Sunday, 20 May 2018


YOYNE (JONAH) SPIVAK (January 1, 1886-February 27, 1937)
            He was born in Zhornishtsh (Zhornyshche), Kiev district, Ukraine.  He received a Jewish and a secular education in Nemirov.  In 1907 he made his way to the United States.  His journalistic activities began with Di varhayt (The truth) in New York, and he later contributed to the Hebrew weekly Hauma (The nation), Idishe arbayter velt (Jewish workers’ world), Der kunst fraynd (The friend of art), L. Miller’s weekly Kultur (Culture)—in issue no. 5 (1925), he published the essay “Agode un halokhe in der alter idisher literatur” (Homiletics and Jewish law in old Jewish literature).  He also placed work in the Chicago daily newspapers Idisher kuryer (Jewish courier) and Idisher rekord (Jewish record); he served for eight years as literary editor of the latter, and in it he and Zh. Laybner were in charge of the section “Kinder-vinkl” (Children’s corner).  From 1919 he was a contributor to the Chicago edition of the Forverts (Forward), in which he published “Di lebns-bashraybung fun shloyme maymun” (The autobiography of Solomon Maimon).  He dramatized for the Yiddish stage George Eliot’s novel Daniel Deronda.  He also wrote the plays Afn dorf (In the village) and Dos naye lebn (The new life), both performed (1919-1920) at Chicago’s Empire Theater.  In book form: Danyel deronda (Daniel Deronda), a play in four acts, adapted from George Eliot’s novel (Chicago, 1913), 87 pp.; R’ nakhmen braslaver in geshtaltn fun zayn “mayse mit di zibn betler” (Rabbi Nakhmen of Bratlav in images from his “Tale with the seven beggars”), preface by Shmuel Niger (Vilna: B. Kletskin, 1932), 163 pp.  He also wrote for the journal Shikago (Chicago) and for the Hebrew monthly Dorenu (Our generation), edited by Solodar, in Chicago, in which he published the memoirs of Yoysef-Khayim Brener.  He also had in manuscript a dramatization of Perets’s Monish (Monish), which was said to have been staged in Chicago in 1937.  He was a leader in Workmen’s Circle and excelled in his idealism in community work.  He also wrote under the pen names: Yahanus, izkuni, Y. S-ki, Miriam Tobias, Ish Yisroel, Y. Darius, Eks, and Y. Zinger. He died in Chicago.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2; Zalmen Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 2 (New York, 1934); P. Vyernik, in Morgn-zhurnal (New York) (April 10, 1932); Shmuel Niger, in Tog (New York) (June 5, 1932); Dr. A. Mukdoni, in Morgn-zhurnal (October 28, 1932; January 3, 1935); Sh. Feygin, in Di tsukunft (New York) (April 1933; April 1937); M. Indrits, Indritses yontef-bleter (Chicago) (March 1937); obituary notices in Vilner tog (Vilna) (March 5, 1937), Hadoar (New York) (March 5, 1937); Samuel A. Blumenfeld and Sh. Zamd, in Shikago (Chicago) (March-April 1937); Y. L. Gruzman, in Der shpigl (Buenos Aires) (April 1937); Sh. M. Bluemnfeld, in Hadoar (May 21, 1937); Kalmen Marmor, Mayn lebns-geshikhte (My life story), vol. 2 (New York, 1959), p. 694; Arbeter-ring boyer un tuer (Builders and leaders of the Workmen’s Circle) (New York, 1962), pp. 279-80.
Benyomen Elis


