Friday 22 February 2019


MORTKHE (MORDECAI) KOSOVER (1908-December 3, 1969)
            A researcher and journalist, he was born in Vilna.  In 1926 he graduated from the Jewish senior high school in Vilna.  Around 1928 he left for Israel where he was a student at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.  He belonged to a group of fighters on behalf of Yiddish in Tel Aviv.  In 1938 he moved to the United States.  He was the first director of the YIVO library in New York and was tied to YIVO from its founding in Vilna.  He received his doctoral degree from Johns Hopkins University.  In 1950 he became an instructor, later a professor, of Hebrew literature in Brooklyn College until his death.  He was engaged in journalistic and increasingly in scholarly work.  He contributed to: Vilner tog (Vilna day), Literarishe bleter (Literary leaves), Der tog (The day), Forverts (Forward), Yidishe shprakh (Yiddish language), and Hadoar (The mail).  He was initially involved in the Groyser verterbukh fun der yidisher shprakh (Great dictionary of the Yiddish language) (New York, 1961-).  Among Kosover’s longer essays: “Shayles-tshuves fun r’ yoyel sirkin” (Responsa of R. Joel Sirkin), Historishe shriftn (Historical writings) 2; “Der inlendisher handl fun poylishe yidn in 16tn un 17tn yorhundert” (Domestic trade among Polish Jews in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries), Yivo-bleter (Pages from YIVO) (1940); “Di khevre poyle tsedek in yerusholaim” (The association Poyle Tsedek in Jerusalem), Yivo-bleter (1941); Leksikon fun meforshim un perushim in yehoyeshes heores tsum tanakh (Lexicon of sources and exegetes in Yehoash’s notes on the Hebrew Bible) (New York, 1949); “Vilne, yerusholaim delita” (Vilna, the Jerusalem of Lithuania), in Lite (Lithuania), vol. 1 (New York, 1951); Yidishe maykholim, a shtudye in kultur-geshikhte un shprakh-forshung (Jewish foods, a study in cultural history and linguistics) (New York, 1958), 145 pp., a part of an unfinished cultural historical study which also appeared in English.  With M. Unger, he compiled Yankev shatski-biblyografye (Yankev Shatski bibliography) (New York, 1939), 81 pp.; and with A. Duker, Mina leyitsak, bibliyografya shel kitve yitsak rivkind (Offering to Yitsak, bibliography of the writing of Yitsak Rivkind) (New York, 1949), 81 pp.  He served as a co-editor on the Algemeyne entsiklopedye (General encyclopedia), vols. 6-7 (1963).  He wrote for it a lengthy essay, “Geshikhte fun der hebreyisher prese” (History of the Hebrew press).  In English, among other items, he published the book: Arabic elements in Palestinian Yiddish: The Old Ashkenazic Jewish Community in Palestine, Its History and Its Language (Jerusalem, 1966), XVI + 446 pp.  He died in New York.

Kosover and his brothers

Sources: Yankev Glatshteyn, In tokh genumen (In essence), vol. 1 (Buenos Aires, 1960), pp. 59-65; Shloyme Bikl, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (May 21, 1967); Yudel Mark, in Forverts (New York) (December 21, 1969); Yeshurin archive, YIVO (New York); Y. Ts. Shargel, Fun onheyb on (From the beginning) (Tel Aviv, 1977).
Yekhezkl Lifshits

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