Wednesday 31 October 2018


YITSKHOK FINKEL (1907-early 1940s)
            The brother of Uri Finkel, he was born in Rakov (Rakaw), Minsk district, into a family of the village ritual slaughterer.  He studied with Talmud teachers and yeshivas in Rakaw, Baranovitsh, and Vilna.  As an external student, he went through four classes of high school, and over the years 1927-1931 he took a course of study at Dr. Sh. Y. Tsharno’s Polish-Hebrew teachers’ seminary in Vilna.  He was later a teacher in Rakaw’s Polish state school.  He directed the cultural and educational work in the town: library, drama circle, courses for orphans, and social assistance work.  In 1930 he published, together with Nekhemye Kaplan, a booklet of poems entitled Shtimungen (Moods) (Vilna, 1930), 13 pp.  He received an award from the “Tsentraler bildungs komitet” (“Tsebeka,” Central educational committee) for his monograph on Rakaw.  He published articles on community matters and Jewish life in Rakaw in: Haynt (Today), Moment (Moment), Bafrayung (Liberation), Arbeter-tsaytung (Workers’ newspaper), Hatsfira (The siren), Galim (Waves), and Yedies fun arbetndikn erets-yisroel (News of laboring Israel)—in Warsaw; Tog (Day), Tsayt (Times), Radyo (Radio), and Haatid (The future) in Vilna.  He also wrote under the initials and pseudonyms: Y. F., F. Ben-Tsien-Shloyme, Ben Avigayl, and Rakover.

Source: Leyzer Ran, 25 yor yung vilne (Twenty-five years of Young Vilna) (New York, 1955).
Leyzer Ran


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.

Benyomen Elis

[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.]


BENYOMEN FINKEL (ca. 1890-1970)
            He was born in Warsaw, Poland.  He studied in religious elementary school and synagogue study hall.  In 1908 he came to the United States.  He debuted in print with a humorous sketch in Varhayt (Truth) in 1911.  From that point he excelled as an innovative lyrical poet, storyteller, and humorist.  He placed work in: Varhayt, Haynt (Today), and Unzer bukh (Our book) (1922-1928) in New York.  He worked as a journalist in Chicago, and later was a close contributor back in New York of Louis Miller.  For many years he wrote for Forverts (Forward), where aside from journalistic work he also published hundreds of features, humorous pieces, sketches, and impressions.  In them he demonstrated the linguistic capacity of Yiddish in general and a distinctive virtuosity in American Yiddish.  He published his humorous writings under the pen names Yoysef Marshalek and Big Ben.  Selections from his poems are included in anthologies of Yiddish poetry.  His poetry excelled in its originality and perfection.  Some appears in Anna Margolin’s Dos yidishe lid in amerike, 1923, antologye (The Yiddish poem in America, 1923, anthology) (New York, 1923).  He died in New York City.

Sources: Unzer bukh (New York) 3 (1926); N. Mayzil, Tsurikblikn un perspektivn (Retrospectives and perspectives) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1962), p. 370.
Khayim Leyb Fuks


LEYZER-DOVID FINKEL (December 17, 1862-April 13, 1918)
            He was born in Makov (Maków), Lomzhe district, Poland.  His grandfather was a rabbi.  He was renowned as a child prodigy.  In addition to an assortment of modern languages, he also knew Latin and Greek, and he even studied Japanese and Arabic.  He also was involved with translating scientific articles, which he published in: Ḥavatselet (Daffodil), Hatsfira (The siren), and Hamelits (The advocate).  He also translated into Hebrew a majority of Gustav Karpeles’s Toldot hasifrut haivrit (History of Jewish literature [original: Geschichte der jüdischen literatur]), Bremm’s Toldot baale-haḥaim (History of humanity), and volume 5 of Graetz’s history of the Jews.  In book form: Mitsri shaul (Saul the Egyptian) (Warsaw, 1889), 91 pp.; Di kamelyen-dame (La Dame aux camélias) by Alexandre Dumas, “a play in five acts” (Warsaw, 1912), 67 pp.  In 1904 he worked for Hatsfira and published fictional work in it until the newspaper closed down.  With the founding of the Warsaw-based Haynt (Today), he contributed to it, primarily as a translator.  He also translated into Yiddish works by Henri Bernstein, Émile Zola, Friedrich Schiller, and others.  Many of his translations remained in manuscript.  He excelled with an encyclopedic knowledge and frequently turned his attention to philological research.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 3; B. Kutsher, Geven amol varshe (As Warsaw once was) (Paris, 1955), see index.
Benyomen Elis


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.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 3; Y. Shatski, Arkhiv tsu der geshikhte fun yidishn teater un drame (Archive for the history of Yiddish theater and drama) (Vilna-New York, 1930); Y. Bronshteyn, in Tsaytshrift (Minsk) 5 (1931); A. Gurshteyn, in Forpost (Birobidzhan) 2 (1937); B. Slutski, in Sovetishe literatur (Kiev) (September 1940); Elye (Elias) Shulman, in Veker (New York) (November 1955); Y. Katsenelson, in Morgn-frayhayt (New York) (March 11, 1956); obituary notice in Folksshtime (Warsaw) (December 24, 1957); Chone Shmeruk, comp., Pirsumim yehudiim babrit-hamoatsot, 1917-1961 (Jewish publications in the Soviet Union, 1917-1961) (Jerusalem, 1962), see index; Sh. Belis, Portretn un problemen (Portraits and problems) (Warsaw, 1964); Yefim Yeshurin, 100 yor moderne yidishe literatur, biblyografisher tsushteyer (100 years of modern Yiddish literature, bibliographical contribution) (New York, 1966), p. 192.
Benyomen Elis

[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. 292-93.]

