Monday 30 April 2018


ITSHE SLUTSKI (April 12, 1912-winter 1944)
            He was born in the town of Lakhve (Lyakhivtsi), Polesia, into a poor religious family.  He studied in religious elementary schools and the Mir Yeshiva, before taking up a secular education and music.  He served in the Polish army (1933-1934) and later lived in Warsaw.  In 1936 he was living in Danzig.  In 1938 he immigrated to the United States but was not allowed to enter the country, although his father had already years before been living in New York.  He stayed for a time at Ellis Island, from whence he was shipped back to Europe.  From April 1942 he belonged to a secret group in the Lakhve ghetto.  When the Germans in September 1942 wanted to lead the ghetto population to their deaths, the Jews set fire to all the houses in the ghetto and launched an uprising which secret ghetto groups in which Slutski was actively involved had planned earlier.  After the uprising Slutski and hundreds of rescued people hid out in the marshes and forests of Polesia.  He later joined a Soviet partisan division.  He also led a partisan group in the Minsk region.  Moscow’s Eynikeyt (Unity) of May 1943 published his piece, “A briv tsum foter in amerike” (A little to Father in America), which was republished in various Yiddish newspapers—as well as in Israel’s Mishmar (Gueard) in Tel Aviv (December 29, 1943), Morgn-frayhayt (Morning freedom) in New York (March 30, 1944), and the remembrance volume Rishonim lamered lakhva (Lakhva, the first to revolt) (Jerusalem-Tel Aviv, 1957), pp. 485-88.  He died in the marshes of Lyuban, Byelorussia.  In book form: Inmitn, lider (In the midst, poetry) (Warsaw, 1939), 108 pp.  The first printing of his book was almost entirely destroyed by fire in Warsaw.  A series of poems from the book was dedicated to the composers: Tchaikovsky, Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Verdi, Chopin, Berlioz, Schubert, and Beethoven.  He also had in manuscript a volume of translated poems, “Oys der hebreisher lirik” (From the Hebrew lyric).  (His father, LIPE SLUTSKI, died in Brooklyn, New York, on February 25, 1964.)
            Inmitn is a volume of poems,” wrote Yankev Glatshteyn, “that literally implores us to tremble and shiver.  In every poem one finds a fleeting line or a surprising word, a poetic affectation, or an original image….  Of course, the poet sings of his loneliness, but he sings with forceful lines and his own visual images.”

Sources: Y. Likhtenberg, “Partizaner in kamf” (Partisans in battle), in Rishonim lamered lakhva (Lakhva, the first to revolt) (Jerusalem-Tel Aviv, 1957), p. 460; H. A. Mikhaeli, in Rishonim lamered lakhva; Mikhaeli, in A heym (a [D. P.] camp newspaper in Germany) 21 (September 1946); B. Elis, in Forverts (New York) (March 6, 1964); Yankev Glatshteyn, “A tragish-farzeener poet” (A tragic, neglected poet), Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (March 22, 1964).
Benyomen Elis

Sunday 29 April 2018


AVROM-YITSKHOK SLUTSKI (January 30, 1876-1936)

            He was born in the town of Monastyryshche, near Nyezhin (Nizhyn), Kiev district, Ukraine. He studied in religious elementary school and, after moving to Nizhyn, Chernihiv district, in the city’s Russian school, from which he graduated in 1890. He prepared to enter university and supported himself by giving lessons. In 1902 he moved to Kiev where he worked as a teacher in an illegal school which introduced Yiddish as a subject. While still in Nizhyn, he was active in illegal student circles. In Kiev he took part in Zionist socialist groups—“Vozrozhdenie” (Renaissance) and “Es-Es” (Sotsialisti-Sionisti). In 1904 he was an active member of the Bund. He led a struggle, 1904-1905, in the “Mefitse haskole” (Society for the promotion of enlightenment [among the Jews of Russia]) on behalf of introducing the Yiddish language into its educational institutions. He was a delegate to a conference of the Mefitse haskole in St. Petersburg. In 1908 he was among the founders of the united teachers’ organization in Kiev and a cofounder of the historical-ethnographic commission. In 1909 he was a delegate to meetings devoted to the issues surrounding professional education for Jewish women and read aloud a resolution for Yiddish to be used as a language of instruction for all subjects in Jewish schools that were being founded at the time in various communities. In 1910 he was one of the most active contributors to Kiyever tsaytung (Kievan newspaper), where he once more raised the same issue. During WWI he worked among victims of the war as well as for ORT (Association for the Promotion of Skilled Trades). In 1917 he was a member of the Kiev committee of the Bund and council member of the new democratic Jewish community of Kiev. He worked in the education department of the Jewish Ministry—later, the Jewish Educational Commissariat. Until 1926 he was a member of the Kiev City Council, director of the provincial division for social education, scholarly secretary and manager of the department of social pedagogy at the Kiev Pedological Station, director of the Kiev Jewish Pedagogical Technicum, and finally a contributor to the Institute for Jewish Culture. In these years, he began to devote his attention to the history of Yiddish pedagogy. His writing activities began in 1906 with correspondence pieces from Kiev in the Vilna Bundist Folkstsaytung (People’s newspaper), in which he published articles under such pen names as: Avrom, A-m, and Der Zelber. He contributed to Kiyever vort (Kievan word), which he edited with Moyshe Litvakov and Yoysef Leshtshinski, and wrote mainly about educational matters. In Vestnik Obshchestvo rasprostraneni︠a︡ prosvi︠e︡shchenii︠a︡ mezhdu evrei︠a︡mi v Rossii (Herald of the Society for the dissemination of education among the Jews of Russia) 13 (1912), he placed a piece about children’s literature in Yiddish. He was especially focused on researching the upbringing and popular education of Jews, and on this theme he prepared a series of works, of which not all were published. He was as well a contributor to Shul un lebn (School and life), organ of the Kiev “Kultur-lige” (Culture league)—in issues 1 and 4-5 he published a work concerning Jewish education in Ukraine. From 1919 he was publishing in Komunistishe fon (Communist banner). From 1922 he was co-editor of Pedagogisher buletin (Pedagogical bulletin) in Kiev. He published a series of research works on pedagogical topics in the Russian and Ukrainian periodicals: Radian'ska osvita (Red education) in Kiev (1924, issue 1, an essay on school cooperatives) and Radian'ska shkola (Red school) in Kiev (issues 7 and 9-10, an essay on pioneering work in the school), among others. Over the years 1923-1928, he dedicated himself to work on the history of the revolutionary movement, and, together with Tsvi Fridland, he published a book in four parts: Geshikhte fun der revolutsyonerer bavegung in mayrev-eyrope 1789-1923 (History of the revolutionary movement in Western Europe, 1789-1923), textbook and reader (Moscow: Central Publishers: part 1 (1925), 241 pp.; part 2, covering the period 1848-1851 (1926), 187 pp.; part 3, covering 1848-1871 (1927), 190 pp.; part 4, covering 1871-1923 (1928), 223 pp. Slutski published several treatments of the history of the Jewish socialist movement in 1905 in Yiddish in Yubiley-tsaytung (Jubilee newspaper) in Kiev (October 1927); and in Russian in Proletarskaia pravda (Proletarian truth) 1 (1928). He published a piece as well in the anthology Kamf af tsvey frontn in der pedagogik (Struggle on two fronts in pedagogy) (Kharkov-Kiev: Ukrainian Academy of Scholars and the Institute for Jewish Proletarian Culture, 1932). In the journal Visnshaft un revolutsye (Science and revolution), edited by G. Gorokhov, Y. Khintshin, and Mikhl Levitan, 1 (8) (1936), published by the Institute of Jewish Proletarian Culture in Kiev, Slutski’s last work appeared: “Di yidishe natsmenshevistishe pedagogik un ir noente fargangenheyt” (The Jewish national Menshevik pedagogy and its recent past). As a historian, Slutski joined an archeographical commission and took part in the All-Soviet Conference of Marxist Historians which convened in Moscow in late 1928-early 1929. His activities were cut short in 1936—together with several other contributors to the Kiev Institute for Jewish Culture. He disappeared in the arrests of the time and died in 1936.

