Wednesday, 31 October 2018
KHAYIM-AVROM FINKEL (November 4, 1887-July 1, 1927)
A journalist and linguist, he was born in Białystok, and until age thirteen he studied in religious primary school. In 1916 he graduated from Kharkov Politechnic Institute. He debuted in print with a series of articles on proletarian Zionism in the journal Razsvet (Dawn) in Russian in 1905. He later published a series of articles in the illegal and legal press of the Zionist socialist party in Minsk, Mohilev (Mogilev), Kiev, and Odessa. During WWI he was plenipotentiary for Yekopo (Yevreyskiy komitet pomoshchi zhertvam voyny [Jewish Relief Committee for War Victims]) and OZE (Obschestvo zdravookhraneniia evreev [Society for the Protection of the Health of the Jewish Population]). He published reportage pieces in Vokh (Week) in Vilna, concerning work among the war refugees. Together with the journalist and community leader Ben-Adir (Avrom Rozin), he published a monthly journal Tsukunft (Future) in Kharkov. After the Russian Revolution, he was one of the principal leaders of Gezerd (All-Union Association for the Agricultural Settlement of Jewish Workers in the USSR) in Ukraine and a member of its central administration. Using such pen names as B. Lyumin and L. Pak, he published articles in: Shtern (Star), Yunge gvardye (Young guard), Yidisher poyer (Jewish farmer), and Di royte velt (The red world), among other serials. Among his books: Yidisher tekhnisher verterbukh, hilfsbukh fare di yidishe proftekhnishe shuln (Yiddish technical dictionary, auxiliary text for the professional-technical schools) (Kharkov: People’s Commissariat for Education, 1922), 75 pp.; Di metrishe sistem fun vog un mos (The metric system for weights and measures) (Kharkov, 1925); Neytike yedies vegn idisher erd-aynordenung (Necessary information concerning Jewish land arrangements) (Kharkov: Gezerd, 1926), 14 pp., translated also into Russian and German.
Source: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 3.
[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. 293-94.]
URI FINKEL (1896-December 5, 1957)
He was a literary scholar, prose author, and journalist, born in the town of Rakov (Rakaw), Minsk district, Byelorussia, to a father (Hirsh-Shloyme) who worked as a rabbi and ritual slaughterer and who dreamt that his son would become a rabbi. He received a traditional Jewish education, and until age seventeen he studied Talmud as well as general subject matter. In 1916 he was studying in a polytechnic school in Kharkov, later at the University of Minsk in the department of linguistics, and he remained separated for many years from his family, for in 1920 his hometown was annexed into Poland, while he was in Minsk, and he was for this reason unable to contact his family. It was even impossible for him to write to his parents, because it was forbidden to have ties to “bourgeois abroad.” He began his literary work with an article entitled “Di revolutsye un di yidishe literatur” (The revolution and Yiddish literature) which appeared in the collection Kunst-ring (Art circle) (Kharkov) 2 (1918). That same year he contributed to the journal Narodnoie delo (People’s affairs), run by the bibliographic division. During the Soviet Civil War, he volunteered to fight at the front. Commissioned by the political administration, he organized a Yiddish propaganda organ, Okna rosta (Window for ROSTA [Russian Telegraphic Agency]); and in 1920 he edited (together with H. Botvinik) the only Red Army daily newspaper in Yiddish, Di komune (The commune) in Minsk. Together with Nokhum Oyslender, he compiled the volume Avrom goldfadn, materyaln far a byografye (Avrom Goldfaden, materials for a biography) (Minsk: Institute for Byelorussian Culture, 1936), 104 pp. The authors systematized in the book all the materials on the life and activities of the founder of the Yiddish theater and made use of a series of new material, striving mainly to elucidate the period of Goldfaden’s activities until 1883—namely, until Yiddish theater was banned in Russia. He published a second work, “Di sotsyale figurn in goldfadens verk” (The social figures in Goldfaden’s work), in Tsaytshrift (Periodical) (Minsk) 1 (1927). In 1927 he was appointed as a research student to the department of literature in the Byelorussian Academy of Sciences in Minsk. The previous year he became a regular contributor to the Minsk-based Der veker (The alarm), and later to Oktyabr (October), in which among other items he published articles on Sholem-Aleichem, Hersh-Dovid. Nomberg, Bal-Makhshoves, and Y. L. Perets, as well as Russian authors. In June 1941 Finkel, his wife, and their son and younger daughter were all evacuated from Minsk, while his two older daughters, who had traveled to Rakaw just before the war broke out to visit their grandfather, were immolated in the town synagogue on February 23, 1942 together with all the other Rakaw Jews. When Nazi Germany invaded Soviet Russia, for a time Finkel lived in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, but he soon volunteered to serve in the Soviet Army. In 1946 he received an award “for valorous work in the war years.” He also published articles in Moscow’s Eynikeyt (Unity). He was able to preserve the Jewish community records of Rakaw (1810-1913), which his father rescued from destruction and which are now housed in the state of Israel. He died in Minsk.
