PEYSEKH NOVIK (PAUL NOVICK) (September 7, 1891-1989)
He was born in Brisk (Brest), Lithuania. Until age fourteen he studied in religious elementary school and yeshiva, and he began reading modern Hebrew books and studying Russian. At age sixteen he became a mechanic in a cigarette paper factory, while at the same time continuing his education and moving close to the Jewish labor movement. In 1907 he joined the Bund. Over the years 1910-1912, he lived in Zurich (Switzerland), where he worked as a machinist in a cigarette factory and in the evenings turned his attention to literature. In early 1912 he departed for the United States and settled in New York. He initially worked in a sweatshop, making raincoats, later becoming an official in the Jewish Socialist Federation and secretary of its monthly, Di naye velt (The new world). After the February Revolution in Russia (1917), he lived in Moscow for a while, working in a factory while remaining active in the Bund. In early 1919 he moved to Vilna, where he lived until April 1920, later moving to Warsaw, and in October 1920 he returned to America, where he again was active in the Jewish Socialist Federation, and after it split in 1921 he moved with the leftists to the “progressive movement.” He was a cofounder of the International Labor Order and was involved in its school and cultural activities. He was one of the leaders of IKUF (Jewish Cultural Association). On several occasions he visited Europe, Soviet Russia, and the land of Israel. His activities as a journalist-publicist began with Di naye velt in New York (1915), and later he contributed to such Bundist publications as: Di folks-tsaytung (The people’s newspaper) in Kiev (1917-1918); Der veker (The alarm) in Minsk (1918); Unzer shtime (Our voice) in Vilna (1919), for which he was also editor; Vilner tog (Vilna day) (1919-1920), also co-editor; the daily Lebens-fragen (Life issues) in Warsaw, also news editor; Forverts (Forward) in New York (1920-1921); and Yidisher kuryer (Jewish courier) in Chicago (1921-1922). From the establishment of the Communist Frayhayt (Freedom) in New York in 1922, Novik was one of its principal contributors, editorial board secretary, and editorial board representative; later (after the death of M. Olgin), he was editor of Morgn-frayhayt (Morning freedom) in New York, for which he published on a daily basis articles, features, press surveys, and travel narratives, as well as translations from English, Russian, and German. He was also one of the main writers for the monthly Der hamer (The hammer) in New York (1925-1937) and for the literary publications of the “Proletpen” (Proletarian pen) group. He was a regular contributor and member of the editorial board of: Yidishe kultur (Jewish culture) in New York; Zamlungen (Collections) in New York (from 1955); Eynikeyt (Unity), a weekly of the leftist Jewish garment workers in New York (1926-1928); and Frayhayt yor-bukh, 1926 (Freedom annual, 1926). He placed work as well in Dos naye lebn (The new life), organ of the American IKOR (Yidishe kolonizatsye organizatsye in rusland [Jewish colonization organization in Russia]) in New York (1945-1949); Der emes (The truth) in Mexico City; Oktyabr (October) in Minsk; Der shtern (The star) in Kharkov; Birobidzhaner shtern (Birobidzhan star); and other serials in the Soviet Union; and Di naye prese (The new press), Literarishe zamlungen (Literary anthologies), Parizer tsaytshrift (Parian periodical), and Oyfsnay (Afresh), among others, in Paris. After the war: Dos naye lebn, Folksshtime, and Yidishe shriftn (Yiddish writings) in Warsaw; Haynt (Today) and Ikor-bleter (Pages from IKOR) in Buenos Aires; Kol haam (Voice of the people) and Fray yisroel (Free Israel) in Tel Aviv. He compiled Revolutsyonerer albom (Revolutionary album) (New York: Frayhayt, 1925); edited Ikor yorbukh (IKOR yearbook) for 1932 and M. Olgin’s posthumously published books, 1905 (New York, 1940), Amerike (America) (New York, 1941), Sovetn-farband (Soviet Union) (1944), Kultur un folk, ophandlungen un eseyen vegen kultur un vegen shrayber (Culture and people, treatments and essays on culture and writers) (New York, 1949), and Moyshe kats-bukh, zamlung fun oytobiografishe skitsn, dertseylungen, eseyen vegn literatur, geshikhte, portretn un polemik (Volume for Moyshe Katz, collection of autobiographical sketches, stories, essays on literature [and] history, portraits, and polemics) (New York, 1962). In book form, Novik published (mostly, pamphlets): Di farshverung in mineola (The conspiracy in Mineola) (New York, 1928), 92 pp.; Amerikaner glikn (American luck) (Moscow, 1930), 40 pp.; Der 16ter tsienistisher kongres un di gesheenishn in palestine (The sixteenth Zionist Congress and the events in Palestine) (Moscow-Kharkov, 1930), 65 pp.; Di lage fun di yidn in sovetn-farband, faktn un tsifern, an entfer di farloymder (The condition of Jews in the Soviet Union, facts, figures, and