Sunday 11 February 2018


YANKEV SOTEK (b. 1857)
            He was born in Bacioi, Moldova.  He studied medicine at the University of Vienna and was among the founders of the student association Kadima (Onwards).  He later settled in Braila and practiced medicine there.  He was one of the first fighters for Yiddish in Romania and an adherent of writing Yiddish in the Roman alphabet.  Around 1902 he published the poetry collection of Volf Erenkrants, Makel noem (Leniency).  He wrote a series of articles for Cronica Israelita (Bucharest) and feature pieces in Yiddish in Roman script under the general title “Unzer Luschön” (Our language), also using the pen name Awr. Milechzahn.  From his other features, which he published in a Romanian newspaper, we should note: “Judel Schier-Schier,” “Notar,” “Hai Jonkiper in Port-Artur,” and “Die Bobe Liebe,” among others.  “He wrote a pure, rich, folkish Yiddish,” noted Zalmen Reyzen, “and his articles and features aroused an interest in the Yiddish language in circles of assimilated Jewish intellectuals in Romania.”  He also devoted time to Yiddish philology and was invited by Dr. Nosn Birnboym (Nathan Birnbaum) to the Czernowitz language conference in 1908, at which he gave a speech on Slavic elements in Yiddish.  Under the influence of the Hebrew cultural movement, he also began to pay attention to Hebrew philology and published in Yeshurun (Jeshurun) in Bucharest (1920-1921) a treatise entitled “Ḥokhmat hahoraot” (The knowledge of teaching).  On the same theme, he also wrote in Yudishe visenshaft (Jewish research), a monthly in Jassy (Iași).

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2; Y. Botoshanski, in Di vokh (Riga) (December 23, 1927); Dr. Chaim Zhitlovsky, in Di tsukunft (New York) (January 1927), p. 47; Dr. Shloyme Bikl, in Shmuel niger-bukh (Volume for Shmuel Niger) (New York, 1957/1958), p. 77.

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