KHAYIM (CHARLES) SPIVAK (December 25, 1861-October 16, 1927)
            The shortened name of Khayim-Khaykl Spivakovski, he was born in Krementshug (Kremenchuk), Ukraine, into a poor household.  He studied in religious elementary school and later with his father, Shmuel-Dovid Spivakovski, and in the synagogue study hall.  In his youth he also began to read non-religious books in Hebrew and to turn his attention to secular education; he later passed the examination for the sixth class in senior high school.  Under the influence of Aharon Liberman’s Haemet (The truth), he joined a revolutionary circle, contributed to a secret, hectographically-produced publisher, and after its failure he was forced to leave Russia.  In March 1882 he arrived in the United States with the Kiev group “Am olam” (Eternal people), under the leadership of Nikolai Aleynikov.  He spent his first years dragging wheelbarrows of stones along Brooklyn streets, unloading wagons, working in a wool factory in Lisbon Falls, Maine, and working as a farmer in the Alliance Colony, New Jersey, where he was also employed as a Hebrew teacher.  In 1886 he settled in Philadelphia, where he graduated from the Jefferson Medical College with honors.  Under the supervision of the University of Pennsylvania, he delivered a series of lectures in Yiddish on philology and hygiene.  For a time he took part in the Jewish anarchist movement.  He was a librarian at the Young Men’s Hebrew Association, and he organized the Jewish Alliance of America.  In 1891 he was chairman of the Jewish conference to enlist Jewish immigrants in agricultural economy.  He was a cofounder of the Philadelphia cultural association “Hebrew Literature Society.”  In 1896 he settled in Denver, Colorado, where he was a professor of anatomy at a university there.  He was one of the founders of the well-known Denver sanatorium for tubercular patients (where Dovid Edelshtadt, H. Leivick, and other Yiddish writers were patients).  He literary activities began with correspondence pieces in the Russian Jewish Nedel׳naia khronika voskhoda (Weekly chronicle of the east) in St. Petersburg (May 1884), in English-language provincial newspapers and a number of translations for American Hebrew, in Yiddish with a couple of articles in Nyu yorker yudishe folks-tsaytung (New York Jewish people’s newspaper) in New York (1888), for which he also used the pen name “Khas milhazkir.”  He published articles in Anglophone medical journals, primarily concerning stomach and intestinal diseases, on the history of medicine, and medicine in the Tanakh, Talmud, and rabbinical literature (he also published an article on this topic in The UJA).  In addition, his works appeared in: Yidishes tageblat (Jewish daily newspaper), Der fraynd (The friend), Di tsukunft (The future), Der folks-vekhter (The people’s guard), and Di yudishe prese (The Jewish press) in Philadelphia, although mainly in New York’s Forverts (Forward), for which over many years he was a regular contributor writing on issues of medicine and hygiene, which he connected to Jewish lifestyle and Jewish folklore; these include: the series “Vi azoy tsu farlengern dos mentshlekhe lebn” (How to extend human life).  As a lover of Yiddish, he devoted special treatments to questions of language in Di tsukunft and Forverts, among other serials, and turned his attention fully to research into the Hebraic elements in Yiddish, which he collected from religious texts and from the folk language.  Together with his friend Yehoash, they compiled: Yidish verterbukh (Yiddish dictionary), “containing all the Hebrew and Chaldaic words, expressions, and proper names needed in the Yiddish language….  With an introduction to the necessary rules and observations and a supplement of Hebrew personal names, family names, and names of unions, societies, schools, cemeteries, and the like” (New York, 1911), 340+32 pp.; second edition (New York, 1926).  He was also the published of a periodical of medical bibliography and guide to libraries.  His last works in Yiddish were: “A muster fun shayles utshuves-literatur fun r’ gershon ashkenazis sh”t avoydes hagershuni” (An example of rabbinical response literature, R. Gershon Ashkenazi’s Adovat hagershuni), which was published in Dos yoyvl-heft zunland (The jubilee collection of Zunland), edited by Y. L. Malamut (September 1925); “Der kop” (The head), a list of words, expressions, sayings, and turns of phrase needed in the Yiddish language in connection with the head, published in Tsayshrift (Periodical) (Minsk, 1926); “Alte un naye verter in yehoyeshes khumesh” (Old and new words in Yehoash’s [translation of the] Bible), Filologishe shriftn (Philological writings) (Vilna) 2 (1928); “Yehoyesh der visnshaftsman” (Yehoash the scholar), a memoir published in Pinkes fun amopteyl fun yivo (Records of the American division of YIVO), vol. 2 (New York, 1928), pp. 140-45.  He also took an active part in Jewish community life in Denver, where he served as secretary of the tuberculosis sanatorium and editor of the sanatorium’s English-language quarterly The Sanatorium, founded by him in 1907.  Over the years 1915-1916, he published the weekly newspaper Denver Jewish News.  In 1920, on a mission for the Jewish Distribution Committee, he visited Poland, Ukraine, Byelorussia, and other countries in Eastern Europe to study the sanitary conditions of the Jews.  Extremely erudite in the medical literature, he was for four years editor of Medical Libraries and president of the Medical Library Association.  On his sixtieth birthday in 1921 the Yiddish newspapers dedicated warmhearted articles to him.  According to Yitskhok Rivkind, Spivak left behind, aside from a bibliography of publications on Jewish medicine, a collection of research work he had started on a treasury of Yiddish words.  Spivak’s own library was immense, with published works and rarities from old Yiddish literature.  After his death a special issue of The Sanatorium was published, dedicated to his memory.  In his will it stated that his body was to be donated to medical research.  He died in Denver, Colorado.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2; A. Sh. Zaks, in Di tsukunft (New York) (July 1911); Y. Shlosberg, in Tsayt (New York) 6-7 (October 1920); obituary notices in Literarishe bleter (Warsaw) (November 1927) and Di vokh (Riga) (November 18, 1927); Y. Rivkind, in Pinkes fun amopteyl fun yivo (New York) 1 (1928), pp. 285-88; Rivkind, in Hadoar (New York) (November 16, 1928); A. Goldshteyn, in Hadoar (October 28, 1928); Sh. Yudson, in Morgn-zhurnal (New York) (January 10, 1932); Y. Sh. Prenovitsh, in Forverts (New York) (March 2, 1935); Moyshe Shtarkman, in Di tsukunft (May-June 1942); Shtarkman, in Yorbukh (New York) (1943); L. Kobrin, Mayne fuftsik yor in amerike (My fifty years in America) (Buenos Aires, 1955), pp. 114-19; Y. Tsuzmer, Beikve hador (In the footprints of a generation) (New York, 1957), pp. 157, 212; Y. B. Beylin, in Morgn-frayhayt (New York) (February 16, 1958); Dr. Y. M. Bluestone, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (January 12, 1958), in the English section; The American Jewish Year Book 5689 (Philadelphia, 1928), pp. 79-83; The UJA (New York) (1943), p. 15.
Benyomen Elis


