Tuesday, 20 February 2018


YISROEL SOSIS (September 15, 1878-1967)
            He was born in Balte (Balta), Podolia.  Until age seventeen he studied in religious elementary school and on his own in the synagogue study hall, later turning his attention to secular subject matter.  In 1899 he moved abroad, lived in Berne, Switzerland, and in Paris, and studied philosophy, political economy, and sociology.  In 1902 he joined the foreign organization of the Bund.  After returning to Russia in 1904, he became involved in party work in a variety of cities, primarily Odessa.  He was arrested and imprisoned.  He regularly contributed to Bundist organs in Vilna: Der veker (The alarm) and Di folks-tsaytung (The people’s newspaper).  After 1907 he also wrote for the Russian press in Elizavetgrad and Odessa.  During WWI he was co-editor of the Russian publications put out by Yekopo (Yevreyskiy komitet pomoshchi zhertvam voyny—“Jewish Relief Committee for War Victims”), and he contributed work to: Novyi voskhod (New arise), Vilner vokh (Vilna week), and the collections under various titles that were published by Tog (Day) in St. Petersburg.  After the February Revolutionary of 1917, he continued writing for the socialist press in Yiddish and Russian.  He remained active in the Bund in its internationalist wing.  He co-edited the Bundist Evreiskii rabochi (Jewish labor) and contributed to Minsk’s Veker (Alarm).  After the split in the Russian Bund in 1920, he went with the Kombund (Communist Labor Bund) in joining the Russian Communist Party, became editor of the organ of the Jewish section Der idisher arbeter (The Jewish worker) in St. Petersburg (which ceased publication after its twelfth issue), and contributed as well to Emes (Truth) in Moscow.  Over the years 1921-1923, he was put in charge of the Jewish division in the Commissariat of Nationalities in Petrograd, a lecturer in the labor faculty of Petrograd University, and after the establishment of the Institute for Byelorussian Culture (“Invayskult”) following a decree from the Byelorussian Executive Committee of November 24, 1924, he was appointed chief of the historical section of Jewish division of the Institute in Minsk and co-editor of Tsaytshrift (Periodical), in which he edited the historical section.  Soviet Jewish historians (in particular, H. Aleksandrov) discovered “deviations” in him from the central party line, and he was expelled (in the early 1930s) from the party and fired as a professor.  In his subsequent work, Sosis stayed in stride, but people claimed that he had a weak party eye.  In the 1930s he was marked as an “ardent priest” of “the hyper-objective, supra-class, all-nationalities science.”  He was judged more positively than the “bourgeois historians” Dubnov and Klausner.  Of his various writings in the field of Jewish history and literature, he published a series of articles: “On the History of Jewish Social Orientations in Russia,” the Russian Jewish Evreiskaia Starina (The Jewish past) in St. Petersburg (1914-1916); “On the History of the Jewish Socio-Economic and Cultural Life Style,” Evreiskaia Mysl’ (Jewish thought) in Leningrad (1926); “Tsu der sotsyaler geshikhte fun di yidn in vaysrusland” (On the social history of Jews in Byelorussia), Tsaytshrift in Minsk 1 (1926); “Mitteylung un materyaln” (Announcement and materials), questions and answers, in the same volume of Tsaytshrift; “Der yidisher seym in lite un vaysrusland” (The Jewish parliament in Lithuania and Byelorussia), Tsaytshrift 2 (1928); “Yidishe bale-melokhes” (Jewish craftsmen), Tsaytshrift 4 (1930).  In book form: Di sotsyal-ekonomishe lage fun di ruslendishe yuden, in der ershter helft fun 19ten yorhundert (The socio-economic condition of Russian Jewry in the first half of the nineteenth century) (Petrograd: Togblat, 1919), 64 pp.; Tsu der sotsyaler geshikhte fun yidn in lite un vaysrusland (On the social history of Jews in Lithuania and Byelorussia) (Minsk, 1926), 32 pp.; Di geshikhte fun di yidishe gezelshaftlekhe shtremungen in rusland in XIX yorhundert (The history of Jewish social tendencies in Russia in the nineteenth century) (Minsk: Melukhe-farlag, 1929), 202 pp.  He also edited: Der idisher arbeter which was the newsletter of the Jewish Section, Petrograd (1921); and co-edited Shriftn fun vaysrusishn melukhe-universitet (Writings from the Byelorussian State University), Yiddish section in the pedagogy department, vol. 2 (Minsk, 1929), 158 pp.  He also published the work “Di historishe ‘visnshaft’ fun dem yidishn visnshaftlekhn institut” (The historical “scholarship” of YIVO), in Fashizirter yidishizm un zayn visnshaft (Fascist Yiddishism and its scholarship) (Minsk: Yiddish section, Byelorussian Academy of Sciences, 1930), 121 pp.; among others pieces.  According to the decision of the presidium of the Anti-Fascist Committee (March 1946), Sosis was placed on the historical commission, together with Tuvye Heylikman, Sheynin, Deborin, and others.  We know little about what happened to Sosis in subsequent years.  In the Warsaw-based Folks-shtime (Voice of the people) for June 30, 1962, it was noted that “Professor Y. Ts. Sosis is preparing for publication a long work entitled ‘Di geshikhte fun yidishn folk in rusland’ (The history of the Jewish people in Russia),… which explains the stance of the Jewish masses in the war against Napoleon 150 years ago,” and that soon a chapter of this work was to be published in the newspaper.  This work remains in manuscript.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2; Y. Leshtshinski, in Forverts (New York) (March 9, 1931); Kalmen Marmor, in Morgn-frayhayt (New York) (March 16, 1931); D. Tsharni (Daniel Charney), in Di tsukunft (New York) (October 1935; Tsharni, “In der yidisher un hebreyisher literatur” (In Yiddish and Hebrew literature), Di tsukunft (May 1946); “Historishe komisye baym antifashistishn komitet in fsr”r” (Historical commission of the Ant-Fascist Committee of the USSR), Eynikeyt (Moscow) (March 2, 1946); Chone Shmeruk, comp., Pirsumim yehudiim babrit-hamoatsot, 1917-1961 (Jewish publications in the Soviet Union, 1917-1961) (Jerusalem, 1961), see index; information from Al. Pomerants in New York.
Yankev Birnboym

