Saturday 9 November 2019


YITSKHOK-MEYER SHPILREYN (May 13, 1891-December 26, 1937)

            He was linguist and expert in the field the psychology of technology, born in Rostov-on-Don. He graduated as an external student from high school. He was a member of the Socialist Revolutionary Party (1906-1909), joining the Communist Party in 1920. Over the years 1909-1912, he studied philosophy in Heidelberg and Leipzig. He helped found the Yiddish literary association in Tiflis (Tbilisi, 1919-1921), later settling in Moscow. In the early 1920s he worked for a short time in Moscow in the Foreign Ministry. In 1922-1923, he gave the first course on Yiddish at the Second Moscow University, and he taught there until 1928. Although he loved Yiddish, Shpilreyn’s academic field was tied up with psychological issues. He published works on Yiddish: on Herman Shtrak’s Yiddish dictionary (in Der Jude [The Jew] in Berlin 1 [1916]); on the Yiddish dialectological research of Noyekh Priluski, in Jüdische Rundschau (Jewish review) 20 (1918); on the necessity of recording Yiddish folklore, in Emes (Truth) 205 (1924). He published: Idish, a konspekt fun a kurs in dem tsveytn moskver melukhishn universitet (Yiddish, a synopsis of a course in the Second Moscow State University) (Moscow: Shul un bukh, 1926), 22 pp. He was arrested on January 26, 1935, and he spent two years of drudgery in prisons and camps. On December 26, 1937, he was sentenced and the same day shot.

Source: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 4.

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. 389-90.]

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