ELIEZER-REFOEL MALACHI (March 10-1895-April 2, 1980)
The Hebraized family name of E. R. Engelman, he was born in Jerusalem—on his mother’s side he was a third generation Jerusalemite. His mother Nekahme died when he was three, and at age six and one-half his father, Rabbi Shabse, also passed away; he was raised by his mother’s mother, Khane Soyfer, and his guardian, Yisroel Dovid Rufman, known in Jerusalem as Dovid Kovner. Until age twelve he studied in a Talmud Torah and later in the Ets Ḥayim Yeshiva. He began reading and writing an extremely early age. His first writings—sketches, articles, reports, and correspondence pieces—appeared in Frumkin’s Ḥavatselet (Daffodil), Ben-Avi’s Haor (The light), Avraham Elmaliḥ Ḥerut (Freedom), Hapardes (The orchard), and the London-based Hayehudi (The Jew). He signed his name: E. R. Angelman, Argama-n, Eliav, and the like. In Lunts’s Luaḥ erets yisrael (Calendar for the land of Israel) (1910/1911), he published his “Haitonut hayerushalaimit” (The Jerusalem press), a history of the press in the land of Israel from 1863 to 1909, and it was acclaimed in the Israeli press—Yitsḥak-Yaakov Yelin in Moriya (Mount Moriah), Yisrael Belkind in Hameir (Illuminating), Shmuel Rafaeli in Ḥerut, and using the pen name “Amen,” an answer to N. Moltsan’s harsh criticism of the articles in Ḥerut—as a pioneering work, although immature and written by a youngster. The article was translated into Yiddish by Avrom Kotlyer—published in Idishe velt (Jewish world) in Cleveland—and is used as a source for research into the press in the land of Israel. Also published in Lunts’s Luḥot (Calendars) for 1911/1912, 1914/1915, and 1915/1916 were his first research pieces on the history of the old Jewish settlement, “Lekorot haḥaluka beyerushalaim” (Toward a history of the partition of Jerusalem), a chapter in the history of the Jewish Enlightenment movement in Jerusalem (concerning the association of followers of the Enlightenment, “Tiferet yerushalaim” [Glory of Jerusalem] and the founding of the first library in Jerusalem in 1875); on the first doctors in Jerusalem; in Lunts’s Yerushalaim (Jerusalem), a document concerning the ruin of Rabbi Judah the Pious; in Belkind’s Hameir, “The History of the Earthquake in Tsfat in 1836” and a chapter of a work entitled “The History of Colonization in the Land of Israel”; and a piece in Elmaliḥ’s Mizraḥ umaariv (East and West) from his work “Lereshit hityashbut adat haashkenazi beyerushalaim” (The beginning of the settlement of the Ashkenazi community in Jerusalem). In late 1912 he came to the United States and worked initially with the Hebrew Sheltering Aid Society (forerunner of HIAS [Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society]) in New York. He began then to write in Yiddish. His first article on Yehoshua Barzilai appeared in Dos idishe folk (The Jewish people) in New York, where he became a regular contributor. He also wrote for Yidishes tageblat (Jewish daily newspaper) in New York, in which he published folktales, stories, articles, literary critical surveys, and translations from Hebrew and English fiction, among them: Israel Zangwill’s novel Tsu shtarbn in yerusholaim (To Dies in Jerusalem); Ḥemda Ben-Yehuda’s Erets-yisroel-skitsn (Sketches of the land of Israel), and the series Mekubolim in erets yisroel (Cabalists in the land of Israel) which in 1929 appeared in book form under the same title (191 pp.). He later placed work in the daily newspapers Tog (Day), Morgn-tsaytung (Morning newspaper), and others (he translated David Frishman’s letters written in Hebrew with annotations); Der amerikaner (The American)—over the course of two years, he published here a translation of a Hebrew text by Yaakov Safir (Jacob Saphir) entitled Di rayze iber teymen (The trip through Yemen [original: Masa teman]); Brukliner yidishe shtime (Jewish voice of Brooklyn), in which in its jubilee issue in 1937 he published a piece on Shaare tsiyon (Gates of Zion), the first Yiddish newspaper in Jerusalem from 1876; Di idishe velt (The Jewish world) in Cleveland; Der idisher kuryer (The Jewish courier) in Chicago; Di idishe velt in Philadelphia; and other