Source: M. Flakser, A. Pomerants, and L. Ran, bibliography of Soviet Jewish literature (1918-1948), in manuscript in YIVO, New York.

Leyzer Ran

[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), pp. 264-65.]


            In the 1920s she came from Volhynia to Soviet Russia.  She was a Labor Zionist who later became a member of the Community Party.  She graduated from the pedagogical section of the Kiev Institute for Jewish Culture.  She was the author of: Kinder-mayselekh (Children’s tales) (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1922), 58 pp.; Sotsyalistisher farmest in kinder-gortn (Socialist competition in kindergarten) (Kharkov-Kiev: Ukrainian state publishers for national minorities, 1932), 49 pp.; Shprakh-program inem kinder-gortn (Language program in kindergarten), with Sukenko, R. Liberfarb (Kharkov-Kiev: Ukrainian state publishers for national minorities, 1933), 29 pp.  She also contributed to Kamf af tsvey frontn in der pedagogik (Struggle on two fronts in pedagogy) (Kharkov-Kiev, 1932).

Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), cols. 156-57.


AVROM-YANKEV SLUTSKI (March 11, 1861-1911)
            He was born in Novgorod-Seversk, Volhynia.  He studied in the Mstislav yeshiva under Ben-Tsien Dubnov.  From 1882 he was writing articles for Razsvet (Dawn), Hamagid (The preacher), and Yudishes folks-blat (Jewish people’s newspaper).  He was one of the most devoted “Lovers of Zion.”  For a time he was a co-editor of Hamelits (The advocate).  He later was one of the founders of Mizrachi.  According to Sefer zikaron (Remembrance volume) of 1895, he had prepared a Yiddish collection for publication.  He died, together with his wife, during a pogrom in Novgorod-Seversk.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2, with a bibliography.


            He was born in Warsaw, Poland, the youngest son of Khayim-Zelig Slonimski, the first editor of Hatsfira (The siren).  He received both a Jewish and a general education.  He studied foreign languages at Warsaw and St. Petersburg Universities, later working as a teacher of French, English, and Spanish in high schools in Russia, Poland, and France.  He authored textbooks for French, English, and Spanish with his own pedagogical method.  In Yiddish he published: Di beste methode fir zelbst unterrikht in der englisher shprakhe (The best method for self-instruction in the English language) (Warsaw, 1888), 117 pp., with a preface by the author.  This volume, which Slonimski continually improved and enlarged—with the English title Will You Speak English—“with a thorough dictionary and pronunciation guide” appeared in many printings between 1889 and 1939 (Warsaw), 132 pp. (dictionary, 68 pp.).  Slonimski also published: Shprekhen zi shpanish? (Do you speak Spanish?), “an easy, practical method for learning the Spanish language” (Warsaw, 1892), first edition, 26 pp., subsequent editions, 98 pp.; Shprekht ihr frantsezish? (Do you speak French?), first edition (Warsaw, 1900), 64 pp., subsequent editions, 96 pp.; and Slonimski’s last work, Frantsoyzishe metode tsu erlernen di frantsoyzishe shprakh on a lerer (A French method to learn French without a teacher), with a full dictionary (1927).  After WWI he lived in Germany and France.  He died in Paris.

Sources: Biblyografishe yorbikher fun yivo (Bibliographic yearbooks from YIVO) (Warsaw, 1928), see index; The UJA (New York) 9 (1943), p. 569.
Khayim Leyb Fuks


