Tuesday 31 July 2018


DANIEL PERSKI (PERSKY) (August 8, 1887-March 15, 1962)
            He was born in Minsk.  He studied in religious elementary schools until age thirteen, thereafter with private tutors.  He was a fervent Zionist from youth, active in Hebrew-speaking youth circles and also giving lectures in Hebrew.  For a time he lived in Warsaw.  He moved to New York in 1906 and worked there as a teacher.  He was a co-founder of “Histadrut Ivrit” (Hebrew organization) and of Hebrew-language journals.  He was a close contributor to Hatoran (The duty officer) and Miklat (Refuge).  For many years he wrote feature pieces for Hadoar (The mail) and edited its publications for children and youth.  He also published articles and features in: Der idisher kemfer (The Jewish fighter), Dos idishe folk (The Jewish people), Farn folk (For the people), and Kundes (Prankster), among others, in New York; and the Philadelphia anthologies Der shtern (The star) (1906-1907).  He was the author of Hamedaber ivrit (Spoken Hebrew), a handbook for Hebrew conversation, translated into Yiddish with a short grammar (New York, 1920), 183 pp. (there is as well an English publication by him entitled Spoken Hebrew: A Manual of Conversations [New York, 1921], 201 pp.); and he also collected folklore.  In 1950 he was awarded the Louis Lamed Prize for his Ivri anokhi (I am a Jew) (New York, 1947), 313 pp.  He also authored a number of other books, including: Leelef yedidim (To a thousand friends) (New York, 1938), 96 pp.; Matamim leag (Festivities) (New York, 1938/1939), 256 pp.; Zemanim tovim (Good times) (New York, 1943/1933), 272 pp.; Lekhvod haregel (In honor of the festival) (New York, 1946), 326 pp.; Tseok meerets-yisrael (Laughter from the land of Israel) (New York, 1950/1951), 266 pp.; Kol hamoed (Sound of the holiday) (Tel Aviv, 1957), 215 pp.; Began eden shel yeladim ivrim (In the Garden of Eden of Jewish children) (New York, 1957/1958), 68 pp.; Lashon nekiya (Respectful language) (New York, 1962), 228 pp.  He also used the pen name “Ben Rivka.”  He wrote about the Yiddish elements in aim Nachman Bialik (in Aisefer in New York in 1959/1960) and about contemporary influences on writers in both languages.  In his weekly feature in Hadoar, “Kedaber ish el reehu” (Speaking one man to another), he wrote memories of Jewish writers and incorporated facts about Jewish cultural activities of bilingual writers, although he was a representative of Hebrew with the motto: “Eved leivrit anokhi ad netsa” (I am a slave to Hebrew forever).  He died in New York and was buried in the state of Israel.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2; Zalmen Shneur, in Hadoar (New York) (August 20, 1948); A. Faynshteyn, in Hadoar (Tevet 10 [= December 30], 1949); Dov Sadan, Kearat egozim o elef bediha ubediha, asufat humor be-yisrael (A bowl of nuts or one thousand and one jokes, an anthology of humor in Israel) (Tel Aviv, 1953), see index; A. B. Shurin, in Forverts (New York) (August 22, 1954); Y. K. Miklishanski, in Algemeyne entsiklopedye (General encyclopedia) “Yidn” 5 (New York, 1957), p. 159; Avraham Shaanan, Milon hasifrut haadasha haivrit vehakelalit (Dictionary of modern Hebrew and general literature) (Tel Aviv, 1959), p. 654; Shloyme Bikl, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (March 24, 1962); A. Golomb, in Der veg (Mexico City) (June 9, 1962); Biblyografye fun yidishe bikher vegn khurbn un gvure (Bibliography of Yiddish books concerning the Holocaust and heroism) (New York: Yad Vashem and YIVO, 1962), see index; Y. Kabakov, Ḥalutse hasifrut haivrit beamerika (Pioneers of American Hebrew literature) (Tel Aviv, 1966), see index; Hadoar (Iyar 14 [= May 18], 1962), articles dedicated to Perski’s memory.
Benyomen Elis

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