Tuesday 21 May 2019


ZALMEN RATNER (May 15, 1885-1938)

            He was a bibliographer, born in Starobin, Minsk Province, Byelorussia. He studied in religious elementary school until age twelve, later in a primary school in Slutsk. In his youth he moved to Minsk, working as an office employee in a machine-building factory, while at the same time taking part in amateur dramatic circles. Beginning in 1916 he was living in Moscow, working in an office, and after the Revolution in the Commissariat of Nationalities. Over the years 1918-1923, he was in charge of a Yiddish publishing house in Moscow, and at this time he became a passionate bibliographer. He later devoted himself entirely to public relations and distribution of the Yiddish book. From 1926 he was a correspondent at the bibliographical center of YIVO in Vilna. On the tenth anniversary of the Revolution, he compiled “Reshime fun di idishe bikher un zhurnaln” (Listing of the Yiddish books and journals) which was published in the Soviet Union for the year 1927 in Af di vegn tsu der nayer shul (En route to the new school) 1 (1928), pp. 84-96; and “Dos yidishe bukh in f. s. r. r. far di yorn 1917-1921” (The Yiddish book in the Federation of Soviet Socialist Republics for the years 1917-1921), including leaflets, with Yude Kvitni, in Biblyologisher zamlbukh (Bibliological anthology) 1 (1930), pp. 371-486. He later was working as an ordinary office employee.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 4; Chone Shmeruk, comp., Pirsumim yehudiim babrit-hamoatsot, 1917-1961 (Jewish publications in the Soviet Union, 1917-1961) (Jerusalem, 1961), index.

Berl Cohen

[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. 353-54.]

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