newspapers, magazines, and anthologies. Malachi’s writings were until WWII republished in Vilner tog (Vilna day), Lodzer tageblat (Lodz daily newspaper), and Nayer folksblat (New people’s newspaper) in Lodz, and Frimorgn (Morning) in Riga, as well as in the provincial press in Poland and Yiddish newspapers in South Africa. In the monthly Hatoran (The duty officer) in 1913, he published a lengthy series entitled “Letoledot haitonut haivrit beamerika” (Toward a history of the Hebrew press in America). In the weekly Hatoran, over the years 1916 to 1920, edited by Y. D. Berkovitsh and Ruvn Brainin, he published essays on Y. L. Kantor, Sholem-Aleykhem (as a Hebrew writer and critic), Yehoshua Barzilai, Avraham-Moshe Lunts, A. R. Paperno, and Julian Klatsko, as well as a long work entitled “Habibliografiya shel Mendele” (Mendele bibliography). The latter is the foundation stone of modern Hebrew bibliography. In 1919 he returned to Jerusalem and spent one and one-half years there. He wrote for Haarets (The land) and Doar hayom (Today’s mail) and served as correspondent for the New York papers, Yidishes tageblat and Dos idishe folk. In 1922 he returned to New York. He was a member of the editorial board of the Hebrew-language weekly, Hadoar (The mail) there. Over the years 1925-1960, he published in Hadoar dozens of interviews and literary and journalistic articles, and he ran the regular columns: “Luaḥ zikaron” (Calendar of memory) on books and writers and “Hashavua bedivre yeme yisrael” (This week in the history of Israel) on Jewish historical dates from the week at hand. He also published here bibliographies of the works of Naḥum Sokolov and Shaul Tchernichowsky. He wrote important literary historical works for: the collections Sefer hayovel shel hadoar (Jubilee volume for Hadoar) for the years 1951/1952 and 1954/1955 (on Aharon Yehuda-Leyb Hurvits, pioneer of Hebrew journalism in America); in Di tsukunft (The future) in New York, he published numerous research works on the history of Yiddish and Hebrew literature and the press, among them on Y. L. Gordon, David Frishman, Y. M. Lifshits, Sholem-Aleykhem, Morris Winchevsky, and A. Lyesin; in Yivo-bleter (Pages from YIVO) in New York, among other works, pieces on Avrom Goldfaden and Y. T. Linetski; he placed significant research as well in Pinkes fun amopteyl fun yivo (Records of the American division of YIVO) (New York) 2 (1929); Yoyvl-zamlbukh lekoved 250 yor yidishe prese (Jubilee collection in honor of 250 years of the Yiddish press) (New York, 1937). And, he contributed to: Fraye arbeter-shtime (Free voice of labor) in New York, in which he published, among other items, the monograph “Avrom frumkin un zayn mishpokhe” (Abraham Frumkin and his family); Yidish kultur (Jewish culture) in New York, in which he published, among other pieces, on Y. L. Perets, M. Y. Berditshevski, Sholem-Aleykhem, Y. L. Gordon, Shimen Frug, David Frishman, Mortkhe Spektor, and Ruvn Brainin; Ikuf-almanakh (IKUF [Jewish Cultural Association] almanac) in New York, “Nokhum sokolov un di yidishe shprakh” (Naḥum Sokolov and the Yiddish language); the anthology Tsum hundertstn geboyrntog fun ruvn breynin (On the 100th birthday of Ruvn Brainin) (New York, 1962); Tealit (Theater and literature) in New York; and Almanakh yidish (Almanac of Yiddish) (New York, 1961), on the Jerusalem Yiddish newspaper Shulamis (Shulamith). A number of his important studies, research works, and bibliographies were published in: Mizraḥ umaariv (Jerusalem, 1920-1921); Otsar yehude sefarad (Treasury of Sefardic Jewry) (Jerusalem); A. M. Lunts’s publications, Talpiyot (Fortresses), Hator (The turtle-dove), Sura (Sura), and Maḥberet (Notebook)—in Jerusalem; Gilyonot (Tablets), Ḥorev (Desolation), and Moznaim (Scales)—in Tel Aviv; Or hamizraḥ (Light of the East) in New York; Sefer hashana shel histadrut bene erets yisrael beamerika (Annual of Histadrut for the Palestine Jewry in America) in New York (1934-1940); Sefer hashana shel agudat hamorim (Annual of the teachers’ union) in New York; Shevile haḥinukh (Pathways in education) in New York; Harofe haivri (The Jewish doctor) in New York; Perakim (Chapters) in New York; Kriyat