MOTL SAKTSIER (SAKTZIER) (January 11, 1907-1987)
He was born in Leove (Leova), southern Bessarabia. He descended from generations of tailors, but his father, Mortkhe Saktsier, who was a Jewish community leader and vice-mayor of the town, sent him to religious elementary school, a state public school, and a public high school as well. In the mid-1920s he came to Bucharest, and in 1928 he studied in the Vienna pedagogical seminary; a year later he was living in Paris where he worked in a factory, before returning to Romania in 1931. Until 1940 he lived in Bucharest. In late 1936 he departed for the Soviet Union, where he studied and worked in construction on the Moscow subway system. At the time of 1936-1937 show trials, he was arrested and exiled to the gulag. Freed in 1940, he returned to Bessarabia and took part in the creation of the Yiddish state theater in Belz, for which he served as literary director. In 1941 when the forces of Hitler invaded the Soviet Union, he was evacuated with the theater to Uzbekistan. He was mobilized into the Red Army and assigned to a construction battalion for one year. He later lived in Alma-Ata and Samarkand, where he was active as a writer. In 1947 he returned to Bessarabia and until he was arrested again, he lived in Kishinev and later Czernowitz, where he was involved in Jewish cultural work and the Yiddish theater. In 1948 he was convicted of “Jewish nationalism” and sentenced in 1949 to deportation to Siberian labor camps for ten years. In 1955 (after Stalin’s death), he returned from exile rehabilitated, lived briefly in Moscow, and then settled in Kishinev, where he returned to literary and theatrical work. In 1972 he made aliya to Israel. His literary activities began with poems in the journal Yidish (Yiddish) in Bucharest (1928) and other Yiddish periodicals in Romania. He was a member of the young Yiddish poets group, which gathered about the journal Shoybn (Glass panes) in Czernowitz (1935-1936), edited by A. Shteynbarg, in which he published poetry and elegies. He later contributed poems, notes, and stories to: Di vokh (The week) and Inzl (Island) in Bucharest; Tshernovitser bleter (Czernowitz pages) and Oyfgang (Arise), among others, in Romania; Literarishe bleter (Literary leaves) in Warsaw; and in Yiddish publications out of Soviet Russia. In 1939, in the anthology Byalistoker lebn (Bialystok life), he published the poem “Bay velkhe taykhn” (By which rivers), and in the journal Sovetish (Soviet) and the almanac Heymland (Homeland) in Moscow, and in Ikuf-bleter (Pages from IKUF [Jewish Cultural Association]) in Bucharest; among others. From 1953 he was writing for: Yidishe shriftn (Yiddish writings) and Folksshtime (Voice of the people) in Warsaw; Yidish kultur (Jewish culture), Zamlungen (Collections), and Morgn-frayhayt (Morning freedom) in New York; and Fray yisroel (Free Israel) in Tel Aviv; among others. He became a regular contributor to Sovetish heymland (Soviet homeland) in Moscow. In Israel, he placed work in: Di goldene keyt (The golden chain), Bay zikh (On one’s own), Yisroel-shtime (Voice of Israel), Folksblat (People’s newspaper), Letste nayes (Latest news), and Yidish-velt (Yiddish world). He devoted many years to writing plays, including: “Di sonim af tsu lehakhes” (Enemies out of spite) (1945); “Lakhn iz gezunt” (Laughter is healthy) (1947); and others. His musical comedies: In a guter sho (At a good time) (1959), a comedy in two acts, which was staged in Yiddish theaters in Romania by the troupe of Sidi Tal; Abi men zet zikh (As long as it can be seen) (1963); and Gliklekhe bagegenishn (Happy encounters). He also composed poetry, one-act plays, sketches, and folk images, where were produced by Yiddish stage ensembles in the Soviet Union. In book form: Derfar, lid un elegye (Therefore, a poem and elegy) (Bucharest, 1936), 96 pp.; Mit farbotenem blayer (With a forbidden pencil), a poetry collection (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1977), 200 pp.; Der shayter baym veg (The bonfire by the road) (Tel Aviv: Nay lebn, 1978), 230 pp.; Toybn af antene (Pigeons on the antenna) (Tel Aviv: Leivick farlag, 1982), 224 pp. His novel Yidishe shnayders (Jewish tailors), about his grandfathers in his hometown of Leova, was lost in the years of his banishment. “His volume of poetry Derfar,” wrote Y. Kara, “bore Leivick’s stamp of ethical-social struggles.” “Characteristic of him and his work,” noted Y. Yanasovitsh, “is the fact that not only the individual experience of the poet takes place in his poems, but also the experiences of his generation. He is consequently, in a major sense, the spokesman of his generation.”
Sources: B. Shnobl, in Oyfgang (Sighet-Marmației) (May-June 1934); Literarishe bleter (Warsaw) (October 16, 1936); Y. Yakir, in Literarishe bleter (January 22, 1937); B. Alkvit, Inzikh (New York) 32 (1937); N. Kh., in Eynikeyt (Moscow) (December 2, 1943); Heymland (Moscow) 7 (1948); Y. Yanasovitsh, in Di naye tsayt (Buenos Aires) (January 28, 1954); Dr. Shloyme Bikl, in Naye literarishe bleter (Buenos Aires) (March-April 1954); Bikl, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (June 14, 1958; July 6, 1958; October 12, 1958); Bikl, in Rumenye (Romania) (Buenos Aires, 1961), pp. 286-90; N. Mayzil, Dos yidishe shafn un der yidisher shrayber in sovetnfarband (Jewish creation and the Jewish worker in the Soviet Union) (New York, 1959), pp. 63, 132; Y. Kara, in Ikuf-almanakh IKUF almanac) (New York, 1961), p. 166; Yankev Glatshteyn, in Idisher kemfer (New York) (September 29, 1961); Sholem Shtern, in Yidishe kultur (New York) (December 1961); Y. Lyubomirski, in Yidishe kultur (March-April 1962).
Khayim Leyb Fuks
[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), cols. 397-98; 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. 259-60.]