Friday 3 November 2017


NOKHUM MIRER (d. 1940s)
            He was born in Lutsk, Volhynia.  He attended religious elementary schools and a Russian school.  In 1890s he studied at the Vilna Jewish Teachers’ Institute.  After receiving his diploma, he returned to Volhynia and worked as a teacher in a Russian government school.  He was a Bundist and in secret led socialist circles.  After WWI, he was among the top organizers of the Yiddish school network established in Volhynia—twenty-one schools with Yiddish as the language of instruction.  When independent Poland closed down the Yiddish schools in Volhynia, Mirer and his wife moved to Warsaw where they became active in the Yiddish school curriculum and were much beloved by the Jewish poor around Miła St., where the Mirers ran their Yiddish school.  Nokhum Mirer was a teacher of Yiddish (later, also literature) and Jewish history for the older classes, and he specialized particularly in the subject of history; on the basis of his teaching experiences, he prepared and published a three-volume history handbook for the school (in which general and Jewish history were studied together as one history subject), entitled Algemeyne un yidishe geshikhte, lernbukh (General and Jewish history, textbook), part 1, Altertum (Antiquity), edited by Sh. Mendelson, 147 pp.; part 2, Mitlalter (Middle ages), 97 pp.; part 3, Grikhnland un roym (Greece and Rome), 83 pp., with maps and images—published in four editions (Warsaw: Kultur-lige, 1931, 1932, 1936, 1938).  Mirer’s history program for schools was widely treated in the pedagogical publications of Tsisho (Central Jewish School Organization) and at the Vilna teachers’ conference (January 1939), and it was selected (by the four sponsored teaching programs) as a basis for the subject of history in secular Yiddish schools.  In 1936 Mirer published with Kultur-lige (Culture league) in Warsaw his Di groyse frantsoyzishe revolutsye (1789-1799) (The great French Revolution, 1789-1799), 78 pp., for schools and young people.  He also took part in the compilation and editing of the school reader Mentsh un arbet, khrestomatye far zekstn lernyor (Man and work, reader for the sixth school year), with the teacher Y. Rotnberg and E. Broyder (Warsaw, 1936), 147 pp.  In the pedagogical journals Di naye shul (The new school) in Vilna and Shul-vegn (School ways) in Warsaw, Mirer published a series of important pieces on Yiddish and the subject of history in schools.  He also published articles on literary topics in the Warsaw-based Vokhnshrift far literatur (Weekly writing for literature) and Foroys (Onward), among others.  Before WWII erupted, he prepared a handbook which was to be comprised of the most important historical sources for general and Jewish history.  His wife, Leye Batran, also worked on a textbook for the first school year.  Both were active in the illegal Yiddish schools in the Warsaw Ghetto and were murdered in the years of the Nazi destruction.

Sources: Y. Rotnberg, on Mirer’s history handbook, in Vokhnshrift far literatur (Warsaw) (November 25, 1932); Sh. Emits, in Bikher-nayes (Warsaw) (January 1938); Y. Rotnberg and Sh. Mendelson, in Lerer yizker-bukh (Remembrance volume for teachers) (New York, 1954), pp. 252-55.
Leyzer Ran

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