Tuesday 30 October 2018


RUVN (REUBEN) FINK (January 18, 1889-February 15, 1961)
            He was born in Hosht (Hoshcha), Volhynia.  In 1903 he came to the United States.  He studied at universities in Washington, Philadelphia, and New York.  He earned Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Education degrees.  He was for a time a teacher of chemistry in middle school, later of mathematics at the University of Washington.  He gave up teaching because of his struggle for liberal immigration laws.  He was for many years a leader in Jewish community life in America.  He was vice-chairman of the association of Romanian and Ukrainian Jews.  He was involved in virtually all the important Jewish organizations.  He began his literary activity with a translation (into Hebrew) of Alphonse Daudet’s The Last Class, in Hadoar (The mail) in New York (1905).  He went on to contribute to Yiddish and English publications: Yidishes tageblat (Jewish daily newspaper), the weekly American Hebrew, and others, in New York.  In 1911 he was editor of the weekly Dos vashingtoner lebn (The Washington life), while at the same time he was publishing articles in: Fraye arbeter-shtime (Free voice of labor), Tsukunft (Future), Dos idishe folk (The Jewish people), and Groyser kundes (Grest prankster), among others.  Over the years 1914-1921, he was the Washington correspondent for Tog (Day) in New York.  He was one of the four Yiddish journalists who were invited by President Wilson to the Peace Conference in Versailles (1918-1919).  He was a regular contributor to Idisher kemfer (Jewish fighter) in New York.  He was the manager of and a contributor (1921-1922) to the Labor Zionist daily newspaper Di tsayt (The times) in New York, and he contributed work to: Di tsayt in London; Haynt (Today) in Warsaw; Vilner tog (Vilna day), Lodzer tageblat (Lodz daily newspaper), and Parizer haynt (Paris today), among others.  He authored books in Yiddish and English, among them in Yiddish: Der amerikaner birger (The American citizen) (New York, 1916), 59 pp.; Di konstitutsye un di deklaratsye fun umophengikeyt (The Constitution and the Declaration of Independence) (New York, 1919), 64 pp.; Vi azoy arayntsubrengen kroyvim keyn amerike (How to bring relatives to America) (New York, 1919), 36 pp.; Pasportn un vizes (Passports and visas) (New York, 1919), 64 pp.  In English: The American War Congress and Zionism (New York, 1919), 228 pp.; and America and Palestine (New York, 1944), 522 pp., with B. G. Richards; among others.  He edited with Abraham Yaron the remembrance book, Sefer hosht (Volume for Hoshcha) (Tel Aviv, 1957), 294 pp.  He also published under such pen names as: Dr. Roberts Kats, Dr. Mary Goldfarb, F. Rodgers, Statistikum, and Baron von Hoshter.  He died in New York.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 3; Y. Kopilov, Amol un shpeter (Once and later) (Vilna, 1932), pp. 344ff; B. G. Richards, in Nyu-yorker vokhnblat (New York) (February 1939); Y. Chaikin, Yidishe bleter in amerike (Yiddish newspapers in America) (New York, 1946), see index; Y. Libman, in Nyu-yorker vokhnblat (September 5, 1952); D. Naymark, in Forverts (New York) (August 20, 1957); Dr. Shloyme Bikl, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (new York) (September 1, 1957); Dr. F. Fridman, in Kultur un dertsiung (New York) (October 1958).
Khayim Leyb Fuks


YANKEV-YISROEL FINK (1894-October 26, 1955)
            He was born in Novograd-Seversk (Novhorod-Siverskyi), Ukraine.  He received both a Jewish and general education.  In 1918 he moved to Paris and graduated from the polytechnic.  He was an engineer his entire [adult] life.  He was active in Jewish community and cultural life.  He was a member of the central committee of “Poale-Tsiyon aḥdut” (Labor Zionists united) in France, a member of the presidium of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Paris, and vice-chairman of Histadrut Haivrit (Hebrew Federation) and of the academy of the Yiddish book, among other positions.  He was a Yiddish and Hebrew writer, researcher, and essayist.  He also wrote an excellent French and translated from English, Spanish, and Russian.  In the years of the Nazi occupation during WWII, he was active in the resistance movement and edited a French-language newspaper (1941-1944).  He contributed work to: Parizer haynt (Paris today) in 1932; Unzer vort (Our word) of which he was editor-in-chief in 1944-1945; Kiem (Existence); Unzer kiem (Our existence) of which he was also co-editor; Shevivim (Sparks)—all in Paris; Hadoar (The mail) in New York; the monthly for documentation Le Monde juif: La revue du Centre de documentation juive contemporaine (The Jewish world: Revue of the Center for Contemporary Jewish Documentation) in Paris; and Metsuda (Citadel) in London.  In book form: Yahadut tsarfat (French Jewry) (Paris, 1951), 176 pp.  He died in Paris.

Sources: Editorial, in Unzer vort (Paris) (October 27, 1955); L. Domenkevitsh and Manes Shperber, in Unzer vort (November 27, 1955); Y. Keshet, in Keneder odler (Montreal) (November 28, 1955) in the Hebrew column.
Khayim Leyb Fuks


