Wednesday 5 June 2019


            A social economist, statistician, and linguistics scholar, he was born in Kryukov (Kryukiv), Kremenchuk.  From 1894 he studied for two years in yeshivas, later turning to general education.  From 1898 he was a member of the Zionist Organization in Nikolaev, switching to the Bund in 1905, and leaving it in 1907 due to a dispute over the nationality question.  He lived for several years in Galicia and during WWI in St. Petersburg.  He worked (1918-1919) in the statistics-economics division of the Jewish Commissariat.  He spent 1921-1923 in Vilna and Warsaw, thereafter several years in the land of Israel, and in late 1926 settled in Odessa, where he became administrator of the Mendele Museum.  He published research on the Yiddish language, Jewish economics, and statistics.  He published lengthier works, among others: “Tsu der shprakh frage” (On the language question), in Perets’s anthology Yudish (Yiddish); “Di idishe inerlikhe ibervanderungen in rusland” (Jewish internal migration in Russia), “Di profesyonele tsuzamenshtelung fun di idishe masen in di kontsentrirungs-punkten” (The professional joint stance of the Jewish masses in concentrated places), “Di natsyonale idee un di idishe burzhuazye in mizrekh- un mayrev-eyrope” (The national idea and the Jewish bourgeoisie in Eastern and Western Europe), and “Di iden in alten kenigraykh lito” (The Jewish in the ancient kingdom of Lithuania,” in Dos naye leben (The new life) (1910, 1911, 1913); “Di national-kulturele koykhes fun di iden in erets yisroel” (The national-cultural strength of the Jews in the land of Israel), in Der nayer dor (The new generation) in Lemberg; and “Di amolike shprakh fun yuden in di rusishe gegenden” (The former language of the Jewish in the Russian regions), in Shmuel Niger’s Pinkes (Records).  For a couple of years until 1914, he was a regular contributor to Lemberg’s Der yudisher arbayter (The Jewish worker).  His books include: Di ekonomishe lage un perspektivn fun di yidn in ratn-farband (The economic condition and perspective of Jews in the Soviet Union) (Warsaw, 1922), 56 pp.; Di antshṭeyung un antviklung fun der yidisher shprakh, di sotsyalogishe un geshikhṭlekhe faḳtorn (The emergence and development of the Yiddish language, sociological and historical factors) (Warsaw: Shul un bukh, 1922), 115 pp., a collection of his articles on Yiddish; Galitsye un ir bafelkerung, yidn, polakn un rusiner unter der hershaft fun di habfburger (Galicia and its population, Jews, Poles, and Russians under Hapsburg rule) (Warsaw, 1923), 162 pp.; Di natsyonale frage in ukraine un ir leyzung, vi azoy zol geshafn vern di yidishe republik in ratnfarband (The nationality question in Ukraine and its solution, how a Jewish republic should be established in the Soviet Union) (Vilna, 1926), 38 pp.  A series of his articles were published in: Literatur un leben (Literature and life) in New York; Di naye tsayt (The new times) (1917-1918), Komunistishe velt (Communist world) (1919), Dos fraye vort (The free word) (1919), and Komunistisher gedank (Communist idea) (1920)—in Kiev; Di naye tsayt (1919) and Vilner tog (Vilna day) (1921-1922) in Vilna; Di bikher-velt (The book world) in Warsaw; Tsukunft (Future) in New York; Bleter far yidisher demografye (Pages on Jewish demography) and Statistik un ekonomik (Statistics and economics) in Berlin (1923-1925); Di royte velt (The red world) in Kharkov (1927); Tsaytshrift (Periodical) in Minsk (1930); and in the Israeli labor press; among other serials.  He also wrote in Hebrew, Russian, and German periodicals.  His pen names: B. R., R-n, Ben Mortkhe, and Masin.  He died in Odessa.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 4; Meylekh Ravitsh, Mayn leksikon (My lexicon), vol. 2 (Montreal, 1947); Literarishe bleter (Warsaw) 3 (1934), his obituary; Yeshurin archive, YIVO (New York).
Berl Cohen

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