SHIMEN SANDLER (April 7, 1914-June 28, 2001)
He was a linguist and teacher, born into a family of a barber-surgeon in Dubrovytsya, Volhynia, Ukraine, which in the early 1920s became a part of Poland. He studied in a Hebrew high school in Vilna, from which he graduated in 1932. In these early years, he began writing Hebrew poetry which appeared in the Zionist youth magazines Hatsofe (The spectator) and Hashomer hatsair (The young guard). In 1934 he visited the land of Israel to enter the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, but due to material difficulties he was compelled to withdraw and earn a living as a worker. In 1935 he became active in the labor movement. In the fall of 1937, the British authorities sent him back to Poland. He returned home, completed a teachers’ course of study, and until the beginning of WWII he worked as a teacher and educator in the Vladimir Medem Sanatorium for Jewish children in the city of Miedzeszyn, near Warsaw. At this time he began to write poetry in Yiddish and even published in 1939 a poem entitled “Tartak” (Sawmill) in the Warsaw journal Foroys (Onward). In September 1939 when WWII erupted, he fled Warsaw and set out on foot in the direction of Pinsk. He worked there until 1941 as a teacher of Yiddish language and literature. On June 23, 1941, he was drafted into the Red Army and sent to a construction battalion to work on evacuating factories to the east of the country. From 1945 he studied as an external student in the department of foreign languages at the Udmurt Pedagogical Institute from which he graduated in 1948. In 1960 he defended a dissertation on methods for studying foreign languages. From 1961 until the early 1990s, he administered the department of Germanic language at the pedagogical institute in Tiraspol, Moldova. Over the course of six years, he steadily published in the journal Sovetish heymland (Soviet homeland) series of lessons, “Far di, vos lernen yidish” (For those who are studying Yiddish), later published in separate supplements over the years 1980-1985. Over the same years, he was part of a group of authors who brought out in 1982 a new textbook for children who wanted to learn Yiddish: Alefbeys (Alphabet), with Khayim Beyder, Hershl Rabinkov, and N. Kravets (Khabarovsk: Khabarovsk bikher-farlag), 237 pp. He was invited to deliver a series of lectures on the Yiddish language for the group “Yidish” (Yiddish) at the Moscow Literary Institute. In 1989 the Moscow publisher “Russkiy yazik” (Russian language) published his Samoychitel' yazika idish (Yiddish self-taught), 438 pp., which subsequently came out in a second edition. He spent the last seven years of his life teaching Yiddish at the Moscow University for the Humanities. He also published: Limudim fun yidish (Yiddish lessons) (Moscow: Sovetski pisatel, 1980-1985); and Yidish far rusish-reydndike (Yiddish for speakers of Russian) (Moscow, 2000), 522 pp.
Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 396; and 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), pp. 257-58.
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