MORTKHE ERLIKH (May 12, 1873-August 7, 1931)
The brother of Nokhum Erlikh, he was born in Vyetke (Vietka), Gomel district, Byelorussia. He attended religious primary school, the great Vietka yeshiva, and the Volozhin Yeshiva. For a time he studied secular subject matter in Warsaw. Over the years 1897-1901 he served in the military in Dąbrowa. He later settled in Warsaw where he worked as a Hebrew teacher. In November 1902 he debuted in print in Yud (Jew) with a sketch entitled “Resht” (Remnant), and from that point he wrote sketches and stories for: Yud, Yudishe familye (Jewish family), Yudishe folkstsaytung (Jewish people’s newspaper) edited by Mortkhe Spektor, Fraynd (Friend), and Tog (Day) in St. Petersburg; and Veg (Way), Telegraf (Telegraph), Haynt (Today), Moment (Moment), and Shtrahl (Beam [of light]) in Warsaw; among others. In Hebrew he also wrote for: Hashiloaḥ (The shiloah), Hatsofe (The spectator), Hazman (The times), Hamitspe (The watchtower), and Ben Avigdor’s children’s publications Hanitsanim (The buds), Berurim (Inquiries), and Olam katan (Little world). With the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War in 1904, he left for Cracow, where over the course of barely a year he edited the literary section of Dr. Vortsman’s Yidishe tsukunft (Jewish future). He later was a representative for the Minsk publisher “Kultur” (Culture). With the liquidation of this publishing house, he became a regular correspondent (using the pen name Yoysher) from Austria and Galicia for the Forverts (Forward) in New York. He also published fictional work there, primarily about poor Jewish workers’ lives in Galicia. He also placed work in: Lemberg’s Togblat (Daily newspaper), Vienna’s Morgen-post (Morning mail), and Vienna’s Morgen-tsaytung (Morning newspaper). Over the course of six years (until the war), he edited in Cracow Dos vokhenblat (The weekly newspaper), the Yiddish supplement to the organ of the Cracow Jewish community leader and deputy, Dr. Adolf Gros. Some of his fictional works appeared in separate publications, such as: Di dienst, a pogrom-bild in eyn akt (The service, a pogrom image in one act) (Minsk, 1906/1907), 16 pp.; and Tsvishn nakht un tog (Between night and day) (Cracow: Dos bikhel, 1920), 64 pp., containing the stories. “In levone-sheyn” (In the moon’s shine), “Bay eyn tish” (At a table), “Fenster” (Window), and “Di negideste” (The rich woman). He also translated Vladimir Korolenko’s work on the Kishinev pogrom, Dos hoyz num’ 13 (The house no. 13 [original: Dom No. 13]) (Minsk: Kultur, 1906), 87 pp. He died in Cracow.
Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2; Avrom Reyzen, Epizodn fun mayn lebn (Episodes from my life), vol. 2 (Vilna, 1929), p. 283; Forverts (New York) (August 12, 1931); Z. Shoykhet, in Forverts (August 22, 1931); Dr. M. Naygreshl, in Fun noentn over (New York) 1 (1955), p. 339.