Tuesday 9 October 2018


LEYB (LAYB) FUKS (b. December 29, 1908)
            He was born in Kalisz, Poland, into a rabbinical family.  Until age thirteen he studied with his father, from whom he acquired a love of languages and literatures.  He later studied at the Tachkemoni seminary in Warsaw.  In 1929 he graduated from the Polish Hebrew high school in Kalisz.  He was later a teacher of Hebrew and Jewish history in the Kalisz Tachkemoni school.  At the same time, he was active in the Hashomer Hatsair (Young guard) movement.  In 1932 he left Poland and studied at the Universities of Nancy, Brussels, and Amsterdam; and in 1939 he received his doctoral degree in philosophy and literature.  Until 1940 he worked as a teacher in Jewish supplemental schools in Brussels, Antwerp, and Amsterdam (where he lived through WWII).  From 1946 he was the librarian of the Bibliotheca Rosenthaliana of the University of Amsterdam.  From the academic year 1964-1965, he was a lecturer in Hebrew language and literature and the history of Yiddish and Yiddish literature at the University of Amsterdam.  He began his work as a writer with novels and debuted in print in the weekly newspaper Kalisher lebn (Kalisz life) in 1925 and with Hebrew correspondence pieces in Hashomer hatsair in Warsaw.  Until 1939 he contributed to: Belgishe bleter (Belgian sheets) in Antwerp; and Undzer ruf (Our call) in Brussels.  From 1945 (although he continued to publish various literary works, articles, and essays), he devoted himself lamost entirely to researching Old Yiddish literature and language.  This served to make him one of the most important researchers in this field.  He contributed work to Dutch periodical publications, including literary and bibliographical treatments.  Longer published works include: Die hebräische Literatur (Hebrew literature) and Die jiddische Literatur (Yiddish literature), in Die Literaturern der Welt (Literatures of the world) (Zurich, 1964).  In book form (Yiddish): Als der sof iz gut iz ales gut (All’s well that ends well), an anonymous Old Yiddish comedy from the late-eighteenth century, with notes, a modernized version of the text, and a preface in Yiddish and English (Paris, 1955), 120 pp.  His own work in book form (in other languages) would include: Het leven der Joden in de Sovjet-Unie (The lives of Jews in the Soviet Union), Massada-serie 6 (Amsterdam, 1947), 105 pp; The Oldest Known Literary Documents of Yiddish Literature (c. 1382) (Leiden: Brill, 1957), 2 volumes (facsimile edition, with notes, transcription, transliteration, and a German translation); Meesters der jiddische vertelkunst (Masters of Yiddish storytelling) (Amsterdam, 1959), 175 pp.; De zeven provinciën in beroering, hoofdstukken uit een jiddische kroniek over de jaren 1740-1752 (The seven provinces in turmoil: chapters from a Yiddish chronicle about the years 1740-1752), by Abraham Chaim Braatbard (Amsterdam, 1960), 158 pp.; Die hebräischen und aramäischen Quellen des altjiddischen Epos Melokîm-Bûk (The Hebrew and Aramaic sources of the ancient Yiddish epic Melokhim-bukh) (Assen: Van Gorcum, 1964), 123 pp.  Fuks translated from Yiddish into Dutch: Helmond’s “Shimshen hasheni” (Samson II) (1955) and Itsik Manger’s Di vunderlekhe lebns-bashraybung fun shmuel-abe abervo, dos bukh fun gan-eyden (The amazing life story of Shmuel-Aba Abervo, the book from the Garden of Eden) as Het boek van het paradijs, het wonderlijke levensverhaal van Sjmoel Abbe Aberwo (Amsterdam, 1958).  He selected and published: F. Falk, Das Schemuelbuch des Mosche Esrim Wearba, ein biblisches Epos aus dem 15. Jahrhundert (The Shmuel-bukh of Moses 24, a biblical epic of the fifteenth century) (Assen: Van Gorcum, 1961), 2 vols.  From 1967 he was editor of the semi-annual work in Dutch on the history of Jews in Holland, Studia Rosenthalia.  He was last living in Amsterdam.

Sources: Yivo-biblyografye (YIVO bibliography), part 2, 1942-1950 (New York, 1950), see index; N. Gris, in Morgn-frayhayt (New York) (December 4, 1955); Dr. A. Mukdoni, in Tsukunft (New York) (April 1956); Moyshe Shklyar, in Folksshtime (Warsaw) (October 31, 1956); A. M. Haberman, in Hapoel-hatsair (Tel Aviv) (December 24, 1957); H. Boym, in Yidishe shprakh (New York) (April 1960); Elye (Elias) Shulman, in Keneder odler (Montreal) (March 17, 1961); Shulman, in Folks un velt (New York) (February 1961); Shulman, in Kultur un dertsiung (New York) (November 1966); Dr. N. Ziskind, in Jewish Bookland (New York) (January 1963); Henrietta Boaz, in Haarets (Tel Aviv) (May 29, 1964); D. Zavadzki, in Arbeter vort (Paris) (October 29, 1965); Yontev Levinski, in Pinkes (New York) (1965), p. 43; Dr. M. Weinreich, in Yivo-bleter (New York) (1966), p. 328; Dr. Y. Meytlis, in Tsukunft (January 1967).
Khayim Leyb Fuks

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