YOYEL (JOEL) SLONIM (October 12, 1884-October 26, 1944)
            The foreshortened name of Yoyel Slonimski, he was born in Dragotshin (Drohiczyn), Grodno district, Byelorussia, to a father who was a follower of the Jewish Enlightenment and knowledgeable of foreign languages (he was a member of the family of Chaim-Zelig Slonimski [1810-1904]).  He moved at age two with his parents to the United States and lived in Chicago, where he attended public school and high school, before moving on to university.  During those years, he visited Russia and for a brief time studied in religious elementary school.  His literary activities began with poems in English, but under the influence of his father, who much loved the Yiddish language, he began writing Yiddish-language poetry.  He debuted in print in Di idishe velt (The Jewish world) in Philadelphia and from that point published poetry in a variety of periodicals, mainly in New York.  He helped to establish (1903) a radical Zionist association which brought out in New York the quarterly Di naye shtime (The new voice), which lasted for one year until 1905.  From 1906 he became a regular contributor to Di varhayt (The truth) and later Tog (Day), for which he also wrote under such pen names as: Lutshi, Karmen, and Y. Sonino.  He was particularly popular for his reports and images drawn from various gangster activities of past years in New York.  He was the cofounder (1908) of the association “Literatur” (Literature) in New York.  He co-edited: with Jacob Adler, the anthology, Troymen un virklekhkeyt, literarishes zamelbukh (Dreams and reality, literary collection), (New York, 1909), 64 pp.—to which he contributed an article on Edgar Allan Poe; and with Yoyel Entin and M. Y. Khayimovitsh, the anthology, Literatur, zamlbukh (Literature, anthology) (New York, 1910)—in which he placed, among other items, an essay about Oscar Wilde.  He also contributed articles and poetry to: Revolutsyonere lider un shirim (Revolutionary poetry) (Geneva, 1905); Di tsukunft (The future), Idisher kemfer (Jewish fighter), Dos folk (The people), Tog, and Yidishe kultur (Jewish culture), among other serials, in New York.  His work was represented as well in M. Basin’s anthology Finf hundert yor yidishe poezye (500 years of Yiddish poetry) (New York, 1917) and N. Mayzil’s collection Amerike in yidishn vort (America in the Yiddish word) (New York, 1955).  He contributed poems to the memorial volume Drohitshin (Drohiczyn) (Chicago, 1958).  He was a cofounder and for a time a member of the presidium of IKUF, a cofounder of the leftist “Writers’ and Artists’ Committee,” and other Jewish cultural institutions.  He was an assistant to the district attorney in New York, director of IKOR (Yidishe kolonizatsye organizatsye in rusland [Jewish colonization organization in Russia]), a member of the American Jewish Congress, and an unofficial councilor to the Democratic Party leaders in New York.  He died in New York.
            “A popular journalist,” wrote Zalmen Reyzen, “a first-rate reporter and interviewer for the daily press, Slonim also published numerous literary critical articles about Jewish and non-Jewish poets.  He was one of the forerunners of the group ‘Di yunge’ (The young ones), Yiddish poets and writers in America.  He excelled with his poetry of the city of New York, which expressed the mighty rhythm of this giant world residence.”  “In our poetry,” noted Dovis Ignatov, “Slonim was perhaps the first to employ modern images and especially a new rhythmic quality of lines and abruptness of image and word.” “Slonim’s genuine modernism,” wrote N. B. Minkov, “was rooted not so much in his individualism, as in that he was the first to introduce a sonorous quality, a rapidity of rhyming, and an impetuous, disheveled tempo.”  “He was the first American-bred Yiddish poet,” noted Yankev Glatshteyn, “and he was one of the first self-conscious lovers of Yiddish in America….  An extraordinarily talented journalist in the great American fold, he injected an immense portion of his talent and time into his journalistic impetuousness….  He possessed an undisciplined, metropolitan talent.  He wrote numerous poems in New York….  Through and through an American, he was possessed of the great Jewish metropolis.”  Shloyme Bikl put it as follows: “Yoyel Slonim was the first to so openly and directly…give expression to his psychic dependence on the metropolis and to his love for New York….  This was no nostalgia poem for America to the old country, nor was it an elegy for the harsh labor and need in America.  It was not the poem of an immigrant, but the song of a resident, of a Jew, for whom America did not become but was from the very start his psychological home.”  And, Ben-Tsien Goldberg noted: “Slonim belonged the Morris Rozenfeld school, and a number of his poems may be found in the illegal booklets of poems, published on cigarette paper, that the Bund published in Russia, although Slonim had no connection to the revolutionary struggle in Russia—he was raised in Chicago.  He was not only the best reporter among Jews but among the very best in New York.  He had three advantages over the other reporters in the New York press: he specialized in two fields; he lived with them day and night; and he not only knew everybody but he was on familiar terms with everyone.  He would only very rarely write his reports and even his articles by hand.  He would convey them directly to the secretary of the editorial board, very often by telephone, and not infrequently while sitting in a telephone booth in a café or is the corridor of a meeting hall.”

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2; Ben Yakir, in Di tsukunft (New York) (March 1908); Sh. Epshteyn, in Di tsukunft (October 1910); Ruvn Ayzland (Iceland), Shriftn (Writings) (New York, 1912); B. Rivkin, in Di tsukunft (September 1914); Avrom Reyzen, in Di tsukunft (January 19130; May 1931); L. Finkelshteyn, in Tog (New York) (February 20, 1932; February 18, 1933; March 11, 1933); P. Yuditsh, in Morgn-frayhayt (New York) (February 25, 1932); Z. Vaynper, Idishe shriftshteler (Yiddish writers), vol. 2 (New York, 1936), pp. 97-104; E. Grinberg, Moyshe-leyb halpern in rom fun zayn dor (Moyshe-Leyb Halpern in the frame of his generation) (New York, 1942); Shiye Tenenboym, in Nyu yorker vokhnblat (New York) 320 (1937); Tenenboym, Shnit fun mayn feld, eseyen, dertseylungen, minyaturn (Harvest from my field, essays, stories, miniatures) (New York, 1949), pp. 144-49; obituary notices, in Yidishe kultur (New York) (November 1944), in Hadoar (New York) (November 3, 1944), by Y. Y. Sigal in Keneder odler (Montreal) (November 3, 1944), by K. Landau in Der veg (Mexico City) (November 4, 1944), by L. Faynberg in Epokhe New York) 16 (1944), by Y. A. Rontsh in Morgn-frayhayt (November 5, 1944); Dovied Ignatov, in Di tsukunft (December 1944); Ignatov, Opgerisene bleter, eseyen, farblibene ksovim un fragmentn (Torn off sheets, essays, extant writings, and fragments) (Buenos Aires: Yidbukh, 1957); N. B. Minkov, in Di tsukunft (December b1944); Y. Khaykn, Yidishe bleter in amerike (Yiddish newspapers in America) (New York, 1946), see index; Moyshe Shtarkman, in Hadoar (May 23, 1947); A. Leyeles, in Der tog (New York) (May 22, 1958); Yizker-bukh drohitshin (Memorial volume for Drohitshin) (Chicago, 1958),[1] p. 173; Yankev Glatshteyn, In tokh genumen (In essence), vol. 1 (Buenos Aires, 1960); Dr. Shloyme Bikhl, in Di tsukunft (November-December 1962); N. Mayzil, Tsurikblikn un perspektivn (Retrospectives and perspectives) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1962), see index; Ben-Tsien Goldberg, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (March 11, 1964); The UJA (New York) 9 (1943), p. 568.
Benyomen Elis

[1] This volume has now appeared in an English translation by David Goldman, edited by Florence Schumacher: Drohitchin Memorial Book: 500 Years of Jewish Life (New York, 2014), 716 pp. (JAF)

Friday 20 April 2018


            He was born in Loshits (Losice), Shedlets (Siedlce) region, Poland.  He studied in religious elementary school.  He left for Warsaw and became a knitter.  In late 1939 he escaped to Minsk.  In 1943 he fled from the Minsk ghetto to join the partisans.  In 1946 he came to Paris.  In book form: Fun geto in di velder (From the ghetto to the woods) (Paris: Oyfsnay, 1975), 217 pp., which also appeared in French in 1979.

Source: B. Grin, in Morgn-frayhayt (New York) (February 29, 1979).

Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 406.


