Sunday 7 January 2018


MORTKHE NUROK (November 7, 1884-November 8, 1962)
            He was born in Tukum (Tukums), Courland (now, Latvia).  He was the son of Tsvi Hazenfus, rabbi in Tukums, later in Mitave (Mitava).  He descended from generations of rabbis and Hassidic masters.  He studied with his father and received ordination into the rabbinate; he acquired his secular education from a high school in Mitava and universities in Russia (St. Petersburg), Germany, and Switzerland.  Through his father’s illness, he helped direct the rabbinate and worldly matters of the Jewish community, and after his father’s death (in 1913) he assumed his position.  In 1902, as representative of the Courland Zionists, he was sent as a delegate to the All-Russian Zionist Congress in Minsk.  In 1903 he was selected as a delegate for Mizrachi to the Sixth Zionist Congress (the Uganda congress).  When [Tsar] Nikolai Nikolaevich in 1915, during WWI, ordered the banishment of Jews from the border regions, he left Russia with other Jews, and in May 1915 he intervened with the Russian Prime Minister Ivan Goremykin and Interior Minister Nikolai Maklakov against the expulsion and contributed to actions on behalf of the Jewish war victims.  In 1919 he helped organize the return of refugees to their former residential zones, and he returned to independent Latvia from Russia in 1921 and helped to renew Jewish national life in the country.  From 1922 he was a deputy to the Latvian parliament (Saeima).  He chaired the political commission of the Zionist action committee and in 1929 was a leading member of the Jewish Agency.  He took part in all the world conferences of Mizrachi, and he was a member of the central committee as well as the world directorship of the Jewish National Fund.  With his arrival in Latvia from the Soviet Union in 1940, Nurok was arrested and deported to Central Asia, where he remained for fourteen months in prison (during which time, the Germans occupied Riga and murdered his wife and two sons).  After the interventions of Jewish and Christian circles in England and the United States, in 1942 he was set free.  In late 1945 he departed for Poland and from there to Sweden on assignment for the World Jewish Congress.  In 1946 he was in Norway, where he prevailed upon the authorities to allow in 600 Jews (vis-à-vis the number of murdered Norwegian Jews).  During his second visit to the America in 1946 (the first was in 1933), he was given an honorary doctorate from New York University.  In 1948 he settled in the state of Israel.  He was elected to the first Knesset as a representative of Mizrachi.  In July 1949 he represented the Knesset at the World Inter-Parliamentary Union in Stockholm.  He penned articles in various languages.  He contributed to: Hamelits (The advocate), Hatsfira (The siren), Haolam (The world), Jüdische Rundschau (Jewish review), Voskhod (Sunrise), Budushchnost’ (The future), Sevodnya (Today), and Petersburger herald (St. Petersburg herald).  In Yiddish he also published articles in: Tsien-yugnt (Zionist youth) in Jerusalem (July-August 1950), Der mizrakhi-veg (The Mizrachi way) in New York (April 2, 1962), and Morgn-zhurnal (Morning journal), and other Mizrachi publications.  His report on the Zionist conference in Minsk was considered an important document in the history of Zionism, and in 1963 it was published in a Hebrew translation, entitled Veidat tsiyone rusya beminsk, elul trs”b, avgust (september) 1902 (Conference of Russian Zionists in Minsk, Elul 662, August [September] 1902) (Jerusalem), 85 pp.  The translator into Hebrew was Dr. Israel Klausner who added an introduction; there was also an introduction and an appreciation by Meir Grosman.  Nurok was a witness in the trial against Adolf Eichmann.  He died in Tel Aviv and was buried in Jerusalem.  In his name was dedicated a research division on the Holocaust at the Rabbi Kook Institute in Jerusalem.

Sources: Jüdisches Lexikon (Jewish encyclopedia) (Berlin, 1930); Universal Jewish Encyclopedia (New York, 1942), vol. 8, p. 258; Der mizrakhi veg (New York) (November 3, 1947; June 9, 1948; September-October 1953); D. Tidhar, in Entsiklopedyah leḥalutse hayishuv uvonav (Encyclopedia of the pioneers and builders of the yishuv), vol. 4 (Tel Aviv, 1950); Mi vami (Who’s who) (Israel, 1955); A. Trotski, in Der amerikaner (New York) (August 25, 1961); A. Alperin, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (November 13, 1962); Sh. Rozenfeld, in Forverts (New York) (November 14, 1962); Rabbi Ben-Tsien Shurin, in Forverts (November 16, 1962); M. Ginzburg, in Keneder odler (Montreal) (November 13, 1962); Y. Edelshteyn, in Keneder odler (December 16, 1962); D. Shub, in Forverts (May 14, 1963); Alexander Manur, in Hapoel hatsair (Tel Aviv) (May 5, 1964); obituary notices in the Hebrew and Yiddish press of various countries.
Yankev Kahan

No comments:

Post a Comment