sefer (Republic of letters) in Jerusalem; Sefer hayovel ler’ yisrael alpenbeyn (Jubilee volume for Mr. Yisrael Alpenbeyn) (Jerusalem, 1961); Yerushalaim: kovets haḥevra haivrit laḥakirat erets-yisrael vaatikoteha, mukdash lezekher r’ avraham moshe lunts (Jerusalem: Collection of essays of the Hebrew Society for the Exploration of the Land of Israel and Antiquities, dedicated to the memory of Reb Avraham Moshe Lunts) (Jerusalem, 1928); Tsiyonim, kovets lezikhrono shel y. n. simḥoni (Zionists, collection to the memory of Y. N. Simḥoni) (Berlin, 1929); Sefer byalik (Volume for Bialik) (Tel Aviv, 1934); Sefer zikaron le-v. n. silkiner (Volume in memory of B. N. Silkiner) (New York, 1934); Sefer maksimon (Volume for [S. B.] Maximon) (New York, 1935); Sefer sokolov (Volume for Sokolov) (Jerusalem, 1934); Sefer avraham goldberg (Volume for Abraham Goldberg) (New York, 1945); Sefer eder hayekar (A goodly price), essays in honor of Sh. A. Horodetski (Tel Aviv, 1947); Sefer shimon dubnov (Volume for Shimon Dubnov) (London, 1954); the journal Mabua (Spring) in New York (1956); Minḥa leavraham, sefer yovel likhvod avraham elmaliḥ ben yerushalaim, hasofer veish hasefer bimelot lo shivim shana (Tribute to Abraham, jubilee volume in honor of Abraham Elmaliḥ of Jerusalem, author and man of the book on the occasion of his seventieth birthday) (Jerusalem, 1959); and Shatski-bukh, opshatsungen vegn yaakov shatski un shatskis zikhroynes, briv, referatn un eseyen (Shatski volume, treatments of Jacob Shatski and Shatki’s memoirs, letters, speeches, and essays) (Buenos Aires, 1958). A major work by Malachi was included in the recent publication of Dr. Sh. Mandelkern, Konkordentsiya latora, neviim uketuvim (Concordance [of Hebrew and Aramaic words] in the Hebrew Bible, Prophets, and Writings]) (New York, 1955): “Otsar haleksikografiya haivrit” (Treasury of Hebrew lexicography), 62 large, double-columned pages, 20 of them “Petiḥa” (Forword), giving a full listing of all heretofore published concordances and dictionaries, as well as manuscripts in Hebrew, Yiddish, and other languages. For this cultural historical, scholarly achievement, he received the Lamed Prize of 1955. He published a bibliography of Menaḥem Ribalov in the latter’s work, Meolam leolam (Never) (New York, 1955); and he wrote the introduction to Kitve yom-tov helman (Writings of Yom-Tov Helman) (Jerusalem, 1963). He edited: the monthly Artsenu (Our land) in New York (1938); the collection Yisrael (Israel) in New York (1949/1950); Kitve rafael shoḥet (The writings of Rafael Shoḥet) (New York, 1943); Kitve pinḥas torberg (The writings of Pinḥas Torberg) (New York, 1952); and Shmuel Krauss’s Korot hatefila beyisrael (History of Jewish prayer) (New York, 1955). In the journal Pinkhes, a publication of the World Jewish Culture Congress, in New York (1965), there is a long work by Malachi entitled “Kol mevaser un zayn redaktor” (Kol mevaser [Herald] and its editor [A. Tsederboym]).
In book form: Ḥayim-naḥman byalik (Haim-Nachman Bialik), a biography for children (New York, 1926), 12 pp.; Igrot david frishman (The letter of David Frishman), with a biography, an introduction, and annotations (New York, 1927), 186 pp.; Mekubolim in erets yisroel (New York, 1929), 191 pp.; Igrot sofrim (Letters of writers) (New York, 1931), 144 pp.; Masot ureshimot (Essays and notes) (New York, 1937), 192 pp.; Tsilele dorot (Shadows of the generation), essays and historical impressions (New York, 1940), 125 pp.; Peri ets ḥayim (Fruit of the tree of life), a bibliography of Chaim Tchernowitz (“Rav Tsair” or the young rabbi) (New York, 1946), 56 pp.; Zekher lehilel (In remembrance of Hillel), a bibliography of Hillel the Babylonian (New York, 1962), 78 pp.; Peraot kishinov baaspaklaryat hashira beivrit uveyidish (The Kishinev pogrom seen through the lens of poetry in Hebrew and Yiddish) (Tel Aviv, 1964), 98 pp., offprint of “Al adamat besarabiya” in Tel Aviv. For David Frishman’s Bamidbar (In the wilderness) (Berlin, 1927), he wrote Frishman’s biography. He also published under such pen names as: A-R., R. Ben-Artsi, A. Gor, A. Kinai, Kore Pashut, A. Yerushalmi, and Bibliograf. He died in New York.
