Sunday, 30 October 2016


MOYSHE TERMAN (1874-November 6, 1917)
            He was born in Mohilev, Byelorussia.  He studied a great deal in his youth and was slated to become a rabbi, but he left for Kiev, turned his attention to secular subject matter, attended class as an external student, and lived by giving private lessons in Hebrew and Russian.  While quite young, he became interested in the socialist movement.  Even before the founding of the Bund, there assembled in Mohilev a group of young laborers and intellectuals with the goal of popularizing socialist ideas.  Later, from 1898, he was a contributor to all the illegal and legal Bundist publications.  In 1900 he was a member of the Minsk committee of the Bund, later working for the party in Warsaw.  He returned to Minsk in 1903, lived undercover, was actually the editor of the illegal Bundist party organ Der bund (The Bund), 1904-1905, and wrote as well for the organ of the Warsaw Bundist organization, Der varshever arbayter (The Warsaw worker).  In 1905 he was again active in Warsaw as a member of the local Bundist committee and as director of propaganda.  He translated numerous socialist pamphlets into Yiddish, excelled as a popularizer, and acquired a reputation as a speaker.  He contributed to the first legal Bundist daily newspaper, Der veker (The alarm) in Vilna (1905-1906).  At the beginning of 1906, he departed for London, took part in various jobs there for the Bund at the British Museum, and prepared two manuscripts: on the history of exploitation and on anarchism.  The manuscripts, though, were seized by the police in Warsaw when he was under arrest, and they were lost by the Okhrana (the Tsarist secret police).  He returned to Warsaw in 1907, stood at the head of the local Bundist organization, and gave speeches at the “University for Everyone.”  He was arrested and spent several months at the fortress of Brest-Litovsk, and then deported to the city of his birth under police custody, In 1908 he was the representative for Mohilev district to the Bund’s conference in Grodno.  That same year, due to persecution by the police and his own dire material conditions, he moved to London and from there to New York.  In the new center of the Jewish socialist movement, he dedicated himself to cultural activities and became popular for his speeches on scholarly and socialist topics.  Over the years 1912-1914, he contributed to the Yiddish-language organ of the Socialist Labor Party, Der arbayter (The worker), edited by Dovid Pinski and Yoysef Shlosberg, and he later became a member of the editorial board of Tsukunft (Future) in New York and over the course of fourteen months assistant editor (under editor A. Liessin) of the journal.  He also wrote for the professional organs of Jewish laborers.  He was one of founders of the Jewish Socialist federation and a close contributor to its organs: the biweekly Idisher sotsyalist (Jewish socialist) and later the weekly Di naye velt (The new world).  He was a member of the executive of the Workmen’s Circle and chairman of its education committee (1912-1914).  He edited the collection Di velt un di mentshhayt (The world and mankind), twelve lectures on the development of nature and culture (New York: Education committee of Workmen’s Circle, 1913), 413 pp.  For four years he was co-editor of the English-yidish entsiklopedishe verter-bukh (English Yiddish encyclopedia dictionary) (New York, 1915) under the main editorship of Paul Abelson.  He wrote for: Tsukunft, Avrom Reyzen’s Dos naye land (The new land), and other publications.  After the Russian Revolution (1917), he made his way back to Russia and settled in Petrograd.  For a certain period of time, he was editorial secretary for the Russian-language Golos bunda (Voice of the Bund), but due to asthma and heart disease he was unable to endure the Petrograd climate, and he returned to the city of his birth, Mohilev, where he was selected to be secretary for the city council, but he died soon thereafter.  From all of his many works, his published books amounted only to: Religyon un ir entviklung (Religion and its development) (New York, 1900), 47 pp.; Religyon un klassen-gegenzattsen (Religion and class conflict), which first appeared in an illegal publication, later republished as (Warsaw: Di velt, 1906), 78 pp. (there is also a Russian translation of this work); Kultur un der arbayter-klas (Culture and the working class), with a biographical preface by Shakhne Epshteyn (Ekaterinoslav: Di velt, 1918), 44 pp., second edition (Warsaw: Lebens-fragen, 1918), 48 pp.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1; Y. Sh. Herts, Di yidishe sotsyalistishe bavegung in amerike (The Jewish socialist movement in America) (New York, 1954), see index; Herts, Doyres bundistn (Generations of Bundists), vol. 1 (New York, 1956), with a bibliography; F. Kurski, Gezamlte shriftn (Collected writings) (New York, 1952), see index; A. Liessin, in Tsukunft (New York) (January 1918); H. Rogof, in Tsukunft (May-June 1942); Lebens-fragen (Warsaw) 10 (1918)
Zaynvl Diamant.

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