Monday 13 August 2018


NEKHEMYE PEREFERKOVITS (January 9, 1871-1940)
            He was born in Stavropol in the Caucasus.  In 1890 he entered St. Petersburg University and studied Semitic languages there.  His literary work began in 1893 in Voskhod (Sunrise), and over the course of twenty years he published there some 200 scholarly, critical, and journalistic articles, among them using the pen names: Al-Khavos, Vostotshnik, and unsigned ones as well.  He also wrote about Jewish history, literature, and philosophy for Russian encyclopedias and for Brockhaus-Efron, Granat, and for the Evreiskaia Entsiklopedia, as well as for various Russian journals.  He published a series of works in Russian, among them: Talmud, ego istoriya i soderzhanie (The Talmud, its history and contents) (St. Petersburg, 1897); Chto takoe “Shulkhan Arukh”? (What is the Shulan Arukh?) (St. Petersburg, 1899), 225 pp.; Evreiskie zakony ob inoviertsakh v antisemitskom osvieshchenii (Jewish law concerning gentiles in light of anti-Semitism) (St. Petersburg, 1908), 98 pp.; Religioznye voprosy u sovremennykh evreev v Rossii (Religious questions and contemporary Jews in Russia) (St. Petersburg, 1911), 80 pp.; and Uchebnik evreiskoi religii, dlia srednikh uchebnykh zavedenii (Textbook on the Jewish religion, for secondary educational institutions) (St. Petersburg, 1912), 3 vols.  Under the name “N. Abramov,” he published Russian textbooks.  His magnum opus was the Russian translation of the Talmud, of which eight volumes appeared between 1908 and 1912: the entire Mishna, Tosefta, Mekhilta, Sifra, and Berakhot (Bavli).  After the October Revolution (1917), he left St. Petersburg and settled in Riga, where he worked as a teacher and also began literary activities in the Yiddish language with journalistic and scholarly articles.  He contributed work to: Dos folk (The people) in 1922, Der veg (The way), later Unzer veg (Our way), Letste nayes (Latest news), Frimorgn (Morning), and Naye tsayt (New times)—all in Riga.  He wrote reviews of writings on Jewish philosophy, and he worked on a reader in medieval Yiddish in rabbinical responsa and on a book on “The beginning of Yiddish,” a chapter of which was published in the journal Hateiya (The revival) in 1921.  In it he attempted to establish that the Jews in Aragon (Spain) spoke a Germanic language in the thirteenth century, perhaps Gothic, and he tied this language of the Spanish Jews to the Old Yiddish of Italy.  He also authored a dictionary: Hebreizmen in idish, hekher 4000 hebreishe verter un tsitatn (Hebraisms in Yiddish, over 4000 Hebrew words and citations) (Riga, 1929), 300 pp., second edition (Riga, 1931), 300 pp.  His fate was also the fate of his unfinished works: unknown.  We know only that he died in Riga in 1940.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2; M. Erik, in Literarishe bleter (Warsaw) (May 27, 1927); M. Gerts, 25 yor yidishe prese in letland (25 years of the Yiddish press in Latvia) (Riga, 1933).
Benyomen Elis

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