“Malachi, too,” wrote Itamar Ben-Avi, “a child of a Jerusalem yeshiva, a spirit that sought freedom…began with fiction…. Gradually, he gave this up and began to devote himself to his true calling—literary criticism. His knowledge of our literature was colossal. Although quite young, he was able to write about every theme in Hebrew literature. Mainly, Malachi turned his attention to writing biographies of Israeli personalities. He was a kind of Jerusalemite Bernfeld.” “This short booklet [‘Haitonut hayerushalaimit’] by the young Malachi,” noted Yisrael Belkind, “includes extremely valuable material for the history of the Jewish community in our country and for the cultural development of our brethren in Jerusalem. It would appear, then, that the young writer was proficient in the history of the community and sought to devote himself to this scholarly field. Let us hope that in future he devotes his energies and time to such matters and that he saves from ‘oblivion’ numerous facts and materials which describe the spirit of the first pioneers of the Jewish community in our land.” Concerning his Mendele bibliography: “It is a magisterial work,” wrote A. Gurshteyn, “that affords us not only bare bibliographic data, but also an internal description of Mendele’s works—namely, it conveys this to us with distinctive citations from them, with an array of documented biographical and other information, which are linked to the appropriate works.” “A man of extraordinary memory with photographic sensibility,” noted Sh. Halkin, “[Malachi] saw every detail that was useful for his work and that was important for the subject under study.” “With a clear and detailed historical overview of the concordances and dictionaries,” noted Dr. Shloyme Bikl, “E. R. M. established order and provided us with a vast inventory to an important corner of our cultural heritage…. Without this creative ‘bookkeeping,’ we would literally be unable to manage any scholarly research at all.”
Sources: Y. Belkind, in Hameir (Yafo, 1911); Y. Y. Yelin, in Hamoriya (Jerusalem, 1911); Itamar Ben-Avi, in Hauma 17 (1915); N. Grinblat, in Hatekufa (Moscow) (1918); D. Z., in Moznaim (1938); Moshe Kleynman, in Haolam (London) (Adar 1927); Sh. Halkin, in Sefer hashana shel hadoar (Annual for Hadoar) (New York, 1927); Biblyografishe yorbikher fun yivo (Bibliographic yearbooks from YIVO) (Warsaw, 1928), see index; A. H. Heler, in Tsukunft (New York) (June 1929); P. Vyernik, in Morgn-zhurnal (New York) (December 6, 1931); Sh. Rozenfeld, in Tog (New York) (February 13, 1932); Y. Berger, in Tsukunft (July 1932); A. Regelson, in Hadoar (New York) (April 20, 1940); Shmuel Niger, in Yivo-bleter (New York) 1 (1947); A. Toybenhoyz, in Hadoar (February 11, 1953); Toybenhoyz, in Keneder odler (Montreal) (June 12, 1961); Dr. Shloyme Bikl, in Idisher kemfer (New York) (June 1956); Arn Tsaytlin, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (June 13, 1956; June 5, 1964; July 5, 1964); R. Valenrod, in Hadoar (1957); Nakhmen Mayzil, Noente un vayte (Near and far) (New York, 1957), see index; Mayzil, in Dos Mendele bukh (The Mendele volume) (New York, 1959), see index; Y. Tsuzmer, Beikve hador (In the footprints of a generation) (New York, 1957), see index; Tsuzmer, in Sefer natan goren (Volume for Natan Goren) (Tel Aviv, 1958), p. 152; B. Ts. Goldberg, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (November 23, 1958; January 28, 1963; June 6, 1964); Chaim Weiner, Pirke ḥayim vesifrut (Chapters of life and literature) (Jerusalem, 1960), pp. 161-63; G. Kressel, in Hapoel hatsayir (Tel Aviv) (Elul 26 [= September 18], 1960); Sh. Linder, in Fraye arbeter-shtime (New York) (October 1, 1960); Ḥ. Lif, in Bitsaron (New York) (Iyar [April-May] 1963); Yivo-biblyografye (YIVO bibliography), vols. 1 and 2 (New York); Y. D. Avramski, in Ḥerut (Tel Aviv) (November 17, 1964).
Khayim Leyb Fuks