KHAYIM SLOVES (HENRI SLOVÈS) (June 19, 1905-1988)
            He was born in Bialystok, Russian Poland, to a father who was a leather worker and who later took up business.  He studied in a “cheder metukan” (improved religious elementary school), in a Russian and a German school, and later in a secular Jewish public school; he also attended pedagogical courses in Bialystok.  He was in addition a student in the Warsaw “Free High School.”  From his earliest childhood years, he had an interest in theater, would organize pageants with groups of children in the courtyard of their residence, and would put together theatrical evenings with pupils from the Jewish public school, for which he served as director and lead actor, and the repertoire consisted largely of plays that he put together on his own.  His first works for the stage were a dramatized chapter from Mendele’s Fishke der krumer (Fishke the lame), later his own drama in one and one-half acts and a four-act play in blank verse—A shvere operatsye (A difficult operation), which was directed by Dovid Herman.  He was a cofounder of a theater society, “Association of Young Lovers of the Arts” in Bialystok.  In 1920 he marched on foot with the retreating Red Army from Poland to Russia, was in Minsk, Smolensk, and Moscow, later returned to Poland, was active in the underground revolutionary work of the left, spent time in Polish prisons, and endured hunger strikes.  He subsequently continued his studies in the Jewish pedagogical courses and was later a teacher in Jewish public schools.  In 1926 he immigrated to France, settled in Paris, studied (1927-1929) at the Lyceum “Charlemagne” there, and went on to study (1929-1934) at the Sorbonne where he received his doctor of law degree.  Over the years 1935-1938, he published three books in French concerning international law and modern history.  In 1936 he was secretary of the organizing committee of the first World Jewish Culture Congress in Paris, and as the secretary of the then founded IKUF (Jewish Cultural Association), he visited the Baltic states (autumn 1938) and Belgium, Holland, and England (spring 1939).  Under Nazi rule in France (1940-1944), he lived for a time in Vichy, later near Lyons, where he was active in the French-Jewish resistance movement and wrote articles for illegal Yiddish and French publications.  After the liberation of France, he returned to Paris, was a contributor to French periodicals, and published plays and articles concerned with various Jewish cultural issues in: Naye prese (New press), Oyfsnay (Afresh), and Unzer eynikeyt (Our unity), among others, in Paris; Yidishe kultur (Jewish culture), Morgn-frayhayt (Morning freedom), and Zamlungen (Collections)—in New York; and Yidishe shriftn (Yiddish writings) and Folks-shtime (Voice of the people) in Warsaw.  He also contributed to Yiddish publications in Latin America and in the state of Israel.  Among his drama and folk plays, Homens mapole (Hamen’s downfall), Di yoynes un der valfish (The Jonahs and the whale), Di tsayt fun gezang (The time of song), Nekome-nemer (Avengers), and Borekh fun amsterdam (Baruch from Amsterdam) were staged in Yiddish theaters in France, Sweden, Poland, Romania, Israel, South Africa, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, and New York.  His one-act play Der ksav fun rekht af links (Writing from right to left) was performed in French, Spanish, and Portuguese.  In 1958 he and the Parisian writers M. Vilner and A. Yudin visited Moscow with the mission there of “investigating the state of Jewish culture,” and their report, “Vegn der yidisher kultur in sovetn-farband” (On Jewish culture in the Soviet Union)—published in 1959 in Yidishe kultur in New York and Unzer eynikeyt in Paris and republished by the World Jewish Congress in Paris—elicited a discussion in Unzer eynikeyt (August-September 1959), as well as various polemical commentaries in the Yiddish and Hebrew press.  Together with Sh. Dobzhinski, he also published and edited (1958) a quarterly journal in French entitled Domaine yidich (The field of Yiddish) with the goal of acquainted the assimilated Jewish youth in France with writings in Yiddish, Yiddish literature, and Yiddish culture.  In book form: Nekome-nemer, a tragedy in three acts and nine scenes (Paris: Oyfsnay, 1947), 94 pp. (winner of a prize from the Moshe Kasner Fund in Buenos Aires); Homens mapole, a folk play in four acts (Paris: Oyfsnay, 1949), 103 pp.; Di yoynes un di valfish, a folk play in three acts (Paris: Oyfsnay, 1952), 117 pp. (also winner of a prize from the Moshe Kasner Fund); Borekh fun Amsterdam, a drama in four acts and nine scenes (New York: IKUF, 1956), 112 pp., second edition with text in Yiddish and Polish, in three acts (Warsaw: Yiddish State Theater, 1961); Der ksav fun rekht af links, in Yidish kultur (New York) 3 (1954); Di milkhome fun got (The war of God), a drama in three acts (New York: IKUF, 1963), 107 pp.; Tsen brider zaynen mir gevezn, drame in dray aktn (We were ten brothers, a drama in three acts) (Paris: Oyfsnay, 1965), 133 pp., earlier published in Yidishe kultur; Sovetishe yidishe melukhishkeyt (Soviet Yiddish nationalism) (Paris, 1979), 265 pp., Hebrew translation as Mamlakhtiyut yehudit beverit hamoatsot (Tel Aviv: Am oved, 1981), 223 pp.; A shlikhes keyn moskve (Messenger to Moscow) (New York, 1985), 302 pp.  His work also appeared in: Itshe Goldberg, ed., Undzer dramaturgye, leyenbukh in der yidisher drame (Our playwriting, textbook in Yiddish drama) (New York: IKUF, 1961), pp. 501-512.  In 1960 he received the Shatsov Prize from IKUF and in 1963 the Zhitlovsky Prize—both in New York.  He visited the United States in 1962 and appeared at various IKUF undertakings.  He died in Paris.

