Sunday, 30 September 2018
Friday, 28 September 2018
Thursday, 27 September 2018
ELYE FALKOVITSH (1888-June 9, 1979)
He was a linguist, born in Homyel' (Gomel), and graduated from the department of linguistics at Moscow University. In the 1930s he was a lecturer on the Yiddish language at the Second Moscow University in the department of Yiddish linguistics. He began working as chair of the Yiddish language department at the University of the Peoples of the West (Mayrevke) as well as at the Moscow Pedagogical Institute. He started his publishing work in the field of Yiddish linguistics in 1927. He brought out important work in the journal Afn shprakhfront (On the language front) in Kiev and elsewhere. In 1929 he published his first book: Yidish, gramatik far dervaksene (Yiddish, grammar for adults) (Moscow: Emes, 1929), 104 pp., with a second enlarged edition (Moscow-Kharkov-Minsk, 1930), 208 pp.; a subsequent edition appeared as Yidish far dervaksene (Yiddish for adults) (Moscow: Emes, 1936), 326 pp., with a second component entitled Yidish, fonetik, grafik, leksik un gramatik (Yiddish, phonetics, script, lexicon, and grammar) (Moscow: Emes, 1940), 383 pp. In the late 1920s when a reform of Yiddish orthography was underway in the Soviet Union, he was among the scholars who implemented this in practice. He participated in the language conference in Moscow on December 15, 1936, concerning elevating Yiddish to an official, state language—in connection with the decision of the Soviet government to construct a Jewish autonomous area in Birobidzhan. During WWII, he was a member of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee in Moscow. When the Nazi armies were approaching Moscow, he volunteered to join the Red Army, in the Opolchenie (Home guard), a voluntary military defense detachment, and was involved in pitched battles. He demonstrated an example of personal courage, about which the press wrote, including Dovid Bergelson in a sketch, “Undzerer a mentsh” (A man, one of our own), in the newspaper Eynikeyt (Unity). On the road he and his men stumbled upon a company of Germans in a village and engaged them in battle. They captured thirty-five Nazis and another eight were shot; he also carried out eighty-eight wounded fighters under enemy fire and provided first aid. He was captured by the Nazis, but at night with some eighteen Red Army members he took command and broke out with them to freedom. For this heroic deed, he was awarded the Order of Lenin. After the war he returned from the front to Moscow and was appointed chief editor of the Emes (Truth) press. In the late 1940s when all Jewish cultural institutions were liquidated, he switched to work as a lecturer. When Sovetish heymland (Soviet homeland) commenced publication, Falkovitsh was one of its most active contributors. His article “Opshay farn loshn” (Respect for the language), published in the first two issues of the journal in 1961, was a call to responsible continuation of the language. His other articles were polemical and rich in content. In 1960 the Moscow publisher Gospolitizdat (State publisher for political literature) brought out in Russian his Iskusstvo lektora (The art of the lecture). His series of studies of Yiddish published in Sovetish heymland (1974-1978) were an innovative textbook for those who wished to acquire a deeper knowledge of the language. After his death, there was published his work “Vegn der shprakh yidish” (On the language, Yiddish), fifty-eight pages in length, as an afterword to his major work, Rusish-yidish verterbukh (Russian-Yiddish dictionary) (Moscow, 1984). In his last years he conceived a series of biblical jottings, one of which was entitled “Vegn der ‘megiles-rus’ un andere tanakhish sforim” (On the “Scroll of Ruth” and other biblical texts), which Sovetish heymland published in issue 6 of 1978. Other books include: Rusish-yidish verterbukh far der onfang-shul (Russko-evreiskii slovarʹ, dlia nachalʹnoi shkoly, Russian-Yiddish dictionary for elementary school) (Moscow: Emes, 1941), 175 pp.; Yidishe punktuatsye (Yiddish punctuation) (Moscow: Central Publishers, 1931), 48 pp.; editor, Mikhoels, 1890-1948 ([Shloyme] Mikhoels, 1890-1948) (Moscow: Emes, 1948), 174 pp. He died in Moscow.
Sources: L. Reznik, in Afn shprakhfront (Kharkov) 2 (1934); M. Gurevitsh, in Afn shprakhfront (Kharkov-Kiev) 2 (1934); P. Markish, in Eynikeyt (Moscow) (June 28, 1942); Y. Nusinov, in Eynikeyt (August 5, 1942); D. Bergelson, in Eynikeyt (May 27, 1943); T. Gen, in Eynikeyt (October 2, 1945); Y. Yanosovitsh, in Di naye tsayt (Buenos Aires) (October 22, 1953); Yankev Glatshteyn, in Idisher kemfer (New York) (September 29, 1961); Chone Shmeruk, comp., Pirsumim yehudiim babrit-hamoatsot, 1917-1961 (Jewish publications in the Soviet Union, 1917-1961) (Jerusalem, 1961), see index.
[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 437-38; 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. 289-90.]
