NOYEKH MISHKOVSKI (July 8, 1878-January 11, 1950)
He was born in Kapulye (Kopyl, Kapyl), Minsk district, Byelorussia. His mother, Sore, was a niece of Mendele Moykher-Sforim’s stepfather (Khone Mlinitser from Mendele’s Shloyme reb khayims [Shloyme, the son of Khayim]). When he was one and one-half years of age, his parents moved to Mir, where Noyekh was raised. In his early youth, he assisted his father in transcribing legal documents. At age fifteen he became a teacher of Russian to wealthy homes in the city and was also secretary to the local judge. In 1895 he departed for Warsaw, where he became acquainted with Y. L. Perets. In 1898 he, his sister Shifre, and other high school students founded in Mir a school in which they taught poor children Yiddish and Russian. In 1900, after being released from military service, he founded a Jewish school in Nyesvizh (Niasviž), and there he took part in the socialist movement and taught groups of workers, men and women, to read and write Yiddish. Soon there was founded in Russia a workers-Zionist party (later, the Zionist socialists), and Mishkovski thus aligned with it and remained devoted to labor Zionism until the end of his life. Because of his political activities, he was arrested in 1903, and when he was released from prison, he made his way through Germany to London and from there in early 1905 to the United States. He worked in sweatshops as a necktie cutter and a shirt stitcher. In 1913 he founded the first Jewish secular school at the National Radical Club in Los Angeles. He traveled a great deal through the Jewish communities in America and gave talks on party matters as well as on Yiddish writers and their works. In 1914 he was secretary of the Jewish central committee in San Francisco and turned his attention to collecting aid for Jewish victims in Russia. At that time he married the poetess Rivke Galin. After the 1917 Revolution, he returned (across the Pacific Ocean) to Russia, but did not achieve his goal, and after traveling and being delayed in Japan, China, Korea, the land of Israel, Egypt, and Italy, in 1922 he returned to New York. He became a teacher in Workmen’s Circle schools. He later founded the first Borokhov school in Chicago. He was a member of the central committee of the left Labor Zionists and a member of national executive of the Jewish Labor Committee. His activities as a writer began in 1905 with an article in Louis Miller’s Varhayt (Truth). He went on to published in: Forverts (Forward), Morgn-zhurnal (Morning journal), Frayhayt (Freedom), Tog (Day), Literarishe bleter (Literary leaves), Di arbeter-velt (The workers’ world), Di kalifornyer idishe shtime (The Jewish voice of California), Progres (Progress), Fraye arbeter-shtime (Free voice of labor), Dos folk (The people), Di tsukunft (The future), Dos naye lebn (The new life), and Dos naye land (The new country). While he was staying in East Asia, he wrote for such Russian publications as: Novosti Zhizni (New of life), Palestina i Diaspora (Palestine and Diaspora), and Shankhaiskaia Zhizn׳ (Shanghai life), and he was the co-editor of Sibir i Palestina (Siberia and Palestine). He published and edited Dos naye vort (The new word) in Los Angeles—only one issued appeared in print—and he was also the actual publisher of Proletarisher gedank (Proletarian thought) in New York. In book form: Der kinder strayk, kinder komedye in tsvey aktn (The children’s strike, a children’s comedy in two acts), especially written for children’s school (Chicago: Tseshinski, 1931?), 29 pp.; Etyopye, yidn in afrike un azye (Ethiopia, Jews in Africa and Asia) (New York, 1936), 160 pp.; Mayn lebn un mayne rayzes (My like and my travels), memoirs, vol. 1 (New York, 1947), 357 pp., vol. 2 (New York, 1947), 445 pp., which includes as well a biography of his wife, Rivke Galin (1890-1935). He died in New York. His mother, SORE MISHKOVSKI (1852-1940), wrote in the form of letters to her son interesting reminiscences, a chapter of which—entitled “Fun der amoliker kapulye” (From Kapyl of old)—was published in Yivo-bleter (Pages from YIVO) (Vilna) 11.3-4 (1937), pp. 312-25.
Sources: Biblyografishe yorbikher fun yivo (Bibliographic yearbooks from YIVO), vol. 1 (Warsaw, 1928); B. Feldman, in Poylisher id (New York) (June 1942), p. 129; Z. Vaynper, in Di feder (New York) (1945); Moyshe Shtarkman, in Tsukunft (New York) (May 1948); Shtarkman, in Der tog (New York) (January 16, 1950); B. Sherman, in Nayvelt (Tel Aviv) (February 25, 1949); Avrom Reyzen, in Di feder (1949), pp. 233-34; L. Mishkin, in Pinkes shikago (Records of Chicago) (1952); archival material in YIVO; obituary notices in the Yiddish press.