ELYE SPIVAK (December 10, 1890-April 4, 1950)
            He was born in Vasilkov (Vasylkiv), Ukraine, into a devoutly religious family.  At age three and one-half, he was already attending religious primary school, studying with an assortment of teachers, and later when he was studying on his own he sat every year for the external student examinations; he then decided to dedicate himself to philological studies and research into Hebrew and Yiddish.  Even before the Revolution, he was known in Ukraine as an excellent teacher and expert in Yiddish.  He worked in the first schools of the Kultur-lige (Culture league) in the towns of Vasilkov and Glukhov (Hluchiv).  During the Russian civil war, he worked in homes for homeless Jewish orphans who had lost their parents in pogroms.  He himself survived the Petliura pogroms in Vasilkov.  In the early 1920s he was working in the famed Kiev Jewish pedagogical technicum in preparing the teachers for Jewish elementary and middle schools.  He was also a teacher of Yiddish in the first polytechnic trade school in Kiev and in Kharkov, while at the same time working intensively on fundamental questions in linguistics and assuming a prominent position among Ukrainian and Jewish linguists.  His lectures in the pedagogical institutes in Odessa, Kiev, and Zhitomir awakened for the Jewish people the treasures of their language.  He raised a large number of highly qualified teachers of Yiddish, active cultural leaders, writers, and poets in the 1920s.  He did research on Yiddish in Odessa under the leadership of Professor Yashe Reznik.  He examined the issue of dialect in the Jewish school, continued work on Yiddish grammar, and compiled a textbook and reader with the poet Dovid Hofshteyn and with Y. Yakhinson.  He was a regular contributor to the journal Yidishe shprakh (The Yiddish language), founded by Nokhum Shtif in Kiev in 1927, and in it he published work on reforming Yiddish spelling.  He wrote a great deal for other journals and newspapers.  Over the years 1929-1931, he served as a member of the editorial board of Ratnbildung (Soviet education).  In 1934 he was one of the most productive leaders at the Yiddish language conference, at which he read the papers: “Di sovetishe shprakhpolitik in der onvendung tsu yidish un spetsyel tsu der prese” (Soviet language politics as applied to Yiddish and especially to the press), “Yidish in der ongang- un mitl-shul” (Yiddish in elementary and middle school), and “Metodologishe problemen in shaykhes tsu yidisher terminnologye” (Methodological issues in relation to Yiddish terminology).  After the death in 1933 of Nokhum Shtif (pen name: Bal-Dimyen [Master of imagination]), he was appointed to assume leadership in Kiev of the linguistics section in the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, as well as the editorship of Afn shprakhfront (On the language front).  In 1935 he penned an introduction to Shtif’s Geklibene verk (Collected works), which his section was preparing for publication.  That year he completed for publication a book on problems in Soviet Yiddish, in which he incidentally attempted to bring Soviet linguistics closer in research on Yiddish outside the Soviet Union.  Creative work for him always went hand-in-hand with practical pedagogical activity.  He led the lexicography seminar for research student linguists in his own section, as for the research student writers in Maks Erik’s “section on literature and criticism.”  He gave lectures at the Jewish pedagogical institute in Kiev and at the Jewish senior high schools in Zhitomir, Odessa, and elsewhere.  In mid-1936 the Kiev institute was closed, and many of those who worked there, his colleagues and close friends, including Maks Erik, Mikhl Levitan, and others, were arrested and exiled.  In 1937 he was officially appointed to be director of a newly-founded “Department for Teaching Soviet Yiddish Literature, Language, and Folklore,” within the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences in Kiev, as well as head of the linguistics section of the Department and editor of Afn shprakhfront.  The aim of the “Department” was to hide from the world the brutal liquidation of the Kiev institute, to hide the liquidation of Jewish scholarship and culture in Soviet Russia.  Under such conditions of terror one could not say a thing about being dismissed from new posts.  In the years of the “Department,” Spivak concentrated mainly on the field of lexicography and published in the collections of Afn shprakhfront a series of works, in which he expressed his positive stance concerning the Hebraisms and negative view of the project vis-à-vis a “Slavic-Yiddish language.”  Incidentally, he became a professor even before he received his doctorate in philological science, and before WWII he became a “corresponding member of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences,” an extremely high-level title, which was given only to great scholars in the Soviet Union.  He also played a central role in the 1939 celebrations surrounding the eightieth anniversary of Sholem Aleichem’s birth.  He ran the special literary-linguistic session dedicated to the classic Yiddish writers and published in the jubilee issue of Afn shprakhfront two of his own works concerning Sholem Aleichem.  With the Nazi invasion of Soviet Russia, the “Department” as a part of the Ukrainian Academy was evacuated to Ufa, Bashkiria, where it continued the work of both sections: language and literature.  Under Spivak’s leadership, the “Department” began collective research projects there: “Language and style in wartime” and “Studies of Yiddish literature and language, their history and contemporary condition.”  At the time he worked intensively on the rise, development, dialects, and literary language of Yiddish in the Soviet period, but far from everything that was ready for publication ever actually appeared in print.  In late 1943, during the war, a meeting took place between the “Department” for Yiddish culture and Moscow Yiddish writers.  In 1944 the “Department” and its director returned to Kiev where their work was revived.  Personnel was allowed to number twelve scholarly contributors.  In 1946 they published the volume: Di shprakh in di teg fun der foterlendisher milkhome (Language in the days of the war of the fatherland).  Over the course of his creative life, he published dozens of school books for Yiddish and books about grammar and lexicography.  Under his editorship the philological section exerted an extraordinary amount of effort in the creation of a Russian-Yiddish dictionary.  This work was completed in 1947, but it did not survive to see the light of day.  Spivak was also quite knowledgeable of music and Jewish musical folklore.  He was unusually diligent, ignoring his own ill heart and high blood pressure.  He was arrested in January 1949 together with his coworkers, as were hundreds of others working in the field of Jewish culture at that time.  The investigative organs of the authorities seized his rich specialized library and his unpublished manuscripts.  By a happy twist of fate, his wife managed to secure his manuscript works, though we do not know where they are presently located.  We also do not know all the circumstances surrounding his death, save that he died in the Lefortovo Prison in Moscow.[1]
            He published in book form a long list of literary readers for the schoolroom, notebooks on mathematics for school and for youth generally, and language textbooks, published under a variety of titles in Kiev and Kharkov and together with others over the course of the years 1920-1940.  His many volumes include, among others, the following: Yidish, literarishe khrestomatye farn dritn shul yor (Yiddish, a literary reader for the third school year) (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1920), 104 pp., part two (Kiev: State Publ., 1921), 158 pp. + 21 pp.; Oys amhorotses, an alefbeys far groyse (No more fools, a textbook for adults) (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1921), 27 pp.; Matematishe heftn, far shuln fun der ershter shtupe (Mathematics notebooks, for schools at the first stage), part 1 (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1922), 53 pp., second printing (1923); Yidish, literarishe zamlung far shul un hoyz (Yiddish, literary anthology for school and home), third printing (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1923), 138 pp.; Farn yungn dor (For the younger generation), part 1 (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1924), 152 pp., part 2 (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1924), 310 pp., second edition (1924), part 3 (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1924), 144 pp.; Yugnt, literarishe zamlung, hilfsbukh far der arbet-shul (Youth, literary anthology, auxiliary text for labor school) (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1925), 369 pp.; Arbet un freyd (Word and joy), part 1 (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1925), 96 pp., second edition (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1927), 258 pp.; Yidishe shprakh (Yiddish language), part 1: Intonatsye, fonetik un ortografye, elementn fun morfologye (Intonation, phonetics and orthography, elements of morphology) (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1925), 95 pp.; Yidishe shprakh, part 2: Morfologye un sintaks (Morphology and syntax) (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1926), 108 pp.; Shpil un arbet, hilfsbukh farn ershtn lernyor (Play and work, auxiliary text for the first school year), part 1 (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1925), 96 pp., second editions (1926, 1928), part 2 (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1925), 115 pp., second edition (1926); Arum unz, khrestomatye (Around us, a reader), part 1 (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1926), 305 pp., second edition (1927), part 2 (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1926), 360 pp., second edition (1927), part 3 (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1927), 315 pp.; Yugnt, literarishe khrestomatye farn 4-5tn lernyor (Youth, literary reader for the 4-5th school year) (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1927), 358 pp.; Arbetshul, khrestomatye farn tsveytn lernyor (Labor school, reader for the second school year) (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1928), 295 pp., second edition (1929); Arbetshul, khrestomatye farn dritn lernyor (Labor school, reader for the third school year) (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1928), 320 pp., second edition (1929); Arbetshul, khrestomatye farn fertn lernyor (Labor school, reader for the fourth school year) (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1928), 358 pp.; Metodik fun shprakh un literatur in shul (Methods for language and literature in school), part 1: Ivre (Hebraic [elements in Yiddish]) (Kiev, 1928), 151 pp.; Undzer vort, arbetbukh af shprakh (Our word, workbook for language), part 1 (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1929), 139 pp., part 2 (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1929), 102 pp.; Arbetbukh af shprakh, literatur un gezelshaftkentenish (Workbook on language, literature, and community lore), with A. Makogon and H. Kazakevitsh (Kiev, 1931), 447 pp.; Shprakh-kultur, teorye un praktik (Language culture, theory and practice) (Kiev, 1931), 256 pp.; Maks un engels vegn shprakh-problemes (Marx and Engles on language issues) (Kiev, 1934), 98 pp.; Matematishe terminologye (Mathematical terminology) (Kiev, 1935), 128 pp.; Geografishe terminologye (Geographical terminology) (Kiev-Kharkov, 1936), 128 pp.—this appears to have been the last book that the Kiev institute before its liquidation; Reyd antviklung far der mitlshul (Speech development for middle school), part 1 (Kiev: State publishers for national minorities, 1937), 80 pp., second edition (1938), 139 pp.; Naye vortshafung (New word formation) (Kiev, 1939), 240 pp.; Stilistishe genitungen far der mitlshul (Stylistic exercises for middle school), third printing (Kiev, 1940), 110 pp.; Sholem-aleykhems shprakh un stil, etyudn (Sholem Aleichem’s language and style, studies) (Kiev, 1940), 167 pp.; Geklibene verk (Selected works [of Sholem Aleichem]), edited together with Khayim Loytsker (Kiev, 1940), 204 pp.; Rusish-yidisher rekhtlekh-administrativer verterbukh (Russian-Yiddish legal-administrative dictionary) (Kiev, 1941), 275 pp.; Di shprakh in di teg fun der foterlendisher milkhome (Kiev, 1946), 64 pp.

