Tuesday 10 April 2018


FAYVL SITO (October 10, 1909-September 21, 1945)

            He was a prose author, playwright, and parodist, born in the city of Rovno (Rivne), Volhynia, Ukraine. He was left an orphan in his youth. Over the years 1917-1919, during the civil war in Ukraine, he wandered across the country with other abandoned children and lived off stealing, as was the way of many “street urchins.” In late 1919 he was taken into an educational institution for homeless Jewish children. He later studied at the Odessa Pedagogical Technicum. For a time he also studied music at the Kharkov Conservatory. He debuted in print with a story in Kharkov’s Der shtern (The star), later publishing stories, poems, and feature pieces in: Yunge gvardye (Young guard), Yunger boy-klang (Young sound of reconstruction), Sovetishe literatur (Soviet literature), Farmest (Challenge), Prolit (Proletarian literature), Shlakhtn (Battles), Litkomyug (Literary Communist youth), Almanakh fun yidishe sovetishe shrayber (Almanac of Soviet Jewish writers), and Komsomolye (Communist youth) in Kiev-Kharkov; Far der bine (For the stage), Komyug (Communist youth), Literarish-kritishe etyudn (Literary critical studies), Heymland (Homeland), Tsum zig (Toward victory), and Eynikeyt (Unity) in Moscow. He also also penned dramatic works and translated into Yiddish from Ukrainian and Russian poetry and prose. The main theme of his first writings was the lives of neglected, abandoned children.

In book form he brought out Kinderhoyz 40, dertseylungen (Children’s home number 40, stories) (Moscow: Central Publishers, 1929), 122 pp., a special favorite among school children and youngsters. The majority of his stories drew on unusual subject matter and humor. He demonstrated tremendous mastery with his parodies of Soviet Yiddish writers, which were published in the press as well as two times in separate volumes. Other books include: Dertseylungen (Stories) (Kharkov: Ukrainian State Publishers, 1930), 198 pp., second improved edition (Kharkov: Literatur un kunst, 1934), 181 pp.; Ot dos zaynen mir, roman (These are us, a novel) (Kharkov: Ukrainian State Publishers for National Minorities, 1932), 179 pp., second improved edition (Kiev, 1940), 176 pp.; Parodyes (Parodies) (Minsk: Byelorussian State Publishers, 1934), 64 pp.; Vos iz geshen, dertseylung (What happened, a story) (Kiev: State Literary Publishers, 1935), 130 pp.; A hun mit eyn fus, an azerbaydzhaner folks mayse (A chicken with one foot, an Azerbaijani folktale) (Kiev: Ukrainian State Publishers for National Minorities, 1936), 15 pp.; Geburt, nakht, der got fun di geter, dramatishe poemes (Birth, night, the God of gods, dramatic poems), with Moyshe Khashtshevatski (Kharkov-Kiev, 1936), 80 pp.; Artikl tsvey, komedye in eyn akt (Article 2, a comedy in one act), with Benyomen Gutyanski (Kiev: Ukrainian State Publishers for National Minorities, 1937), 20 pp.; Shike der zaike, a freylikhe shpil far a lyalke-teater (Shike the stutterer, a happy play for the puppet theater) (Kiev: Ukrainian State Publishers for National Minorities, 1938), 56 pp.; Parodyes (Moscow: Emes, 1938), 50 pp.; Zumer, dertseylungen (Summer, stories) (Kiev: Ukrainian State Publishers for National Minorities, 1939), 268 pp.; In a nayer mishpokhe, fragmentn (In a new family, fragments) (Kiev: Ukrainian State Publishers for National Minorities, 1939), 32 pp.; Kantonistn, tragedye in dray aktn (Cantonists, a tragedy in three acts), with Nekhemye Shmain (Kiev: Ukrainian State Publishers for National Minorities, 1940), 95 pp., staged by the Kiev Yiddish children’s theater. He also translated: Valentin Kataev, Es flatert an eynzamer zegl (A lonely sail flutters [original: Beleyet parus odinoky (A white sail gleams)]) (Kiev: Ukrainian State Publishers for National Minorities, 1938), 98 pp. Sito lived in the 1930s in Kiev. Over the years 1939-1941, he edited the journal Zay greyt (Get ready), published in Kiev. During WWII he served in the Red Army in Ufa, Bashkiria, where he edited a military newspaper in the Russian language. He was later active in the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee and on the editorial board of Eynikeyt, both in Moscow. He left behind an unpublished, unfinished novel, entitled Der soyne bay di toyern (The enemy at the gates) and other manuscripts, which later appeared in various publications in Russian. He translated from Russian and adapted for the stage A. Glebov’s A veg in lebn (A path in life), a comedy in three acts. His writings were republished in Yiddish newspapers and journals outside Soviet Russia. His work also appeared in the almanac, Af naye vegn (On new roads) (New York, 1949), and in the anthology Amerike in yidishn vort (America in the Yiddish word) (New York: IKUF, 1955). In Russian a volume of his stories, entitled Nachinalas' zhizn' (Life begins) (Moscow: Sovetskii pisatel', 1958), 249 pp., was published. He died in Moscow.

Sources: Y. Lit, in Yunger boy-klang (Kharkov) 6 (1928); Shmuel Niger, “In der Sovetish-yidisher literatur” (In Soviet Yiddish literature), Di tsukunft (New York) (February 1930); Sh. Epshteyn, in Di royte velt (Kharkov) (March 1930); L. D., in Shtern (Minsk) (February 1931); Dovid Bergelson, in Morgn-frayhayt (New York) (April 11, 1932); Bergelson, “Leksik-problemen in der yidisher literatur” (Lexical issues in Yiddish literature), Forpost (Birobidzhan) 2 (1937); B. Dunets, in Shtern (May-June 1932); A. Kahan, in Der shtern (Kharkov) (October 18, 1933); M. Kashtshevatski, in Farmest (Kharkov) (October 1934); Y. Serebryani, in Shtern (November 1934); Serebryani, in Folks-shtime (Warsaw) (September 17, 1960); A. Druker, in Farmest (May 1937); M. Mizheritski, in Sovetishe literatur (Kharkov) (August 1939); I. Fefer, “Alo, es redt kuibishev” (Hello, Kuibyshev speaking), Eynikeyt (Moscow) (November 1943); A, Kushnirov, “Di yidishe literatur in rusland” (Yiddish literature in Russia), Naye prese (Paris) (July 27, 1945); N. Y. Gotlib, Sovetishe literatur (Soviet literature) (Montreal, 1945), pp. 93-97; B. Mark, “Grunt-shtrikhn fun der yidish-sovetisher literatur” (Basic features of Soviet Yiddish literature), Folks-shtime (Lodz) 40 (1947); A. Gontar, in Dos naye lebn (Lodz) 93 (1948); H. Vaynraykh, Blut af der zun (Blood on the sun) (New York, 1950), p. 51; Y. Tsang, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (November 8, 1959); Chone Shmeruk, comp., Pirsumim yehudiim babrit-hamoatsot, 1917-1961 (Jewish publications in the Soviet Union, 1917-1961) (Jerusalem, 1961), see index.

Benyomen Elis

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 405; 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. 263-64.]

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