KHAYIM SHOSHKES (HENRY SHOSKES) (May 1, 1891-May 1964)
He was born in Bialystok, descendent of a well-to-do family. Until age seventeen, he studied Talmud, Tanakh, Hebrew and with home tutors Russian and secular subject matter. He graduated from a high school. He studied in Ghent, Kharkov, and Brussels where he received his doctoral degree in economics. Over the years 1914-1921, he lived in Russia, worked in the Kharkov credit cooperative, and was a member of the Kharkov Jewish community council. He returned to Poland in 1921. He worked there for the Joint Distribution Committee and the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society. He served as a member of the central committee (1924-1939) of Hitaḥdut (Union). In 1940 he settled in New York where he died.
From 1922 he served as a member of the editorial board of Kooperative bavegung (Cooperative movement), in which he wrote on economic matters. He also contributed to: Haynt (Today) (1924-1939), Morgn-zhurnal (Morning journal) (1941-1952), and Tog-morgn-zhurnal (Day-morning journal) (1952-1964). He acquired a name for himself for his travel descriptions of Jewish communities around the world, which he published in many newspapers—his articles were syndicated in a number of countries—and later in books. He also wrote in Polish.
His works include: Entshtehung, entviklung un grund-printsipen fun der kredit-kooperatsye (Creation, development, and basic principles of the credit cooperative) (Warsaw, 1927), 32 pp.; Lender un shtet, rayze ayndrukn, mit bilder (Countries and cities, travel impressions, with images) (Vilna: B. Kletskin, 1930), 324 pp.; Ratnfarband 1936, rayze ayndrukn (Soviet Union 1936, travel impressions) (Warsaw: Jewish Universal Library, 1937), 143 pp.; Ekzotishe rayzes (Exotic travels) (Warsaw: Jewish Universal Library, 1938), 142 pp.; Bleter fun a geto-tog-bukh (Pages from a ghetto diary) (New York: Kh. H. Glants, 1943). 144 pp.; Poyln—1946, ayndrukn fun a rayze (Poland, 1946, impressions from a trip) (Buenos Aires: Association of Polish Jews in Argentina, 1947), 191 pp.; A velt vos iz farbay, kapitlekh zikhroynes (A world gone by, chapters of memoirs) (Buenos Aires: Association of Polish Jews in Argentina, 1949), 368 pp.; Mayn rayze arum der velt (My voyage around the world) (Buenos Aires: Unzer bukh, 1951), 274 pp.; Durkh umbakante lender (Through unknown countries) (Rio de Janeiro: Monte Scopus, 1954), 397 pp.; Masoes r’ khayim (The travels of R. Khayim) (Rio, 1957), 421 pp.; Mit yidn, tsvishn indyaner, neger un araber, a nesie iber dray kontinentn (With Jews, among Indians, Negroes, and Arabs, a voyage over three continents) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1960), 373 pp.; Fun moskve biz eyver-hayardn (From Moscow to Transjordan) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1961), 330 pp.; Tsvishn yidn in vayte lender (Among Jews in distant countries) (Tel Aviv: Hamenorah, 1964), 470 pp. Translations of his work into Hebrew: Bedarkhe tevel (On the paths of the world) (Tel Aviv: Tverski, 1954), 236 pp.; Mehakremlin ad ha-piramidot (From the Kremlin to the pyramids) (Jerusalem: Nyuman, 1959), 232 pp. Some of his books appeared as well in English, Polish, French, and Spanish translations.
“Dr. Shoshkes was the last of the great Jewish wanderers,” wrote Shmuel-Leyb Shnayderman, “[a man] who, in their spirit, was fired by an unquenchable thirst to reach forgotten, displaced Jewish communities in the most distant, secluded corners of our planet. His travel writings are a mixture of flashy observations, colorful descriptions, ideas about Jewish fate, and personal reminiscences of the past near and far.”
Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 4; Der Lebediker (Khayim Gutman), in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (January 23, 1955); Shloyme Bikl, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (January 19, 1958); A. Mukdoni, in Tsukunft (New York) (May-June 1958); Shmuel-Leyb Shnayderman, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (April 10, 1962; May 13, 1964); Ben-Tsien Goldberg, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (December 12, 1964); Y. Yeshurin, D”r khayim shoshkes, biblyografye (Dr. Khayim Shoshkes, bibliography) (Tel Aviv, 1964); Avrom Zak, In kinigraykh fun yidishn vort, eseyen un dermonungen (In the kingdom of the Yiddish word, essays and remembrances) (Buenos Aires: YIVO, 1966).