a reply to accusers) (New York, 1930), 40 pp.; Farvod arsenaln in palestine? (Why arsenals in Palestine?) (New York, 1931), 30 pp.; Palestine, di araber, der tsienizm (Palestine, the Arabs, Zionism) (New York, 1932), 157 pp.; Fashizm, daytshland (Fascism, Germany) (New York, 1933), 38 pp.; Der keslgrub-poyln (The whirlpool Poland) (New York, 1933), 31 pp.; Tsienizm in a broyn hemdl (Zionism in a brown shirt) (New York, 1933), 24 pp.; Palestine on a poroykhes, erets-yisroel in yor 1932 (Palestine without an ark curtain, Israel in 1932) (Piotrków, 1932), 103 pp., second edition (Minsk, 1933), 79 pp.; Fashizm un antisemitizm in amerike (Fascism and anti-Semitism in America) (New York, 1934), 64 pp.; Di sotsyalistishe partey, ir geshikhte un ir rekord (The Socialist Party, its history and its record) (New York, 1935), 176 pp.; Palestine un di komunistn (Palestine and the Communists) (New York, 1936), 31 pp.; Idn in birobidzhan (Jews in Birobidzhan) (New York, 1937), 111 pp.; An oysveg far palestine (An alternative for Palestine) (New York, 1939), 31 pp.; Der bashuldikungs-akt kegn Forverts (The accusation against the Forward) (New York, 1940), 24 pp.; Di sovetishe politik, di rol fund di yidn, di shlakht far amerike (Soviet policy, the role of Jews, the battle for America) (New York, 1941), 16 pp.; A mapole far hitlern in 1942! ṿi azoy zol hitler bazigt vern hayntign yor (A setback for Hitler in 1942! How Hitler should be defeated this year) (New York, 1942), 16 pp.; Farn glik far folk, di badaytung fun yalte (For the joy of the people, the significance of Yalta) (New York, 1945), 16 pp.; Eyrope tsvishn milkhome un sholem (Europe between war and peace) (New York, 1948), 418 pp.; Far a beser lebn, di “morgn-frayhayt,” ir geshikhte, ire oyftuen, ire oyfgabn (For a better life, the Morgn-frayhayt, its history, its accomplishments, its publications) (New York, 1952), 31 pp.; Idish lebn in amerike in di rol fun der “morgn-frayhayt” (Jewish life in America and the role of Morgn-frayhayt) (New York, 1957), 39 pp.; Idn in amerike (Jews in America) (New York, 1960), 30 pp.; Yisroel, tsienizm, un amerikaner idn, di naye situatsye inem idishn lebn (Israel, Zionism, and American Jewry: The new situation in Jewish life) (New York, 1961), 30 pp.; Amerikaner idn un di rol fun der yidisher prese (American Jews and the role of the Yiddish press) (New York, 1962), 52 pp.; Di rol fun idn in neger-kamfn (The role of Jews in the struggles of Blacks) (New York, 1965), 22 pp.; A briv fun dr. sh. margoshes un an entfer fun p. novik (A letter from Dr. Sh. Margoshes and a reply from P. Novik) (New York: Morgn-frayhayt, 1967), 20 pp.; Di natsyonale un idishe frage in itstikn moment (The national and Jewish question at the present time) (New York: Morgn-frayhayt, 1970), 40 pp.; Amerikaner idn, der tsienizm, medines yisroel, der arayntrit funem amerikaner yidishn yishev in di 70ster yorn (American Jewry, Zionism, the state of Israel, the entry of the American Jewish settlement in the 1970s) (New York: Morgn-frayhayt, 1972), 48 pp. From English he translated Washington Irving’s Rip van vinkl, di legende fun farshlofenem tol (Rip Van Winkle; The Legend of a Sleepy Hollow) (Chicago: H. Toybenshlag, 1924), 78 pp. He also wrote “Lomir zikh durkhshmuesn” (Let’s have a chat), in Vos iz a tsaytung (What is a newspaper) (New York: Morgn-frayhayt, 1963). In 1964 he made a length trip through Europe, and he was in the Soviet Union (at the invitation of Literaturnaia gazeta [Literary gazette]).
Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2; B. Fenster, in Morgn-frayhayt (New York) (January 26, 1931; March 28, 1932); Fenster, in Forverts (New York) (February 16, 1957); M. Olgin, in Morgn-frayhayt (April 9, 1932); Sh. Rozenfeld, in Tog (New York) (June 26, 1933); Dr. A. Mukdoni, in Morgn-zhurnal (New York) (March 20, 1935); A. Pomerants, in Proletpen (Kiev, 1935), p. 224; Dovid Eynhorn, in Forverts (April 2, 1949); Y. Botoshanski, in Di prese (Buenos Aires) (June 25, 1950); Sefer brisk delita (The volume for Brisk, Lithuania), in Entsiklopediya shel galiyut (Encyclopedia of the Diaspora) (Jerusalem, 1954), p. 296; Y. Fogel, in Forverts (September 17, 1953); Z. Vaynper, in Yidishe kultur (New York) (October 1956); Y. B. Beylin, in Morgn-frayhayt (January 13, 1957); Kalmen Marmor, Mayn lebns-geshikhte (My life history) (New York: IKUF, 1959); A. Kvaterka, in Morgn-frayhayt (January 20, 1959); M. Mirski, in Folksshtime (Warsaw) (May 17, 1960); Mirski, in Morgn-frayhayt (June 17, 1962; June 24, 1962); Biblyografye fun yidishe bikher vegn khurbn un gvure (Bibliography of Yiddish books concerning the Holocaust and heroism) (New York, 1962), see index; Khayim Liberman, in Forverts (January 21, 1963; February 20, 1963); Ber Grin, Yidishe shrayber in amerike (Yiddish writers in America) (New York, 1963), pp. 330-35.
Khayim Leyb Fuks
[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 386.]