MEYER RIVKIN (winter 1869-June 2, 1915)
The author of fiction and journalism, he was born in Vitebsk, into an “enlightened” family. Until age thirteen he attended religious elementary school, later a crown Jewish public school. In 1889 he graduated from the Vilna Jewish teachers’ institute and gained a post in a public school in Volozhin. In 1891 he moved to Molodetshne (Maladziečna) and in 1895 to Minsk. In 1897 he settled in St. Petersburg as a teacher in a Russian Jewish school. He debuted in print in 1895 in Voskhod (Arise) and wrote a great deal for Russian Jewish periodicals—feuilletons on community topics, stories, pedagogical articles, and children’s tales (under the pen names Makor and Sheva ben Brokhi). His literary activities in Yiddish began 1905-1906 in the then well-known humor newspaper Der sheygets (The impudent lad). He later contributed to Warsaw’s Fraynd (Friend), in which he placed short feature pieces (using the pseudonyms Resh Lakish, R”l, and Menaker) and weekly overviews of Jewish life in a formal bible translation style. For many years he collected materials on the blood libel in Velitsh and later published his novel Der velitsher blut-bilbl (The blood libel in Velitsh) (Vilna: B. A. Kletskin, 1914), 386 pp., published earlier in Fraynd (1912-1913). “Rivkin’s novel is an important phenomenon,” wrote Yisroel Tsinberg, “in Yiddish literature. With a sure hand, the author traces on a grand canvas a full gallery of all manner of personages. Not only Jews, but also Russian…are drawn with the clarity of a great artist.” He died in Luga, Russia.
Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 4; Shoyl Ginzburg, Amolike peterburg, forshungen un zikhroynes vegn yidishn lebn in der residents-shtot fun tsarishn rusland (St. Petersburg of old, research and memories of Jewish life in the imperial capital of Tsarist Russia) (New York, 1944), p. 183.