Sources: A Zaretski, in Pedagogisher byuletin (Kiev) 5 (1923), pp. 105-10; Zaretski, “Matematishe terminologye” (Mathematical terminology), Emes (Moscow) 77 (1936); Zaretski, “Vegn naye vortshaftn” (On new word formation), Sovetishe literatur (Kiev) (August 1940), p. 122; Dr. A. Koralnik, “Vos men tor nit makrev zayn” (What we must not sacrifice), Tog (New York) (November 24, 1934); L. Reznik, “Di adyektive grupe fun yidish” (The adjective group in Yiddish), Afn shprakhfront (Kharkov) 1 (1934); A. Kahan, “Vegn hebreizatsye un vegn dem hebreishn element in yidish” (On Hebraization and the Hebrew element in Yiddish), Afn shprakhfront (Kiev) 2 (1934); Kahan, “Yidish-sovetishe terminologyes” (Soviet Yiddish terminologies), Afn shprakhfront 3-4 (1935); Fragn fun yidishn shprakh (Issues in the Yiddish language) (Moscow, 1938); :Notitsn vegn sholem-aleykhems sintaksis” (Notes on Sholem Aleichem’s syntax), Sovetishe literatur (Kiev) (January 1939); Y. Mark, “Yidishe lingvistishe arbet in sovetn-farband” (Yiddish linguistic work in the Soviet Union), Yivo-bleter (New York) 16.1 (1940), pp. 31-44, (September-October 1940); Kh. L. (Khayim Loytsker), “Af der bagegenish funem ‘kabinet’ mit di moskver yidishe shraybers” (On the meeting between the “Department” and the Moscow Yiddish writers), Eynikeyt (Moscow) (October 14, 1943); Y. Gusinov, in Eynikeyt (November 8, 1944); Y. Serebriani, “Dos milkhome vort” (The word milkhome [war]), Eynikeyt (July 30, 1946); B. Mark, “Grundshtrikhn fun der yidish-sovetisher literatur” (Main features of Soviet Yiddish literature), Folks-shtime (Lodz) 40 (1947); Mark, “Vegn der literaturisher yerushe fun di umgekumene shraybers” (On the literary heritage of the murdered writers), Eynikeyt (January 14, 1947); M. Elboym, in Forverts (New York) (January 13, 1958); N. Mayzil, Dos yidishe shafn un der yidisher shrayber in sovetnfarband (Jewish creation and the Jewish writer in the Soviet Union) (New York, 1959), see index; Mayzil, Tsurikblikn un perspektivn (Retrospectives and perspectives) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1962), see index; Chone Shmeruk, comp., Pirsumim yehudiim babrit-hamoatsot, 1917-1961 (Jewish publications in the Soviet Union, 1917-1961) (Jerusalem, 1961), see index; Ester Rozental (Shnayderman), “Elye spivak” (Elye Spivak), on the tenth anniversary of his death, Di goldene keyt (Tel Aviv) 44 (1962), pp. 135-44; Y. Gar and F. Fridman, Biblyografye fun yidishe bikher vegn khurbn un gvure (Bibliography of Yiddish books concerning the Holocaust and heroism) (New York, 1962), see index.
Aleksander Pomerants

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), cols. 410-11; 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. 268-70.]

[1] It was long thought that he was shot with the group of twenty-six writers and cultural activists on August 12, 1952.  Witnesses reported horrific torture.

Friday, 18 May 2018


B. SERENI (b. November 10, 1892)
            The pen name of Dov Sriloviten, he was born in Ungvár (Uzhgorod, Uzhhorod), Czechoslovakia [now in Ukraine], the son of an artisan.  He studied in yeshiva and in a secular high school.  He served in the Austro-Hungarian army, initially as a soldier, later as a non-commissioned officer.  From 1918 he was held for two years in Italian captivity.  Starting in 1915 he wrote for a variety of Yiddish periodicals.  In 1920 he edited the Hungarian Jewish newspaper Zsidó néplap (Jewish people’s newspaper).  From 1924 he edited an annual almanac in Hungarian.  He published Der nekhtiker tog (Not a chance), “a comedy in three acts, by B. Sereni, Izhorod, Czechoslovakia” (45 pp.), and he was the author of three other plays: A modner rebe (A nutty rebbe), Dos naye tsil (The new goal), and Di khashmenoim (The Hasmonians), which were staged in Czechoslovakia and Transylvania.  He also translated Yankev Gordin’s Mirele Efros into Hungarian, and it was performed on the Hungarian stage.

Source: Zalmen Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 2 (New York, 1934).


