Wednesday, 28 February 2018
MORTKHE (MORDCHAI) SARNA
MOTL SAKTSIER (SAKTZIER)
MOTL SAKTSIER (SAKTZIER) (January 11, 1907-1987)
He was a poet, prose author, and playwright, born in Leove (Leova), southern Bessarabia (now, Moldova). He descended from generations of tailors, but his father, Mortkhe Saktsier, who was a Jewish community leader and vice-mayor of the town, sent him to religious elementary school, a state public school, and a public high school as well. In the mid-1920s he moved to Bucharest, and in 1928 he was studying in the Vienna pedagogical seminary; a year later he was living in Paris where he worked in a factory, before returning to Romania in 1931. He was part of the group “Yung-romenye” (Young Romania) associated with the journal Shoybn (Glass panes) in Czernowitz, under the editorship of Yankev Shternberg, in which he published poetry and elegies. In 1934 he worked as secretary for Di vokh (The week), and he contributed poems, notes, and stories to it and Inzl (Island) in Bucharest; Tshernovitser bleter (Czernowitz pages) and Oyfgang (Arise), among others, in Romania; Literarishe bleter (Literary leaves) in Warsaw; and in Yiddish publications out of Soviet Russia. In late 1936 he left for the Soviet Union, where he taught and worked on building the underground rail line in Moscow. At the time of 1936-1937 show trials, he was purged, arrested, and exiled to the gulag. Freed in 1940, he returned to Bessarabia and took part in the creation of the Yiddish State Theater in Belz, for which he served as literary director and for which he composed the play Royte pomerantsn (Red oranges). In 1941 when the forces of Hitler invaded the Soviet Union, he was evacuated with the theater to Uzbekistan. There he was mobilized into the Red Army and assigned to a construction battalion for one year. Following demobilization, he lived in Alma-Ata and Samarkand and worked in the theater ensemble of Sidi Tal and wrote plays and other stage pieces for it. In 1947 he returned to Bessarabia and was living in Kishinev and later Czernowitz, where he was involved in Jewish cultural work and the Yiddish theater. In 1948 he was charged and convicted of “Jewish nationalism” and sentenced once again in 1949 to deportation to Siberia, this time for ten years. In 1955 (after Stalin’s death), he returned from exile rehabilitated, lived briefly in Moscow, and then settled in Czernowitz and Kishinev, where he returned to literary and theatrical work. In 1972 he made aliya to Israel.
His literary activities began with poems in the journal Yidish (Yiddish) in Bucharest (1928) and other Yiddish periodicals in Romania. In 1939, in the anthology Byalistoker lebn (Bialystok life), he published the poem “Bay velkhe taykhn” (By which rivers), and in the journal Sovetish (Soviet) and the almanac Heymland (Homeland) in Moscow, and in Ikuf-bleter (Pages from IKUF [Jewish Cultural Association]) in Bucharest, among other serials. From 1953 he was writing for: Yidishe shriftn (Yiddish writings) and Folks-shtime (Voice of the people) in Warsaw; Yidish kultur (Jewish culture), Zamlungen (Collections), and Morgn-frayhayt (Morning freedom) in New York; and Fray yisroel (Free Israel) in Tel Aviv; among others. He became a regular contributor to Sovetish heymland (Soviet homeland) in Moscow. In Israel, he placed work in: Di goldene keyt (The golden chain), Bay zikh (On one’s own), Yisroel-shtime (Voice of Israel), Folksblat (People’s newspaper), Letste nayes (Latest news), and Yidish-velt (Yiddish world). He devoted many years to writing plays, including: Di sonim af tsu lehakhes (Enemies out of spite) (1945); Lakhn iz gezunt (Laughter is healthy) (1947); and others. His musical comedies: In a guter sho (At a good time) (1959), a comedy in two acts, which was staged in Yiddish theaters in Romania by Sidi Tal’s troupe; Abi men zet zikh (As long as it can be seen) (1963); and Gliklekhe bagegenishn (Happy encounters). He also composed poetry, one-act plays, sketches, and folk images, which were produced by Yiddish stage ensembles in the Soviet Union.
In book form: Derfar, lid un elegye (Therefore, a poem and elegy) (Bucharest: Shoybn, 1936), 96 pp.; Mit farbotenem blayer (With a forbidden pencil), a poetry collection (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1977), 200 pp.; Der shayter baym veg (The bonfire by the road) (Tel Aviv: Nay lebn, 1978), 230 pp.; Toybn af antene (Pigeons on the antenna) (Tel Aviv: Leivick Publ., 1982), 224 pp. His novel Yidishe shnayders (Jewish tailors), about his grandfathers in his hometown of Leova, was lost in the years of his banishment. “His volume of poetry Derfar,” wrote Y. Kara, “bore Leivick’s stamp of ethical-social struggles.” “Characteristic of him and his work,” noted Yitskhok Yanasovitsh, “is the fact that not only the individual experience of the poet takes place in his poems, but also the experiences of his generation. He is consequently, in a major sense, the spokesman of his generation.”