Sources: Zalmen Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 4 (New York, 1963), with a bibliography; D. Klementinovski, in Byalistoker shtime (New York) (March-April 1946); Y. Mestel, in Yidishe kultur (New York) (April 1948; October 1956); Sh. Lastik, in Yidishe shriftn (Warsaw) (October 1949); B. Mark, in Yidishe shriftn (October 1954); D. Sfard, Shtudyes un skitsn (Studies and sketches) (Warsaw, 1955), pp. 169-75; Z. Vaynper, in Yidishe kultur (December 1956); M. Litvin, in Parizer tsaytshrift (Paris) 15-16 (1956); Dr. Shloyme Bikl, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (November 3, 1957); L. Domenkevitsh, in Unzer vort (Paris) 88 (3059); Lili Berger, in Yidishe shriftn (February 1958); Berger, Eseyen un skitsn (Essays and skits) (Warsaw, 1962), pp. 182-90; Avrom Shulman, in Der veker (New York) (June 1, 1958); Shulman, in Forverts (New York) (April 6, 1959); Kh. Liberman, in Forverts (June 6, 1958); L. Bernard, B. Shlevin, M. Melman, Kh. Shoten, in Unzer eynikeyt (Paris) (August-September 1959); Ḥ. Knaan, in Haarets (Tel Aviv) (August 28, 1959); Sh. L. Shnayderman, in Forverts (December 2, 1959); I. Goldberg, ed., Undzer dramaturgye, leyenbukh in der yidisher drame (Our playwriting, textbook in Yiddish drama) (New York: IKUF, 1961), pp. 499-512; Kh. Sloves, “Vegn zikh un vegn mayn shafn” (On me and my work), Yidishe kultur (November 1961); Sh. Belis, in Folks-shtime (Warsaw) (January 6, 1962); R. Yuklson, in Morgn-frayhayt (New York) (May 16, 1962); N. Mayzil, Tsurikblikn un perspektivn (Retrospectives and perspectives) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1962), see index; Biblyografye fun yidishe bikher vegn khurbn un gvure (Bibliography of Yiddish books concerning the Holocaust and heroism) (New York, 1962), see index; “Pyese fun kh. sloves af der frantseyzisher bine” (Plays by Kh. Sloves on the French stage), Unzer kiem (Paris) (June 1964); M. Lerman, in Arbeter-vort (Paris) (May 8, 1964).
Benyomen Elis

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 406.]

Thursday 19 April 2018


            He was born in Zgierzh (Zgierz), near Lodz, Poland.  He was the son of the Agudat Yisrael deputy in the Polish parliament, Eliezer Sirkin.  He studied in religious elementary school and yeshivas and with private tutors.  From his youth he was active in the Orthodox youth movement and one of its first leaders who defended pioneering in the land of Israel.  In 1933 he settled in Israel.  He founded Hassidic agricultural colonies.  His first poems were published in the anthology Unzer traybkraft (Our motor force) (Lodz, 1926), and from that time on he contributed to: Der flaker (The flare), Der yudisher arbayter (The Jewish worker), Beys-yankev zhurnal (Beys-Yankev journal), and Unzer lebn (Our life) of which he was also editor—all in Lodz; Der yud (The Jew), Dos yudishe togblat (The Jewish daily newspaper), Ortodoksishe yugnt-bleter (Orthodox youth pages), Darkhenu (Our way), and Deglanu (Our banner), among others, in Warsaw; Dos vort (The word) in Vilna; and Hamodia (The herald) and Shaarim (Gates) in Israel; among others.  In book form (listed under P. A. Sirski): Gilgulim, khasidishe drame in dray aktn (Metamorphoses, a Hassidic drama in three acts) (Pietrkov, 1929), 144 pp.  He was last living in Jerusalem, an official in the Knesset.

Sources: Khayim Leyb Fuks, in Literarishe bleter (Warsaw) (March 15, 1929); Fuks, in Nayer folksblat (Lodz) (Maych 12, 1930); Fuks, in Fun noentn over (New York) 3 (1957), see index; information from Y. Fridenzon in New York.
Khayim Leyb Fuks


NAKHMEN SIRKIN (NACHMAN SYRKIN) (February 11, 1867[1]-September 6, 1924)
            He was born in Mohilyev (Mahilyow, Mogilev), Byelorussia, into a prominent family.  He studied with teachers in the home, private tutors, and at the Mogilev high school.  In the early 1880s he moved with his parents to Minsk, where he graduated from high school in 1884.  At this time he was a proficient in Talmud and in medieval and general Hebrew literature; he belonged to Ḥoveve-tsiyon” (Lovers of Zion) circles, and in the group discussions he already demonstrated his volatile temperament and great erudition.  For his proximity to socialist groups, he spent several weeks under arrest in Minsk and was freed thanks to the intercession of his relative, the Minsk community leader and Hebrew writer Grigori Yakovlevich Sirkin.  In 1887 he departed for Berlin and there he began to study medicine, later turning to philosophy and political economy at Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität.  He went on to receive his doctoral degree in philosophy from Zurich University.  In the late 1880s, when the Russian universities were closed to Jewish youth, there assembled in Berlin (a considerable number of) Jewish students, and Syrkin—together with other Palestinophiles—founded the “Russian Jewish Scholarly Association,” which became a national center for Jewish youth and intellectuals at the time and to which many important Zionist figures brought their national aspirations, such as: Chaim Weizmann, Shmaryahu Levin, Isadore Eliashev (later known as Bal-Makhshoves), and Leon Motzkin, among others.  Syrkin was one of the first to link Zionism with the socialist world view, though he fought against the materialist conception of history and constructed everything on the doctrine of voluntarism.  He tried to justify his scientific-philosophical consciousness at that time in his German work, Geschichtsphilosophische Betrachtungen (Historical-philosophical considerations) (Berlin: F. Gottheiner, 1896), in which he came to the conclusion that it was not circumstances that controlled a person, but the person who endeavors all the more to liberate himself from the power of circumstances and through this comes to his own “I”: “History,” wrote Syrkin, “has no plan and no laws; it is a free design of individuals.”  He remained faithful to these ideas over the course of all his activities as one of the founders and ideologues of the Jewish national radical movement.  At the first Zionist congress in Basel (1897), he stood with political Zionism (under the influence of Moses Hess, in whose name he had created a Zionist socialist group).  In 1898 he published in the German periodical Deutsche Worte (German word), brought out in Vienna by Engelbert Pernerstorfer, the Social Democratic deputy in the Austrian Reichsrat (Imperial Diet), an article on the Jewish question—that same year he published it under the pen name “Ben-Eliezer”—in Berne in pamphlet format under the title Die Judenfrage und der sozialistische Judenstaat (The Jewish question and the socialist Jewish state), 67 pp.—in which he strove to justify Zionism from a socialist standpoint.  He also expressed his main thoughts on socialist Zionism in his Russian-language pamphlet Vozzvanie k evreiskoi molodezhi (Appeal to Jewish youth) (London, 1901), 16 pp.  Syrkin believed that all the values that Jews have created in the diaspora were of a negative character and that remaining in the lands of the diaspora has a deleterious impact not only on the Jews themselves but also on all human progress.  Assimilation of Jews with the surrounding peoples also creates the same negative values, and thus assimilation can only be realized by the upper bourgeois strata of Jewry.  The Zionist movement of the democratic layers is, thus, a reaction against the international aspirations of the Jewish bourgeoisie—and its ultimate goal is the construction of a socialist state in the land of Israel.  The sole bearer of the Jewish national liberation movement was—according to Syrkin—the Jewish “hamon” (masses), the toiling masses of the Jewish people, and not only the industrial proletariat.  Around 1901-1902, Syrkin founded the Zionist socialist group “erut” (Freedom), which, in addition to other tasks, was to fight against Jewish plutocracy.  The group erut had an influence only within the narrow circles of Jewish intellectuals in Zurich, London, and especially Berlin, but in Russia itself one heard practically nothing of it.  For a theoretical treatment of the issues of the Zionist socialist program and tactics, Syrkin founded the periodicals Der hamoyn (The masses) in Yiddish and Hashaar (The morning) in Hebrew in Berlin (1903), for which he wrote almost the entirety of its articles (also under the pseudonym of Ben-Eliezer).  At the sixth Zionist congress in 1903, he joined the Ugandists, and at the seventh congress (1905) in Basel when the “no” votes were victorious, he was one of the founders of the territorialist organization, and then joined the newly established Zionist Socialist Party.  According to the memoirs of his daughter Marie Syrkin, he was deported from Germany at this time for participating in 1904 in a political demonstration.  He lived for a time, 1904-1905, in Paris, before returning to Russia, living primarily in Vilna, where he contributed (and co-edited) the organ of the Zionist socialist party, Der nayer veg (The new path), writing editorials and theoretical essays.  At the time of the elections to the second Duma, he stood as a candidate from Kovno province, but he was not elected.  At the invitation of the American socialist-territorialists, he traveled to the United States (March 1908) to edit Dos folk (The people), organ of the Zionist socialists.  Syrkin later became disappointed with territorialism and in 1909 became one of the leaders of Labor Zionism in America.  During WWI he supported the Allies and, contrary to the majority of American Jews, Russia—against Germany.  He was also the head of the American Jewish Congress movement.  As a delegate to the conference of the Jewish Congress in Philadelphia (December 1918), he—with Morris Winchevsky, Louis Marshall, Stephen Wise, and others—was elected onto a delegation to defend the resolutions of the American Jewish Congress at the Peace Conference in Versailles.  He took part (1919) in the world conference of Labor Zionism in Stockholm.  He was in the land of Israel (January-May 1920), and on his way back to America he visited Warsaw; in 1923 he was in Carlsbad at the thirteenth Zionist congress.  Syrkin contributed to many different American Yiddish periodicals, such as: Di tsukunft (The future), Dos naye land (The new land), Dos naye leben (The new life), and from the founding of Tog (Day) he was a regular contributor to the newspaper with a one and one-half year break when he was writing for the Labor Zionist daily newspaper, Di tsayt (The times).  At different times he also wrote for Jewish and general newspapers in Russian, German, and English, as well as in Hebrew publications in the United States.  Among other items, he translated into German the moral philosophical writings of Lev Tolstoy in Jüdisch-Deutsche Monatshefte (German Jewish monthly) in 1911, a critique of the moral searchings of the Russian Doukhovors.  As Zalmen Reyzen put it:

