Friday 7 December 2018


NOKHUM FRIDMAN (1906-1976)

            He was a Soviet journalist, poet, and translator, born in the town of Lemush (Lemeshi?), Byelorussia. He went to Homyel' (Gomel) to study at the pedagogical technical school, and he was already then placing work in periodicals: sketches, criticism, and book reviews. Then, until 1929 he studied in the Yiddish literature department, one of its first students, at the Number Two Moscow State University. For a time he worked as a teacher in Jewish schools. He was among the first Yiddish cultural leaders to immigrate to Birobidzhan, which became his hometown until his death. He debuted in print with sketches in: Yungvald (Young forest) in Moscow (1925). Later, he contributed to: Pyoner (Pioneer) and Emes (Truth) in Moscow; Birobidzhaner shtern (Birobidzhan star) for which he served as secretary of the editorial board, Forpost (Outpost), and Sovetish heymland (Soviet homeland), the literary almanacs Birobidzhan 1936 and Birobidzhan 1948, and Di yidishe oytonome gegnt birobidzhan (The Jewish autonomous region, Birobidzhan) (1960)—and he also served as co-editor of the last three of these. He spent the lion’s share of his career in Birobidzhan. He and a handful of fellow Homyel' colleagues established a commune there, which set itself the task of uprooting the Taiga, plowing the virgin soil to earn their keep. Some time later, he returned to Moscow, graduated from the institute, and then went back to Birobidzhan and took up leading positions at the local provincial newspaper Birobidzhaner shtern and Birobidzhanskaia Zvezda (Birobidzhan star). He went to the front during WWII and worked in the army press, before returning to Birobidzhan. He was purged in 1949, rehabilitated in 1956, and again returned to Birobidzhan. Until the end of his life, he edited both of the local newspapers, writing reviews, sketches, and articles, and educating younger journalists.

Sources: Biblyografishe yorbikher fun yivo (Bibliographic yearbooks from YIVO) (Warsaw, 1928), see index; Dos yidishe bukh in sovetnfarband (The Yiddish book in the Soviet Union) (Moscow), see index; N. Mayzil, Dos yidishe shafn un der yidisher shrayber in sovetn-farband (Jewish creation and the Jewish writer in the Soviet Union) (New York, 1959), see index; Chone Shmeruk, comp., Pirsumim yehudiim babrit-hamoatsot, 1917-1961 (Jewish publications in the Soviet Union, 1917-1961) (Jerusalem, 1961), see index.

Yankev Kahan

[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. 299-300.]

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