Y. FINER (June 15, 1908-1996)
            The pen name of Yitskhok Burshteyn, he was born in Warsaw, Poland.  He studied in religious elementary school and public school, and he later became a laborer.  Over the years 1914-1924, he lived in a Polish village, and later, from 1925, he was living in Paris as a designer of women’s clothing; there he became active in Jewish cultural life.  He was an active fighter, 1941-1944, against the Nazi occupation in the French mountains and forests.  After the war he returned to Paris.  He began writing in his youth and debuted in print with a novella entitled “Kheymke” in Di naye prese (The new press) in Paris in 1947.  From that point, he published sketches, novellas, and stories in: Di naye prese, Parizer tsaytshrift (Parisian periodical), Unzer vort (Our word), and Parizer tribune (Parisian tribune) in Paris; Yidishe shriftn (Yiddish writings) and Folks-shtime (Voice of the people) in Warsaw; Yidishe kultur (Jewish culture), Tsukunft (Future), and Zamlungen (Collections) in New York; Letste nayes (Latest news) in Tel Aviv; and Keneder odler (Canadian eagle) in Montreal; among others.  A number of his novellas were translated into Hebrew by M. Ḥalamish and published in Al hamishmar (On guard) and other Israeli newspapers.  He contributed to the following remembrance volume: A. Bern et al., in Yizker-bukh tsum ondenk fun 14 umgekumene parizer yidishe shrayber (Remembrance volume to the memory of fourteen murdered Parisian Yiddish writers) (Paris, 1946).  In book form: Di sho fun beynashmoshes, dertseylungen fun der okupatsye yorn (The hour of dusk, stories from the years of occupation), with a foreword by B. Shlevin (Paris: Oyfsnay, 1951), 210 pp.; Noveln (Stories) (Warsaw, 1961), 133 pp.; Di fir tsaytn (The four times), stories with an introduction entitled “Kholem un var un emese mayse” (Dream and reality and a true story) by D. B. Malkin (Tel Aviv, 1966), 350 pp.; Tsvey mishpokhes (Two families) (Tel Aviv, 1971-1983), 3 volumes; Mayn mame, skitsn, dertseyln, noveln (My mother, sketches, stories, novellas) (Tel Aviv: Yisroel-bukh, 1978), 341 pp.; Tsuzamen, lider (Together, poetry) (Tel Aviv: Yisroel-bukh, 1983), 93 pp.  He also translated seven books into French.  “The problem of Jew and Frenchman became familiar in Yiddish literature,” noted Shloyme Bikl, “together with the problem of Jew and Pole and Jew and German.  The problem of the dualism of Jew and Frenchman has arisen, or in any event in actuality first emerged, during and after WWII, under the German occupation regime and chiefly in the resistance movement against the Germans.  In the underground movement, face to face with the common enemy, the Jew from Poland and from Romania, who for many years had lived in France, , became psychologically close to fellow French citizens with a genuine emotional naturalism, and the Jew sensed the closeness served to lower his Jewish identity—and he had to wrestle with this.  This is the basic motif of virtually all the stories of the Polish Jew and longtime Parisian resident Y. Finer.  Reading Finer’s stories, mainly from the time of the resistance against the Germans, one has the feeling that the images he created were not built from his creative fantasies, but people whom he knew, and what he recounts for us about them are memoirs.”

Sources: D. Sfard, in Yidishe shriftn (Warsaw) (July-August 1956); Meylekh Ravitsh, in Keneder odler (Montreal) (July 30, 1961); B. Mark, in Yidishe shriftn (March 1962); Dr. Shloyme Bikl, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (April 24, 1962; April 2, 1967); D. B. Malkin, in Di goldene keyt (Tel Aviv) 44 (1962); Sh. Ayznshtat, in Morgn-frayhayt (New York) (May 13, 1962); Herts Bergner, in Di yidishe post (Melbourne) (February 1, 1963); Barvin Frenkel, in Unzer shtime (Paris) (June 27, 1966); L. Bernard, in Arbeter vort (Paris) (November 18, 1966); L. Domenkevitsh, in Unzer vort (December 17, 1966).
Khayim Leyb Fuks

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 441.]

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.

Fininberg in a volume of his poetry in Russian

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 3; M. Litvakov, In umru (In anxiety), vol. 2 (Moscow, 1926); D. Tsharni (Daniel Charney), in Literarishe bleter (Warsaw) (January 14, 1927); Tsharni, in Tog (New York) (January 17, 1931); A. Vevyorke, in Di royte velt (Kharkov) (July 1929); Y. Leshtshinski, in Forverts (New York) (March 9, 1931); M. Khashtshevatski, in Di royte velt (August 1931); A. Holdes, in Prolit (Kharkov) (January 1932); Af di shlakht-pozitsyes fun der proletarisher literatur, barikht fun der tsveyter alukrainisher konferents (At the battle positions in proletarian literature, a report from the second All-Ukrainian Conference) (Kiev, 1932), pp. 197-99; Avrom Abtshuk, Etyudn un materialn tsu der geshikhte fun der yidisher literatur bavegung in FSRR (Studies and material for the history of the Yiddish literature movement in the Soviet Union) (Kharkov, 1934); Y. Bronshteyn, in Shtern (Minsk) (October 1934); Y. Dobrushin, in Shtern (November 1934); Dobrushin, Sovetishe dikhtung (Soviet poetry) (Moscow, 1935); Dobrushin, in Eynikeyt (Moscow) (December 18, 1947); Shmuel Niger, in Tog (December 16, 1934); I. Fefer, in Farmest (Kharkov) (October 1934); Fefer, in Eynikeyt (January 1, 1947); A. Gurshteyn, in Sovetish (Moscow) 3 (1935); D. Bergelson, in Forpost (Birobidzhan) 2 (1937); A. Druker, in Sovetishe literatur (Kiev) (February 1938); Y. Nusinov, in Eynikeyt (August 5, 1942); N. Y. Gotlib, in Keneder odler (Montreal) (May 14, 1943); Gotlib, Sovetishe shrayber (Soviet writers) (Montreal, 1945); A. Kushnirov, in Naye prese (Paris) (July 27, 1947); Rivke Rubin, in Eynikeyt (January 7, 1947); B. Mark, in Folksshtime (Lodz) 40 (1947); Mark, in Yidishe shriftn (Lodz) (August-September 1949); Elye (Elias) Shulman, in Getseltn (New York) 17-18 (Winter 1949); Shulman, in Unzer tsayt (New York) (January 1957; July-August 1957; September 1957); Shulman, in Frayland (Paris-New York) (July 1959); Avrom Reyzen, in Di feder (New York) (1949); Nakhmen Mayzil, in Yidishe kultur (New York) (May 1957; June-July 1957); Chone Shmeruk, comp., Pirsumim yehudiim babrit-hamoatsot, 1917-1961 (Jewish publications in the Soviet Union, 1917-1961) (Jerusalem, 1962), see index; A. Pomerants, Di sovetishe haruge malkhes, tsu zeyer 10-tn yortsayt, vegn dem tragishn goyrl fun di yidishe shraybers un der yidisher literatur in sovetnland (The [Jewish writers] murdered by the Soviet government, on their tenth anniversary of their deaths, concerning the tragic fate of the Yiddish writers and Yiddish literature in the Soviet Union) (Buenos Aires: YIVO, 1962), pp. 182-87; M. Grubyan, in Yidishe kultur (June-July 1963); Moshe Basok, Mivar shirat yidish (Selected Yiddish poetry) (Tel Aviv, 1963), pp. 181-84; Yefim Yeshurin, 100 yor moderne yidishe literatur, biblyografisher tsushteyer (100 years of modern Yiddish literature, bibliographical contribution) (New York, 1966); Y. Lifshits and M. Altshuler, comps., Briv fun yidishe sovetishe shraybers (Letters of Soviet Jewish writers) (Jerusalem, 1979/1980), pp. 403-12.
Benyomen Elis

