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.]

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