Original works in book form: Mendele moykher-sforim, kindheyt un yugnt (Mendele Moykher-Sforim, childhood and youth), part 1 (Minsk: Byelorussian State Publishers, 1937), 220 pp., second improved edition (Minsk: Byelorussian State Publishers, 1939), 203 pp., third edition (Moscow: Emes, 1948), 152 pp.; Sholem-aleykhem (Sholem-Aleichem) (Moscow: Emes, 1939), 308 pp., second edition (Warsaw: Yidish bukh, 1959), 332 pp.—both f these works were also translated into Russian and Byelorussian and aroused considerable interest. Translations in book form: A. Solovev, Oktober revolutsye (October Revolution) (1925); N. M. Nikol'skii, Yidishe yontoyvim, zeyer oyfkum un antviklung (Jewish holidays, their origin and development), with H. Mayzl (Minsk: Byelorussian State Pubishers, 1925), 254 pp.; Geshikhte, di farklasndike gezelshaft der uralter mizrekh di antike velt, lernbukh far der mitl-shul 5ter lernyor (History, pre-class society of the ancient East in the ancient world, textbook for the fifth school year of middle school [original: Istoriia doklassovoe obshchestvo drevnii vostok antichnyi mir, uchebnik dlia srednei shkoly 5-i god obucheniia]) (Moscow: Emes, 1934), 249 pp.
Tuesday, 30 October 2018
Monday, 29 October 2018
EZRA FININBERG (November 17, 1899-November 22, 1946)
He was a poet, prose author, playwright, essayist, and translator, born in Uman (Uman'), Kiev district, Ukraine. His paternal grandfather was a ritual slaughterer, and his maternal grandfather an itinerant schoolteacher. Fininberg studied in a “cheder metukan” (reformed religious elementary school), where for speaking Yiddish one would get smacked. At age fourteen he was already well-read in Hebrew, Yiddish, and Russian, as well as in European literature. In 1917 he was a cofounder of the Zionist socialist organization (later, known as Fareynikte, or United [socialist parties]) in Uman. He remained a teacher until 1922. From 1923 he became completely dedicated to literature, having begun to write at the age of twelve in Hebrew. He later switched to both Russian and Yiddish. In 1917 he debuted in print in the Russian provincial press. From 1920 he lived mainly in Kiev, and there, together with Moyshe Khashtshevatski, he edited for a short period of time Litbletl (Literary pages), a weekly supplement to the newspaper Komfon (Communist banner). His first collection of poetry, Otem (Breath) (1922), was very warmly received by Yiddish critics in the Soviet Union, who remarked on his flaming temperament and fine workmanship. His second collection, Lider (Poems) (1925), further fortified his place as one of the best young representatives of contemporary Soviet Yiddish poetry, both because of his form and because of his motifs, mainly those of the shtetl and conditions in light of the new social spirit and also motifs based on the great events of the time. The 1926 publication of his story Galop (Gallop) demonstrated that he was also a highly talented prose writer. In these years the principal themes of his works were the civil war, the pogroms against the Jews, and the shtetl in the first years of Soviet authority. For his despairing pogrom motifs and for his inclination toward symbolism, he took a beating from the vulgar sociological critics. Fininberg was a member of the Kiev writers’ group Vidervuks (Renaissance) and later of the group “Antene” (Antenna), also in Kiev, and he was one of the initiators (together with Nokhum Oyslender, Lipe Reznik, and others) of the literary association “Boy” (Construction), which he cofounded in Kiev in 1925, as well as secretary and a member of the editorial board of the journal Di royte velt (The red world). In his play Yungen (Youth), staged at the time of the tenth anniversary of the October Revolution at the Kiev Yiddish State Theater, he dramatized a series of moments from the Russian Revolution, beginning in the year 1905. Aside from articles, translations, and reviews (using such pen names as H. Soyfer, Fin, F. Shtiler, and A. Miramin), in subsequent years he published poems, essays, prose works, stories, translations, and dramas in such anthologies, almanacs, and periodicals as: Shtern (Star), Di royte velt, Freyd (Joy), Shlakhtn (Battles), Ukrayine (Ukraine), Farmest (Competition), Af barikadn (At the barricades), and In fayerdikn doyer, zamlung fun revolutsyonere lirik, in di nayer yidisher dikhtung (In fiery duration, a collection of revolutionary lyrics in the new Yiddish poetry) (Kiev: State Publ., 1921), among others, in Kiev and Kharkov; Pyoner (Pioneer), Komyug (Communist youth), Farn heymland (For the homeland), In shlakht (In battle), Yungvald (Young forest), Far der bine (For the stage), Sovetishe dikhtung (Soviet poetry), Shtrom (Current), Deklamatsye far der sovetisher literatur (Declamation for Soviet literature), Tsum zig (To victory) (Moscow: Emes, 1944), Heymland (Homeland), and Emes (Truth), in Moscow. He also co-edited a variety of anthologies. Together with N. Oyslender, Noyekh Lurye, and others, he put together a reader of Yiddish literature for school use. His articles concerned such writers as Sholem-Aleichem, Yoysef Bovshover, Henekh Shvedik, and others. Following the Nazi Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union, he volunteered to be mobilized into the Soviet army, took part in battles on various fronts against the Germans, and was severely wounded. He died in Moscow from the wounds received at the front within a year of victory in the war.