YISROEL SEREBRIANI (July 1900-August 8, 1978)
            He was born in Kalinkovitsh (Kalinkavičy), Byelorussia, into a working-class family.  His father, Ayzik-Benyomen son of Yitskhok, was the finest tailor in their town.  After his death, the twelve-year-old Yisroelikl became the main breadwinner in his home and went to work as an apprentice at the only recently opened Kalinkovitsh print shop.  At the age of seventeen, with the eruption of the Russian Revolution, he was working as a qualified typesetter in Kiev.  Also working in this Jewish print shop as a proofreader at the time was the poet Osher Shvartsman.  Serebriani made his first literary efforts at this time, but he did not as yet dare show them to anyone among the celebrated Kiev Jewish writers (Dovid Bergelson, Der Nister, Perets Markish, Leyb Kvitko, and Dovid Hofshteyn).  In the years of the bloody Russian civil war, he turned his attention to setting in type illegal proclamations.  The White Army followers of Denikin threw him in prison.  When Kiev became Soviet terrain, he volunteered to join the Red Army and fought on the front against Piłsudski’s Polish forces.  Demobilized after the civil war, he turned up in Homel (Gomel) in the early 1920s, where he entered the Jewish pedagogical technicum.  There his talents as a literary critic began to be apparent, and his work on Dovid Hofshteyn received the highest assessment from his teachers.  In 1924 he became secretary of the Homel literary group “Oktober-dor” (October generation).  That was the year he began publishing.  One year later he made his way to Minsk and continued his literary and educational activities there.  From 1925 he was a member of the Minsk literary group “Yunger arbeter” (Young laborer) and was accepted as a student in the department of literature and linguistics of the state university.  In 1930, after graduating, he was kept on by the philologist Mortkhe Vaynger in the department as a research student.  At the same time, he was working as a typesetter in a print shop, where he also led a literary circle.  In this group, he later worked together with Maks Erik and Moyshe Kulbak.  After completing his research studentship, he was selected as a scholarly collaborator at the Institute for Jewish Culture in the Byelorussian Academy of Sciences.  For a short time he served as manager of the Yiddish section for literature and language.  He received the academic title “Candidate in Philological Science” (equivalent to a Ph.D.).  In subsequent years he published dozens of articles in a variety of scholarly publications, literary journals, and newspapers in Yiddish, Russian, and Byelorussian, among them: “Tsu der problem fun azoy gerufene kiyever period in der yidisher nokhoktyabrdiker poezye” (On the issue of the so-called Kiev period in Yiddish poetry after October), Literarisher zamlbukh (Literary anthology) (Minsk, 1934); “Sholem-aleykhem un folklor” (Sholem Aleichem and folklore); Notitsn vegn mendelen (Notes about Mendele); “Gorki un di yidishe literatur” (Gorky and Yiddish literature); “Mayakovski un di yidishe poezye” (Mayakovsky and Yiddish poetry); and about Goldfaden, Mikhoels, Ester-Rokhl Kaminski, Noyekh Lurye, Zalmen Vendrof, Izi Kharik, Moyshe Kulbak, and Maks Erik.  He also gave a great deal of recognition to the younger generation of writers: Elye Kahan, Avrom Gontar, H. Shvedik, Motl Gruvman, Reyzen, and others.  In 1957 his bibliographical work, “Iberzetsungen fun yidish af rusish in di yorn 1941-1948 (oystsugn fun a greserer arbet)” (Translations from Yiddish into Russian in the years 1941-1948, excerpts from a longer work), was published in Parizer tsaytshrift (Parisian periodical) 15-16 (1856-1957), pp. 94-101.  He also translated a number of important works from Russian, edited Yiddish and Russian books, and wrote his own—about Sholem Aleichem and Mendele.  In addition, he compiled, prepared for publication, and wrote an introduction to the literary heritage of Arn Gurshteyn.  On the occasion of his sixtieth birthday in 1960, he was accorded a welcome greeting from the presidium of the Moscow writers’ association.  In Moscow’s Sovetish heymland (Soviet homeland) 5 (1962), his article “Vegn novele un novelist (fun a greserer arbet)” (On novels and novelists, from a longer work) appeared (pp. 120-25).  In book form: Shloglerishe trit (Traumatic steps) (Minsk, 1932), 108 pp., edited with Max Erik, introduction by Serebriani; Mendele moykher sforim, zayn lebn un shafn, loyt di verk fun a. gurshteyn, m. viner un and. (Mendele Moykher-Sforim, his life and work, according to the works of A. Gurshteyn, M. Viner, and others) (Moscow: Der emes, 1948), 96 pp.; Sholem-aleykhem i narodnoie tvorchestvo (Sholem Aleichem and folklore) (Moscow, 1959), 220 pp.; Sovremenniki i klassiki (Contemporaries and classics) (Moscow, 1971), 310 pp.; Forgeyer un mittsaytler (Forerunner and contemporary) (Moscow, 1982), 59 pp.; translator of Ivan Turgenev, Eltern un kinder (Parents and children [Fathers and Sons, original: Otsy i deti]) (Minsk, 1940), 199 pp.; Mikhail Lermontov, Der held fun undzer tsayt (A Hero of Our Time [original: Geroy nashego vremeni]) (Minsk, 1940), 216 pp.  He died in Moscow.

Sources: B. Orshanski, “Di yidishe poezye in vaysrusland nokh der revolutsye” (Yiddish poetry in Byelorussia after the Revolution), Tsaytshrift (Minsk) 5 (1931), p. 38; “In der literarisher komisye” (In the literary commission), Afn visnshaftlekhn front (Minsk) 1-2 (1932), pp. 159, 161; Di bafrayte brider (The liberated brother), anthology (Minsk, 1939), p. 43; “Vegn der literarisher yerushe fun di umgekumene shraybers” (On the literary heritage of the murdered writers), Eynikeyt (Moscow) (January 14, 1947); Dr. Kh. Shashkes, “Bagegenishn in moskve” (Encounters in Moscow), Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (August 11, 1956); M. Kats, “A lebediker grus fun di hayntike sovetish-yidishe shraybers” (A vital greeting from the contemporary Soviet Yiddish writers), Morgn-frayhayt (New York) (May 26, 1957); Mats, “Tsulibn toyt fun hirsh kamenetski” (Because of the death of Hirsh Kamenetski), Morgn-frayhayt (May 29, 1957); N. Mayzil, Dos yidishe shafn un der yidisher shrayber in sovetnfarband (Jewish creation and the Jewish writer in the Soviet Union) (New York, 1959), pp. 132, 149; S. Rabinovitsh, in Folks-shtime (Warsaw) (February 6, 1960); P. Shrayber, “Yisroel serebriani, tsu zayn 60stn geboyrntog” (Yisroel Serebriani, on his sixtieth birthday), Folks-shtime (August 6, 1960); Chone Shmeruk, comp., Pirsumim yehudiim babrit-hamoatsot, 1917-1961 (Jewish publications in the Soviet Union, 1917-1961) (Jerusalem, 1961), see index.
Aleksander Pomerants

[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. 167-68.]


