MATES OLITSKI (OLITSKY, OLITZKY) (November 10, 1915-December 4, 2008)
He was born in Trisk (Turiysk), Volhynia. He was poet and younger brother of Leyb and Borekh Olitski. He studied at a Tsisho (Central Jewish School Organization) school. In 1934 he received he diploma from the Polish Jewish high school in Kowel and later studied for a year at Warsaw University. He spent the war in Soviet Russia, and afterward he was in displaced persons camps in Germany. He emigrated to New York in 1949 and there became a teacher in the Sholem Aleichem schools, later in the Workmen’s Circle schools, as well as director of a Workmen’s Circle Middle School. He published for the first time, in 1935, poems in Literarishe bleter (Literary leaves) in Warsaw. He also contributed poetry and articles to: Unzer hofenung (Our hope), Af der vakh (On guard), Bafrayung (Liberation), and Shriftn (Writings)—publications of survivors in Germany; Shriftn, Oyfkum (Arise), Tsukunft (Future), Fraye arbeter shtime (Free voice of labor), Svive (Environs), Veker (Alarm), Unzer tsayt (Our time), Kultur un dertsiung (Culture and education), Kultur un lebn (Culture and life), Kinder-zhurnal (Children’s magazine), Kinder-tsaytung (Children’s newspaper), and Forverts (Forward)—in New York; Goldene keyt (Golden chain) and Lebns-fragn (Life issues) in Tel Aviv; and others. Among his books: In fremdn land, lider (In an alien country, poems) (Eschwege, 1948), 64 pp.; Freylekhe teg (Joyous days), poetry (New York: Workmen’s Circle, 1962), 119 pp., which was awarded the Kessel Prize; Lider tsu a bruder (Poems to a brother), with Leyb Olitski (Tel Aviv: Nakhmeni, 1964), 64 pp.; Geklibene lider (Selected poems) (Tel Aviv: Peretz Publ., 1967), 128 pp.; Lider far yugnt (Poems for young people) (New York: Workmen’s Circle, 1974), 96 pp.; Lider fun friyer un fun itst (Poems from earlier and now) (Tel Aviv: Yisroel bukh, 1980), 96 pp. He also wrote textbooks: Trakht un shrayb, arbetsbukh far der mitlshul (Think and write, workbook for middle school) (New York: Workmen’s Circle, 1974), 32 pp.; Yidishe kinder beys (Jewish children, two), with Y. Mlotek (New York: Workmen’s Circle, 1975), 129 pp.; Gut yontef, kinder (Happy holiday, children) (New York: Workmen’s Circle, 1981), 32 pp., with an English translation. “M. Olitski celebrates economy of imagery, and as a result his poems are clear and transparent,” wrote Yankev Glatshteyn. “[He] elevates his lines with a charmingly expressive idea which is also poetically frugal—above all, when they possess charm, music, and the essence of humor, in the most ideal sense of the word.” “M. Olitski,” wrote Y. Varshavski, “has a rare eye for children’s language, its world view…. Olitski’s poems are a treasury for the Jewish child, for the Jewish school.” “M. Olitski is a poet of sincere accents,” noted Y. Shpigl. “His verse is clear and clean. The mood is charged with straightforward, poetic vision.” He died in New York.
Sources: Y. Shpigl, in Dos naye lebn (Warsaw) (1948); B. Grin, in Morgn-frayhayt (New York) (December 19, 1948); Y. Varshavski [Y. Bashevis], in Forverts (New York) (February 10, 1963); Y. Zilberberg, in Idisher kemfer (New York) (February 22, 1963); Yankev Glatshteyn, in Tog-morgn zhurnal (New York) (April 14, 1963); Sh. D. Zinger, in Unzer veg (New York) (June-July 1963); Y. Emyet, in Fraye arbeter shtime (New York) (September 1, 1963); Y. Horn, in Idishe tsaytung (Buenos Aires) (September 22, 1963); A. Volf-Yasni, in Letste nayes (Tel Aviv) (August 14, 1964); Glatshteyn, in Idisher kemfer (December 1965); Y. Bronshteyn, in Yisroel shtime (Tel Aviv) (October 17, 1967); R. Yanasovitsh, Penemen un nemen (Faces and names), vol. 1 (Buenos Aires, 1971), pp. 34-40; Glatshteyn, Prost un poshet (Plain and simple) (New York, 1978), pp. 278-83; Elye Shulman, in Forverts (September 14, 1980); Avrom Shulman, in Kultur un lebn (New York) (February 1981).