YANKEV NAKHBIN (JACOB NACHBIN) (b. May 18, 1896)
He was born in Ratshondzh (Raciąż), Plotsk (Płock) region, Poland, into a Hassidic family which was connected by marriage with R. Nakhmen Braslaver. He was orphaned in his childhood years and was raised by an uncle in a village; he later lived in Pabyanits (Pabianice) where he studied in the synagogue study hall. He studied as well in Otvosk (Otwock), near Warsaw, under the supervision of Nokhum-Leyb Vayngot. He also concerned himself with secular education. He apprenticed with a watchmaker. During WWI he found himself in Austrian military service, spent six months at the front near Rava-Ruska, later making his way on foot to Budapest where he worked in an ammunition factory. There in 1918 he founded a Labor Zionist organization. He served as a political commissar in the Hungarian “Second International Red Army.” With the collapse of Soviet power in Hungary, he left for Zurich (Switzerland). He was a delegate to the first plenary session of the organizing bureau of the left Labor Zionists in Vienna. He was exiled from Switzerland, went to Italy and in early 1921, with his wife and children, arrived in Pernambuco, Brazil. Already in 1918 he published (under the pseudonyms Shinun and And’) poetry in translation in Volksstime (Voice of the people), in Hungarian in Népszava (People’s voice), and in Dr. József Patai’s Múlt és jövő (Past and future). He contributed poetry and stories as well to New York’s Proletarishe shtime (Proletarian voice) and to Di prese (The press), Di naye tsayt (The new times), and Far groys un kleyn (For big and small) in Buenos Aires. He published fragments of a historical poem of Brazilian antiquity Giuaranhi (Guaraní). In November 1923, together with Yoysef Kats, he founded and went on to edit Der yidisher vokhnblat (The Jewish weekly newspaper), later becoming the sole editor of the newspaper until issue number 47; he penned the editorials under the names Shinun, Pester, and Shmuel Freydeles. In 1924 he began to publish in Rio de Janeiro a collection entitled Literarishe tsaytshrift (Literary periodical), “first Yiddish literary publication in Brazil” (with entirely republished material). He later contributed to Idishe folks-tsaytung (Jewish people’s newspaper), edited by Sh. Karakushanski in Rio. In book form: Oys der eynzamkeyt (No more loneliness), poetry (Zurich, 1920), 32 pp.; Der letster fun di groyse zakutos, a vikhtik kapitl funem yidishn lebn in mitlalter (The last of the great Zacutus, an important chapter from Jewish life in the Middle Ages), “collection of studies in the history of Jews in Portugal and Brazil,” constructed on the basis of materials he found in Portugal, vol. 1 (Paris, 1929), 128 pp., with a bibliography and with a preface by the author, in which he recounts that Professor Shimon Dubnov read the book and praised it. On the last page of the book, other works by the author are listed: on Baruch Spinoza, his life and work (in Portuguese) in Recife (1927); “Antonyo zhuse da silva” (António José da Silva), Der yid (The Jew) in Buenos Aires (1927); “Di meshiekh-idey in der geshikhte fun dem itstikn gloybn in a nayem velt-derleyzer” (The messianic idea in the history of the contemporary belief of a new world-redeemer), in Buenos Aires (1928); on elder Gnostics (in Portuguese) in Recife (1928); a monograph on the spelling of the noun “Brazil,” in Rio de Janeiro (1928); Di portugezishe flot-antdekungen un ire yidishe mayster (The discoveries of the Portuguese navy and its Jewish master), vol. 2 of “collection of studies in the history of Jews in Portugal and Brazil,” which was to be published in 1929. He had prepared as well for publication a monograph entitled Brazil un di yidn in brazil (Brazil and the Jews in Brazil) and a translation from English, “Tsufusns fun mayster” (At the feet of the master), by Jiddu Krishnamurti. Around 1930-1931 he came to the United States, where he took up a chair at a university in Illinois. He was invited to Mexico in 1932 to give lectures before students concerning Latin America. He did research in the state archives in Mexico in the documents on the Carabajal family who underwent auto-da-fé in 1590. Nakhbin was accused at the time as being unfit to take such important documents from the state archives, and a trial was forthcoming. If the trial ever took place and what came of the author remain unknown.
Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2; R. Tsarfes, in Idishe folks-tsaytung (Rio de Janeiro) (August 2, 1929); Professor Sh. Dubnov, in Idishe folks-tsaytung (September 1929); Sh. Mints, in Morgn-zhurnal (New York) (August 17, 1932); B. Y. Goldshteyn, in Tog (New York) (November 20, 1932).
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