Syrkin was one of the most original figures in the Jewish radical national movement.  For the entire time of his thirty years of literary and community activities, he sought a synthesis between Zionism and socialism, and with a rare temperament and great polemical talent, though with much utopianism and metaphysics, he led a fight for his ideals….  In connection with Yiddish, he was a bitter enemy not only of the Yiddishist movement, but even of the Yiddish language, against which he would appear in public in the fiercest manner in the name of his burning love of Hebrew, the language of the prophet Isaiah whom he believed was the greatest person in world history.  Characteristic of his views of the language question was his long article “Der zhurnal” (The journal) in Yud (Jew) 30-47 (1900), in which he introduced not only a series of anti-Yiddishist proofs, but also provided an interesting analysis of the linguistic and psychological character of the Germanic and Hebraic elements in the Yiddish language.  In his territorialist period, he also turned aside from Hebraism, so as later to return to his harshest, uncompromising form (see his series of articles concerning Yiddish and Hebrew in the monthly Dos naye leben in New York [1923], edited by Chaim Zhitlovsky and Shmuel Niger).  For him spiritual Judaism was just as important as the living, concrete entity, and herein derived his negation of the diaspora, his fantastic optimism, his utopian dreams, and lastly a certain religious mysticism (although one of the publications of his organ of erut, Der hamoyn, was, to be sure, the struggle against religion).  In his personal life, he excelled in his idealism, magnanimity, and naïveté, and was one of the most interesting personalities in New York’s Jewish Bohemia.

A magnificent, distinctive journalist, Syrkin also acquired a reputation throughout the Jewish world as a great speaker at lecture venues, meetings, conferences, and congresses in various countries.  At different times, Syrkin placed work in Russian, German, and English journals and newspapers.  For a time he contributed correspondence pieces and features to Hamelits (The advocate).  He also wrote at varying times for: Der hamoyn and Hashaar in Berlin (1903); Nayer veg (New path), Dos vort (The word), and Unzer veg (Our way) in Vilna; Der yud (The Jew) in Warsaw; Arbeter vort (Workers’ word) in Cracow; Dos folk (which he edited in 1908), Idisher kemfer (Jewish fighter [co-editor in 1909]), Dos naye land, Dos vort, Di varhayt (The truth), Dos yudishe folk (The Jewish people), Di tsayt, Di tsukunft, and Der idisher kongres (The Jewish congress), among others, in New York; and Folks-tsaytung (People’s newspaper) in Montreal (1912); among others.  He published his travel impressions of the land of Israel in Kuntres (Pamphlet) in Israel.  He was a regular contributor to Tog in New York, from the time the newspaper was founded.
            Among his published books: Die Judenfrage und der sozialistische Judenstaat (1898); Empfindung und Vorstellung (Sensation and imagination) (Berne: Scheitlin Spring, 1903), 86 pp.; Idisher kongres in amerike (Jewish Congress in America) (New York: Jewish National Workers’ Alliance, 1915), 24 + 2 pp.; translation of Moses Hess, Roym un yerusholayim, iberzetsung un ophandlung vegn moyshe hes, zayn lebn, zayn virkung un zayn filozofye (Rome and Jerusalem [original: Rom und Jerusalem], translation and assessment of Moses Hess, his life, his impact, and his philosophy) (New York: M. N. Mayzel, 1916), 233 pp.; Natsyonale frayhayṭ un internatsyonale eynheyt, tsu der frage vegn natsyonalizm un internatsyonalizm (National freedom and international unity, on the question of nationalism and internationalism) (New York: Jewish National Workers’ Alliance, 1917), 63 pp.; Geklibene tsienistish-sotsialistishe shriftn (Selected Zionist-socialist writings), 2 vols., ed. Yude Koyfman, Y. Zak, and Yoyel Entin (New York: Central Committee, Labor Zionists, 1925-1926), 632 pp. (combined), with a biography and characterization of Syrkin written by Y. Zak (both volumes contain essays and a series of treatments of philosophy and Jewish history entitled “Epokhn in der idisher geshikhte” (Epochs in Jewish history) on which Syrkin worked over the last years of his life and left unfinished; Kitve naman sirkin (Writings of Nachman Syrkin), comp. and arranged by Berl Katznelson (Tel Aviv: Davar, 1939), 308 pp.; Di yidn-frage un di yidishe sotsyalistishe medine (The Jewish question and the Jewish socialist state), translated from the Hebrew by Ruvn Matis (Munich, 1947), 55 pp. [translation of his Die Judenfrage und der sozialistische Judenstaat].  Syrkin translated a significant number of writings by Leo Tolstoy for German periodicals.  He also composed (1909) a five-act tragedy, entitled “Dos yidishe folk” (The Jewish people), in which he brought out a gallery of representatives of all the Jewish parties.  He also wrote a foreword to Heine’s eight volumes of poetry, which were translated into Yiddish by a host of well-known Jewish poets: Di ṿerk fun haynrikh hayne, mit a biografye fun a. kalisher un a forvorṭ fun n. sirkin (The works of Heinrich Heine, with a biography by A. Kalisher and a foreword by N. Syrkin) (New York, 1918).  He also authored the preface to Moyshe Freilicoff’s Dzhuzepa matsini, denker un bafreyer (Giuseppe Mazzini, thinker and liberator) (Washington, D.C.: erut, 1924).  His essays also appeared in the autobiographical volume by his daughter Marie Syrkin, which she published about her father in English: Nachman Syrkin, Socialist Zionist: A Biographical Memoir (New York : Herzl Press and Sharon Books, 1961).  Streets have been named for Syrkin in Tel Aviv and other cities in the state of Israel.  There is a settlement named Kfar Sirkin (Kefar Syrkin) near Petaḥ Tikva.  Nachmen Syrkin died in New York.  His grave has been located since September 1951 in the Galilee, near the Kineret.  As B. Tsukerman stated:

