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Hillels, Shelomoh

(1873–1953), Hebrew and Yiddish writer. Shelomoh Hillels was born in the town of Bar, Podolia. When he was six years old, his family moved to Soroca, Bessarabia, where he received a traditional Jewish education. Following his marriage, he began to read Haskalah literature, including the works of Kalman Schulman, Avraham Mapu, and Yehudah Leib Gordon. In 1891, he published his first story, “Ikar ‘ivri” (A Hebrew Farmer), in the Hebrew periodical Ha-Tsefirah. The story reflected his interest in agricultural settlement in Argentina.

In 1901, Hillels was invited to Kishinev to teach at a business school. At the end of that year, he was asked by the agronomist Akiva Ettinger to serve as principal of a school in Markuleshti, in the Soroki district. Hillels held that post for 16 years. In 1903, he won third prize in a literary contest of the Warsaw-based Hebrew periodical Ha-Tsofeh for his piece “Ha-Ḥayim neged ha-ḥayim” (Life against Life). Hillels began publishing his stories regularly, in such Hebrew periodicals as Ha-Melits, Ha-Shiloaḥ, Ha-Tsofeh, Ha-Zeman, and Moledet.

Living primarily in Kishinev until 1925, Hillels served as a supervisor and instructor in the city’s Tarbut schools. In 1923, he was appointed manager of the immigration office for refugees from Ukraine who had moved to Bessarabia. Between 1922 and 1924, he contributed regularly to several Yiddish publications, notably Der yud and Di tsayt.

In 1925, Hillels immigrated to Palestine, where he remained active as an educator. In 1931, the Mitspeh publishing house published his novel Har ha-keramim (Vineyard Mountain), describing the scenery and folklore of Bessarabian Jews. The novel centers on the character of Khone-Lozer, who recovers from the tragic death of his romantic partner and, through pioneering efforts, turns a desolate Bessarabian mountain into fertile soil. Hillels’ publications of this period—including Be-Himot arets (As Earth Collapses), Taḥat sheme Besarabyah (Under the Bessarabia Sky; 1945), and Artsah (To the Land of Israel; 1945)—reflected the upheavals, pogroms, and shocks experienced by Jews during World War I in Bessarabia and southern Russia, as well as the rise of the pioneer movement following the Balfour Declaration of 1917.

Between 1939 and 1945, Hillels lived in the United States, where he had traveled for a family visit. There, he published articles, reports, and translations of Hebrew texts in Yiddish newspapers such as Der tog, Der morgen zhurnal, Der forverts, Dos yidish folk, Di tsukunft, and Der yidisher kemfer. In 1946, he returned to Tel Aviv. His works were collected and published in six volumes between 1950 and 1953.

Suggested Reading

K. Aron Bertini, “Shelomoh Hillels ha-mesaper,” Arugot: Kovets le-zikhro shel Ya‘akov Fichman, pp. 47–59 (Tel Aviv, 1973); Shelomoh Hillels, “Teshuvot le-she’elon ‘Genazim,’” Genazim: Kovets le-toledot ha-sifrut ha-‘Ivrit ba-dorot ha-aḥaronim 1 (1961): 95–99.



Translated from Hebrew by Rami Hann