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 441; 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. 290-92.]


            He was born in Berezovke (Berezovka), Kherson district, Ukraine, to a father who ran a store.  He studied in religious elementary school and in the synagogue study hall.  At age eighteen, he attempted to write a speculative text entitled “Tsiur emunot” (Patterns of faith).  For a time he worked for a fish dealer on a large scale.  In 1891 he made aliya to the land of Israel, where he initially worked in the fields of Rishon-Lezion and later as a teacher.  Due to malaria, he emigrated to Argentina and became a colonist in the colony of Clara.  His journalistic activities began with correspondence pieces in Hatsfira (The siren) and Hamelits (The advocate).  Over the years 1909-1911, he served as editor of the monthly journal Der kolonist kooperator (The colonial cooperative), a publication of the Jewish agrarian federation in Argentina.  His most important work was a long piece, “Di geshikhte fun der yidisher kolonizatsye in argentine” (The history of the Jewish colonization of Argentina), which he began publishing in Di idishe tsaytung (The Jewish newspaper) in Buenos Aires in 1927.  This work embraced the entire epoch of the Argentinian Jewish settlement, beginning in the 1850s.  He also published a pamphlet entitled Di grundlage funem tsienizm (The basic situation of Zionism), and he also had in manuscript form a composition in Hebrew on certain views of Ibn Ezra and his influence on the school of thought of Baruch Spinoza.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 3; Y. Botoshanski, in Argentine (Argentina), a collection from Di prese (Buenos Aires, 1938), p. 68; B. Hoykhman, in Argentine, pp. 509-11; Sh. Rozhanski, Dos yidishe gedrukte vort in argentine (The published Yiddish word in Argentina), vol. 1 (Buenos Aires, 1941), pp. 92, 182; P. Kats, Shriftn (Writings), vol. 7 (Buenos Aires, 1947), p. 24; Meyer Burski, in Afn shvel (New York) (January-February 1958).
Benyomen Elis


SHMUEL-YOYSEF FIN (S. J. FUENN) (October 14, 1819-December 22, 1890)
            He was born in Grodno.  He attended the religious elementary schools and yeshivas of Vilna.  There he came to life and became one of the most active contributors to a circle of followers of the Jewish Enlightenment and a partner in the publishing house of Rozenkrants and Shriftzetser, and he published numerous Yiddish storybooks and novels from a number of writers.  He was a teacher of Tanakh and Hebrew in the rabbinical seminary, a local inspector and “educated Jew” with the education administration, and publisher (together with Lipman Hurvits) of the first organ of the Enlightenment in Russia, Pire tsafon (Flowers of the north), 2 issues (1841-1844).  He was also publisher of the weekly Hakarmel (The Carmel) with supplements in Russian and German (1860-1880), the author of an entire series of works, mainly historical and philological, of monographs about Vilna, Kriya neemana (Call to the faithful) (Vilna, 1860; second edition, 1915), XLVI + 298 pp., and a biographical dictionary Kneset yisroel (Gathering of Israel), from the era of Vilna Gaon to his own day (only volume 1 appeared in print, “alef-yud,” 1886-1890).  In Yiddish—albeit amply Germanized—he published: a grammar of the Russian language, entitled Talmud loshn rusiya (Instruction in the Russian language), “the basics of the grammar of this language in the manner…of Graetz and Vostokov,” with numerous notes (Vilna, 1847), 160 pp.; Nidḥe yisrael (Wandering of Israel) (Vilna, 1850), 146 pp.; Sofre yisroel (Jewish writers) (Vilna, 1871), 164 pp.; Divre hayamim livne yisroel (Chronicles of the children of Israel) (Vilna, 1971-1877); Haotsar, otsar leshon hamikra vehamishna (The treasury, a treasury of the language of the Bible and the Mishna) (Warsaw: Aiasef, 1880-1883), 4 vols.; Safa leneemanim (Language for the faithful) (Vilna, 1881), 177 pp.  He also translated into Hebrew a number of German works of fiction, among them Ludwig Philippson’s Yaakov tirado (original: Jakob Tirado) (Vilna, 1881), 144 pp.  Fin’s books were also published in Russian—on the Talmud and on language.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 3; A. Litvin, in Tsukunft (New York) (June 1905); Otsar yisroel (Treasury of Israel), vol. 8 (New York, 1912), pp. 246-47; Kalmen Marmor, Mayn lebns-geshikhte (My life history), vol. 1 (New York, 1959), p. 362; Dr. Gedalia Alkoshi, in Yahadut lita (Jews of Lithuania) (Jerusalem, 1959), pp. 438-41; Dr. Y. Tsinberg, Di bli-tekufe fun der haskole (The [Jewish] Enlightenment in its prime) (New York, 1966), see index.
Yankev Kahan

