MORTKHE (MARCOS) ALPERSON (1860-July 24, 1947)
Born in Lantskorun, Podolye. His father was a businessman and a school teacher. He received a traditional Jewish education, though he became a Maskil and early on began writing in Hebrew. After marrying, he tried a variety of ways to earn a living. In 1891 he made his way with his wife and children to Argentina, together with the first group of YIKO (Jewish Cultural Organization) emigrants. He was among the founders of the colony in Mauricio where he devoted himself to working on the land until well into old age. He was an ardent support for the ideals of Jewish agriculture, and for many years he led a war against the methods of the YIKO administration, publishing pamphlet articles concerning this in the Argentinian and general Yiddish press as well as in Hamelits (The advocate). Using the pseudonym “Echad haikarim” (one of the farmers), in 1911 he published a pamphlet entitled Chalutsim harishonim (The first pioneers), a cry from those who were not happy with the YIKO administration in Argentina. The history of the Argentinian YIKO colonization was a subject that he later took up in his three-volume work, Draysik yor in argentina, memuarn fun a yidishn kolonist (Thirty years in Argentina, memoirs of a Jewish colonist) [Buenos Aires, 1922-1928], which made quite an impression in the Jewish world. In his introduction to this work, H. D. Nomberg dubbed Alperson “the Jewish Robinson Crusoe.” The first volume appeared with the title Kolonye mauritsyo, draysikyorike ik”o-kolonizatsye in argentine (Mauricio Colony, thirty years of YIKO colonization in Argentina) (Buenos Aires, 1922), 381 pp.; the latter two volumes were published between 1923 and 1928. In Hebrew translation by Moshe Beygl, Sheloshim shanot hityashbut hayehudit beargentina, with an additional preface by H. D. Nomberg, volume 1 (Tel Aviv, 1930), 232 pp. Alperson’s other books include: Goles, drame in dray aktn (Diaspora, a drama in three acts) (Buenos Aires, 1929), 36 pp.; Di kinder fun der pampa, drame in dray aktn (Children of the pampas, a drama in three acts) (Buenos Aires, 1930), 51 pp.; Af argentiner erd, roman (On Argentine soil, a novel) (Buenos Aires, 1931), 213 pp.; Di arendators fun kultur, komedye in dray aktn (The lease-holders of culture, a comedy in three acts) (Buenos Aires, 1933), 63 pp.; Rus, historishe drame in dray aktn (Ruth, a historical drama in three acts) (Buenos Aires, 1934), 62 pp.; Der lindzhero, roman (The lindzhero, a novel) (Buenos Aires, 1937), 210 pp.; Dertseylungen fun feld (Stories from the fields) (Buenos Aires, 1943), 207 pp.; In argentine (In Argentina) (Buenos Aires: Y. Lifshits-Fond, 1967), 314 pp. He also contributed to the Argentinian Yiddish press in the first years of its origins: Di folks-shtime (The peoples’ voice, 1898-1914), Der yudisher kolonist (The Jewish colonist, 1909-1912) under the pen name “Ben Yisroel,” Der fartaydiker (The defense, 1912-1913). Alperson was regarded as the dean of Yiddish literature in Argentina. He spent the summers of the last thirteen years of his life, following the death of his wife, in Mauricio on his own land, and the winters in Buenos Aires.
Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1; Antologye fun der yidisher literatur in argentine (Anthology of Yiddish literature in Argentina) (Buenos Aires, 1944), p. 17; P. Kats, Geklibene shriftn (Collected writings), vol. 5 (Buenos Aires, 1946); Y. Botoshanski, “Dos gedrukte yidishe vort in argentine” (The published Yiddish word in Argentina), Zamlbukh argentine (Collection, Argentina) (Buenos Aires, 1938); Y. Botoshanski, Mame-yidish (Mother Yiddish) (Buenos Aires, 1949), pp. 169, 172, 173, 191, 193, 194, 196, 202, 217, 273; Sh. Rozhanski, Dos yidishe gedrukte vort un teater in argentine (The published Yiddish word and theater in Argentina) (Buenos Aires, 1941); Dr. L. Zhitlovsky, in Yidishe kultur (New York) (March 1944); Hayim Leaf, Hasifrut haidit betargum ivri (Yiddish literature in Hebrew translation).