[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. 258-59.]


MOYSHE SANEK (1912-1970)
            He was born in Lodz, Poland.  He studied in religious elementary school and public school, and later he became a craftsman.  He lived in Lodz until 1939.  From 1933 he published poetry in: Nayer folksblat (New people’s newspaper), Grine bleter (Green leaves), and Inzl (Island), among others, in Lodz.  He was also a member of a dramatic theatrical studio, for which he wrote topical scenarios and monologues.  During the period of Nazi rule, he was confined in the Lodz ghetto and worked in the disinfection division, while at the same time remaining active in the writers’ group around Miriam Ulinover and in Yiddish theater in the ghetto, for which he wrote songs and sketches which were staged.  In late August 1944, at the time of the liquidation of the ghetto, he was sent to Auschwitz.  In the winter of 1945 he endured the death march through Germany, then was placed in the death camp of Bergen-Belsen, where he was rescued with the sudden arrival of the British army.  He was laid up in a hospital for a time, later active organizing Holocaust survivors in the British zone.  He was a member of the organizing committee of a survivors’ congress which met September 25-27, 1945.  He was a member of the central committee of the Zionist Iḥud (Unity) in the German camps.  He participated in Yiddish “concentration camp theater” in Bergen-Belsen [after the war].  He contributed poetry and feature pieces to Undzer shtime (Our voice) in Bergen-Belsen (1945-1947), in which he published the poem “Un vos vayter, yid bafrayter?” (Now what, liberated Jew?).  He also contributed to the literary anthology Tsoytn (Tufts of hair) (Bergen-Belsen, 1947) and other literary publications in the survivors’ camps in Germany.  He lived for a time in Hannover, West Germany.  He died in Bnei Brak.

Sources: Y. Shpigl, in Dos naye lebn (Lodz) (August 5, 1946); B. Mark, Umgekumene shrayber fun di getos un lagern (Murdered writers from the ghettos and camps) (Warsaw, 1954), p. 161; B. Kosovski, Biblyografye fun di yidishe oysgabes in der britisher zone fun daytshland, 1945-1950 (Bibliography of Yiddish publications in the British zone in Germany, 1945-1950) (Bergen Belsen, 1950), see index; information from Sh. T. in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Khayim Leyb Fuks

