Sunday, 17 June 2018


            He was born in the city of Zaporozhye (Zaporiz’ke), Ukraine, into a family of formers residents of the Nay-Zlatopol Jewish national district.  He gained his education in hometown, became an engineer, worked in Zaporiz’ke and later in Moscow, and he was active in the 1980s in various Jewish community organizations.  Over the years 1988-1991, he worked as secretary of the journal Sovetish heymland (Soviet homeland).  He published his first stories in this journal in 1986.  From that time forward, he published stories and articles.  From 1991 he was at Oxford University.  In 1996 he defended a doctoral dissertation on Soviet Yiddish.  In 1994 he initiated the literary journal Di pen (The pen) and edited all fifty-five issues which appeared between 1994 and 1998.  He worked as a lecturer in Oxford and London.  From 1999 he was European correspondent for the Forverts (Forward)—a few articles he signed Yankev London and G. Yakobi.  All through this time he was carrying on active research work, teaching, and appearing at academic seminars in various countries.  Since 2003 he has been the author of literary research and professor of Yiddish studies at New York University.  His writings include: “Di royte balke” (The red rafter), a story, supplement to Sovetish heymland (1988); Kurtser yidish-rusissher verterbukh (Short Yiddish-Russian dictionary) (Moscow, 1989), second improved edition (1990); Moskver purim-shpiln (Purim plays in Moscow), stories (Oxford, 1993), 151 pp.; Soviet Yiddish: Language Planning and Linguistic Development (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), 217 pp.; Intensive Yiddish (Oxford, 1996), 255 pp.; In Harness: Yiddish Writers’ Romance with Communism (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2005), 242 pp.; Yiddish in the Cold War (Oxford, 2008), 178 pp.; Yiddish in Weimar Berlin : At the Crossroads of Diaspora Politics and Culture (London: Taylor and Francis, 2017); The Shtetl: Image and Reality (London: Taylor and France, 2017); Translating Sholem Aleichem: History, Politics and Art (London: Routledge, 2017).

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. 272-73.

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