Roots, #22

April-June 2004


This edition of The Korni (Roots) Quarterly is dedicated to the Centenary of the eminent Yiddish poet Moses Teif (1904-1966). Russian readers are familiar with Teifs poetry from the translations by Yunna Moritz, a famous Russian poet. 

This edition begins with an open letter In Memory of Moses Teif, written by many modern Jewish writers, poets and composers. They describe Teifs contribution to modern Jewish culture and call upon organizations to celebrate his jubilee in September 2004. 

Next is Open Letter to the Veterans Yiddish Writers by Ekaterina Libinzon (Nizhniy Novgorod, Russia). She supports the appeal to celebrate Teifs jubilee. 

The first section entitled Documents and Memoirs opens with Facts from a Poets Biography

The next article is Teifs autobiographical Alpinezl, published for the first time in Russian. The Yiddish word alpinezl means saved by a miracle. Teif recounts the events of his life, except the years he spent as a political prisoner in Stalins gulag during 1937-1941 and 1951-1956.

The article Moses Teif: The Case Files by Lia Dolzhansskaya (Moscow, Russia) describes the details of the Teifs second arrest. He was falsely accused of Jewish nationalism and arrested in 1951. He spent several years in a prison near Vorkuta. Teif was exonerated in 1956. 

The Last Years of Teifs Life and Work by Teifs widow Esther Bluschinskaya (Misk, Byelorussia) is based on her memoirs. Bluschinskaya was the poets second wife. They lived together the last seven years of his life.

The next two articles, Next to Teif, in the Same Family by Lea Dar (Jerusalem, Israel) and My Uncle is Moses Teif by Larisa Axelrod (Tel Aviv, Israel) continue the family memoirs. Dar was Teifs stepdaughter and Akselrod was his niece. Both authors recount events from the time they spent with Moses Teif and describe how he influenced them. 

The second section is entitled The Undiscovered Works. The Meeting by Lea Dar (Jerusalem, Israel) describes her encounter with Michael Spivak, a friend of Teifs during the two years they were political prisoners in a Vorkutan prisoner camp. Mr Spivak recalled poems Teif had written in the gulag. Teif wrote these poems under the pseudonym, Shaya Sibirskiy. These poems were later called The Prison Poems and were kept hidden by Teifs widow for years after his death.

Moses Rathner (Jerusalem, Israel) is the translator of The Prison Poems into Russian. He writes in his article Letter to Moses Teif about himself and his family. Rathner (born 1936) explains where his perfect Yiddish comes from, while most of his generation does not speak Yiddish anymore. What follows this introduction is the first complete publication of The Prison Poems in Russian.

The third section is called Handshake through Years. Aaron Vergelis, a famous Yiddish poet, in his article About the Works of Moses Teif writes about Teifs poems. Vergelis was the editor-in-chief of Sovetish Heimland (Soviet Homeland), the sole Yiddish journal published in the USSR during 1961-1991. The article is an excerpt of his foreword to Teifs collection of poems.

The article A Statement about Moses Teif and his Poem Near a Bakery in Gorky Street by Mishe Lev (Rehovot, Israel) describes a meeting of former Jewish prisoners from the Nazi camps. The meeting was held during the first years of Perestroika. The well-known theatre director Mark Rozovskiy sang Kiheleh and Zemeleh from lyrics by Teif. This poem is dedicated to the memory of the poets son, who was killed in the ghettos during the WWII. Yunna Morits translated the poem into Russian. In the translation by Yunna Moritz the poem was called Near a Bakery in Gorky Street.  

The articles Handshake through Years by Raisa Tarasulla (Nizhniy Novgorod, Russia) and Love the Poets!.. by Leonid Slovin (Jerusalem, Israel) analyze Teifs poems. They use quots from a number of poems translated by Yunna Morits e.g. Kali Laska (Welcome! in Byelorussian); I Sing You, Esterl; An Oath; Love the Poets!...

Three Poems by Moses Teif on the Music of Alexander Vustin by Semyon Avgustevich (Saratov, Russia) recounts the story of the composer Alexander Vustin. The composer set to music three well-known poems written by Teif, namely In Gitka-Taiba Lane, Anna Frank, Six Millions. All of three poems are dedicated to memory of Holocaust victims. Alexander Vustin called his work Three Poems of Moses Teif for a Voice and Piano

The fourth section of the journal is entitled Our Contemporaries. Matvey Geizer (Moscow, Russia) writes about Israeli poet Vladimir Dobin, who writes in Russian. 

Those Happy Years by Polina Ainbinder (Jerusalem, Israel) describes how she became a singer of Jewish songs. Among her repertoire is Three Poems of Moses Teif for a Voice and Piano by Alexander Vustin. Her sister Svetlana accompanies her on piano.

The fifth section of the journal is called Pages of History. Jewish Pages of the History of Kharkov by Shimon Briman (Haifa, Israel) describes the important events in the history of Jewish community in Kharkov (Ukraine).

The Religious and Communal Life of the Ural Jews before October 1917 by Irina Antropova (Moscow, Russia) describes the establishment of community institutions such as synagogues, Jewish schools, charity organizations etc.

In the sixth section of the Quarterly The Jewish Lexicon the article Zhydy and Goyim. By Michael Dorfman (New York, USA) discusses the etymology of the words zhyd and goy. Dorfman analyses the interrelationship between Jews and Gentiles, which was shaped in Jewish culture.

 The Comments. Reviews. Criticism section contains letters to the editor, books reviews and criticism. The authors of this section are Alexander N. Yakovlev (Moscow, Russia), Stiv Levin (Jerusalem, Israel), Dan Michael (Israel) and Vladislav Krivonos (Russia, Samara).


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