Monday, 19 February 2018


            He was born in Myadl (Medilas), Lithuania.  He studied at the Volozhin Yeshiva and secular subjects privately.  In the United States, he began working with the Yiddish theater as an errand boy at a singing hall in Brownsville, and he was later a prompter in the troupe from Atlas.  He wrote one-act and three-act plays for the Yiddish stage in New York and throughout the provinces.  In early 1914 he came to Winnipeg with a Yiddish theatrical troupe and stayed.  He studied philosophy at the University of Manitoba.  He was also the editor there of the weekly Di kanader yidishe velt (The Canadian Jewish world).  Later, he was a contributor to the daily newspaper Der keneder yid (The Canadian Jew).  He then returned to New York, and there he published sketches in Di varhayt (The truth) and feature pieces in Der groyser kundes (The great prankster).  In 1917 he joined the Jewish Legion and returned in 1919.  In 1930 he settled in Stamford, Connecticut, and when Sholem Asch lived there (1938), Santop served as his literary secretary.  For several years he worked for the United Jewish Appeal.  In 1964 he wrote a series of articles for the theater page of the Forverts (Forward) in New York.

Source: Zalmen Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 4 (New York, 1963).
Yankev Kahan


            The wife of Yoysef (Józef) Sandel, she was born in Dembitse (Dębica), Galicia.  She attended a Jewish high school in Lemberg, later studying biology and Germanics at Lemberg University.  On the eve of WWII, she was a teacher of biology in a high school in Lemberg.  She spent the years 1942-1945 in Soviet Kazakhstan, and 1946-1948 she worked as secretary in the education department of the Central Jewish Committee in Poland.  She served as secretary, 1949-1950, of the “Jewish society for the spread of art.”  She was a scholarly associate, 1950-1953, of the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw.  She published articles on biology and art in: Dos naye lebn (The new life) and Oyfgang (Arise) in Lodz; Folks-shtime (Voice of the people) and Yidishe shriftn (Yiddish writings) in Warsaw.  In issue 7-8 of Yidish shriftn (1963), she published a piece entitled “Amolike poylishe matbeyes mit hebreyishe oyfshriftn” (Old Polish coins with Hebrew inscriptions).  She also contributed to the Warsaw-based Byuletin (Bulletin) 30 (1959) a work on the fate of Jewish children under the German occupation.  She was an associate of the biology institute in Warsaw.  She also published in various Polish periodicals and journals.  She was last living in Warsaw.
Benyomen Elis


YOYSEF (JÓZEF) SANDEL (September 29, 1894-December 2, 1962)
            He was born in Kolomaye, Galicia, to a father who was a furrier.  He attended the Baron Hirsch School and graduated from high school.  He became interested while still in his youth in painting and sculpture.  Together with the artist A. Granakh, he organized self-defense in Kolomaye against anti-Jewish excesses in 1918.  Around 1920 he moved to Germany and studied in Dresden, where he initially engaged in various trades and where (1924-1925) he brought out a literary-artistic periodical in German.  He later lived in France, Switzerland, and Austria.  He returned to Dresden in 1928 and established there the “Young Art Gallery.”  In 1934 with the Nazi persecutions, he made his way to Yugoslavia.  In Belgrade he put on several shows.  In 1935 he went to Poland, lived in Vilna and Warsaw.  In 1939 he worked as director of a photo exhibition in Kuzmir (Kazimierz) by the Vistula.  During WWII he lived in Karakum, Kazakhstan, where he was a teacher of German in a middle school.  In 1946 he came to Warsaw, served as president of the revived “Jewish society for the spread of art,” and led the art division of the Central Jewish Committee in Poland.  He assembled over 1,000 works of art, mostly by painters and metalworkers who were murdered during the German occupation.  Aside from exhibitions of the assembled artwork—one for the fifth anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising—Sandel organized the “Gallery of Jewish Art” in the building of the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw.  He also stimulated and then ran a competition for portraits of Mendele Moykher-Sforim, Y. L. Perets, Ḥ. N. Bialik, and Sholem Asch.  From 1953 he was employed to adapt the history of Jewish art in Poland.  In the 1930s he wrote treatises on art in German journals, and in Yiddish he placed work in: Haynt (Today), Moment (Moment), Literarishe bleter (Literary leaves), and Foroys (Onward)—in Warsaw; and Tog (Day) and Tsayt (Times) in Vilna.  After the war he contributed to: Di naye lebn (The new life), Oyfgang (Arise), Folks-shtime (Voice of the people), Yidishe shriftn (Yiddish writings), and Bleter far geshikhte (Pages for history)—in Warsaw.  His writings on the Polish Jewish painters Aleksander Lesser and Maurycy Minkowski were republished in Pinkes varshe (Records of Warsaw) (Buenos Aires, 1955), in which he also published “Varshever yidishe kinstlers unter der hitleristisher okupatsye un yidishe plastikers in varshe” (Warsaw Jewish artists under the Hitler occupation and Jewish sculptors in Warsaw).  He also published work in Polish academic publications.  In book form, his work includes: Shmuel hirshenberg (Shmuel Hirshenberg), with reproduction (Warsaw: Yidish bukh, 1952), 31 pp.; Yidish motivn in der poylisher kunst (Jewish motifs in Polish art), fifteen monographs on Jewish painters with fifty reproductions (Warsaw: Yidish bukh, 1954), 306 pp.; Umgekumene yidishe kinstler in poyln (Murdered Jewish artists in Poland), two volumes, with 175 monographs on Jewish artists and 166 reproductions (Warsaw: Yidish bukh, 1957), 562 pp. together; Plastishe kunst bay poylishe yidn (The plastic art among Polish Jews), with sixty reproductions (Warsaw: Yidish bukh, 1964), 200 pp.  “Every historians of the Jewish plastic art in the first half of the present century,” wrote Leo Kenig, “will have to resort to the work of Y. Sandel on our suffering artists.”  He died in Warsaw.

