Monday 19 November 2018


RAKHMIEL (YERAKHMIEL, RICHARD) FELDMAN (September 15, 1897-February 14, 1968)
            He was born in Skopishok (Skapiškis), Lithuania.  He emigrated with his mother to join his father in Johannesburg.  There he attended a government school.  He began writing in English in 1918.  He wrote for Yiddish and Anglophone Jewish periodicals in South Africa and for the English press in Johannesburg.  From 1943 to 1954, he was a member of the South African Labor Party, a congressman from the Tranvsvaal Province for the city of Johannesburg.  He wrote frequently in English on Yiddish literature.  He translated Perets’s stories into English.  In book form: Shvarts un vays, nayn dertseylungen fun dorem-afrikaner lebn (Black and white, nine stories from South African life) (Warsaw, 1935), 129 pp.; Treyers (Sad ones) (Johannesburg, 1945), 45 pp.; Shvarts un vays (Black and white), collected stories (New York: Tsiko, 1957), 231 pp.  He died in Johannesburg, South Africa.  “Feldman is a well-known community leader,” wrote Y. Kharlash, “in Johannesburg.  All Jewish cultural beginnings in South Africa are tied to his name.  He was also a political leader and writer in general throughout the country.  A characteristic feature in Feldman’s community and journalistic activity is always the emotions mixed in with the matter of black-and-white, which is so hot and has so come to a head in life as a whole in South Africa.  This sensibility is also the most important motive force for the majority of his stories of South Africa in his volume Shvarts un vays.  Feldman approaches the life of Blacks, moved by an ethical imperative before anything else.  The Blacks are persecuted in South Africa without any justification whatsoever.  Why?  This is the principal motif that always lies beneath Feldman’s stories.”

Sources: Meylekh Ravitsh, in Folkstsaytung (Warsaw) (August 21, 1936); Ravitsh, in Der shpigl (Buenos Aires) (March 1946); Y. Kharlash, in Tsukunft (New York) (December 1957); Y. Tsudiker, in Der shpigl (April-July 1958).
Yankev Birnboym

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