Monday 27 May 2019


PHILIP MAX RASKIN (December 24, 1880-February 6, 1944)
            A poet in English and Yiddish, he was born in Shklov (Szkłów).  His Jewish name was Fayvl-Mortkhe.  He came from a wealthy family.  He studied in religious elementary school and privately Hebrew and Talmud; and he spent three years in the Minsk senior high school.  From 1897 he was studying at the polytechnical school in Zurich.  In 1899 he came to England and two years later graduated from the royal institute for literature and science in Leeds.  In 1915 he emigrated to the United States, where he was active in Zionist affairs.  He debuted in print in Russian, and around 1910 switched entirely to English and published many books.  In Yiddish he published poems mostly in his London years in: Di yudishe tsukunft (The Jewish future) in Cracow-London-New York (1904); Der veker (The alarm) in London (1909), also serving as editor; Yugend-shtrahlen (Youth beams [of light]) in London (1915); Nyu-yorker vokhnblat (New York weekly newspaper); and Unzer bukh (Our book) in New York; among other serials.  His work also appeared in: Morris Bassin, Amerikaner yidishe poezye (American Yiddish poetry) (New York, 1940); Nakhmen Mayzil, Amerike in yidishn vort (America in the Yiddish word) (New York, 1955); Yoyel Entin, Yidishe poetn, hantbukh fun yidisher dikhtung (Yiddish poets, a handbook of Yiddish poetry), vol. 2 (New York: Jewish National Labor Alliance and Labor Zionist Party, 1927); Mortkhe Yofe, Erets-yisroel in der yidisher literatur (Israel in Yiddish literature), anthology (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1961).  His work included: Geto-lieder (Ghetto poems), with a preface by Sholem-Aleichem (Leeds, 1910), 148 pp.; Idishe lider (Yiddish poetry) (New York: N. M. Mayzel, 1919), 268 pp.  “The majority of his poems,” wrote Zalmen Reyzen, “both in Yiddish and in English, are on nationalist or Zionist motifs.”  He died in New York.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 4; Kitve rafael shoet (The writings of Rafael Shoet) (New York, 1943), pp. 187-94; Yeshurin archive, YIVO (New York); Leonard Prager, A Bibliography of Yiddish Periodicals in Great Britain (1867-1967) (Cincinnati, 1969).
Berl Cohen

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