Sunday 28 October 2018


YUDE FIN (J. FINN) May 22, 1866-1945)
            He was born in Shaki (Šakiai), Suwalk district, Lithuania.  In 1880 he made his way to Leeds, England, and there he became a tailor.  In early 1886 he emigrated to the United States and settled in Boston.  In 1887 he founded the “Jewish Workers-Education Association,” which became a socialist club.  He debuted in print with articles in Morris Winchevsky’s Poylisher idl (Little Polish Jew) in London, and in America he contributed popular scientific articles to: Morgenshtern (Morning star), Folks-advokat (People’s advocate), Arbeter tsaytung (Workers’ newspaper), and Tsukunft (Future).  In 1893 he returned to England.  He wrote regularly in the first year of Morris Meyer’s daily newspaper Di tsayt (The times).  Together with T. Rotshteyn, he published the socialist organs: Di naye tsayt (The new times) and Di naye velt (The new world).  He authored a pamphlet in Yiddish: A vikuekh iber sotsyalizmus (A debate over socialism) (London, 1906), 86 pp.; and an anonymous brochure in English.  He died in London

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 3; Ab. Kahan, in Forverts (New York) (May 13, 1945).
Leyb Vaserman


MEYER (MAX) FILIPS (b. 1874)
            He was born in Belaya Tserkov (Bila Tserkva), Ukraine, to a father who was an old-time barber-surgeon.  In his youth he worked in a cigarette factory and sold newspapers.  In 1893 he came to the United States.  He worked in sweatshops, was active in the trade union movement, and contributed as a cofounder of the Workmen’s Circle.  He published translations from Émile Zola and others in: Dos abend blat (The evening newspaper), Forverts (Forward), Arbayter tsaytung (Workers’ newspaper), Fraye arbeter-shtime (Free voice of labor), and Kepmeykers zhurnal (Capmakers’ journal).  In 1950, at seventy-six years of age, he began to paint.  He was last living in Media, Pennsylvania.

Source: Yankev Glatshteyn, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (December 22, 1961).
Benyomen Elis


            He was from Lithuania.  He studied in Vilkovishki (Vilkaviškis) and published and edited there: Di velt (The world), “pamphlet for scholarship, history, and literature” (1934); Di yidishe velt (The Jewish world), a monthly for history, scholarship, and literature (1934-1935).  In book form: Idisher umet (Jewish gloom), poetry (Vilkaviškis: Olimpya, 1931); Fun shtern a krants (A wreath from a star), poetry (Vilkaviškis, 1932), 24 pp.  He also wrote under the pen names: Eitan Haezrakhi and Ben Yisroel.  Other biographical details remain unknown.

Source: Anthology Lite (Lithuania), vol. 1 (New York, 1951), p. 1573.
Benyomen Elis

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 441.]