YENTE SERDATSKI (SERDATZKY) (September 15, 1877-May 1, 1962)
            She was born in Aleksot (Aleksotas), near Kovno, Lithuania.  Her father Yehoshua Raybman, a dealer in used furniture, was a scholar and gave his daughter a basic Jewish education.  She attended religious elementary school for girls and studied with yeshivas boys.  At age thirteen she took up an apprenticeship with a seamstress.  She later had her own shop.  At the same time, she was reading books in Russian, German, and Hebrew.  In 1905, when she had already become a mother herself, the writer in her awakened and she left for Warsaw, where she debuted in print in the Warsaw Yiddish-language daily newspaper Der veg (The way), edited by Bal-Makhshoves, with a story entitled “Mirl” and later published a second story in the same newspaper, now edited by Y. L. Perets who encouraged her to write.  In 1907 she immigrated to the United States.  She lived her first years there in Chicago, and she later ran a soup kitchen in New York and at the same time published sketches, tales, stories, one-act plays, and dramatic impressions in: Fraye arbeter-shtime (Free voice of labor), Di naye varhayt (The new truth), Fraye gezelshaft (Free society), Di tsukunft (The future), Fraynd (Friend), Gerekhtikeyt (Justice), and in Avrom Reyzen’s Dos naye land (The new country), among others—in New York.  Over the course of some years, Serdatski was a steady contributor to Forverts (Forward) in New York and regularly published her stories there, but in 1922, due to a conflict over payment, she left the newspaper.  She withdrew completely thereafter from circles of writers and made a living by renting furnished rooms in New York.  Over the years 1949-1955, she again became active in literary matters and contributed to Y. Libman’s Nyu yorker vokhblat (New York weekly newspaper), in which she published around thirty stories, as well as remembrances of Y. L. Perets.  In book form she published Geklibene shriften (Selected writings) (New York: Hebrew Publishing Company, 1913), 270 pp., including sketches, novellas, one-act plays, and with a separate section entitled “Legends and Tales”—this volume also included the dramatic works: Af der vakh (On guard), Tsurikgekumene (Those who returned), Bronke (Branka), and Baym vigel (By the cradle).  She also published the one-act plays: “Shpileray” (Easy task), in Di tsukunft (August 1913); “Oh, di liebe” (Oh, love), in Forverts (June 11, 1921); “Di grine” (The greenhorn), in Forverts (October 18, 1921); and “Ayferzukht” (Jealousy), in Forverts (January 23, 1922).  She died in New York.  “A writer of fiction with an authentic writer’s temperament,” noted Zalmen Reyzen, “Serdatski has dealt primarily with the quiet tragedies of women, her longing for the joy of love, her loneliness, the deluded hopes of the young, and the like.  A number of her pieces in the book express the mood of party activists of the past and their disappointments.  She also has some novellas drawn from the life of Jewish intellectuals from the old country and in America.”  In the words of B. Rivkin: “She truly has for herself a corner of life, a set circle of people, whom she follows step by step, ever since she took up pen in hand; inasmuch as these people are not always the same, they change, they grow, become agitated, seethe and put up with it, just like real living people; just as they were not in Russia what they have become later, when they have moved to America; because they have spent ten-to-fifteen years in America, they have left behind traces; they have conformed, grow at home, and become naturalized in their American environs; because their past, together with the American influences, have created of them a type of Russian radical of old in the United States.  In short, this circle of people on whom Yente Serdatski has fixed her gaze are the Russian Jewish revolutionary youth who survived the reaction and departed for America in order to be restored.”  “Yente Serdatski was a woman writer,” wrote Yankev Glatshteyn, “in the literal sense of the term.  She wrote about the Jewish woman.  All of her stories dealt with the first conscious awakening efforts and disappointments of the Jewish woman.  We have in America a number of such specialized women writers, such as Miriam Karpilov and Rokhl Lurye, among others.  Serdatski is to be counted among the most talented women storytellers….  In recent years she frequently has worked with Itshe Libman’s [Nyu yorker] vokhblat.  She published in it several robust pieces and they are surely getting even better, when people take upon themselves the good deed to review Yente Serdatski’s literary heritage; perhaps people will be able to select a volume of stories from several of her older and later works and erect a gravestone for this angry writer who was mostly perhaps at war with herself.”

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2; Zalmen Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 2 (New York, 1934); B. Tsvien, in Di tsukunft (New York) (August 1908); B. Rivkin, in Di tsukunft (September 1915); Dr. Shloyme Bikl, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (September 2, 1956); B. Ts. Goldberg, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (September 1957); H. Morgenshtern, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (February 27, 1960); M. Vaysman, A halber yorhundert in amerike (A half-century in America) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1960), pp. 49-50; Yankev Glatshteyn, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (May 6, 1962); D. R., in Eygns (Ramat-Gan) (June-July 1962).
Benyomen Elis

