MENAKHEM KADISHEVITSH (1895-1937)
He was a journalist, descended from a Hassidic family. In his youth, he was active in the Bund. In the 1920s, he was a domestic contributor to the Kharkov newspaper Der shtern (The star), and from 1928 he was working with Gezerd (All-Union Association for the Agricultural Settlement of Jewish Workers in the USSR) to help Jews settle in Birobidzhan. On April 25, 1928, when the first group of migrants departed from Ukraine for Birobidzhan, he joined them and wrote reportage pieces about them—how they were organized and what motivated them—for Der emes (Truth) and Der shtern. From his correspondence pieces, which were published in the Soviet and foreign Yiddish press over the course of several months, one can reconstruct a chronicle of this era. He also wrote articles of political and literary criticism in Veker (Alarm) in Minsk and Bildungs-fragn (Issues in education) in Homyel', among other venues. In the summer of 1931, he was back in Kharkov, working to get more Jews interested in the trek to Birobidzhan. He was effectively the first historian of Birobidzhan literature. In the Kiev journal, Visnshaft un revolutsye (Science and revolution) 2 (1935) and 3 (1936), he placed a long work entitled: “Birebidzhan in der literatur” (Birobidzhan in literature). This was based on his thesis defended at the Kiev Institute for Jewish Culture, of which he was a member from 1934; in February of that same year, when a section in the Institute was established for Birobidzhan studies, he was appointed its head. The press at the time announced that the section’s task was collecting past and present information, press, documents, and other materials about Birobidzhan, studying the economic development of the region, organizing research on the area, its natural wealth, the terrain, the climate, and mountain resources, preparing researchers for the region, and the like. The section, though, never got off the ground. In July 1936 the chairman of the regional executive committee in Birobidzhan, Yoysef Liberberg, was arrested, and soon thereafter the same fate befell the leading figures of the Kiev Institute, among them Kadishevitsh. His last publication was “Es vakst a literatur vegn birebidzhan” (A literature about Birobidzhan is growing), which appeared in the New York journal Nay-lebn (New life), a publication of American IKOR (Yidishe kolonizatsye organizatsye in rusland [Jewish colonization organization in Russia]), in July 1936.
In book form: Birebidzhan (Birobidzhan) (Moscow: Gezerd, 1931), 48 pp.; Birebidzhan haynt, kurtse yedies vegn birebidzhan zum 1932 yor un praktishe onvayzungen vegn iberṿandern ahin (Birobidzhan today, brief information about Birobidzhan in 1932 and practical instructions for migrating here) (Vinnytsa, 1931), enlarged edition (Moscow: Emes, 1932), 120 pp.; Di sotsyalistishe boyung in birebidzhan fodert? (Socialist construction in Birobidzhan demands!) (Moscow: Emes, 1932), 8 pp. Among his pen names: Menakhem, M. Nakhem, and Kh. Mires. He died in the Soviet gulag.
Sources: Autobiographical information; Aleksander 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. 419, 421.
[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. 305-6.]