YANKEV FIKHMAN (YAAKOV, JACOB FICHMAN) (November 25, 1881-May 18, 1958)
            He was born in Belz (Bălți), Bessarabia.  His father Elye, a simple Jew, made a living by producing sheep’s milk cheese.  Fikhman’s Jewish education did not go beyond Torah with Rashi’s commentary and a smattering of Talmud.  Already from his early youth, he was reading a variety of storybooks and poetry from the generation of the Jewish Enlightenment writers.  Life in a small town was too crowded for him, and he left Belz and roamed about in the areas of Kherson and Podolia, searching for a footing in all manner of work and jobs: journeyman baker, helping out as an assistant in a shop, testing out to be a waiter, a coachman, a porter, and for a certain period of time he was an attendant to a traveling organ-grinder.  He also found the time to learn Russian and German and acquainted himself with a series of books from world literature.  He attempted at one point to compose a poem by himself.  At age fourteen he reached Kishinev with the determination to study in a systematic manner.  In the Bessarabian capital, he had to take up teaching, although he still threw himself into the study of history and culture.  He particularly became very familiar with Russian literature.  His first works (including his translation of a poem by Lermontov) were published in Avrom-Mortkhe Pyurko’s children’s magazine Gan shaashuim (Garden of delights).  In 1901 he came to Odessa.  He had fallen under the influence at this time of Ḥ. N. Bialik.  The first lengthy series of his poetry nonetheless appeared in the second center of Hebrew creation—in Warsaw.  Dovid Frishman published his poems in Hador (The generation), and Sh. L. Gordon published his children’s verse in Olam katan (Small world).  Fikhman moved in 1903 to Warsaw, and there he was heartily welcomed: “Warsaw opened its gates, called out for freedom.”  He was impressed there by the “sparkling feuilletons, the rapidity of reception, and the speed of orientation.”  Jewish Warsaw was full of literary activity and accomplishment, with book publishers and Hebrew newspapers and journals.  He was soon lured to be a regular contributor to Hatsfira (The siren).  In 1905 the revolution erupted in Russia, and the Tsarist authorities shut down all at once all social and literary activities.  Fikhman was forced to return to Bessarabia.  He settled in Kishinev and took up teaching there.  Then, the second pogrom (the first had transpired in 1903) broke out in Kishinev, and he moved to the nearby town of Lyeve (Leova).  Living there was Yude Shteynberg, already at the time a well-known writer.  Fikhman spent three years in Leova.  It was from there that he began his first association with Y. . Brenner, then living in London, England, and editing the monthly Hameorer (The awakening).  Fikhman later prepared for publication works by Yude Shteynberg, Mortkhe-Arn Gintsburg, Hillel Tsaytlin, and Konstantin Abe Shpiro (Warsaw, 1911), Naum Sokolov (1935), and Goldenberg (1946), among others.  He provided each of these publications with a comprehensive preface.  Concerning Fikhman’s criticism, Shmuel Niger wrote: “Through the half-opened door of his own world, he opens wide for us that world.  His criticism, his essays, as well as his poems in a brightly illuminated landscape.”  In 1910 he attended pedagogical courses in Grodno.  He was later in Warsaw, and at the suggestion of Ben-Avigdor, he began to work in publishing books from his [Ben-Avigdor’s] “Groyse biblyotek” (Great Library).  In 1912 he made aliya for the first time to the land of Israel at the invitation of the local teachers’ union to undertaking editorial duties of the monthly youth journal Moledet (Homeland), earlier edited by Sh. Ben-Tsiyon.  At this time there appeared in print his nature poems, which sang of the beauty of the Israeli landscape.  Such poetry with Israeli motifs—especially the cycles “Yehuda” (Judea), “Yerushalaim” (Jerusalem), “Basharon” (On the Sharon plain), and “Rut” (Ruth)—belong to his essential work.  The same is true of his poems from earlier periods, when he painted the Bessarabian landscape with such precision, he was equally here a master of quiet and restrained lyricism.  In 1914 he traveled to Europe, and the outbreak of WWI found him in Berlin, Germany.  He had earlier contemplated publishing a monthly journal there.  Because of his suddenly changed circumstances, he had no choice but to slip across the border, and he was able to reach Odessa.  Already there at the time were Bialik and Y. . Ravnitski.  Fikhman became editor of their press, “Moriya” (Moriah).  He later moved to Moscow, where he became literary editor of Shtibl’s publishing house.  He wrote there a series of historical poems on biblical themes and longer prose works on the same topics.  Fikhman’s first essay collection of criticism, Bavuot (Reflections), was published by Moriya.  Included in it were his essays concerning Job, Kohelet (Ecclesiastes), Esther, Abraham Mapu, Yehuda Leyb Gordon, and Konstantin Abe Shpiro.  When the war ended, Fikhman returned in 1919 to Israel to take over once again the editorship of Moledet (1920-1927, with a break at one point).  He also edited the new, serious, community-literary journal Meuberet (Pregnant) for Zionist youth, and he prepared a string of textbooks for Israeli schools.  In 1922 he came to Warsaw, and there he continued his activities with Shtibl publishers which, because of the Bolshevik upheaval in Russia, had moved to the Polish capital city.  He was also co-editing the quarterly volume Hatekufa (The epoch).  He prepared for publication a Hebrew reader, Lashon vesefer (Language and book) in seven parts, for the study of the Hebrew language and literature in elementary and middle school.  The reader was a magnificently edited school anthology, which served as a literary source for the emerging interwar Jewish generation.  He also edited the literary supplement of Haatid (The future), organ of the pioneer movement in Poland.  In 1924 he was living in Kishinev where he was a member of the editorial board of the Yiddish newspaper Unzer tsayt (Our time).  He returned to Israel in 1925.  