Thursday, 17 May 2018


HIRSH SEKLER (HARRY SACKLER) (August 22, 1883-February 28, 1974)
            He was born in Brodshin (Bohorodchany), near Stanisle (Stanislavov), eastern Galicia.  Until age twelve he studied in religious primary school, later with his great-grandfather, Rabbi Fayvl Shrayer, author of Sefer gidule hakodesh (The greatest of the holy), president of Ahavat Tsiyon (Love of Zion) in Torne (Tarnów), and writer for Hamagid (The preacher), from whom he acquired his love of Yiddish culture and of Hebrew.  He later turned his attention to a secular education and was an external student in Radovits (Radovychi), Czernowitz, and Vienna.  In 1902 he made his way to the United States, where he initially engaged in a variety of physical labor and later was a teacher of English and other subjects, while at the same time preparing to enter college.  Over the years 1906-1908, he studied law at New York Law School, but he did not practice as a lawyer.  He began writing poetry and religious texts in Hebrew at age fourteen.  He debuted in print with a monologue set in an insane asylum, entitled “In goldene keytn” (In golden chains), in Forverts (Forward) in New York (1907), and from that point he went on to place work in both Yiddish and Hebrew periodicals, such as: Tsayt-gayst (Spirit of the times), Fraye arbeter-shtime (Free voice of labor), Der tog (The day), Forverts, Dos idishe folk (The Jewish people)—a Zionist weekly of which he was also assistant editor (1909-1911)—Morgn-zhurnal (Morning journal), and Der amerikaner (The American); in Hebrew, Hadoar (The mail), Shevilim (Pathways), Lua aiasef, and Hadror (Freedom); in English-language Jewish serials, New Palestine Maccabean and The Reflex, among others—in New York.  Over the years 1916-1918, he served as secretary general of the Jewish community council of New York.  At the time he organized the first investigation of Jewish community life in New York and published the materials from the study in Pinkas hakehila denu york rabati (Records of the Jewish community of New York) (New York, 1918), 6 pp. + 1597 pp., which includes detailed treatments, statistical data, tables, illustrations with maps concerning the religious, philanthropic, educational, and communal life of Jewish New York, as well as reports with lists of the Jewish theaters of the time, and of the Yiddish press and literature.  As a correspondent for Tog (Day) and Hatoran (The duty officer) in New York, he visited the land of Israel in 1915, which “gave him a new orientation in regard to the Jewish question and our perspective on our own home.”  Aside from journalistic and community activities, he found his actual field of creativity in fiction and poetic-philosophical essays, but drama had for him a special force of attraction, as “the sole medium for his literary inspiration.”  Aside from journalistic articles on a variety of issues of the day, Sekler wrote essays, sketches, and stories (and the start of a novel of Jewish life in America, published in Dos idishe folk in New York in 1915); as well as poetry and poetry in prose.  He came to distinguish himself as one of the more penetrating and interesting Yiddish playwrights.  His first dramatic endeavors (under his regular pseudonym, “Tsvi N’ Sholem”) were: the one-act plays, Yukel ganef (Yukel the thief) of 1908 and Untervelt (Underworld)—both published in Fraye arbeter-shtime; the three-act play Dos toytenlid (The death song) of 1912 and Fayer-tants (Dance of fire) of 1913—both published in Dos idishe folk.  All of his dramatic attempts were staged many times by drama clubs and professional troupes over the course of the years 1909-1914.  A new direction in his dramatic works was embraced with the play Yosi fun yokres (Yosi of Yokeret) of 1915, in which Sekler used the story of ancient Mishnaic sage in the land of Israel, who left his only son and only daughter to be murdered (tractate Taanit [Fasts], daf 24), as a war of the old dogmatic Jewry against compromising on behalf of other gods and beliefs; he translated the play himself into Hebrew and published it in Hatoran (1921) in New York.  The play was staged at the Irving Place Theater in 1923 under the title Der heyliker tiran (The divine tyrant).  He had a huge success with his dramatic legend Yizker (Remembrance) in 1922; it took place with the background of a romantic folktale (recorded by Sh. An-ski during his ethnographic expedition through Ukraine).  The play centers on the devotion of Leybke, the hero of the drama, to Jewishness, for which he sacrifices the worldly love of the beautiful princess.  It was first produced by Maurice Schwartz in 1923 for the Yiddish Art Theater in New York and later by Mark Arnstein for Warsaw’s Kaminski Theater, Teatron in Israel (1927), as well as in a variety of Yiddish stages in Europe and the United States.  Yizker (Jiskor) was also filmed (1924) by Maurice Schwartz in Vienna.  Also belonging to Sekler’s staged dramas at the Yiddish Art Theater was Dos tsadeks nesie (The saint’s voyage) of 1926—for which “workaday reality has no place” and the “dramatization must serve as a prism of a night which smolders barely in memory, and through the entire fantastic web must permeate the discrete smile—the smile of the great-grandfather, while he recounts to his great-grandchildren the tale of the seven thieves”—and Mayor noyekh (Major Noah) of 1928 (performed at Habima in Tel Aviv in 1933).  His miniature drama Der zeer zet zayn kale (The seer sees his bride), published in the journal Oyfkum (Arise) in New York (1927), was staged in 1929 by the Vardi-Yoelit Studio in New York.  Among Sekler’s books: Dramen (Dramas), vol. 1 (New York: Nekhemye, 1925), 217 pp.; Dramen, vol. 2 (New York: Nekhemye, 1925), 171 pp.; Dramen, vol. 3 (Kenig ashmeday [King Ashmodai]) (New York: Nekhemye, 1927), 120 pp.; Dramen, vol. 4 (New York: Nekhemye, 1928), 191 pp., which was awarded a prize from the Shtiler Vinkl Group in New York (1929)—included in these four volumes: Der veg tsu got (The path to God), Dem tsadeks nesie, Yizker, Yosi fun yokres, Mayor noyekh, Rokhev fun yerikhe (Raav of Jericho), and Der zeer zet zayn kale.  In English: The Seer Looks at His Bride (Boston, 1932), 29 pp.; The Legend of Luz: A Play (Boston: Walter H. Baker Co., 1932), 25 pp.; Festival at Meron (New York, 1935), 424 pp.  In Hebrew: Sefer hamaazot (Volume of plays), nine plays (New York: Ogen, 1943), 416 pp., which was awarded the Louis Lamed Prize in 1944; Hakeshet beanan, shiva sipurim (The rainbow, seven stories) (New York, 1948), 344 pp., winner of the Louis Lamed Prize in 1949; Usefer hakokhavim, roman histori (And count the stars, a historical novel) (Tel Aviv-Jerusalem, 1961), 388 pp.; Hilula bemiron, roman histori (Festival at Meron, a historical novel), translated from the Yiddish by the author (New York, 1963), 373 pp. (also appeared in English in 1935); Ben erets veshamayim, roman (Between earth and heaven, a novel) (Tel Aviv: Yavne, 1964), 455 pp.; Masakh umasekhot (Curtain and masks), a volume of plays in Hebrew (Tel Aviv, 1964), 336 pp.—including Haderekh leelohim (The path to God), Yizkor (Remembrance), Ashmodai, Ets haayim (The tree of life), Harav et ribenu (Who takes up our grievance), and Lo taaminu ki yesupar (You will not believe though it be told [to you]).  He published a long story serially, “Shpil afn shpits barg” (Play on the mountain peak), in Der tog (The day) in New York (1942).  Sekler’s work also appeared in the anthology Hasifrut vehaayim (Literature and life), edited by . M. Rotblat, vol. 2 (New York: Hebrew Publishing Company, 1943); A Golden Treasury of Jewish Literature, edited by Leo Schwarz (New York, 1937); and A Bar Mitzvah Treasury, edited by Azriel Eisenberg (New York, 1952).  Aside from community activities, he held a number of administrative positions in the Zionist Organization of America (General Zionists).  Over the years 1923-1927, he was secretary of the Jewish Educational Society.  He was press chief for the Joint Distribution Committee in New York.  On his eightieth birthday, celebratory articles about him appeared in the Yiddish and Hebrew press.  He died in New York.
            “It seems,” wrote Shmuel Niger of Sekler years ago, “that Sekler’s artistic ability was not great enough or not great enough yet, not grown up enough for the big issues with which he dealt.  His mastery manifested itself in the details more than in the principle, in the secondary personalities more than in the main heroes (an exception being Dem tsadeks nesie), but he is surely a new, fresh force in the world of the Yiddish drama.  And an internal, a Jewish force (the ethical and God-searching spirit of his dramas is no accident).”  Later, Niger wrote as follows: “One often senses in his dialogue a Shakespearean, though more often a playfully Jewish, lordly tone.  Where once he was somewhat stilted and rhetorical, he is now mostly full of life and in happier moments full of spirit and wit.”  “Sekler is a pungent aristocrat,” wrote Arn Tsaytlin, and “like a pungent aristocrat, he lives in the world of values and ideals, and those values and ideals are enveloped by him in artistic forms.  Life for him does not denote the fleeting minute; life is anchored in generations, in history, and thus is Sekler a poet of Jewish historicity….  In his drama, just as in his stories and novels, he has an educational effect in the higher sense of the concept.  These are the merits that one comes into contact with rarely in our time, very rarely.  This lies along the line of Jewishness, I believe, of the Jewish approach to man and the world.  Sekler is one of those who rightly grasped the mission of an artist.”  “His dramas proceed,” noted Zalmen Reyzen, “via the glorification of Jewishness, of Jewish religious morality, as it is overseen by the Jewish tradition of the national Jewish collective.  However, he brought into the motifs of this Jewish collective his own tone, and he gave it the atmosphere of the past, far and near….  He established the local color of the epoch, which lights up as if through a thin veil, amplifying the effect of the romantic and legendary qualities.  He dresses large, eternal questions in Jewish garb….  Sekler has a distinctive inclination toward Jewish mysticism and its personages,…in both his dramas and his novels—their Jewish historical personalities—personalities from the most diverse of epochs and lands.  In a certain sense, Sekler’s works are artistic conceptions of Jewish evolution.”  “Sekler is a profoundly individual person,” wrote Yitskhok Varshavski [=Yitskhok Bashevis Zinger, I. B. Singer], “and he has his own ideas about everything: about Yiddish, about Hebrew, about Zionism, about literature.  Sekler holds that writing about everything in a negative manner does damage to literature.  The modern reader wishes only—argues Sekler—that one ought destroy everything: family, marriage, parents—everything that was sacred and dear.  Readers are raised only to want everything turned to small change, for everything to be made loathsome.  According to Sekler, there is no authentic literary theory to do such a thing.  This is simply a fashion and a sign of the times.  We are living in a generation that wishes only for everything to be blasphemed and desecrated.  So that we know that Sekler himself practices what he preaches, he writes almost entirely about people who he reveres, be it Abraham our forefather or the Bal-Shem-Tov, Rabbi Shimon ben Yoai or Rabbi Leyb Sores [Leib Sarah’s].”  “In contemporary Yiddish and Hebrew literature,” asserted Shmuel Margoshes, “H. Sekler is perhaps the only one who has consciously set as his goal to describe for us and to show us the creators and foundational figures in Jewish historical development.  His writings are a gallery of historical figures who have essentially given form to Jewish life through the generations.  Sekler is well-known as someone with a deep knowledge of Jewish nature, and when one generation hands over the spiritual inheritance to another…, the great individual has the greatest impact, perhaps more than the environment.”  Hillel Rogof makes the following points: “H. Sekler is actually an American product.  He was no more than nineteen years of age when he came to America from the city of his birth in Galicia.  Here he began and here he has made a career as a writer in the languages of Yiddish, Hebrew, and English.  Sekler brought with him from Europe the immense baggage of education both in Jewish and in secular learning.  Here he continued his studies, especially in American knowledge.  Among Yiddish writers and journalists, there are few who can be compared to him in knowledge of Jewish and secular, ancient and modern, literature, history, philosophy, and science….  In the 1920s when the Yiddish Art Theater was in full bloom, Sekler was one of its most important playwrights.  His two plays, Yisker and Dem tsadeks nesie, were among the best in Maurice Schwartz’s repertoire….  In 1935 Sekler published his most ambitious and perhaps best work—a Yiddish work in the English language.  The book was called Festival at Meron.  It was a historical novel from the second century, from the time of the great rabbinic sage Shimon ben Yoḥai….  H. Sekler located in the drama of those tempestuous years a source of philosophical enlightenment of Jewish history for all subsequent times.”