He continued his literary activities for over thirty-five years in both speech and writing.  He expressed his thoughts in an era of a great spiritual revolution in Jewish history.  He formulated them in blunt language, as he was almost always at war with other Jewish personalities of his generation and virtually all organized Jewish groups from that time.  Even the movement that he established could not always go along with his characteristic bluntness.…  Syrkin’s central idea, it would seem, might be formulated as follows: all creative peoples of mankind have a portion in human culture.  Each people bring, by virtue of their creative distinctiveness, a brick to the building of world culture.  The Jewish people possess a special cultural treasure which enriches its own life and enable it to contribute a great gift to the culture of mankind.  The principal foundations of the Jewish cultural treasure are: social justice and human sanctity.  To assure its cultural treasure and enrich with it, the Jewish people must lead an independent life in their own country.  Along this pathway of ideas two goals emerge: worry about basic existence of the Jewish people and erecting a Jewish state on the basis of social justice and human sanctity.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2, with a bibliography; Morris Winchevsky, “editorial notices,” Di tsukunft (New York) (December 1908); B. Tsvien, “Teritoryalizm oder avanturizm” (Territorialism or adventurism), Di tsukunft (July 1909); M. Zametkin, in Di tsukunft (August 1909); N. Grinblat, in Hatekufa (Moscow) 1 (1918), pp. 656-64; H. Leivick, in Di tsayt (New York) (September 6, 1920); V. Grosman, in Di tsukunft (October 1920); Y. Milkh, Naye bavegungen baym hign idishn proletaryat (New movements among the local Jewish proletariat) (New York, 1920), pp. 147-208; Kh. Liberman, “Di toesn fun di groyse” (The errors of the great), Di tsayt (March 25, 1921); Chaim Zhitlovsky, in Di tsayt (April 16, 1921; April 23, 1921; May 2, 1921; May 3, 1921; September 27, 1921); A. Lyesin, in Di tsukunft (July 1921; August 1921); M. Ribalov, in Hadoar (New York) (September 12, 1924); Ribalov, Sefer hamasot (Book of essays) (New York, 1928), pp. 221-23; A. Revutski, in Di tsukunft (October 1924); Y. Kopelov, Amol un shpeter (Once and later) (Vilna: Altnay, 1932); Shmuel Niger, in Di tsukunft (August 1933); Marie Syrkin, “Zikhroynes vegn mayn foter” (Memories of my father), Idisher kemfer (New York) (September 7, 1934); M. Syrkin, in Pyonern-froy (New York) (October 1951); M. Syrkin, Nachman Syrkin, Socialist Zionist: A Biographical Memoir (New York : Herzl Press and Sharon Books, 1961), 332 pp.; Moyshe Shtarkman, in Yorbukh (New York) (1942/1943); Shtarkman, in Hadoar (New York) (Sivan 4 [= May 23], 1947); Sh. Grodzenski, in Idisher kemfer (September 29, 1944); Y. Khaykin, Yidishe bleter in amerike (Yiddish newspapers in America) (New York, 1946), see index; M. Regalski, Tsvishn tsvey velt-milkhomes (Between two world wars) (Buenos Aires, 1946); G. Bader, in Morgn-zhurnal (New York) (March 14, 1948); Y. Zar, in Morgn-zhurnal (September 23, 1949); Borekh Tsukerman, in Der tog (New York) (October 1, 1949); Tsukerman, in Idisher kemfer (October 5, 1954; October 15, 1954; October 22, 1954; November 23, 1962; Rosh Hashanah issue, 1963; Tsukerman, in Afn veg (On the road) (New York, 1956), pp. 59-118; A. Leyeles, in Der tog (September 8, 1951); Arn Tsaytlin, in Der tog (June 1, 1952); A. B. in Unzer tsayt (New York) (September 1952); Sh. Levenberg, in Unzer vort (Paris) (September 25, 1954); L. Shpizman, in Geshikhte fun der tsienistisher arbeter-bavegung fun tsofn-amerike (History of the Zionist labor movement in North America) (New York, 1955), see index; Shpizman, in Idisher kemfer (Rosh Hashanah issue, 1956); Shpizman, in Geshtaltn (Images) (Buenos Aires, 1962), pp. 85-90; Kh. Sh. Kazdan, Fun kheyder un shkoles biz tsisho (From religious and secular primary schools to Tsisho) (Mexico City, 1956), see index; B. Y. Byalostotski, Kholem un var (Dream and reality) (New York, 1956), pp. 376-80; Zalman Shazar, Or ishim (Light of personalities) (Tel Aviv, 1955), pp. 217-32, part 2 (Jerusalem, 1963/1964), pp. 11-22; Shazar, in Moledet lanoar velaam (1963/1964), pp. 312-14; D. Perski, in Hadoar (February 10, 1956); Y. Cohen, Gesharim, ishim uveayot bitenuat haavoda (Personalities and problems in the labor movement) (Tel Aviv, 1955); M. Freylikov, in Idisher kemfer (March 23, 1956); A. Kritshmar-Yizraeli, in Idisher kemfer (March 23, 1956; August 21, 1959); Y. Grinboym, Fun mayn dor (Of my generation) (Tel Aviv, 1959), pp. 287-89; M. Braun, Mit yidishe oygn (With Jewish eyes) (New York, 1958), pp. 261-62; Y. Kruk, in Hapoel hatsayir (Tel Aviv) (eshvan 4 [= October 29], 1957); B. Sherman, in Idisher kemfer (Passover issue, 1958; May 12, 1961); Kalmen Marmor, Mayn lebns-geshikhte (My life story) (New York, 1959), vol. 1, p. 388, vol. 2 (1959), p. 674; D. Tidhar, in Entsiklopedyah lealutse hayishuv uvonav (Encyclopedia of the pioneers and builders of the yishuv), vol. 10 (Tel Aviv, 1959), see index; B. Katsnelson, Oysgeveylte shriftn (Selected writings) (Tel Aviv, n.d.); Y. Klausner, Opozitsya lehertsl (Opposition to Herzl) (Jerusalem, 1959/1960), see index; Klausner, in Hahistadrut yehuda haafshit (Tel Aviv) (Nisan [= March-April] 1961), p. 186; Rael Yanait-Ben-Zvi, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (August 19, 1961); Y. Zerubavl, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (English column) (March 10, 1964; March 11, 1964; March 12, 1964); Marie Syrkin,
Benyomen Elis