Wednesday, 26 September 2018
Tuesday, 25 September 2018
YEKHIEL FALIKMAN (December 31, 1911-June 10 [or May 9?], 1977)
He was a prose author, born in the town of Lubar (Lyubar), Zhytomyr district, Ukraine, to a farming family. From an early age, he demonstrated a penchant for painting and wrote poetry as well. He completed a seven-year school in Lyubar. He went on to study at the Kiev Art School from 1928. He did not graduate but went to work at a steel foundry in the “Bolshevik” machine-manufacturing factory in Kiev. His literary activity began in 1931 in Kiev, when he debuted in print in the Kharkov journal Di royte velt (The red world) with a story entitled “Di stepes shitn zikh” (The steppes are crumbling). This piece provided early evidence of his later style: a talent for broad epic description, complex subject matter, realistic imagery, and romantic pathos. The editor of Di royte velt, Henekh Kazakevitsh, welcomed this young writer’s debut with a congratulatory note. Kazakevitsh was then appointed editor-in-chief of Birobidzhaner shtern (Birobidzhan star), and he summoned Falikman to join him there. He spent 1932-1933 in Birobidzhan as a contributor to the newspaper. As a result of his time spent in Birobidzhan, he brought out his first book: Tsvishn spokes, dertseylungen (Amid the hills, stories) (Kiev: Ukrainian State Publishers for National Minorities, 1937), 277 pp., second edition (Minsk, 1938), 280 pp.; a later book also concerned Birobidzhan, Onheyb friling, dertseylungen un noveln (Beginning of spring, stories and novellas) (Kiev-Lvov: Ukrainian State Publishers for National Minorities, 1940), 267 pp. During the years of WWII, he worked as a military correspondent for various army newspapers at the Russian front. He composed a series of war stories which were compiled in his book, Libe un fayer, front-dertseylungen (Love and fire, stories of the front) (Moscow: Emes, 1943), 88 pp. From that point, his basic work was dedicated to the war, the tragic fate that millions of people faced, the Holocaust of the Jewish people, and the heroism of its best sons and daughters. For his military distinctions at various fronts against the Germans, he was awarded medals and the rank of major of the guard. His novels—Di shayn kumt fun mizrekh, roman (The light comes from the East, a novel) (Moscow: Emes, 1948), 538 pp., second edition (Buenos Aires: IKUF, 1951), 472 pp.; Der shvartser vint (The black wind); Der urteyl iz oysgefilt (Judgment fulfilled); and Fayer un ash (Fire and ash)—formed a tetralogy, in which Falikman reached an extraordinary level of depiction. Together with these works, he published a series of other prose writings, originals and translations into Russian and Ukrainian. The critics noted that it was characteristic of Falikman to have a profound understanding of the historical background, embodied in his writings. In the Yiddish literature of his day, he was distinguished for the historical quality of his writings. About those things which he should not have addressed in his writing—village life, the shtetl, the city, the Taiga in the distant east—everywhere he described the fighting strength, the struggle of good and evil, and the triumph of the good over the malevolent. Already advised against war novels, which were not only for him a socio-political and socio-historical theme, but also an ethnic one, it was the history of the dreadful catastrophe of the Jewish people. He published stories in: Der shtern (The star) in Kiev; Tsum zig (To victory), Heymland (Homeland), and Sovetish heymland (Soviet homeland) in Moscow; Af naye vegn (Along new roads), Almanakh (Almanac), and Ikuf (IKUF [= Jewish Cultural Association]) in New York (1948); and Folksshtime (Voice of the people) in Warsaw; among others.
Among his other works: Mentshn fun mayn land, dertseylungen (Men of my country, stories) (Moscow: Emes, 1945), 166 pp. He also translated by himself into Russian his work Der geviter in tishaish (The tempest at Tishaish [original: Groza nad Tishaishei]) (Kiev: Radians'skii pis'mennik, 1957), 243 pp.—it also appeared in Ukrainian. He was a member of the editorial collective of Sovetish heymland. He was one of the most important Soviet Yiddish prose writers whom the liquidations of 1948-1952 managed to avoid. Together with Note Lurye and Elye Shekhtman, among others (from the generation of writers on the eve of WWII), Falikman created the backbone of contemporary Soviet Yiddish prose. He died in Kiev.
Sources: A. Velednitski, in Sovetishe literatur (Kiev) (February 1938); Y. Nusinov, in Eynikeyt (Moscow) (August 5, 1942); A. Kushnirov, in Naye prese (Paris) (July 27, 1945); A. Kipnis, in Eynikeyt (Moscow) (September 27, 1945); Yisroel Serebriani, in Eynikeyt (November 20, 1945); Noyekh Lurye, in Eynikeyt (April 20, 1946); N. Y. Gotlib, in Keneder odler (Montreal) (March 30, 1953); N. Mayzil, Dos yidishe shafn un der yidisher shrayber in sovetn-farband (Jewish creation and the Jewish writer in the Soviet Union) (New York, 1959); Chone Shmeruk, comp., Pirsumim yehudiim babrit-hamoatsot, 1917-1961 (Jewish publications in the Soviet Union, 1917-1961) (Jerusalem, 1961), see index; Biblyografye fun yidishe bikher vegn khurbn un gvure (Bibliography of Yiddish books concerning the Holocaust and heroism) (New York, 1962); A. Heldes, in Sovetish heymland (Moscow) (March-April 1962).
[Additional information from: 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. 288-89.]