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2, with a bibliography; Zalmen Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 2 (New York, 1934), with a bibliography; Yoyel Entin, in Di tsukunft (New York) (July 1923); M. Vaykhert, Teater un drame (Theater and drama), vol. 2 (Warsaw, 1926), pp. 116-19; N. Veynig, in Literarishe bleter (Warsaw) (April 20, 1928); Ḥ. Vayner, in Hadoar (New York) (March 1, 1929); A. Mukdoni, in Teater-bukh of the Yiddish Art Theater (New York) (1928-1929); Mukdoni, in Yorbukh fun amopteyl fun yivo (Yearbook of the American division of YIVO), vol. 1 (New York, 1938), pp. 257-72; Shmuel Niger, in Di tsukunft (August 1933); Niger, Habikoret uveayoteha (Inquiry and its problems) (Jerusalem: Mosad Bialik, 1957); Arn Tsaytlin, in Literarishe bleter (November 2, 1934); Tsaytlin, in Hadoar (June 25, 1948; Tevet 29 [= January 9], 1959; Sivan 18 [= June 2], 1961); Tsaytlin, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (April 17, 1964; September 4, 1964); Moyshe Shtarkman, in Tog (New York) (August 22, 1943; January 16, 1944); Y. Rabinovits, Hasifrut bemashber hador (Literature in the crisis of the generation) (New York, 1946/1947); A. Epshteyn, Mikarov umeraok (From near and from far) (New York, 1943), pp. 203-19; Epshteyn, Sofrim ivrim baamerika (Hebrew writers in America) (Tel Aviv, 1952), pp. 273-90; M. Ribolov, Im hakad el hamabua (With the jug to the spring) (New York, 1950), pp. 221-30; Sh. Perlmuter, Yidishe dramaturgn un teater-compozitors (Yiddish playwrights and theatrical composers) (New York, 1952); H. Rogof, in Forverts (New York) (May 9, 1953; April 23, 1961; May 5, 1963; December 20, 1964); Y. Mestel, 70 yor teater-repertuar (Seventy years of theater repertoire) (New York, 1954), see index; Y. urgin, in Hadoar (July 30, 1954); N. Sverdlin, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (November 14, 1954); Y. Likhtnboym, Hasipur haivri (The Hebrew story) (Tel Aviv, 1955), p. 522; Likhtnboym, in Hapoel hatsayir (Tel Aviv) (Iyar 23 [= May 9], 1961);Y. K. Miklishanski, in Algemeyne entsiklopedye (General encyclopedia),”Yidn 5” (New York, 1957), pp. 155-56; Miklishanski, in Hadoar (Tevet 29 [= January 9], 1959), commemorating his seventy-fifth birthday; S. Regensberg, interview in Forverts (December 20, 1958); Shmuel Margoshes, in Tog-morgn-shurnal (January 18, 1959 [in English]; January 22, 1959; June 17, 1961; June 13, 1963; April 17, 1964; December 19, 1964); Kh. Gotesfeld, in Forverts (February 3, 1959); M. Gil, in Moznaim (Tel Aviv) (Nisan-Iyar [= March-May] 1961); Meyer Vakhsman (Waxman), in Hadoar (Nisan 4 [= March 29], 1963); Waxman, A History of Jewish Literature, from the Close of the Bible to Our Own Days, vol. 4 (New York, 1938), pp. 984-87; Shloyme Bikl, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (August 18, 1963); Y. Varshavski (Y. Bashevis), in Forverts (August 20, 1964).
Benyomen Elis