In book form: Otem (Kiev: Kultur lige, 1922), 31 pp.; Lider (Kiev: Kultur lige, 1925), 73 pp.; Galop (Kiev: Kultur lige, 1926), 70 pp.; Bam dnyepr, pyese in 6 bilder (By the Dnieper [River], a play in six scenes) (Moscow: Shul un bukh, 1928), 47 pp.; Land un libshaft, lider, 1925-1927 (Land and love, poetry, 1925-1927) (Moscow: Central Publishers, 1928), 125 pp.; In fri fun yor (In early years) (Kharkov: Ukrainian State Publishers, 1929), 172 pp.; Shlek (Nuisances), a revue in four scenes, with Itsik Fefer (Kharkov, 1930), 142 pp.; Di krign doyern (The wars continue), poetry (Kiev: Kultur lige, 1930), 239 pp.; Fuftsn lider (Fifteen poems) (Minsk: Byelorussian State Publishers, 1934), 132 pp.; Shpil (Play) (Kiev: Ukrainian State Publishers for National Minorities, 1934), 8 pp.; preface to Shike Driz, Shtolener koyekh, lider, 1930-1933 (Strength of steel, poems, 1930-1933) (Kharkov: Ukrainian State Publishers for National Minorities, 1934), 151 pp.; An erd an andere, lider, 1930-1933 (Another land, poetry, 1930-1933) (Moscow: Emes, 1934), 204 pp.; Afn roytn plats, lider un poemes far pyonern (At the red spot, poems for pioneers) (Kiev-Kharkov: Ukrainian State Publishers for National Minorities, 1936), 161 pp.; Slavik un garik (Slavik and Garik), children’s stories (Moscow: Emes, 1936), 24 pp.; Zingevdik, 1933-1936 (Melodies, 1933-1936) (Moscow: Emes, 1936), 275 pp.; S’ken nit zayn, a folks-mayse (It can’t be, a folktale) (Kharkov: Kinder farlag, 1937), 16 pp.; Lider vegn rakhves (Poems about comfort) (Moscow, 1938); Geshikhtes, mayselekh un poemes (Stories, tales, and poems) (Moscow: Emes, 1939), 183 pp.; Lirik, 1920-1940 (Lyricism, 1920-1940) (Moscow: Emes, 1940), 239 pp.; Fun shlakht-feld (From the battlefield) (Moscow: Emes, 1943), 94 pp.; In rizikn fayer (In a massive fire), poetry (Moscow: Emes, 1946), 142 pp.; Geklibene verk (Selected works) (Moscow: Emes, 1948), 308 pp.
His translations in book form include: Aleksandr Neverov, Tashkent, di broyt-shot (Tashkent, city of bread [original: Tashkent, gorod khlebnyi]) (Moscow: Shul un bukh, 1924), 143 pp.; Victor Hugo, 93er yor (The year 93 [original: Quatrevingt-treize (93)]), abridged translation (Kiev: Sorabkop, 1924), 88 pp.; Mark Twain, Tom soyer (Tom Sawyer) (Kiev: Kultur lige, 1927), 225 pp.; Mykhailo Kotsiubynsky, Dertseylungen (Stories), translated from Ukrainian (Kiev: Kultur lige, 1928), 167 pp.; Aleksandr Fadeev, Tseklapt, roman (Beaten, a novel [original: Razgrom]) (Kiev: Kultur lige, 1929), 234 pp.; Konstantin Paustovsky, Kara-bugaz (Kara-Bugaz) (Kharkov: Ukrainian State Publishers for National Minorities, 1933), 237 pp.; Aleksandr Avdeenko, Ikh hob lib (I love [original: Ya lyublyu]) (Moscow: Emes, 1934), 214 pp.; Aleksandr Pushkin, Mayselekh (Stories) (Kharkov: Ukrainian State Publishers for National Minorities, 1936), 89 pp.; Goethe, Faust (Faust), part 1 (Moscow: Emes, 1937); Shota Rustaveli, Der held in der tiger-fel (The hero in the tiger pelt [original: Der Ritter in Tigerfel (The knight in the tiger pelt)]) (Moscow: Emes, 1937), 47 pp.; Vladimir Mayakovsky, Oysgeveylte verk (Selected works) (Moscow: Emes, 1940), 158 pp. In 1948 there appeared in Moscow a volume of his poetry in Yiddish and in 1957 a book of poems in Russian [see image below]. In the journal Sovetish heymland (Soviet homeland) 2 (1963), a part of his unpublished play entitled Nikolay petrovitsh (Nikolai Petrovich), from his posthumously unpublished manuscripts, was published. In manuscript there remains a volume of translations from world poetry and a number of essays.