Under his editorship, he again brought out a number of literary publications—journals, anthologies, and the like.  He published his own books—poetry and criticism; his Sefer haarets (Book of the land), concerning Israel and its place in the history of the Jewish people with emphasis on the importance of agriculture, with time became one of the foundational texts for preparatory aliya training in agriculture around the world.  Until the final days of his life, Fikhman contributed to the literary supplement of the daily newspaper for workers Davar (Word) in Tel Aviv, and was in charge of the column “Shira veproza” (Poetry and prose).  Among his Hebrew-language works: Givolim (Stalks) (Warsaw, 1913), 143 pp.; Bavuot (Odessa, 1918/1919), 143 pp.; Arava, shire yeladim (Wilderness, children’s poems) (Frankfurt, 1922), 83 pp.; ayim naman byalik, halakha veagada (aim Naman Bialik, Jewish law and homiletics) (Tel Aviv: Devir, 1932/1933), 22 pp.; Ḥayim naḥman byalik, ḥayav umaasaṿ (aim Naman Bialik, his life and work) (Tel Aviv, 1933), 46 pp.; Yeme shemesh, poimot (Days of sun, poems) (Tel Aviv, 1934), 222 pp.; Al hayam, sipurim (By the sea, stories) (Tel Aviv, 1934), 127 pp.; Tselalim al sadot, shirim (Shadows on fields, poems) (Tel Aviv, 1935), 262 pp.; Yaktan betel aviv, sipur (Yaktan in Tel Aviv, a story) (Tel Aviv, 1935), 112 pp.; Anshe beshura, sheva masot (Ordinary people, seven essays) (Tel Aviv, Mosad Bialik, 1938), 319 pp.; Ayelet haemek, sipurim (Doe of the valley, stories) (Tel Aviv, 1941/1942; 1966 rpt.), 178 pp.; Aviv beshomron (Spring in Shomron) (Tel Aviv, 1943), 66 pp.; Yosi bagalil, sipurim (Yosi of the Galilee, stories) (Tel Aviv, 1943/1944), 207 pp.; Peat sade (Edge of a field) (Tel Aviv, 1944), 239 pp.; Shirat byalik (The poetry of Bialik) (Jerusalem: Mosad Bialik, 1944), 464 pp.; Demuyot kedumim (Figures from antiquity) (Jerusalem: Mosad Bialik, 1948), 359 pp.; Amat habinyan (The builder’s cubit) (Jerusalem: Mosad Bialik, 1951), 518 pp.; Bevdet hayotser (In the workshop) (Tel Aviv, 1951); Bene hador (A generation: storytellers, poets, people) (Tel Aviv: Am oved, 1952), 360 pp.; Afule hahaskala, avraham mapu, yehuda leyb gordon, perets smolenskin (Champions of the [Jewish] Enlightenment: Avraham Mapu, Yehuda Leyb Gordon, Perets Smolenskin) (Tel Aviv: Tverski, 1952), 282 pp.; Ruot menagnot (Winds playing) (Jerusalem, 1952), 402 pp.; Arugot (Garden beds) (Jerusalem: Mosad Bialik, 1954), 399 pp.  He translated into Hebrew works by Goethe, Heine, Bunin, Herzl, Anatole France, F. Yakubson, Hesse, and others.  He was a bilingual but mainly a Hebrew writer.  In Yiddish he wrote rarely and little.  Almost all of his Yiddish works were collected in Regnboygn, zikhroynes, eseyen un lider (Rainbow, memoirs, essays, and poems) (Buenos Aires, 1953), 348 pp., edited by Yankev Botoshanski and Y. L. Gruzman, a volume which his fellow Bessarabians presented to him on his seventieth birthday.  The book includes a small number of poems, essays, travel narratives, and several short pieces in other genres.  In 1908 he published poetry, articles, and essays in Dos yidishe folk (The Jewish people) in Vilna, and he compiled the first anthology of Yiddish poetry, Di yudishe muze (The Yiddish muse) (Warsaw: Velt biblyotek, 1911), 240 pp.  In 1913 there was published Fikhman’s reader for Yiddish language and literature, Far shul un folk, khrestomatye, bashtimt far geveynlekhe un ovnt-shuln (For school and the people, a reader, designated for regular and evening schools) (Warsaw: A Gitlin), 203 pp.  He published poems in: Yud (Jew) and Yidishe velt (Jewish world), and his extraordinary children’s poetry in Yiddish appeared in book form in Vos der kval zingt (What the source sings) (Kiev, 1918).  A special edition of his children’s booklet was called Shabes in vald (Sabbath in the woods) (Kiev, 1918; Warsaw: Kultur lige, 1924), 15 pp.  In Morris Basin’s Antologye, 500 yor yidishe poezye (Anthology, 500 years of Yiddish poetry) (New York, 1917), three of his poems appear, and in the short biography of him, it notes of him: “the Hebrew-Yiddish poet and critic.”  According to Zalmen Reyzen’s Leksikon (Biographical dictionary), Fikhman prepared for publication in Yiddish a partial edition of his writings, and his book on the poetry of the Bible had already gone to press.  At different times, his essays and criticism were published in Yiddish in: Bikher-velt (Book world), Literarishe bleter (Literary leaves) in Warsaw, and in other anthologies and collections, mainly in Warsaw, Odessa, and Bessarabia.  In 1930 a pamphlet of his was published in Yiddish: Erets yisroel un dos yudishe kind, a vort tsu unzer ertsihungs-frage (The land of Israel and the Jewish child, a word on our educational problem) (Warsaw: Youth division, Jewish National Fund), 16 pp.  Living in Israel, Fikhman remained a devoted friend of the Yiddish language, its literature, and its writers.  Together with Bialik he came out sharply opposed to “Gedud megine hasafa” (Legion of defenders of the [Hebrew] language), the militant opponents of Yiddish.  He enthusiastically responded to the initiative on the part of the “Histadrut haovdim” (Federation of labor) to publish a quarterly periodical in Yiddish entitled Di goldene keyt (The golden chain), and his essay in its first number (Winter 1949) spoke of his own ties to the Yiddish language: “Even today, when Hebrew as a vernacular possesses thousands of living sources, when we have the honor of being able to hear Hebrew from the sweet mouths of young Jewish children, we still very much need the influx and influence of Yiddish—from its generations of cultivated melodiousness and graphicness which carries with it such an abundance of Hebrew creativeness and our great poetry.”  To stimulate Yiddish and Hebrew literary work throughout all Jewish communities around the world, the Association of Bessarabian Jews established in 1964 a literary prize in Fikhman’s name; it is awarded each year to writers who compose in Yiddish and Hebrew.  “He was a poet in the tradition of the French lyrical poets,” noted Froym Oyerbakh, “whom he loved dearly.  However, to the French poetic tradition, he added the Jewish piety and light touch of the Bessarabian steppe.  