Friday 9 March 2018


GERSHON (HERMAN) SVET (January 1, 1893-July 19, 1968)
            He was born in Shpole (Spola), Kiev district, Ukraine.  He studied in religious elementary school; later as an external student he sat for the examinations for the high school course of study in Zlatopol.  In 1917 he joined the historical philology department at Kiev University, devoting himself primarily to the history of art.  That same year he began writing about music for various Russian-language periodicals in Kiev and later switched to Yiddish.  For a short period of time, he wrote articles for the Kiev Yiddish daily newspaper Di naye tsayt (The new times) in Russian, and someone on the editorial board would translate them.  He spoke Yiddish at the time but was unable to write, though later he became very familiar with Yiddish as well.  In 1920 he left Bolshevik Russia and intended to make his way to the land of Israel, but he was delayed en route in Kishinev, and there he wrote and became night editor for the Yiddish daily Der id (The Jew) and for the Russian Nashe slovo (Our word).  In the spring of 1922 he left Kishinev for Berlin, which in those years was a city of refuge for many Jewish intellectuals who were fleeing Soviet Russia.  Svet lived in Berlin until Hitler came to power (1933) and from there wrote for newspapers and periodicals in Yiddish, Russian, Hebrew, and German, such as: Berliner Rundschau (Berlin review) in Berlin; Moment (Moment) in Warsaw; Idishe shtime (Jewish voice) in Kovno; Frimorgn (Morning) and Sevodnya (Today) in Riga; and Nowy dziennik (New daily) in Cracow; among others.  Over the years 1933-1935, he lived in Paris, where he continued writing correspondence pieces and articles for a variety of newspapers and journals throughout the world.  He was also special correspondent for newspapers on Zionist and international congresses, as well as for the Berne trial concerning the forged Protocols of the Elders of Zion.  He traveled a great deal around Germany, and he visited Denmark, Czechoslovakia, and Switzerland.  He interviewed President Masaryk, President Smetona, King Amanullah of Afghanistan, and the English Viceroy in India, the Marquess of Reading, among other personalities.  In late January 1935 he moved to the land of Israel, where he stayed and lived in Jerusalem and became a member of the editorial board of Haarets (The land).  Writing in Hebrew was for him much like it was writing Yiddish somewhat earlier.  He would write in Yiddish and the poets A. Shlonski and N. Alterman would translate for him into Hebrew.  He would later be able write in Hebrew on his own.  For Haarets he wrote two or three times each week and ran the regular columns: “Pinkas yerushalmi” (Jerusalem record), “Tsilume rega” (Photographs of the moment), and “Pinat haradyo” (The radio corner).  He also continued his work for Yiddish newspapers in Europe, the United States, and the state of Israel.  In addition, he wrote for Palestine Post and Haolam (The world).  From 1947 he was a contributor to Forverts (Forward) and Novoie Ruskoie slovo (New Russian word) in New York.  In 1948 he moved to the United States and settled in New York.  He was connected to: Idisher kemfer (Jewish fighter), Hadoar (The mail), Israel Life and Letters, and Aufbau (Reconstruction)—in New York; and Hamaariv (This evening) in Tel Aviv.  For seven years he was chairman of the journalists’ association in Jerusalem.  He belonged to the progressive wing of the general Zionists.  He died in New York.

Sources: D. Tidhar, in Entsiklopedyah lealutse hayishuv uvonav (Encyclopedia of the pioneers and builders of the yishuv), vol. 3 (Tel Aviv, 1949); Who Is Who in World Jewry (New York, 1955); P. Shteynvaks, in Keneder odler (Montreal) (January 28, 1958); Shteynvaks, in Hadoar (New York) (Elul 20 [= September 5], 1958), p. 721; B. Ts. Goldberg, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (December 29, 1960).
Yankev Birnboym

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