Saturday 28 September 2019


KHONE (CHONE) SHMERUK (January 5, 1921-July 7, 1997)
            He was a literary historian and researcher, born in Warsaw, Poland.  He attended a “cheder metukan” (improved religious elementary school), graduated from M. Krinski’s high school in Warsaw, and went on to study at the local university history and literature, while at the same time topics in Judaica.  From 1939 to 1946, he was a refugee in in the Soviet Union.  He spent the next three years (1946-1949) at a refugee camp in Stuttgart, and from 1949 he lived in Israel.  Over the decade 1951-1961, he studied at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and he then worked as an instructor there.  In 1961 he received his doctoral degree for a dissertation entitled Hakibuts hayehudi ṿehahityashvut haḥaklait hayehudit bebyelorusya hasovyetit (1918-1932) (The Jewish community and Jewish agricultural settlement in Soviet Byelorussia, 1918-1932) (Jerusalem, 1961), 192 pp.  He was an assistant and then an associate professor (1961-1970), and from 1971 a full professor and head of the Yiddish department at the Hebrew University.  He was a guest professor of Yiddish literature at: Columbia, Haifa, Tel Aviv, and Oxford Universities, as well as at YIVO in New York.  He contributed work to Hebrew and Yiddish scholarly and general journals: Pinkes (Records), Yidishe shprakh (Yiddish language), Tsukunft (Future), Di goldene keyt (The golden chain); Molad (Birth), Tsiyon (Zion), Gesher (Bridge), Gilad (Gilead), Hasifrut (Literature), Beḥinut (Examination), and Haomer (The word), among others.  He compiled, edited, or co-edited: Pirsumim yehudiim babrit-hamoatsot, 1917-1961 (Jewish publications in the Soviet Union, 1917-1961) (Jerusalem, 1962), 502 pp.; Shpigl af a shteyn, antologye, poezye un proze fun tsvelf farshnitene yidishe shraybers in ratn-farband (A mirror on a star, anthology, poetry and prose from twelve murdered Jewish writers in the Soviet Union) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1964), 32 pp. + 812 pp.; Medresh itsik, itsik manger (Itzik’s midrash, Itzik Manger) (Jerusalem: Hebrew University, 1969), 28 pp. + 227 pp.; Yosef perl, maasiyot veigrot (Joseph Perl, stories and letters), with Shmuel Verses (Jerusalem, 1969/1970), 246 pp.; Tarbut yehudit babrit-hamoatsot (Jewish culture in the Soviet Union), with M. Zand (Jerusalem, 1973), 82 pp.; Yitskhok Bashevis, Der shpigl un andere dertseylungen (The mirror and other stories) (Jerusalem: Hebrew University, 1975), 319 pp.; Ḥalifat igrot beyn s. y. abramovits, uveyn . n. bialik ve y. . ravnitski beshanim 1905-1908 (Exchange of letters between S. Y. Abramovitsh and . N. Bialik and Y. H. Ravnitski over the period 1905-1908) (Jerusalem, 1975/1976), 163 pp.; Shalom Alekhem, Ketavim ivriyim (Hebrew writings) (Jerusalem: Mossad Bialik, 1976), 367 pp.  He also published a series of pieces as offprints, and a portion of his research work on old and modern Yiddish literature would include: Sifrut yehude berit-hamoatsot biyemot hashoa ṿeaḥareha (Literature from the Jews in the Soviet Union in the era of the Holocaust and thereafter) (Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 1960), 75 pp.; “Mizrekh eropeyishe nuskhoes fun der tsene-rene” (Eastern European editions of the Tsenerene), in Maks vaynraykhn tsu zayn zibetsiksṭn geboyrntog, shṭudyes vegn shprakhn bay yidn, vegn yidishe literatur un gezelshaft (For Max Weinreich on his seventieth birthday, studies in Jewish languages, concerning Yiddish literature and society) (The Hague: Mouton, 1964); “Di moyshe rabenu beshraybung” (The description of Moses), in Di goldene keyt ()Tel Aviv 50 (1964); “Di altyidishe literatur” (Old Yiddish literature), in Pinkes (New York) 3 (1975); Kavim ledemuta shel sifrut yidish bepolin uveliṭa ad gezerot ta vetat (Characters of Yiddish literature in Poland and Lithuanian up to the evil decrees of 1648-1649), in Tarbits (Academy) (Nisan-Elul [= March-September] 1977); Reshima bibliografit shel defuse polin beyidish ad gezerot ta vetat (Bibliographical listing of Yiddish presses in Poland until the evil decrees of 1648-1649), Kiryat sefer (Library) (Jerusalem) 52 (1977).  He also contributed articles on Yiddish literature to Entsiklopediya ivrit (Hebrew encyclopedia) (Jerusalem) and Encyclopaedia Judaica (Jerusalem, 1977).  In book form: Peretses yiesh-vizye, interpretatsye fun y. l. perets baynakhṭ afn alten mark un kritishe oysgabe fun der drame (Perets’s despairing vision, interpretation of Y. L. Perets, At Night in the Old Marketplace and a critical edition of the play) (New York: YIVO, 1971), 362 pp.; Sifrut yidish, perakim letoldoteha (Yiddish literature, chapters in its history) (Tel Aviv: Tel Aviv University, 1978), 339 pp.; Shalom-alekhem, madrikh leḥayaṿ veliyetsirato (Sholem-Aleykhem, a guide to his life and creative work) (Tel Aviv, 1980), 92 pp.  He died in Warsaw.

Sources: Getzel Kressel, Leksikon hasifrut haivrit (Handbook of Hebrew literature), vol. 2 (Meravya, 1967); Ben-Tsien Goldberg, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (April 8, 1962); Shloyme Bikl, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (March 21, 1965); Arn Glants, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (October 23, 1966); A. Blat, in Hatsofe (Tevet 3 [= January 10], 1970); Arn Tsaytlin, in Di goldene keyt (Tel Aviv) 75 (1972); Yitskhok Bashevis, in Forverts (New York) (October 27, 1972).
Yekhezkl Lifshits

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