Wednesday 21 November 2018


TUVYE (TOBIAS) FENSTER (1864-March 21, 1959)
            He was born in Szumowo, Lomzhe district, Poland.  He studied in religious elementary school and synagogue study hall, and with private tutors for his general education.  In his early youth he accompanied his father on distant voyages—across the Urals, to Siberia, and to Finland.  Over the years 1885-1889, he served in the Russian army.  Later, until 1915, he worked as a banker, a merchant, and a community leader in Volkovisk (Wołkowysk) where he was chairman of the Jewish community council.  He was in Russia during the years of WWI, and later until 1924 he managed a factory in Vologda.  He left Russia in 1924, lived for a time in Danzig, and from 1926 in Belgium until the Nazi occupation.  He supported himself by writing and by running the Jewish people’s university in Antwerp.  When the Nazis captured Belgium, he fled to France, and until liberation he worked as a gardener in a church.  He lived in Antwerp over the years 1946-1950, and from 1950 until his death, he was in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  He began his literary work with stories of the lives of Jewish people in Di yudishe prese (The Jewish press) in Antwerp (1926); and he went on to publish stories and novels on historical Jewish topics, and essays on literature and painting in: Di yudishe prese (1926-1939); Forverts (Forward) in New York; Keneder odler (Canadian eagle) in Montreal; and Idishe tsaytung (Jewish newspaper) in Rio de Janeiro, to which he was a regular contributor until his death.  He also placed work in: Di prese (The press) in Buenos Aires; and Folksblat (People’s newspaper) and Haynt (Today) in Uruguay; among others.  He died in Rio.  Posthumously there appeared his Geklibene shriftn (Selected writings) (Rio de Janeiro, 1961), 337 pp., with colored paintings and a preface and biography written by N. Vayner.

Sources: Dr. M. Aynhorn, ed., Volkovisker yizker-bukh (Wołkowysk memorial volume) (New York, 1949), pp. 269-73; Y. Levinski, Lomzhe (Lomzhe) (New York, 1957), p. 236; Yankev Botoshanski, in Der veg (Mexico City) (December 5, 1961); Y. Galay, in Keneder odler (Montreal) (December 18, 1961).
Khayim Leyb Fuks

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