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Latzky-Bertholdi, Ya‘akov Ze’ev

(1881–1940), journalist and Zionist socialist leader. Born in Kiev, as a young child Ya‘akov (more fully, Ya‘akov Ze’ev Wolf; also later called Wilhelm) Latzky moved to Riga. After receiving a Jewish education, he went on to study at the Riga Polytechnic Institute, from which he was expelled in 1901 because of political activity. In 1901 or 1902 Latzky went to Berlin, where he became involved with Naḥman Syrkin’s Ḥerut group (a Zionist socialist organization), and where he took part in the publication of its Yiddish organ, Der hamoyn (The Masses), in 1903.

In 1902 or 1903 Latzky returned to Russia and settled in Dvinsk (Daugavpils), where he set up a Zionist socialist circle. Over the next few years he was instrumental in founding the Vozrozhdenie (Revival) movement and the Mifleget ha-Po‘alim ha-Tsiyonit-Sotsi’alistit (Workers Zionist-Socialist Party), which in reality was not Zionist but territorialist. From 1905 to 1908 he lived in Vilna and worked as a journalist for his movement’s various organs. During World War I, he worked for ORT. Beginning in 1905 he added his literary name, Bertholdi, to the name Latzky.

From 1917 to 1920 Latzky-Bertholdi lived in Ukraine, where he was a leader of the Jewish People’s Party and was briefly (in 1918) minister for Jewish affairs in the Ukrainian government. In 1918, he set up a publishing house in Kiev called Yidisher Folks-Farlag, and in 1920 immigrated to Berlin, where he founded the Klal Farlag printing press. That decade he traveled to South America to investigate the possibility of Jewish immigration.

Latzky-Bertholdi returned to Riga at the end of 1925 and edited the city’s two Yiddish dailies, Dos folk (The Nation) between 1925 and 1927 and Frimorgn (Early Morning) between 1927 and 1934. He also edited the collection Erd (Earth; 1920) and translated into Yiddish Natan Note Hannover’s work on the Khmel’nyts’kyi persecutions Yeven metsulah, reprinted in Gzeyres Takh (The 1648 Persecutions; 1938). His other books (all in Yiddish) were Erd-gayst (Earth Spirit; 1918), Gzeyres Denikin (The Denikin Persecutions; 1922), Di aynvanderung un di yidishe yishuvim in Dorem Amerike (The Immigration and the Jewish Settlements in South America; 1926), and Di idishe lage in Mizrekh-Eyrope un der oyfboy fun Erets-Yisroel (The Jewish Situation in Eastern Europe and the Rebuilding of Palestine; 1931).

In the early 1930s, Latzky-Bertholdi rejoined the Zionist movement, and in 1935 immigrated to Palestine, where he became a member of the Mapai Party, was appointed a member of the directorate of the Labor movement’s archives, and wrote for the local press. His library was bequeathed to Kibbutz Kfar Giladi, and during the 1980s it was transferred to the University of Haifa.

Suggested Reading

Simon Dubnow, Kniga zhizni (St. Petersburg, 1998); Jonathan Frankel, Prophecy and Politics: Socialism, Nationalism and the Russian Jews, 1862–1917 (Cambridge and New York, 1981); Salomon I. Goldelman, Jewish National Autonomy in Ukraine, trans. Michael Luchkovich, chaps. 4–5 (Chicago, 1968); Alexander Guterman, Ha-Miflagah ha-tsiyonit-sotsi’alistit be-Rusyah (S. S.) ba-shanim 1905–1906 (Tel Aviv, 1985); Abraham Levinson, ed., Ya‘akov Ze’ev Latski-Bertholdi (Tel Aviv, 1941).



Revised by Avraham Greenbaum; translated from Hebrew by David Fachler