Sources: Pinkes varshe (Records of Warsaw) (Buenos Aires, 1955), pp. 1346-47; P. Davidovitsh, in Yidishe shriftn (Warsaw) (February 1955); Y. B. Beylin, in Morgn-frayhayt (New York) (March 25, 1956); V. G., in Folks-shtime (Warsaw) (December 21, 1957); L. Kenig, “Unzere oysgeshokhtene kinstler” (Our slaughtered artists), Di goldene keyt (Tel Aviv) 31, pp. 236-39; Kh. Lubin, in Yidishe kultur (New York) (May 1959); Sh. Grinshpan, Yidn in plotsk (Jews in Płock) (New York, 1960); obituary notice in Yidishe shriftn (December 1962); Lili Berger, Eseyen un skitsn (Essays and sketches) (Warsaw, 1962), pp. 97-102; Sh. B., in Folks-shtime (December 8, 1962); 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); Khil Aron, in Naye prese (Paris) (January 27, 1963); B. Ts. Goldberg, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (December 25, 1964); Sh. Shtern, in Morgn-frayhayt (January 17, 1965).
Benyomen Elis

Sunday, 18 February 2018


SHIMEN SANDLER (April 7, 1914-June 28, 2001)
            He was born in Dubrovytsia, Volhynia, [Ukraine, but in the early 1920s it became a part of Poland] into a family of barber-surgeons.  He studied in a Hebrew high school in Vilna, from which he graduated in 1932.  In these early years, he began writing Hebrew poetry which appeared in the Zionist youth magazines Hatsofe (The spectator) and Hashomer hatsair (The young guard).  In 1934 he visited the land of Israel to enter the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, but due to material difficulties he was compelled to withdraw and earn a living as a worker.  In 1935 he became active in the labor movement.  In the fall of 1937 the British authorities sent him back to Poland.  He returned home, completed a teachers’ course of study, and until the beginning of WWII he worked as a teacher and educator in the sanatorium for Jewish children named for Vladimir Medem in the city of Miedzeszyn, near Warsaw.  Just at this time he began to write poetry in Yiddish and even published a poem entitled “Tartak” (Sawmill) in the Warsaw journal Foroys (Onward).  In September 1939 when WWII erupted, he fled Warsaw and set out on foot in the direction of Pinsk.  He worked there until 1941 as a teacher of Yiddish language and literature.  On June 23, 1941 he was drafted into the Red Army.  From 1945 he studied as an external student in the department of foreign languages at the Udmurtian Pedagogical Institute from which he graduated in 1948.  In 1960 he defended a dissertation.  From 1961 until the early 1990s, he administered the department of Germanic language at the pedagogical institute in Tiraspol, Moldova.  Over the course of six years, he steadily published in the journal Sovetish heymland (Soviet homeland) cycles of lessons, “Far di, vos lernen yidish” (For those who are studying Yiddish), later published in separate supplements over the years 1980-1985.  Over the same years, he was part of a group of authors who brought out in 1982 a new textbook for children who wanted to learn Yiddish: Alefbeys (Alphabet).  He was invited to deliver a series of lectures on the Yiddish language for the group “Yidish” (Yiddish) at the Moscow Literary Institute.  In 1989 the Moscow publisher “Russkiy yazik” (Russian language) published his Zelbstlerer fun yidish (Yiddish self-taught), which subsequently came out in a second edition.  He spent the last seven years of his life at the Moscow University for the Humanities.  He also published: Limudim fun yidish (Yiddish lessons) (Moscow: Sovetski pisatel, 1980-1985); and Yidish far rusish-reydndike (Yiddish for speakers of Russian) (Moscow, 2000).

Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 396; 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. 257-58.


FAYVL-YOYNE SANDLER (August 28, 1905-December 23, 1981)
            He was born in Zosle (Žasliai), Vilna district, Lithuania, into a working-class family.  Until age ten he attended religious elementary school.  In 1915, during WWI, he wandered with a multitude of homeless children across Russia, lived in children’s institutions, and studied in Jewish and Russian public schools and in labor schools.  In 1923 he came to the United States and settled in Philadelphia.  In his first years there he worked in tailoring and studied in the evening.  He graduated from a Baron Hirsch evening school, an English-language high school, and the Jewish teachers’ seminary in New York.  He studied child psychology in the New School for Social Research in New York.  Until 1941 he lived in Philadelphia where he was active in Communist institutions, was a cofounder of the leftist tailors’ union, of IKOR (Yidishe kolonizatsye organizatsye in rusland [Jewish colonization organization in Russia]), of IKUF (Jewish Cultural Association), and of the International Labor Order, and he was also a teacher in the latter’s schools and a lecturer at its labor university.  In 1941 he settled in New York.  After the murder of the Yiddish writers in Soviet Russia, he left the Communist Party and joined the Workmen’s Circle, founded and chaired the Dovid Bergelson branch of the Workmen’s Circle, and was active in YIVO and the Y. L. Perets Writers’ Association.  He worked as the Philadelphia correspondent to Morgn-frayhayt (Morning freedom) in New York (1926); he was later an internal contributor to the newspaper and published reportage pieces, children’s stories, literary essays, criticism of books, and the like.  Over the years 1941-1950, he was the news editor of the newspaper.  For many years he was in charge of the ‘Fun gezelshaftlekhn lebn” (From community life) page for the Philadelphia edition of Morgn-frayhayt.  He was the American correspondent for Shtern (Star) in Kiev and for Forpost (Outpost) in Birobidzhan.  He also contributed in New York to: Funken (Sparks), Zamlungen (Anthologies), Ikor-almanakh (IKOR almanac) (1943), Ikor (IKOR), Eynikeyt (Unity), Unzer vort (Our word, organ of the International Labor Order), Nay lebn (New life), Proletarishe dertsiung (Proletarian education), and Heym un dertsiung (Home and education), among others.  In Di yidishe velt (The Jewish world) in Philadelphia, he published a series of reportage pieces concerning Birobidzhan.  In Yidishe kultur (Jewish culture) in New York, he published monographs and original works of research on the history of Jews in America, surveys of books on Jewish and general history, children’s stories, biographies of Jewish personalities, a bibliography of the Yiddish press in Europe, and journalistic articles.  From 1956 he was writing for: Kultur un dertsiung (Culture and education), Tsukunft (Future), Kinder-tsaytung (Children’s newspaper), Kinder-zhurnal (Children’s magazine), Fraye arbeter-shtime (Free voice of labor), and Der fraynd (The friend)—in New York; and Kheshbn (The score) in Los Angeles; among others.  He was a regular contributor (and from 1961 the news editor) for Tog-morgn-zhurnal (Day-morning journal) in New York (among other items, he published here portions of a monograph about Herbert H. Lehman).  He also place work in: Haynt (Today) and Landsmanshaftn (Native-place associations) in Buenos Aires; and Dorem-afrike (South Africa) in Johannesburg; among others.  He was the author of Stalin in folks-lid (Stalin of folksong) (Warsaw: Yidish bukh, 1950), 29 pp.  Among his pen names: N. Vagner, Yoyne Shuster, Shrage Shuster, and P. Perets.  In his last years he was a contributor to the Forverts (Forward) in New York.  He died in New York.

Sources: A. Pomerants, in Proletpen (Kiev, 1933), pp. 224-25; Z. Vaynper, in Yidishe kultur (New York) (May 1955); Yedies fun yivo (New York) (April 1960); Chone Shmeruk, comp., Pirsumim yehudiim babrit-hamoatsot, 1917-1961 (Jewish publications in the Soviet Union, 1917-1961) (Jerusalem, 1961), see index; Arbeter-ring boyer un tuer (Builders and leaders of the Workmen’s Circle) (New York, 1962), pp. 262-63; B. Ts. Goldberg, in Tog (New York) (July 27, 1963).
Khayim Leyb Fuks

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 395.]