that we possess for the ideological lines of thought in our time.  It shines a particularly bright light on the painful problems, economic, political, and spiritual, that have tormented our generation.”  Late in life, Menes was preparing for publication a book of his selected essays, in which he would include his articles of longstanding importance which were published earlier in Forverts and other serials.  He died in New York.

Sources: Khatskl Dunyets, In kamf af tsvey frontn (In a struggle on two fronts) (Minsk: Byelorussian Academy of Sciences, 1932); E. Osherovitsh, in Afn visnshaflekhn front (Minsk) 1.2 (1932); Dr. Chaim Zhitlovsky, in Der tog (New York) (August 20, 1932); Dr. A. Mukdoni, in Morgn-zhurnal (New York) (April 10, 1935); Mukdoni, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (March 25, 1956); Mukdoni, in Kultur un dertsiung (New York) (October 1957); Yankev Glatshteyn, in In tokh genumen (In essence) (New York, 1947); A. Leyeles, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (July 1956; September 25, 1960; September 26, 1960); P. Shteynvaks, in Keneder odler (Montreal) (August 12, 1956; August 15, 1956); Shteynvaks, Siluetn fun a dor (Silhouettes of a generation) (Buenos Aires, 1958); Shteyvaks, in Byalistoker shtime (New york) (September-October 1952); D. Naymark, in Forverts (New York) (April 15, 1956); Dr. Sh. Saymon, in Di tsukunft (New York) (October 1956); Y. Vinyetski, in Di shtime (Mexico City) (March 17, 1956); Dr. Sh. Margoshes, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (August 24, 1957); Hillel Rogof, in Forverts (September 15, 1957); Kh. Bez, in Keneder odler (October 28, 1957); M. Khizkuni, in Kultur un dertsiung (October 1957); Meylekh Ravitsh, in Letste nayes (Tel Aviv) (December 20, 1957); Ravitsh, in Forverts (May 8, 1960); Dr. N. Woherman, in Omer (Tel Aviv) (Elul 10 [= September 2], 1960); Khayim Leyb Fuks, in Der veker (New york) (December 1964); Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, vol. 7 (New York).
Yekhiel Hirshhoyt

[Addition information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 380.]