Sunday 10 February 2019


YANKL KANTOR (1886-September 30, 1964)

            He was a journalist and demographer, born in Minsk, the descendant of a pious merchant family. He began publishing in 1906 and was active among the Zionist socialists, and later with the Fareynikte (United socialists) and the Bund. From 1917 he was in Russia and a member of the Communist Party. He assumed high positions in the Soviet apparatus. From 1925 he was a member of the central committee of minority nationalities in the Ukrainian government and secretary of Komerd (Committee for Land Settlement of Jewish Laborers) in Ukraine. He began writing with articles and fictional work for Der nayer veg (The new way) in Vilna. He wrote about political economy and literary and pedagogical topics for virtually all legal and illegal Yiddish publications of the parties to which he belonged. He was a member of the editorial board of the journal Ratnbildung (Soviet education) in Kharkov over the years 1928-1937. He published demographic and statistical work about Jews in Ukraine. He was the principal sponsor of statistical materials on social and economic phenomena among the Jews. He took up the collection of materials, documents, and press accounts for the history of Jews in the Soviet Union, especially their role in the revolution. His works constituted an important source for the study of Jewish history in the USSR. In the 1950s, when there were no Yiddish publications in the Soviet Union, he published a series of articles in Warsaw’s Folks-shtime (People’s voice). He died in Moscow.

            In Bleter far geshikhte (Pages for history) (Warsaw) 15 (1962/1963), he offered an analysis of Jews in the Soviet census of 1959. In Folks-shtime of May 18, 1963, he placed an article on Soviet Jewish heroes in WWII (from a longer work). He edited: the weekly Bildungs-fragn (Educational issues) in Homyel' (Gomel); the collection Tsu hilf dem shtetlikhn lerer (Help for the town teacher) (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1926), 224 pp.; Lenins ruf, lernbukh far veynik-ivredike (Lenin’s call, a textbook for the nearly illiterate), part 2, with Moyshe Maydanski (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1926), 226 pp.; Dos ferte yor yidishe erd-aynordenung (The fourth year of Jewish land management), with Aleksander Tshemeriski and Avrom Merezhin (Moscow-Kharkov-Minsk: Central Publishers, 1931), 32 pp.

His books include: Politisher alefbeys (Political alphabet) (Moscow: Krasnaya Nov, 1922), 95 pp.; Tsu hilf dem ibervanderer (Help for the immigrant) (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1926), 69 pp., second edition (Kharkov, 1928); Vos darf visn yeder birger tsu di valn in di ratn (What every citizen should know about the elections in the councils) (Kharkov: Ukrainian State Publishers, 1926), 28 pp.; Tsen yor natsyonale politik fun der ratnmakht (Ten years of national politics under the Soviet authorities) (Kharkov: Central Publishers, 1927), 66 pp.; Vos darfn mir visn vegn di ratn (What we need know about the councils) (Kharkov: Central Publishers, 1928), 39 pp.; Ratnboyung in der yidisher svive (Soviet construction in the Jewish community) (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1928), 228 pp.; Di yidishe bafelkerung in ukraine (The Jewish population in Ukraine) (Kharkov: Ukrainian State Publishers, 1929), 102 pp.; Di yidishe bafelkerung fun ukraine (The Jewish population from Ukraine) (Kharkov: Ukrainian State Publishers, 1929), 84 pp.; Di yidishe erd-aynordenung af ukraine (Jewish land management in Ukraine) (Moscow: Gezerd, 1929), 32 pp.; Tsu der harbstiker farzey-kampanye (The autumn sowing campaign) (Kharkov: Central Publishers, 1929), 28 pp.; Di kolektivizirung fun di yidishe poyerim in ukraine (The collectivization of the Jewish farmers in Ukraine) (Moscow-Minsk, 1930), 61 pp.; Ratnboyung tsvishn di yidishe masn (Soviet construction among the Jewish masses) (Moscow: Emes, 1932), 72 pp. Someone by the name of Y. Kantor wrote a booklet called Di korbones fir di idealen (The sacrifices for ideals) (Odessa, 1905/1906), 16 pp.—given the spirit of this booklet, it is likely that this is the same Yankl Kantor.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 3; Chone Shmeruk, comp., Pirsumim yehudiim babrit-hamoatsot, 1917-1961 (Jewish publications in the Soviet Union, 1917-1961) (Jerusalem, 1961), see index; M. Altshuler, Yahadut berit-hamoatsot baaspaklarya shel itonut yidish bepolin, bibliyografya 1945-1970 (The Jews of the Soviet Union from the perspective of the Yiddish press in Poland, bibliography) (Jerusalem, 1975); Sefer pinsk (Album for Pinsk), vol. 1 (1966); Yeshurin archive, YIVO (New York); M. Altschuler, Russian Publications on Jews and Judaism in the Soviet Union (Jerusalem, 1970); A. A. Greenbaum, Jewish Scholarship in Soviet Russia (Jerusalem, 1978); C. Berlin, ed., Studies in Jewish Bibliography, History, and Literature in Honor of I. E. Kiev (New York, 1971), pp. 145-59; R. Ainsztein, in Jewish Social Studies 28 (1966), p. 3.

Dr. Avrom Grinboym

[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. 318-19.]

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