Sunday, November 8, 2015

S. Ansky (1863-1920)

Ha'aretz today has an article titled "This Day in Jewish History, 1920 The Man Who Shook the World With 'The Dybbuk' Dies" by David Green.

S.Ansky died on November 8, 1920 at age 57. Anksy, whose birth name was Shloyme-Zanvel ben Aaron Hacohen Rappoport, is most famous for his play "The Dybbuk,"  According to the article, he was also "a champion of Yiddish, and of Jewish culture in general." As a young man he organized a Jewish literary society and journal, and he worked with the Society for Jewish Folk Music.

 In my opinion, Ansky's most amazing work was his effort to preserve Jewish culture and history. For example, he collected the minutes from synagogues throughout Russia, books where the Jews of various shtetls had written down their concerns, their quarrels, and the community events that were most important to them.

From the article:
"In 1911, cognizant of the threat that ongoing pogroms and emigration posed to the Jews of the Russian Pale and their culture, he departed on his first expedition on behalf of the Jewish Ethnographic Society, which was funded by Baron Vladimir Ginsbourg, a Kiev banker. Traveling around the provinces of Volhynia and Podolia, he and his team of researchers, intent on compiling a record of the traditions and culture of Russian Jewry, were armed with a list of some 2,500 questions for interviewees, and collected photos, folktales, music and manuscripts in the thousands."
"After the czar was overthrown, in February 1917, and Russia was led briefly by Alexander Kerensky, Ansky was elected to the new Constituent Assembly. When the Bolsheviks ousted Kerensky, Ansky fled, first to Vilna, then, in 1919, to Warsaw, where he died, on this day in 1920."

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