[1] According to Miriam Sirkin (Marie Syrkin), he was born on February 12, 1868.

Monday 16 April 2018


NOKHUM-MOYSHE SIRKIN (1878-December 24, 1918)
           He was born in Byelsk (Bielsk), Grodno district, at the time part of Russia.  He received a Jewish education at home, also attended a Russian high school, later graduating from the Warsaw Polytechnic as a technical engineer.  At the latter school he founded a corporation of nationally minded students—running counter to the assimilationist majority of students in the school.  He belonged to a circle of Yiddish and Hebrew writers in Warsaw and was a frequent visitor at the homes of Nokhum Sokolov and Y. L. Perets, especially Sokolov who engaged Sirkin to contribute to Hatsfira (The siren), in which Sirkin from time to time (from 1897) published articles, such as: a long essay, “An effort at a theoretical justification for Zionism,” which at the time aroused great interest among the readership.  With the rise of political Zionism, he became active in the movement, contributed much to Zionist congresses as a delegate and also as the correspondent from Hatsfira.  An outstanding speaker, he led a Zionist campaign principally among intellectual youth.  Under the influence of Y. L. Perets, he became an advocate of Yiddish, and at Zionist meetings and conferences he fought for Yiddish and against the truculence of the Hebraists.  Aside from his role with Hatsfira, he published numerous articles in Sefer hashana (Yearbook), as well as with the Russian Jewish Budushchnost’ (The future), Spektor’s Di naye velt (The new world) in Warsaw, and Sokolov’s Telegraf (Telegraph), of which he was in fact editor (1905-1907).  In 1907 he settled in Kiev, where he conducted intensive work on behalf of Yiddish and Yiddish literature, and his speeches, permeated with enthusiastic love for Yiddish works, exerted a huge impact on Jewish youth then engaged in their studies.  He also published a series of notices on Jewish writers in the Russian Jewish Evreiskaia entsiklopediya (Jewish encyclopedia).  He published as well popular scientific articles in the Russian journals: Vestnik sakharnaia promyshlennost’ (Herald of the sugar industry) and Vodnoe delo (Water treatment) (1910), among others.  In the years of WWI, he stood out as a political leader, was elected to the Ukrainian Rada (Parliament) and to Jewish national council in Ukraine, and he became chairman of the democratic Jewish community in Kiev, while at the same time writing journalistic articles in the Zionist weekly Af der vakh (On guard), edited by M. Grosman (ten issues appeared, from March 15 until August 9, 1918) and editing the daily newspaper Der telegraf (forty-nine issues, from November 15, 1917 to January 1918).  He authored the pamphlets: In der frayer ukraine (In Ukraine of the past), “remarks, facts, and materials” (Kiev: Farn folk, 1917), 16 pp.; Dos naye lebn un di alte knekht (The new life and the old slave) (Kiev, 1917), 9-16 pp. (reprinted from Der telegraf, prospectus); Tsi zenen  mir hefker? (Are we without order?) (Kiev, 1917), 9 pp.  He was one of the few exceptions who in Zionist-Hebraist circles did not stop fighting for Yiddish and who appreciated the Yiddish word.  He was also beloved by Ukrainian intellectuals.  He died in Kiev.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2, with a bibliography; Y. Grinboym, Fun mayn dor (Of my generation) (Tel Aviv, 1959), pp. 250-56; Chone Shmeruk, comp., Pirsumim yehudiim babrit-hamoatsot, 1917-1961 (Jewish publications in the Soviet Union, 1917-1961) (Jerusalem, 1961), see index.
Benyomen Elis


MORTKHE-ZEV SIROTA (b. July 12, 1895)
            He was born in Bialystok, the son of a Russian and Yiddish teacher.  He studied in religious elementary school and yeshivas, while at the same time also acquiring a secular education.  He contributed to the lively newspapers of the Fareynikte (United [socialist parties]), led by Yankev Pat, and “Yidishe kunst” (Jewish art), led by Peysekh Kaplan.  In late 1919 when Peysekh Kaplan established in Bialystok Dos naye leben (The new life), Sirota became a contributor to the editorial board of the newspaper, and he was in charge of the local division and placed feature pieces, economic surveys, and translations from the Polish and Russian press in the paper.  Together with M. Visotski and Y. G. Shteynsapir, in 1925 he was editing the daily newspaper Byalistoker kuryer (Bialystok courier) which last eight months, and was then brought back to work for Dos naye leben where he worked until 1926.  He later departed for Paris, from whence he corresponded for Dos naye leben and from time to time also wrote for the Paris-based Unzer vort (Our word), Haynt (Today), and Morgnblat (Morning newspaper).  He published memoirs in Byalistoker shtime (Voice of Bialystok) in New York.  He also wrote under the pen name “M. S-to.”  He was last living in Paris.

Sources: Byalistoker leksikon (Bialystok handbook) (Bialystok, 1935); Byalistoker album (Bialystok album) (New York, 1951); Byalistoker shtime (New York) (March-April 1953); S. Kahan, in Byalistoker shtime (March-April 1961).
Yankev Kahan