Friday 15 December 2017


YUDE NOVAKOVSKI (1879-June 4, 1933)

            He was a commentator on current events, born in a town in Chernigov (Chernihiv) district, Ukraine. He studied in religious elementary school and the Nyezhin (Nizhyn) yeshiva as well as with his father, Zalmen-Mortkhe Novakovski, a well-known rabbi. At age eighteen he received ordination into the rabbinate. For secular knowledge, he was an autodidact, demonstrating ability in mathematics and economic science. Already in his yeshiva years, he was drawn to social and political activities of the Zionist socialists. He was also active in the group “Vozrozhdenie” (Renaissance), and later he was one of the leaders and theoreticians of the Sejmists. He was arrested twice (1905-1906). In 1912 he worked as the director of a coal mine in the city of Krivoy Rog (Kryvyi Rih). At the time of the Beilis Trial in 1913, he was in Kiev assisting the Moscow rabbi, Yaakov Mazeh, while preparing materials for the defense. During the years of WWI, he was one of the founders of Jewish schools in Kiev. Over the years 1918-1920, he held the position of finance minister in the Soviet regime; 1921-1926, he was the Soviet commercial attaché in Prague, Berlin, and London; and in 1929 and later, he was a lecturer on political economy in the division of Yiddish language and literature in the pedagogical faculty of the Number Two Moscow State University. He debuted in print with articles on political and economic themes in 1906, such as those for Folks-shtime (Voice of the people), organ of the Sejmists in Vilna. In the Soviet years, he was a member of the editorial board of Naye tsayt (New times) in Kiev (1917), later publishing in: Di royte velt (The red world) in Kharkov-Kiev; and Der shtern (The star) in Kharkov (1928), in which he placed a series of articles entitled “Ekonomishe shmuesn” (Chats on economics); and elsewhere. He also placed work in Der apikoyres (The heretic); and Komunistishe fon (Communist banner) in Kiev (1919). He also was said to have published a Russian-language pamphlet on how the socialist state can also exploit. He wrote primarily on economic and anti-religious matters. He died in Moscow.

In book form: Milkhome un sholem (War and peace) (Ekaterinoslav: Visnshaft, 1919), 48 pp.; Di agrar-frage (The agrarian issue) (Ekaterinoslav: Visnshaft, 1919), 44 pp.; Gots straptshes, kleykodesh (God’s advocates, clergymen) (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1928), 59 pp., second edition (Kiev, 1930), 62 pp.; Yidishe yontoyvim, heylike minhogim un zeyere vortslen (Jewish holidays, sacred rites and their origins) (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1929), 95 pp., second edition (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1930), reprint (Piotrków, 1933), 64 pp.; Der rekhter opnoyg un der sholem mit im (Right deviation and peace with it) (Kharkov: Central Publications, 1929), 60 pp.; with Khayim Gurevitsh, Kooperatsye un dos yidishe shtetl (Cooperation and the Jewish town) (Moscow: Central Publications, 1929), 109 pp.; Kolektive virtshaft (Collective economy) (Moscow: Gezerd, 1929), 48 pp.

Sources: M. Gutman, in Royte pinkes (Red records) (Warsaw: Kultur-lige, 1921), p. 168; Visnshaftlekhe yorbikher (Scientific yearbook), vol. 1 (Moscow, 1929), p. 254; M. Zilberfarb, Gezamlte shriftn (Collected writings), vol. 2 (Warsaw-Paris: Zilberfarb fund, 1936); Zilberfarb, in Sotsyalistisher teritoryalizm, zikhroynes un materyaln tsu der geshikhte fun di parteyen ss, ys un “fareynikte,” ershter zamlbukh (Socialist territorialism, memoris and materials for the history of the S. S. [Zionist socialist], Y. S. [Sejmist], and “Fareynikte” parties, first collection) (Paris, 1934); Kh. Sh. Kazdan, Fun kheyder un shkoles biz tsisho (From religious and secular primary schools to Tsisho) (Mexico City, 1956), see index; Y. Beyner, “Fun poyle-tsien tsu seymovtses” (From Labor Zionism to Sejmist), in Vitebsk amol (Vitebsk in the past) (New York, 1956), pp. 340-41; Sh. Ayzenshtat, Perakim betoledot tenuat hapoalim hayehudit (Chapters in the history of the organization of Jewish laborers) (Jerusalem, 1961), see index; Solomon Schwartz, The Jew in the Soviet Union (Syracuse University Press, 1951), p. 122; oral information from Novakovski’s sister, Dr. Roze Novakovski, in New York.

Benyomen Elis

[Additional information from: Chaim Beider, Leksikon fun yidishe shrayber in ratn-farband (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers in the Soviet Union), ed. Boris Sandler and Gennady Estraikh (New York: Congress for Jewish Culture, Inc., 2011), p. 246.]

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