The combination gave form to his poetry, with the addition of a mood that shuddered to its depths with graceful ease.  His poetry does not incite, does not demand, does not argue, but in pastel colors it paints and with thin features it shivers in the reader’s sensibility.”  “Yankev Fikhman,” wrote Meylekh Ravitsh, “he was a poet and literary critic, mainly of Hebrew [literature], but his literary essays were not criticism in the ordinary sense of the word.  He was a builder of bridges between hearts, the great heart of the poet and the heart of the reader.  Although quantitatively Yankev Fikhman belonged mainly to Hebrew literature—qualitatively, he belonged to both of our languages: one literature.  His poetry and essays in Yiddish were of the finest quality, an integral part of Yiddish literature.”  “We are with Yankev Fikhman before a world,” noted Yoysef Likhtenboym, “whose mystical beauty he captured as something absolute; as a spiritual harmony was manifest in one and only one image.  In other words, his was a poetry which obeyed a single will—the will of the artist.  A refined atmosphere predominates here, a harmony of thought and feeling.  The language of this atmosphere hovers continually between vision and concrete image, employing examples from the Roman world, in which painting, relief, and music combine as one.”  “If Fikhman…enriched Hebrew literature with a full storehouse,” wrote Moyshe Shtarkman, “he gave to Yiddish literature only a measure of his creative copiousness.  This Yiddish measure, however small in quantity, was artistically rich in quality.  His Yiddish poetry and essays have artistic attributes of Fikhman’s Hebrew….  He edited the first anthology of Yiddish poetry, Di yudishe muze, and the textbook, Far shul un folk, which appeared shortly before WWI.  When Yiddish children’s literature was still in diapers, Fikhman brought it artistic gifts of poetry and prose….  His works for children in Yiddish in book form include: Shabes in vald and Vos der kval zingt (Kiev, 1918).  Fikhman also enriched Hebrew with the beauty of Yiddish works through translations which he published in volumes he edited or to which he contributed….  Fikhman’s introduction to the anthology Di yudishe muze was one of his very first efforts to give an aesthetic appreciation to the Yiddish lyric and to its development.”  He died in Tel Aviv.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 3; Shmuel Niger, in Der fraynd (New York) (November-December 1920); M. Ribalov, in Tsukunft (New York) (February 1923; March 1924); N. Mayzil, Noente un vayte (Near and far), vol. 2 (Vilna, 1926), pp. 164-65; Mayzil, Tsvishn khurbn un oyfboy, bagegenishn, ayndrukn un batrakhtungen, fun a rayze iber eyrope un erets-yisroel (Between destruction and reconstruction, encounters, impressions, and considerations from a trip through Europe and the land of Israel) (New York, 1947), pp. 214 ff; Mayzil, Tsurikblikn un perspektivn (Retrospectives and perspectives) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1962); Dr. Sh. Bernshteyn, in Tsukunft (January 1927); Y. D. Berkovitsh, in Forverts (New York) (January 25, 1931)—this is also included in his book, Undzere rishoynem, zikhroynes-dertseylungen vegn sholem-aleykhem un zayn dor (Our founding fathers, memoirs and stories of Sholem-Aleichem and his generation) (Tel Aviv: Hamenorah, 1966) and in its Hebrew translation Harishonim kivene adam (The founders as human beings); Y. M. Biderman, in Trybun akademicki (Warsaw) (1932); Mortkhe Yofe, in Tsukunft (August 1942); Y. Y. Sigal, in Keneder odler (Montreal) (May 31, 1942); F. Kon, in Ikuf (Buenos Aires) (March-April 1943); Gitl Mayzil, in Yidishe kultur (New York) (October 1945); A. Epshteyn, in Tsukunft (January 1947); B. Mark, in Yidishe shriftn (Lodz) (March 1949); Y. Korn, Keshenyev, 200 yor yidish lebn in der hoyptshtot fun besarabye (Kishinev, 200 years of life in the capital of Bessarabia) (Buenos Aires, 1950), pp. 272ff; Moyshe Shtarkman, in Idisher kemfer (New York) (May 9, 1952); Y. L. Gruzman, in Keneder odler (July 22, 1952); the foreword to Fikhman, Regnboygn (Rainbow) (Buenos Aires, 1953); Yankev Botoshanski, in Der shpigl (Buenos Aires) (April 1953); Botoshanski, in Di prese (Buenos Aires) (May 21, 1958); Dr. A. Mukdoni, in Tsukunft (November 1953); Yankev Glatshteyn, in Idisher kemfer (January 15, 1954); Glatshteyn, In tokh genumen (In essence) (New York, 1956), p-. 267-73; B. Grobard, in Tsukunft (May-June 1954); Grobard, in Keneder odler (June 27, 1954); M. Ungerfeld, in Keneder odler (August 1, 1956); Y. Abishub, in Letste nayes (Tel Aviv) (May 24, 1957); M. Osherovitsh, in Forverts (New York) (May 24, 1958); Froym Oyerbakh, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (May 24, 1958; February 7, 1960); Oyerbakh, in Svive (New York) (Tevet [= December-January] 1965-1966); Dr. Y. Ustri-Dan, in Di shtime (Mexico City) (May 31, 1958); Meylekh Ravitsh, in Keneder odler (June 9, 1958); Ravitsh, Mayn leksikon (My lexicon), vol. 3 (Montreal, 1958), p. 341; Y. Ivri, in Keneder odler (August 4, 1958); Avraham Shaanan, Milon hasifrut haadasha haivrit vehakelalit (Dictionary of modern Hebrew and general literature) (Tel Aviv, 1959), pp. 605-6; H. Kruk, Togbukh fun vilner geto (Diary from the Vilna ghetto) (New York, 1961), pp. 301ff; Chone Shmeruk, comp., Pirsumim yehudiim babrit-hamoatsot, 1917-1961 (Jewish publications in the Soviet Union, 1917-1961) (Jerusalem, 1962); L. Shpizman, Geshtaltn (Images) (Buenos Aires, 1962), pp. 143-47; Yehoshua A. Gilboa, Hebreishe bikher-shank (Hebrew book closet) (Tel Aviv, 1965); Yefim Yeshurin, 100 yor moderne yidishe literatur, biblyografisher tsushteyer (100 years of modern Yiddish literature, bibliographical contribution) (New York, 1966), pp. 112, 192, 247, 541; Getzel Kressel, Leksikon hasifrut haivrit (Handbook of Hebrew literature), vol. 2 (Meravya, 1967), bibliography of his Hebrew works; Nurit Govrin, ed., Yaakov fikhman, mivḥar maamre bikoret al yetsirato (Yaakov Fikhman, a selection of critical essays on his writings) (Tel Aviv, 1971), 230 pp., including a bibliography.

Y. M. Biderman

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 441.]