Tuesday, 27 February 2018
NOKHUM SOKOLOV (NAHUM SOKOLOW)
Sunday, 25 February 2018
Friday, 23 February 2018
KHANE (HANNAH, CHANE, ANNE) SAFRAN
AVROM SAFRO (1888-1965)
A Soviet poet, prose writer, and journalist, he was born in Alt-Bikhov (Bychaw), Mohilev district, Byelorussia. His grandfather was a Torah scribe, and his father, Yisroel-Ayzik, was a teacher of Tanakh and Talmud, but he was also a bit of a follower of the Jewish Enlightenment and ran a modern Talmud Torah. His mother ran a haberdashery shop in the marketplace. At age four he began studying Hebrew with his father, at age five Torah with Rashi’s commentary with a teacher, and at age eight the Talmud. From early on he was studying foreign languages and was an assiduous self-learner, mastering Hebrew, Russian, German, and English. In 1903 he attempted (with his grandfather in Zhukhovtsy) to learn the family profession and become a scribe. Under the influence of the Labor Zionist (later, Bundist), Moyshe Notkin, in 1904 he turned to leather tanning, but after several years he left due to poor health. He went on to work as a teacher in his father’s Talmud Torah and later as an employee in an insurance business. Around 1903 he began writing poetry in Hebrew. He debuted in print (using the pen name “Martsius”) with a correspondence piece from Alt-Bikhov in Der nayer veg (The new path) in Vilna (1903). Using the same pseudonym, he went on to publish articles, translations, poems, and stories in a variety of venues. He also used the pen names: Asa, Ban-krot, and A Gabentshter. He also published an article in the name of his deceased friend Khayim Starobinyets in Der shtern (The star) in Minsk-Vitebsk in 1920. In 1913 he settled in Vilna and worked for Vilner togblat (Vilna daily newspaper), edited by Dan Kaplanovitsh, as a translator, proofreader, and editorial board secretary. After the Revolution, he lived in Vitebsk and worked in the culture and education division of the local Jewish Section and as secretary to the editorial board of the weekly newspaper Der frayer arbeter (The free worker), edited by Shmuel Agurski, from 1918. In 1919 he assumed the same post for the newspaper Der shtern. That same year he published “Briv fun vitebsk” (Letters from Vitebsk) and stories in Komunistishe velt (Communist world) in Moscow. He published poems and stories in: Khvalyes (Waves) in Vitebsk (1920); Kultur un bildung (Culture and education) in Moscow; Der royter shtern (The red star) in Vitebsk (1921); the bulletin Kamf mitn kheyder (Struggle against the religious elementary school) (twelve issues appeared in print in Vitebsk); and the anthology Tsum ondeynken fun y. l. perets (To the memory of Y. L. Perets) (Vitebsk, 1921); among others. In 1922 he became a member of the government’s department of nationalities in Vitebsk and published a weekly bulletin, Yedies (News). With help from the department of nationalities, he established in Vitebsk the first Yiddish-language court in the Soviet Union and served as its secretary. He described the work of this court in an article, “Der ershter folks-gerikht af yidish” (The first people’s court in Yiddish), in Arbeter-kalendar af 1924tn yor (Labor calendar for the year 1924), published in Moscow (Central Western Publisher, People’s Commissariat for Ethnic Affairs) in 1923. That same year he moved to Moscow and served as editorial secretary for the newspaper Der emes (The truth). He was also active as a translator. Two of his translations were published in 1931: Sergei Tretiakov, Den shi khuas matone (Deng Xihua’s gift [original: Den Shi Khua]) (Moscow: Central Publ.), 56 pp.; and Petr Smidovitsh, Di arbeter-masn in di 90er yorn, zikhroynes fun an altn bolshevik (The laboring masses in the 1890s, memoirs of an old Bolshevik) (Moscow: Der emes), 63 pp. His name disappeared in the early 1930s and then reappeared in 1957—his memoirs appeared in the Warsaw newspaper Folks-shtime (Voice of the people).
Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2; Chone Shmeruk, comp., Pirsumim yehudiim babrit-hamoatsot, 1917-1961 (Jewish publications in the Soviet Union, 1917-1961) (Jerusalem, 1961), see index.
[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. 259.]